A few quick notes for anyone who hasn't seen any of these before: 1) Timestamps mark the start and end of the individual plays I'm breaking down below, 2) The time includes all replays as well. I wanted to make sure you had the entire broadcast picture. Enjoy!
So that was fun! Technical excellence, play-calling versus tendencies, and receivers winning their match-ups in the key moments. I'll take you through all five of the Seahawks' scores, and how they did it.
Touchdown #1: 16 yards to Doug Baldwin on 3rd and Goal
Timestamp 0:00 - 0:43 seconds
The formation is 5-wide, with Jimmy Graham in the slot. This is key here. Doug Baldwin just runs a seam-post pattern. The defense reacts both to Tyler Lockett and Jimmy Graham, squeezing both guys as big play targets. Baldwin is left all alone, and the safety for Pittsburgh has no idea what just happened as he was waiting for the ball to be thrown to react. Graham is a heck of a decoy as you see them squeeze him. The threat or idea of big plays has some incredible value as demonstrated here.
Touchdown #2: 12 yards to Jermaine Kearse 1st and 10
This is just Darrell Bevell lulling the defense to sleep. It's 1st-and-10, and before you watch this play I want you to set the time and look at the formation. This formation, with the receivers set way out toward the sidelines -- 90% of the time -- is a read option play.
The belief that it is going to be this, combined with the down a distance, causes the defense to freeze. Both top receivers in the stack run routes, but no one on the right side even reacts until Jermaine Kearse catches the ball.
Great call, probably the best I've seen Darrell Bevell make.
Touchdown #3: 9 yards to Jermaine Kearse on 2nd and 7
Jermaine Kearse runs the slowest but strongest double-move on his man I have ever seen. They ran this concept a few times without the move earlier in the year. I think the defense is just reading Baldwin here mostly, so once Kearse's defender jumps, he's already anticipating the pass out there anyway. (My opinion.)
What I like about this was Kearse's ability to accelerate from a stop and not lead himself into the safety by needing a few more steps to catch himself turn and find the ball. It's smooth, even if it looks like his cleats were stuck in cement.
Touchdwon #4: 30 yards to Doug Baldwin on 2nd and 6
Timestamp 2:09 -3:10
Doug Baldwin is open on a play action here. The defender tries to make contact with Baldwin, desperately throwing his arms out, but Baldwin ducks under it perfectly. Originally, I thought Baldwin tripped, but the duck was so quick and he came out with nice route that even my eyes said that's not right. He then runs a double move, and Will Allen is caught peaking back toward the quarterback after Doug deftly looks back for the ball, faking an out route. He then turns the route into a wheel route up the sideline and Allen is left in the dust wondering where Baldwin had gone.
Play actions are deadly for run-first squads with a big armed quarterback, I'll tell you hwat. -Hank Hill, probably.
Touchdown #5: 80 yards to Doug Baldwin 3rd and 9
The pass protection, and Doug Baldwin make the play, but Russell Wilson dots the I's and crosses the T's on the win.
Watch the pass pro first. The Steelers bring six on this pivotal 3rd down. The Seahawks counter with seven blockers initially, as Luke Willson will push his man wide and then releases into a crossing route underneath, going from right to left. This push will give Fred Jackson (#22) the chance to look both for an inside blitz pickup, or an outside blitz pickup. This will give Russ the time he needs, even though the twist that is coming in combination with the blitz is going to be missed by J.R. Sweezy and Patrick Lewis.
Now, as for the routes.
Luke Willson is going to run a crosser right to left as I explained. Kearse and Lockett are going to run go patterns and Doug Baldwin is going to run a deeper cross from left to right from his tight spot next to Lockett. Baldwin wins instantly with a little jab step that freezes the defender and turns him just barely. Wilson will see this instantly,and let the route develop just a bit more, making sure Baldwin will hit the sticks.
Baldwin runs this with precision. and Wilson sticks it right on him before the free defender can stop him. It's a nice play design that puts your best receiver in a 1-on-1 with a blitz coming, giving you the best chance of success. Game clinching touchdown catch.