For the second straight season, the Detroit Lions came into CenturyLink Field and exited without scoring an offensive touchdown. The Seattle Seahawks once again tamed the Lions (helped by some woeful drops by the Lions receivers) and held them to a meager 6 points. Seattle’s offense scored 26, with 16 coming in the 4th quarter, and are now just one win at Atlanta and one Cowboys loss from hosting the NFC Championship Game for the third time in four years.
Let’s look at the winners and losers from yesterday’s triumph.
After three weeks of completely ineffective play, Rawls was superb in his playoff debut. Mini-Beast racked up 161 yards on 27 carries, a 4th quarter touchdown to effectively seal the game, and broke Marshawn Lynch’s Seahawks postseason record for most rushing yards in a single game. He had more rush yards in this game than the previous four games combined. Seattle needed to get its run game going, and this was terrific way to start.
The box score will show three sacks allowed on Russell Wilson tonight, but I contend two of them were on Wilson. Apart from a fairly rough start for George Fant against Ziggy Ansah, the o-line turned in perhaps its best performance of the season. They opened up holes so huge that Vince Wilfork probably could’ve run untouched for 20 yards, and they didn’t commit a single penalty. Everyone contributed positively, and that’s a credit to both the players and Tom Cable.
Would you say Richardson has fared pretty well since effectively replacing Tyler Lockett’s role? I’d say yes. He had 3 catches for 48 yards, that unreal touchdown — be quiet about the facemask penalty, that’s a level of multitasking that should’ve resulted in the touchdown being worth 12 points — and all of his catches were spectacular. P-Rich was interfered with on two catches, then got facemasked on another reception, but the refs didn’t call it. He also does the little things well, namely not get called for OPI when running the pick play with Baldwin.
After a quiet game against the 49ers, Baldwin racked up 11 catches for 104 yards, stole a touchdown from Jermaine Kearse, and pulled off a tremendous catch just about straight out of his ass. He’s developed into one of the best receivers in the business, and his chemistry with Russell Wilson is just off-the-charts.
Another fine performance for Wagner (10 tackles, 1 for a loss), but Wagz made a key play just before halftime that had Cris Collinsworth ready to strand Al Michaels and personally bow down to Bobby on the field. Zach Zenner had caught a screen pass on 2nd and 16, Wagner was basically the only guy standing between him and a 1st down inside Seattle’s 25, and he shed his blocker and made a perfect tackle in a 1-on-1 situation. Detroit failed to convert on 3rd and 9 and had to settle for a field goal. Wagner should be getting DPOY votes. Plenty of them.
2nd half Russell Wilson
Wilson was far more efficient in the 2nd half, particularly in the 4th quarter, and the numbers reflect as such. He went 17-of-20 for 179 yards and a touchdown after the halftime break, and was a stellar 6-of-7 on 3rd down, which is of considerable importance given his unflattering regular season numbers. One thing I do want to point out is he had no credited rushing attempts, which might be a first. He didn’t have the knee brace on, and I wonder whether or not minimizing his need to run was planned around that. Wilson did look fast when he charged downfield to block for Rawls on that 32-yard run, that’s for sure.
1st half Russell Wilson
6-of-10 for 35 net yards passing, including some inaccurate completed passes, 1-of-4 on 3rd down passing, in addition to back-to-back sacks that turned 2nd and 2 to 4th and 12. It’s a good thing the run game got itself going early, because the passing game started out decidedly muted against an otherwise bad defense.
Seattle has now failed to convert 7 extra points, which is tied with Minnesota for the unenviable lead. This one wasn’t blocked (of which they have 5, easily the most in the league), it was just pulled right and hit the upright. Zero chance he’s re-signed next year. Hauschka had a great run here, but he’s become a liability, and it’s time to move on once this season is over.
Getting 1 yard with the fullback
Hey Mr. Bevell, can this play be erased from the playbook forever? When faced with a yard to either gain a 1st down or score a touchdown, Seattle has handed it off to the fullback three times — twice with Marcel Reece, once with Will Tukuafu — and the current success rate is 0%. Reece failed last night (and for all his service in the passing game and as a blocker, has shown less-than-zero as a runner), but Seattle converted the ensuing 4th and 1 with Rawls to extend their eventual first touchdown drive.
Brad Allen’s first playoff assignment got off to a shaky start, as the first penalty he announced was an illegal block in the back on Seattle’s #29. As much as I’d love to have Earl Thomas out there right now, the flag was actually on Detroit. The night was then filled with questionable calls and no-calls, including the missed facemask on Richardson’s TD, the missed facemask on the next catch he made, a phantom illegal hands to the face on DeShawn Shead, an iffy interpretation of “uncatchable” on what would’ve otherwise been pass interference on Shead, a roughing the passer call against Detroit in which there weren’t any signs that Wilson was hit in the helmet. I’m also certain that the Lions OL had more than just two false starts, but whatever. Allen’s crew shouldn’t get a good grade out of this, and consequently no more playoff games the rest of the way.
Seahawks ball skills
DeShawn Shead dropped an interception that was thrown straight at him, and the Seahawks have now gone five straight games without a pick. They weren’t exactly racking up the INTs when Earl Thomas was healthy, but they’ve not recorded one since his injury vs. Carolina. This is a defense that rose to prominence because of their seemingly innate ability to come away with the football. Those days are either over or they need a retooling so that they can become ballhawks again.
This is purely tongue-in-cheek, as he did extend the first touchdown drive with a 3rd down snag in the red zone, but the man literally got intercepted by his own teammate (who feels terrible about it, by the way). Had Baldwin not committed the accidental theft, Kearse would’ve had his 7th postseason touchdown on just 31 catches. He only has 11 regular season touchdowns on 153 catches! Oh well, he still has the franchise record for playoff touchdown receptions, but Baldwin is right on his tail with 5.