The second quarter ended with the Seahawks using four downs and the final 1:52 seconds; content to go into the locker room down 17-0 and nothing more after a poor start to the drive, set to open the 2nd half with the ball. The Steelers have dominated time of possession and the Seahawks offense hasn't had much of a chance to gain a rhythm. Drawing first blood would be a good tone setter for the half. Obviously.
Seattle ball, 1st and 10 on the 20. Marshawn Lynch gets seven on 1st down and this happens with an unbalanced line on 2nd down:
This ball has ALREADY been snapped. James Carpenter, Russell Okung and Zach Miller are still set. Ben Obomanu (bottom) and Leon Washington look almost in motion.
The boxed trio is still. The ball is visible at this point; is this a trick play, or a mis-communication on the snap count? Notice Anthony McCoy and Robert Gallery.
They try to attempt to cut two backside defenders. They miss, and now you see the defenders hurdling. Leon has the ball, running behind a mess at the line of scrimmage. Apparently, nothin' tricky about it...
The 1 on 1 matchup on top will create a pick for Doug Baldwin to slide underneath his man. He's in position for the catch and 1st...
It ends pretty much like you think it does.
Seattle punts, Steelers ball at their 27. Leroy Hill has replaced Curry in Nickel. Steelers go three and out, punt. Now it's Seattle ball on their 20. 1st down quick screen:
Seattle in '12,' with Zach Miller at fullback.
Now he's more like an H-back. Mike Williams will disrupt James Harrison, Okung and Robert Gallery will double team the end and Miller will release. An adjustment to play that they tried to Baldwin just before the end of the half?
...and gets taken out way up here, a gain of seven. Golden flashing multiple elements of his game in this one. Then for the second 2nd and 3 in a row, Seattle runs right. The Steelers are all over it. 3rd and 2, they call a very different quick screen than the one above:
Chains moving! I think here is a time where we see Seattle really missing John Carlson. The Seahawks gushed about their two tight end versatility before Carlson got hurt. I think here we see the Seahawks trying to manufacture yards in situations where they could go to Carlson if he was healthy. Luckily, it worked.
Last week Beekers brought up the value Carlson has to this team. I think the next play shows how the 6'5" target's experience as a receiver was missed this season.
The Steelers bring five and Jackson has already come out of his 7 step drop. The coverage gives Jackson nowhere to go and the defenders in coverage see Marshawn Lynch 1 on1 with the rusher, Jackson becoming more vulnerable.
Jackson steps inside and up as Lynch keeps the rusher outside. Jackson has a lot of room to work. Notice McCoy is standing alone around the marker, but he's not really calling for the ball or anything of that nature; in my opinion, he's gotta do everything he can to make sure Jackson knows he can safely make the throw.
The defenders have closed and McCoy is even more open, like, uber open. If Jackson had been looking downfield in the prior frame (which it looks like he is?), presumably he would have seen this. Instead of making the throw, Jackson gets sacked by Polamalu for a loss of 0. Maybe you're thinking 'this picture just makes McCoy look really open...
As I said, Ubbeeeeerrrrrrrrr open.
Jackson and Williams can't connect on 3rd down. This would be a good time to turn the game off, but I'm not going to. Punt.
This defensive series is a crucial drive for the Seahawks to stay in the game, as allowing a touchdown here would be pretty nail in the coffinish. Seahawks make an adjustment; instead of coming to the defender heavy side, Earl Thomas comes free on the weakside, B-gap;
This blitz forces a Clinton McDonald tackle for loss. On 3rd and 3 the Seahawks blitz five from Dime, but the Steelers pick on a playing-off-in-zone-coverage Browner for the 1st, and then again on him in man coverage for a 23 yard play on the next snap.
The Seahawks get lucky and a clipping penalty - one that sends Tony Siragusa into a multi-minute proclamation to NFL Fox rules analyst Mike Pereira, saying that he will be the one that sticks up for under-protected lineman - puts the Steelers back to the 42. 1st and 25 becomes 2nd and 20 (20 according do the play-by-play, not 19 as shown in the screen). Ben exploits this blitz with a check at the line:
Walter Thurmond has blitzed two plays in a row. On 3rd and 2 Seattle goes Nickel and drops eight, which means nothing when Ben makes a throw like this on the run:
Oh, the catch by Hines Ward was pretty nifty as well. Just brutal as the coverage was really pretty solid. 1st and goal. Fittingly, the drive ends with Mike Wallace beating Browner in man coverage for the touchdown. Presumably, unless the Seahawks score on their next drive, the lead is insurmountable.
Leon gets little blocking on his return, now Seattle 1st and 10 on their 13. Down 24, you would think maybe a shot downfield or an aggressive call is in the works. Just gimme something. Well...yeah, not so much. They began their last drive with a quick screen, and the last 1st down play before this call was a 7 step drop, scramble. What's next?
Seahawks in '12,' with the receivers in tight and tight ends flexed off. McCoy is the target.
The Seahawks shrank the field into the teeth of the defense. Everyone is running short routes. The defense is in the right coverage and it appears they defended against the five yard pass because, well, this type of call hasn't been used in recent situations of this nature. They keyed on what may be coming next.
Here's the real problem.
Dropped. Seahawks got lucckkyyyyy.
Three and out, punt, Steelers personal foul puts them at their 26. I think this upcoming possession may have built a little resolve into this defense. Seattle is in a 4-3 to matchup to Pittsburghs heavy usage of ‘13' on first down in the 2nd half. A penetrate and tackle by Alan Branch on 1st helps set up 3rd and 9.
Here Seattle is in Dime versus '10.' Wallace is in the middle of three wide left, Browner covering. The three arrowed guys (Hill, Bigby and McCoy) are potential blitzers. Bigby will drop out and loop around, blitzing on the outside.
McCoy drops to the 30, Hill just kind of sits. Ben is looking up top; Browner is with Wallace down below. The pocket won't hold too much longer...
And now Browner has lost Wallace. ET is the deep man on this play. Before Rothlisberger got flushed, he was looking to the little arrow; Thomas followed and lost track of Wallace and Browner out the other side. ET's in in "oh sh*t" mode. It's a footrace and Wallace has a huge headstart. Wallace goes 15 yards, ET runs the hypotenuse.
Honestly, what a catch. It's like an inch off the ground and he's able to tuck it as he rolls and ET comes in for a swipe. And let's just acknowledge how fast ET is. But, this was also about the whole play. The four man pressure almost worked, the coverage broke down just a bit and a playmaker made a play. "Almost" and "just a bit" on a 3rd and long against a nifty offensive call can lose on any given play. The upside is it took a great play by quarterback and receiver to make this work. The silver lining is coming.
Seattle gets help. A holding penalty makes it 1st and 20, then Chris Clemons simply fights his way to the quarterback for the sack, 2nd and 29.
Technically, this little sequence didn't even count. It's eerily similar to the Josh Morgan catch over Marcus Trufant last week. Watch up top, Trufant not giving much of a cushion, knowing he has help.
The silver lining; this 15 minutes is finally over, and only one more quarter until we can start talking about winning!