Football is unpredictable, esoteric -- you know this spiel. Despite all that, it's important not to fall into magical thinking. Maybe we do not know exactly why Seattle was able to perform so much better in the second half, but do we really think Pete Carroll put on a little speech and a bunch of professional football players suddenly remembered to try, to execute, to successfully play the game of football?
Of course not.
The Seahawks won the second half through tangible execution, a favorable game state, and the fortune of facing a rookie quarterback.
Let's look at the first half, in brief:
20 run attempts, 95 yards, six first downs, two touchdowns.
Seahawks end the half down 14-3.
10 attempts, 37 yards, four first downs, 0 touchdowns.
The Seahawks force Jimmy Clausen to drive the offense, and Clausen plays like a rookie, and not even a particularly good one. He throws a pick six. The Panthers fall behind 17-14. Carolina's ensuing drive totals 12 yards. Panthers punt and Leon Washington returns it 84 yards and puts Seattle on the one. The Seahawks punch it in and make it a two score game.
It's halfway through the third, and even if John Fox knows nothing about win probability, years of experience means he can feel the game slipping away. And it is. Seattle's win probability has reached 72%. Of the next nine plays, seven are passes. Those nine plays are spread over three consecutive three and outs. After the first, Seattle's win probability jumps to 89%. The Panthers do not have a passing offense. The Panthers can not overcome a two score deficit and like quicksand, their struggles sink them deeper and deeper.
And that's how Seattle won: one big turnover, one big return, and a game state that made one of the Panthers' worst players become the Panthers' most important player.
And that's why Carolina is now 1-11: The NFL is a passing league, the Panthers can not effectively pass the football, and when they get behind and must pass, the offense works likes a matchlock musket. It points one way and kills the other.
And so the Seahawks won and are now 6-6 and have surpassed the 2009 Seahawks and have succeeded where the 2009 Seahawks failed. I'll take that. And I'll keep perspective.
Forsett rushed six times and those six rushes went for 5, 2, 2, 31, 19 and 1 yard. Of those six runs, only one was truly a surprise run: Forsett gained five yards on third and seven.
I don't know if it's a extravagant way of explaining away Marshawn Lynch's struggles, but Forsett's success this season has been qualified by most Seahawks fans. It has been diminished by suggestions that he runs out of passing downs, or against fewer eight in the box looks, or whatever. I don't really know if that's true or not. I do know that Forsett is the best rusher on this team, as currently comprised. It doesn't bother me that Forsett is a change of pace back, but it does bother me when Forsett is an afterthought. Not only should Lynch be ceding carries to Forsett, but he probably be ceding carries to Leon Washington too.
This was supposed to be a committee, but when push comes to shove, it seems like Jeremy Bates would rather ride the feature back. That's disappointing. The Seahawks are not a good team. Seattle can not sacrifice effectiveness for outmoded ideas like pounding the rock with the feature back when runs by that back are unsuccessful 68.2% of the time. Spread the carries. Give Force the touches he's earned.