It's now a few days past the Seahawks important and surprisingly dominating win over the Cowboys, but not too late to take a look at how Seattle was able to come away with a 27-7 win. The game that seemed to have everyone favoring Dallas going in, was almost over by the middle of the first quarter.
I was definitely concerned about the game and thinking about how I could reason with an 0-2 start if it happened. Teams rarely come back from 0-2 starts to make the playoffs and especially when you're already a game back in the division. Hell, by the time the game had started, we were 1.5 games behind Arizona. However, Dallas must have felt bad for me because they practically gave this one away. I had no idea the Cowboys even knew I existed!
The Cowboys, like their fans, were probably very anxious to get this game started after a ten day layoff from their emotional and convincing win over the Giants. So excited that they received the opening kickoff but felt like they really needed to get that defense on the field immediately.
Yet, Seattle did not do everything in it's power to take advantage of that early opportunity and wound up with less than they could have had. At least two people on the Seattle payroll must take the blame for that, but only one of them is a guy that I'd like to see around for a long time.
I'll give you a hint: His name rhymes with Nussle Dills, son.
The Russell Wilson Mistake
The Seahawks caught an amazing break to start the game when Felix Jones "Felix'd!" the opening kickoff and gave Seattle possession at the Dallas 30. In true Darrell Bevell fashion, Seattle ran it on 1st and 2nd down and then completed a third down pass to Sidney Rice. Phew.
Seattle then ran it on 1st and 2nd down again, putting themselves in a crucial third-and-goal from the Dallas 3. Now the Cowboys know that Seattle has to throw it, as is commonplace is in this situation.
The Seahawks line up four wide with Marshawn Lynch hitched to Russell's right.
Wilson takes about a second in the pocket and hurls it as hard as he can towards Rice slanting across the middle, but was it his best option? Was it even available? I don't think so on either account.
Doug Baldwin is streaking right (yellow arrow) in the back of the end zone but Wilson targets Rice, who is not only covered but has a Cowboy standing in between him and where Wilson is throwing it.
Even worse is that the Cowboy standing in between Fresh and Russell is falling down harder than Michael Douglas. The pass is batted down and nearly intercepted and even if I faded the Dallas linebacker out of the picture like Michael J. Fox's brother and sister, I don't believe that ball was thrown to anywhere catchable by Rice.
The Seahawks walked away with points, but they were given a golden opportunity to take a 7-0 lead shortly after their own opening kickoff and instead got just three. Potentially seven points were available and not only was the typical run-run-pass playcalling disappointing, but Wilson seemed to be inaccurate on the throw and didn't go through any progressions after the snap. It seemed that despite having four split wide, it was Rice or nothing.
This isn't China, there are options besides Rice. Luckily, there were more opportunities and they were even more valuable than gold. Platinum opportunities, y'all.
The Blocked Punt
It's hard to say that Seattle wasn't just given this one, the blocking was so terrible that not only did Malcolm Smith block it but the broadcast crew incorrectly said that Bruce Irvin blocked it at first because of how close he was too.
That's two green hands around the ball.
The ball bounces into the waiting arms of Jeron Johnson like it's made out of Flubber and Seattle is in business. The best part about this punt block touchdown was that it wasn't a playcall from Bevell, who would have wanted Johnson to hand it off before running it into the end zone.
Brown-er Vs Romo-rd of Interception
Up 10-0 early, Seattle is in a great position at home. Ten points sort of doesn't sound like a lot, but it really is difficult to overcome, especially on the road. For perspective, Vegas doesn't spot ten points lightly. Now the Cowboys need to not only beat the Hawks, but be at least ten points better than them in less than four quarters of time.
However, Tony Romo is, in my opinion, one of the best quarterbacks in the conference. He's been in this position and sometimes he is good enough to make things happen. Sometimes he's not.
Romo gets in rhythm after a 26-yard completion to Kevin Ogletree on 3rd-and-9 and then DeMarco Murray gets going too as Dallas drives it near the red zone. It's 2nd-and-10 from the SEA 24 and the Hawks put just one safety back deep in man coverage against Dallas, who has two split left and one split right.
Seattle rushes five (Chris Clemons drops into coverage) and forces Romo to throw across the field, across the body. Classic Locker. There have been concerns about creating pressure, but this is a pressure-forced interception.
Witten looks open. But as soon as Brandon Browner sees what's happening, he's like "yum yum" and eats up that football as he breaks off his man. The pressure forced a quick, but most importantly an incorrect, decision.
These three pivotal first quarter plays, along with the Felix gift, helped turn the tide of what would become the outcome even if one of them was against Seattle's favor. This is all part of the learning curve for Russell Wilson (I don't know how much further the curve is going to get for Bevell but I assume that it starts with two runs) and I still see him getting better as the games go on.
What I did see (and what has already been outlined by Danny and Josh earlier this week) was that Seattle is creating pressure with the defensive line. It's kind of scary to think about what this defense will be with even more of it. And I don't mean Paranormal Activity 2 kind-of-scary, I mean Paranormal Activity 3 kind-of-scary.
Now that's scary.