If the Seahawks had lost to the Texans on Sunday, it wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world -- even if winning does feel like the best thing in the world. But if Seattle had lost 20-13 or 23-20 in overtime, they'd be a 3-1 team that lost to a 3-1 team on the road and there many things that the final score doesn't change.
Winning doesn't change the fact that the defense allowed 20 points in the first half. It also doesn't change the fact that they shut out Houston in the third, fourth, and fifth quarter.
Winning doesn't change the fact the offense was piss-poor (as opposed to piss-excellent) until Texans linebacker Brian Cushing left the game in the fourth quarter. And even then, the game-tying touchdown came from Matt Schaub, meaning that if not for a poor decision and throw by the other team, there is a good chance that Seattle does lose. It also doesn't change the fact that the Seahawks went on the road and faced a good team and were in position to tie the game because of a 98-yard drive when it mattered.
Reminiscent of beating the Bears in Chicago, the same game that really turned this team around from a floundering 6-5 "maybe" to a team that has gone 10-1 since then. And the only loss was a game very similar to the one you saw on Sunday when Seattle went to Atlanta and nearly completed a comeback to beat a good team. The Seahawks may not have to go on the road in the playoffs but if they did...
I'm not so worried about it anymore. While it's not ideal, this is still a team that hasn't lost by more than seven points since November 6, 2011. Don't bite my head off for saying this, because technically it is true, but the Seahawks aren't that far from having won their last 28 regular season games.
They are 20-8 in that time span, and they had an opportunity to win all eight of those games. A lot of championship teams have lost. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that most of them have lost at least once. This is a team that's going to contend and be favored for a Super Bowl appearance, and all I'm saying is that losing on Sunday wouldn't have really changed that.
But winning certainly doesn't suck.
There was never a time during the game when I thought the Seahawks were definitely going to lose. That almost sounds like I'm saying "I always knew this game was in the bag" but let me clarify and say the same thing to you that I once heard a voice say off-camera to Jodie Foster in the 2005 shitbomb Flightplan:
"She never gave up."
Except in this case "she" is me and I never gave up because 17-point leads with 30 minutes to go are overrated. Frankly, how can you watch this sport for a long time and after many years still think that 20-3 is safe? As a Seahawks (and long-time Cougars) fan, I have never become accustomed to anything known as a "safe lead" so why can't the inverse also be true?
It's easy to tell that 17 points is two touchdowns and a field goal and we've seen this team get 17 points in a half many times. In this case it was harder to believe because they had been shut down by the Texans defense and they were on the road, but they did the similar things to the Patriots last year, and the Bears last year, and the Falcons last year. Russell Wilson has been doing it since college. Even his losses seem to involve "an almost-amazing-win" so I at least figured that the game would be interesting at the end.
And it certainly was. I knew that Wilson had resolve and was strong, but how strong could this team be on the road down 17?
"I've never been a part of anything that strong." - Russell Wilson, on the Seahawks 23-20 OT win over the Texans
Seahawks fans are in the enviable position of being in disbelief when they trailed by 17 points on the road to a good team. If you had asked me after three quarters, "What's buzzin, cousin?" I would have said "Twitter, and it is buzzin' with a lot of "Shit!"'s around Seattle." People were pretty upset about the Seahawks lack of looking-like-the-Seahawks when they trailed 20-6 going into the fourth quarter. Noted Twitter "funny man" Kenneth Arthur (not my cup of tea, but whatever. It's like "we get it, you think you're funny.") had this to say:
This looks like a 2010 Seahawks cover band.— It's Kenneth (@KennethArthurS) September 29, 2013
And then this:
seahawks are gonna have a sick-ass three-quarters-time speech.— It's Kenneth (@KennethArthurS) September 29, 2013
People were "buzzin" at me for most of the game that my article about Seattle's "record pace defense" was now obviously too soon, but it's like... I'm not even on Twitter, bro. It's not really "my thing" (Follow @KennethArthurS, The "S" stands for "Seahawks!") so stop it. But those tweets about the defense were premature and the Seahawks held a good team to 20 points on their own turf.
Fittingly, the defense scored the game-tying touchdown (with a hat tip to the Texans for what can only be described as the playcall/execution equivalent of Big Momma's House 3) and Richard Sherman was able to redeem himself and the defense for a shoddy first half performance. Even Sherman admits that his decision to go for the pick-6 and cut in front of Owen Daniels, which could have led to a big gain for Daniels had it failed, was risky, but you can't argue good results.
Well you can, but why the hell would you?
The Seahawks leave Houston 4-0. They got a win without Max Unger and Russell Okung on the offensive line. They faced the best defensive lineman in the NFL at the worst possible time, but came away with a win. They lost Michael Bennett, possibly the best player on the defensive line right now, and recovered the victory in his honor. This is still a team that has not played with Bruce Irvin and Percy Harvin, and they are 4-0. Most fans would be satisfied with 3-1 right now and before the year I'm sure there are some people that figured 2-2 would have been acceptable as long as they played competitively and stayed relatively healthy.
And what's the difference in winning or losing? Sometimes it's as big as the difference between where Doug Baldwin's toes landed and the white chalk of the sideline:
By that margin, the Seahawks escape the first quarter of the season with a perfect record (which is fitting since they haven't allowed a point in the first quarter of a game yet this year) and a two-game lead in the division, despite every obstacle that has fallen in their path.
"America. Fuck Yeah." - Anonymous, on how America, Fuck Yeah.
Let's make like a point and bullet:
- By the time you make it to Thanksgiving this year, which is still not until the end of the month after next month, you will actually only have spent one year in the "Seahawks: This is the life!" dimension of space and time that we currently live in. How often do you really think about it?
On November 25, 2012, Seattle went to Miami and lost to the Dolphins 24-21. They fell to 6-5 coming out of the Bye week and with games remaining at Chicago and against the 49ers, getting to 10-6 seemed like it could be a task too difficult for a team that had yet to really come together. Most people were starting to come around on Wilson, but there was still an argument that he wasn't ready and he was just having a few nice games.
The defense would collapse at the least opportune times and just couldn't get over the hump from "good" to "elite."
Less than a year ago, you could have argued that a poor finish by the Seahawks after their 6-5 start could lead to the firing of Pete Carroll. Less than a year ago.
They won their final five games of the season, beat the Redskins in Washington, nearly beat the Falcons in Atlanta without Chris Clemons, have beaten the Panthers in Carolina at 10 AM (is that still a thing?), beat the 49ers again (even though we cheated by allowing fans to watch the game in person!) and have pulled off another road comeback to beat the Texans in Houston.
If that much can change to Seattle in less than a year, just imagine what could happen to me if I went to the gym for a year and stopped eating these chips. If only!
And then become shitty, maybe, because haha Steelers.
- If you can win a game that you get dominated in this thoroughly, you are allowed to "just believe in this team, man" for at least one more week:
* Texans had 29 first downs to Seattle's 15
* Outgained Seattle 476 yards to 270
* 325 passing yards to 91 passing yards
* 39:53 time of possession to 31:48 time of possession
Which is why it's also important to remember that turnovers (HOU 3, SEA 2) are still the most important single stat, even if it's the smallest number on the box score. They are like the Russell Wilson of stats.
- Don't discount special teams either, something that we pointed out earlier this week as the Texans are ranked as the worst ST unit in the NFL by Football Outsiders. Jon Ryan pinned the Texans inside the 20-yard line on four of his six punts, Golden Tate has four punt returns for 60 yards, and Steven Hauschka kicked the game-winning field goal.
Opponents have returned 18 punts against Ryan and the Seahawks this year and gained eight yards.
- I have been obsessed with box scores since I was probably 11 or 12 years old. They are like the Kelly Sullivan* of sports.
*3rd grade crush shoutout!
There is a beauty in box scores that can't be adequately described with words. I would've have never fallen in love with sports if I couldn't have picked up the newspaper* every morning and read all of the baseball, basketball, and football box scores, depending on the time of year. Believe it or not, I started my writing career in The Seattle Times sports newsroom, updating area high school scores. I'll still spend one or two hours a day looking at box scores.
*For younger readers, "newspapers" were these paper booklets of sorts that delivered information to your doorstep. Sort of like Google Alerts on your cellular telephone. Watch the movies Newsies and Zodiac for more information.
But there is also an inherent problem with box scores, and that problem is that they can be filthy, dirty liars. They are like the Kelly Sullivan* of sports.
*You gave me "a look" that one time! I've been chasing ever since.
Sunday's box score shows that Wilson was 12-of-23 for 123 yards, not a single touchdown, and one interception. Matt Schaub was 31-of-49 for 355 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Sure, Wilson rushed for 77 yards but I know for a fact that passing yards and touchdowns are good, right, so Schaub was far superior!
The "10 rushes for 77 yards" doesn't accurately show just how amazing Wilson was at times on Sunday. On the 98-yard drive to make it 20-13, Wilson scrambled for a 25 yard gain and later scrambled for 13 yards on 2nd-and-20. On 2nd-and-24, he scrambled for 11 yards, passed to Baldwin for 10 yards, then scrambled for four yards to pick up a first down on 4th-and-3. On the 98 yard drive, Wilson picked up 53 yards on running plays that he pretty much had to make up on the spot. That's fucking amazing.
Yes, Wilson later had a terrible interception that nearly ended the game for Seattle, but with a QB that didn't have the ability to improvise and execute on the spot, it would've never mattered anyway. You can play great defense on our wide receivers, but how do you guard the QB that goes 98 yards down the field when you do play great defense on our wide receivers? That had to be really annoying* to the Texans but I can tell you for a fact that it was really amazing for us.
*Being a Texans fan during that game was like being the Kenneth Arthur of NFL fans, if you're looking at this from Kelly Sullivan's perspective.
- The 98-yard drive will be glossed over because it didn't tie the game, it only made the game tie-able. But holy shit, the probabilities that the drive would have been successful have to be astronomically low given what happened.
The drive started with a botched snap and fumble to Russell (come back, Max Unger) and was 3rd-and-7 before Baldwin's ridiculous sideline catch for 24 yards -- and it could be argued that the refs didn't need to reverse the call, even if it was the right call. It was so damn close.
Seattle was 1-of-11 on third down on every other drive of the game. They had a 10-yard OPI on Jermaine Kearse and a non-call DPI the following play. They had 2nd-and-20, 3rd-and-7, 3rd-and-7, 2nd-and-24, 3rd-and-13, and 4th-and-3 on a drive in a game where they pretty much sucked on offense outside of this drive and a 43-yard run by Marshawn Lynch.
And the 43-yard run didn't even result in points, because the offense was stalled otherwise.
The Seahawks played well enough to win, obviously, but they only did get the win because of this drive, Schaub's bad throw, and a 15-yard penalty by Kareem Jackson in overtime. That's mostly what helped them score more points than the other guys.
That is fine by me.
- Seattle has scored 109 points this year, fifth in the NFL behind the Broncos, Bears, Lions, and Vikings. The Broncos have as many points as the Seahawks and Saints combined. In sixteen combined games, Denver, Chicago, Detroit, and Minnesota have yet to allow fewer than 20 points. Seattle has yet to allow more than 20 points.
I don't want to take anything away from the Broncos, because their season so far is historic, but I'm interested to see them play a good team. So far they've played the Ravens, Giants, Raiders, and Eagles. The Ravens are "okay" but I'd say that if Baltimore played Seattle tomorrow, they'd be the fourth-toughest team they've played.
I think that if the Seahawks and Broncos played next week, the home team should win. We'll just have to settle for a neutral field.
- The 109 points scored is the second-most in franchise history through four games, behind the 1984 Seahawks and their 125-point tally. Through four games, the '84 team scored 125 and allowed 64. Through four games, the '85 team scored 108 points and allowed 122.
Please no repeat of that.
- The +62 point differential through four games is the second-most in franchise history, after the 1998 team went +64 to start the year and then fell apart.
Please no repeat of that.
*in the voice of the lady from The Matrix* "Not like this."
- Seattle lost their lead in the "Points allowed" category on Sunday. The Chiefs have allowed 41 points, the Seahawks have allowed 47. The '98 team allowed only 41 points, the 2004 team allowed 46.
In terms of point differential, Kansas City and Indianapolis are really the only two comparable teams in the NFL to the Seahawks. The Chiefs have played the Jaguars, Cowboys, Eagles, and Giants. The Colts have played the Raiders, Dolphins, 49ers, and Jaguars.
All three teams destroyed Jacksonville. Both the Colts and Seahawks beat the Niners rather easily. If Indianapolis is on the same level as Seattle, and last season I feel safe to say they were not, I guess we will find out this week. If I was a San Francisco fan, I would've underestimated them too.
But if I was a 49ers fan, I'd be stupid. #haha #sickburn @NFL #YouNappyCause
- The Seahawks allowed 24 first downs by a pass coming into the game and allowed 20 such first downs against the Texans. Winning sure makes those things feel better.
- Marshawn had 98 yards rushing and 45 yards receiving. He's fine but still looking for his first 100-yard game since last season. He had at least 100 yards rushing in eight of his last ten games last year.
- Late in the game, the FOX sideline reporter announced that linebacker Brian Cushing would miss the rest of the game with a concussion. She said "The Texans are hoping they won't need him to hold off Seattle" and about thirty second later she was right.
Cushing would have been helpless to hold off the Seahawks:
Explain yourself, Texans. It's 3rd-and-4 on the SEA 40 with a little less than three minutes to go. A safe running play with Arian Foster OR Ben Tate should have a decent probability of picking a first down. If you do pick up a first down, Seattle has to burn their second timeout and you'd be in field goal range. Instead, you opt to pass because you thought that gave you a greater probability of picking up four yards. (Nevermind the fact that Schaub's throw was well short of the first-down anyway.)
Did you choose a passing play -> Yes or No?
You chose: Yes.
Did your QB immediately face pressure -> Yes or No?
You chose: Yes.
Did he take the sack and opt to punt it deep in your own territory, pinning you inside the 10 with one timeout and about 2:48 left on the clock, down seven -> Yes or No?
You chose: No.
Error. Error. Error. Self-destruct in 5... 4... 3.... 2... Schaub.
Bad play-calling is my opinion. Bad decision by Matt Schaub is just a fact. For your information, Matt, you blindly threw the ball up towards the best corner in the NFL. You and Tony Romo are like "the Texas Two-Step™"
Probably why with PFR's Win Probability Chart, the Texans went from 99.9% to win it all the way down to 51.2%. I didn't know they made plays that major.
- I had the game on mute at the time that Baldwin made his sideline catch. What I saw in real time was what appeared to be an amazing catch and touch-down (toes touched down, it's a fair thing to call it and not at all confusing) and then all of a sudden what I saw was high-five mania. Which made no sense.
- For his efforts, Baldwin is on pace for 864 yards, which is not bad at all. Sidney Rice is on pace for 552 yards, which is not bad at all if you consider how much money it'll save us against the cap next season.
According to Jim (which may or may not be the name of a guy that keeps stats for CBS Sports, but even if it isn't, wouldn't CBS want me to say "According to Jim" anyway?) Rice has been targeted 20 times and caught nine passes. Golden Tate has been targeted 21 times and caught 13 passes. Baldwin has been targeted 15 times and caught 12 passes.
Lynch is on pace to run for 1,232 yards. Wilson is on pace to pass for 3,148 yards.
Look, the reason I like "pace" is that most people tend to think in terms of "seasons" so this gives people a better idea of what kind of statistical season they've had so far. I'm not saying that's where they will end up.
But if they do, give me all the credit.
- Michael Bennett missing any more time would be bad because he's been so good. But hospital tests indicate he suffered no major injury, and that's much better news. If he comes back in a week, then "Wow!" that's great but if he doesn't, Irvin is also back.
Jesus, Irvin hasn't even played yet.
The Seahawks, 4-0 for the first time in franchise history, are still waiting to get back to something closer to "full strength." In regards to what he said earlier, I'd ask Carroll: "Have you still even played up to what you are capable of yet?"