Sunday's win over the Texans is one of those wild games that's going to have anomalies and memories that fans will never forget. So much crazy shit happened that if Seattle does go on to have the best season in franchise history, we can point back to games like this one to say "This was just our year."
There is still a long ways to go until 16 games are in the regular season books and the Saints have quickly made everyone forget about last season (something about a "county scandal" or something where they bribed a comptroller, maybe?) so a lot of people are thinking that if the Seahawks or Saints get the number one seed that either will be impossible to beat at home.
Every game matter and keeping pace with New Orleans and a step ahead of San Francisco, Green Bay, and whoever else may creep, was extremely important. So extreme that explaining it would take more than words. Instead here's some pictures and other things that show how a collection of many important moments eventually added up to one very important victory.
The Texans were 90%-or-better to win from the middle of the second quarter (Houston goes up 14-3 on Arian Foster touchdown) until 2:58 remaining in regulation, when Richard Sherman changed the way we live, changed the way we eat, and changed the way we treat each other. On a single play, the Texans went from 99.8% to 48.8% win expectancy.
Did you skip right to "Big Play" or did you read that last part about Sherman?
However, there were several others of note, including times when Houston had turned the game back in their favor. Let's not forget that on the ensuing drive, Schaub hit Andre Johnson for 17 yards and 8 yards right away and Houston was on the Seattle 49-yard line with 1st-and-10 before Cliff Avril sacked him for a loss of 10. He recovered with a 16-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins (88.1% to win) but they failed to convert on 3rd-and-4 at the SEA 43.
Sacks played an integral part of the game for both teams, but Kareem Jackson's 15-yard penalty aided a 18.7% swing in Seattle's favor.
"Cool" and "Fool" of the Week
So many "cool" candidates this week, and it seemed instead that there would be so many "fool" candidates for the Seahawks. What a difference a win makes. You all know that I favor Russell Wilson's scrambling ability on the 98-yard drive that helped keep Seattle in the game. There was also an incredible diving interception by Earl Thomas, in addition to all the other things he does.
Sherman had the biggest play of the game, but not without some help. Avril and Clinton McDonald had huge late-game sacks that prevented the Texans from getting a game-winning score. Kam Chancellor led the team in Estimated Points Added:
But I'm going to go with...
"Cool" of the Week - Doug Baldwin
People say that Seattle isn't "built" to come-from-behind, based on the fact that they see a running team and running teams don't score as often. That it's hard to drive 98 yards in a short amount of time if you're running the football. And to an extent, I believe that is true. However, what the Seahawks strategy disguises is that they have talented receivers, players that can make plays that can still make you marvel at what NFL athletes can do even after years of being desensitized to the fact that these guys are amazing.
There's a lot of players on the team that deserve the game ball, but I'm going to give it to Baldwin because for a team that doesn't appear to use it's receivers very often, he's shown plenty of times this year that it's not for lack of talent.
*throw the gameball two feet out of bounds*
*Baldwin still gets it*
"Fool" of the Week - Kareem Jackson
Take the pick-six out of the equation and Schaub is one of the big reasons why the Texans were in a position to win this game and win it big. Ben Tate's fumble and the ability to put consistent pressure on Schaub in the fourth quarter and overtime were at least as big of factors on the final outcome. But in my opinion, there's still a very good chance that this game would have resulted in a tie if it weren't for Jackson's penalty.
Buzz, a tie, woof!
For the Seahawks Fool(s) of the Week - We need to shore up that offensive line. Quick.
From a Texans Fan on Football Outsiders:
Rivers McCown: I used my press box seat to focus on Richard Sherman and Ed Reed. I think I'd score the Sherman battle about 60/40 to Andre Johnson when he was on the field, but the Texans mostly kept Johnson away from Sherman. I was perplexed by how often Seattle was using zone early in this game when they clearly had the horses to go man-to-man with Houston's skill position players.
As for Reed, it was hard to tell what kind of difference he was actually making because Wilson was under siege. I'd be watching Reed and then the play would be over in the backfield before he had a chance to do anything. That tackling though ... he definitely dogs it on plays when he can. He's smart about angles, but that's about the only thing working in his favor right now.
In the grander scheme of things, separating Schaub from Kubiak is a problem. Sherman said after the game that the Seattle scout team ran the exact same play the pick-six came on in practice on Friday, and he picked that one off too. I'll be honest here and say I thought Schaub would play worse than he actually did in this game. I think part of that was Gary Kubiak accepting that the Texans would need to open up the passing game more. But as soon as the 20-3 lead was in hand (and Ben Tate, you do not escape blame for that fumble), he morphed right back into generic Kubiak land, replete with checkdowns on third-and-long and plays the defense sees coming a mile away.
Put my Heart in a Blender: Inside-Outsiders DVOA Update
Last week the Seahawks jumped up to the number one spot in VOA rankings! This week, DVOA came out and they fell to number two... by a lot!
The Denver Broncos currently have a DVOA of 62.2%, third-best ever (for as long as FO goes back) through four games and the second-best offensive DVOA behind the 1999 Washington Redskins. Hey wait, the 1999 Redskins?! That doesn't intimidate me at all!
Seattle has a DVOA of 43.1%, still comfortably ahead of the Chiefs (32.7%) and they ranked first on defense and second on special teams. The Seahawks are ninth on offense, so not that bad at all. The Broncos are 19th on defense but first in special teams and offense.
The Patriots are actually only seventh in DVOA, behind DEN, SEA, KC, NO, IND, and CAR.
Stat of the Week
Football Outsiders "Clutch Encounters" series named this the Game of the Week.
In that article, which you can read fully here, they go into depth about how competitive Wilson's games have been throughout his college and NFL career. Here's one little nugget that really backs up everything we've been saying about Wilson and his ability to make every game close:
You have to go back to the next-to-last game of Wilson's sophomore season (2009) to find a blowout loss for him. That too was against Virginia Tech and Wilson trailed 38-10 for the entire fourth quarter. That was also the final score.
Since that point, Wilson has started 50 consecutive games, going 37-13. In the 13 losses he had a fourth-quarter lead nine times, a fourth-quarter tie once and only three games where he could do no better than having the ball, down by 3-7 points. Forty-six games out of 50 with a fourth-quarter lead. That's with two college programs and a NFL team. While Houston is not the kind of game to highlight his individual play, just know it's never over until Wilson says it is.
Also in that article, is that Pete Carroll has been on the winning side of a fourth quarter comeback 14 times in his career and on the losing side 30 times. That goes back to his days before USC, of course, and his record in Seattle with Wilson would have to be much better.
Greg Schiano has been on the winning side once and the losing side eight times. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is on the winning side nine times and losing side 32 times.
Week 5 Opponent
As briefly mentioned earlier, the Indianapolis Colts are fifth in DVOA with a rating of 25.4%. They are ranked fourth on offense, 13th on defense, and 13th on special teams. The Colts look a lot better than they did last season and new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton promised that they would run a more balanced offense than they did with Bruce Arians. And they have.
Indianapolis is fourth in rushing offense and on defense they've allowed just two touchdown passes compared to six interceptions. They have faced the Raiders, Dolphins, 49ers, and Jaguars, so a mixed bag there.
This year Andrew Luck is completing a higher percentage of his passes, slightly more touchdowns per pass attempt, nearly half as many interceptions per attempt, and the early returns on things like QB rating and QBR are much better than they were last season.
The Colts added Trent Richardson and through two games he's carried it 33 times for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Indianapolis placed tight end Dwayne Allen on injured reserve but Coby Fleener has been a lot more productive this year than he was as a rookie, catching 12 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
They drafted defensive end Bjoern Werner in the first round of this years draft. He hasn't been productive on the stat sheet, but that's hardly going to tell the whole story of how much of an impact this year, I only know that he's now out 4-6 weeks and won't be playing.
Russell Wilson Stats Update
This week: 12-of-23, 123 yards, no touchdowns, one interception, one fumble (recovered), 10 rushes for 77 yards, 49.7 QB rating, 5.35 yards per attempt, 3.39 adjusted yards per attempt, -61 total DYAR, -92 pass DYAR, 30 rush DYAR
In the pantheon of Russell - Wilson was held scoreless for only the third time in his NFL career. It was the second-fewest passing yards in his career, just ahead of the 122 he had in the loss to San Francisco last year. The third-lowest yards per attempt and third-lowest adjusted yards per attempt.
It was the third time that he has rushed it 10 times in his career, and the 77 yards was the second-most he's ever had behind his 92-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Bills.
Against other QBs this week - Though Wilson finished 24th in QB DYAR this week, and 26th in passing DYAR, but he was first in rushing DYAR for a quarterback and had more than double any other QB. Wilson was truly amazing as a runner on Sunday.
Totes McGoats - 59-of-96, 61.5%, 767 yards, six touchdowns, three interceptions, 8.2 yards per attempt, 8.0 adjusted yards per attempt, 13.3 yards per catch, 95.3 QB rating, 50.38 QBR, 13 sacks, four fumbles, 27 rushes for 131 yards and no touchdowns.
Wilson is 27th in pass attempts and two players ahead of him have only played in three games. He is 17th in completion percentage and 25th in passing yards. He's 13th in touchdown throws but fifth in TD% and he has the 14th-highest (i.e. worst) INT%. Blaine Gabbert is throwing an INT on 7.5% of his throws. Wilson is sixth in Y/A and seventh in AY/A.
He's fourth in YPC and ninth in QB rating. The only player sacked at a higher rate than Wilson is Gabbert. He's fourth among QBs in rushing yards.
Through four games last season: 59-of-100, 59%, 594 yards, four touchdowns, four interceptions, 5.94 yards per attempt, 22 rushes for 80 yards and no touchdowns.
Around the League
- Quarterbacks on pace for 5,000 yards passing: Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, and Matthew Stafford. Perhaps just as amazing as Manning's pace of 64 touchdown passes this year is that in order for him to break the current record of 50 passing touchdowns he still has to get 35 more. Something he's done in a full season only twice in his career.
- Drew Brees holds the record for completion percentage, minimum 400 attempts, at 71.23%. This year, Manning is at 75%, Philip Rivers is at 73.9%, and Tony Romo is at 72.4%.
David Carr has the 11th-best completion percentage season of all-time.
- Rivers had a QB rating of 88.7 over 2011-2012, but is currently at 118.8 this year. Assuming that Manning stays ahead of him (138 QB rating) that would be the fourth-best QB rating over a full season.
- A QB has attempted a minimum of 160 pass attempts over the first four games of a season 55 times in NFL history and 25 of those occurrences have happened since 2010. Seven players have done it this year alone, and only Brees has a winning record among them. Manning has attempted 156 passes.
The list includes the likes of Brandon Weedon (2012) and Colt McCoy (2011) for the Browns. Weeden and Brian Hoyer have combined for 180 pass attempts this year. Brees attempted 191 passes through four games last year, an NFL record, as the Saints fell to 0-4.
Sam Bradford has attempted 182 passes this year.
- Can Manning break all the records?
Peyton Manning, 4 games, 2013: 75% completions, 1,470 yards, 16 touchdowns, no interceptions, 138 QB rating.
Kurt Warner, 4 games, 1999: 72.5% completions, 1,217 yards, 14 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 136.0 rating.
Tom Brady, 4 games, 2011: 66.8% completions, 1,553 yards, 13 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 111.3 rating.
Daunte Culpepper, 4 games, 2004: 72.6% completions, 1,341 yards, 13 touchdowns, 1 interception, 126.0 rating.
There's more precedence here than most people give it credit, but yes, I do think that he will break all of the records. Denver's schedule is too easy, Manning is too good, his receivers are too good, and frankly I think that they want to break the records.
- Julian Edelman was on pace for 144 catches last week, along with Julio Jones. Edelman is now on pace for 136 catches and Andre Johnson catches up to him for the NFL lead. Jones "slips" to a 132-catch season, and will promptly announce his resignation.
- There are eight seasons in NFL history when a player caught at least 120 passes. Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, Wes Welker, Marvin Harrison, Herman Moore, and Calvin Johnson are the only players to do that. Five players are on pace to do that this season: Jones, Edelman, Johnson, Antonio Brown, and Jordan Cameron.
Cameron was a fourth round pick in 2011, he had 26 career catches coming into this season, his quarterbacks are Weeden and Hoyer, and if the numbers held up, he'd have the most catches and yards for a tight end in a season in NFL history. Not to mention that he has five touchdowns in four games. Except that I did mention it, so I don't get the point of that phrase.
Of course, if the numbers hold up for everyone, Jimmy Graham will finish the year with 1,832 yards. And he might.
Maybe not exactly. That would be quite the coincidence! Cameron is also trailing in yardage to Antonio Gates, remember him?
- Andre Johnson has six touchdowns since the end of 2010.
- Bobby Wagner is second in the NFL in assisted tackles with 17. Rookie Tyrann Mathieu of the Cardinals is tied for third in the league in solo tackles with 28. Teammate Karlos Dansby leads the NFL in solo tackles with 37 but hasn't been credited with an assisted tackle, like help a brother out, bro?
Bills rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso, the 46th overall pick and the fourth ILB taken, has 19 tackles, four interceptions, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a sack.
- The Jaguars are the worst team through four games that Football Outsiders has ever seen (going back to 1989.) That's not good for our strength of schedule...
Actually, that's not good for anybody.