Before we get to Winners and Losers for Sunday’s wild 41-38 thriller between the Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans, I just have to point out that Houston sports fans were just taken for the most insane rollercoaster ride ever. Texans fans witnessed a back-and-forth nailbiter, only to see their favorite team lose with 21 seconds to go, then Astros fans saw their team fall behind 4-0 and 7-4 to the Los Angeles Dodgers, only to take a 12-9 lead, give that lead up in the 9th inning, then still win in extras to be within touching distance of their first ever World Series title. I don’t even really like baseball and couldn’t believe how game 5 turned into batting practice.
Anyway, back to football, because this is what you’re all here for. There were a lot of long balls in the World Series, but there were just as many home run shots at CenturyLink Field.
“Wilson is only good because he has that defense and the running game!” I never want to hear those words ever again. As noted on Sunday, Wilson was historically great, and the Seahawks needed every single one of his 482 yards to get the W. Anything less would’ve ranged from a loss to a total blowout. Engineering a game-winning drive with just three passes in 80 yards, having just thrown a backbreaking interception on the previous possession, is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Wilson has had plenty of incredible comeback victories and game-winning touchdowns, and I’m still partial to the 2012 Patriots game as my favorite one ever, but what he did against the Texans was legendary and will be talked about in Seattle sports history for a long time.
Okay, no J.J. Watt and no Whitney Mercilus certainly helps, but the offensive line looked very good in pass protection. There were very few eye-rolling pressures allowed, and that was a major reason Wilson had time to air it out. Ethan Pocic in particular looked strong in his first start, which reduces my concern that Mark Glowinski will ever be reinserted into the lineup.
Seattle’s Wide Receivers
Wilson is getting all the headlines (and he should), but how awesome was it to see the wide receiving corps ball out like that? And Doug Baldwin only had 54 yards on 6 catches! Tyler Lockett had one of the best games of his career, snagging a half-dozen passes for 121 yards. What more can you say about Paul Richardson? Another two touchdowns, giving him a team-leading five on the season, plus a career-high 105 yards on the afternoon. P-Rich has phenomenal hands plus an exceptional ability to come down with those high-point long balls from Wilson. He needs to be an offseason re-signing. Last but not least, Tanner McEvoy got himself out of the doghouse with a 53-yard catch on a play where he and Amara Darboh ran the same route and got wide open behind Houston’s secondary. McEvoy also forced a fumble on special teams, so it was a solid day’s work for him.
Started the day with reports that Seattle was considering trading him, ended the day with two touchdowns, including the game-winner in which nobody felt like he needed to be covered. For all of Graham’s early season struggles, he’s now caught 4 touchdowns in his last three games. You’d have to go back to mid-2014 (when he was with the New Orleans Saints, of course) to find the last time he scored that many teeders in a three-game stretch.
His drop late in the 4th quarter was absolutely terrible, but I can overlook that when he makes heads up plays like recovering Russell Wilson’s fumble in the 1st quarter. If he doesn’t make an effort to go after the ball when Jadeveon Clowney knocked it loose, then Seattle is kicking a long field goal. Even worse, there was a Texans defender who was also in pursuit of the fumble, so that could’ve easily resulted in a Houston challenge and 0 points for the Seahawks.
This was Bennett’s best game of the season by some distance. He was credited with 1.5 or Seattle’s 5 sacks on Deshaun Watson, but for me the play of the game was his last-ditch trip of Lamar Miller on 2nd and 9 when Houston was trying to run out the clock. If Bennett doesn’t make that tackle, Miller almost surely gets the first down and Seattle’s offense never sees the ball again.
Two more sacks, including what was effectively the game-clincher on Houston’s final possession. Clark has had to play a bigger role due to Cliff Avril’s injury, and it looks as if we might see Frank notch another double-digit sack season.
The dude just got here not even a week ago and he picked up a .5 sack (alongside Sheldon Richardson). I have a feeling this is going to be a great midseason pick-up, because Freeney looks like he still has something left in the tank.
Enemy Reaction fans
Part 1 of 2 drops later on Monday.
I know I’m highlighting the opponent here, but Watson is more fun to watch than even Dak Prescott when he arrived onto the scene. That was a hell of a performance and I’m glad that DeAndre Hopkins isn’t going to have his career wasted due to continually awful quarterbacking.
The idea of a running game
Eddie Lacy, J.D. McKissic, and Thomas Rawls combined for 18 carries and 5 yards. I attribute much of this to terrible run-blocking and a maddening stubbornness to keep doing power-runs instead of more read-option, but it’s clear to me that Chris Carson’s injury has turned the running game from mediocre to inept. Lacy is slow and doesn’t break tackles. Rawls looks powerless and he was arguably the worst player on offense on Sunday. McKissic is talented but mostly a third-down type of back who should be getting more receiving targets. That leaves you with the constantly injured C.J. Prosise, whose ongoing ankle problems have me pessimistically thinking he’s an eventual IR candidate. I don’t see much hope for a leap in improvement, unfortunately.
Hey, at least Germain didn’t false start this time! Instead he torpedoed Seattle’s two-minute drill with a holding penalty and then an unnecessary roughness, which turned 3rd and 9 into 3rd and 24. Ifedi has nine accepted penalties and two more that were declined. No one else on the Seahawks has more than five.
Yes, there were three interceptions of Watson, but this was a rough day for the secondary. I’m pretty sure Kam Chancellor was the only one who didn’t take his lumps. Earl Thomas’ pick-six was preceded by him getting beaten over the top by Will Fuller for an opening drive score. Richard Sherman did have two INTs, but both DeAndre Hopkins and Fuller had big plays against him, with the latter scoring a touchdown. In Sherman’s case, he wasn’t getting “burned” and often had good coverage, so I credit Houston’s receivers more than criticize Sherman. Shaquill Griffin had two good pass break-ups but definitely had some rough moments of his own. Justin Coleman got destroyed on Deshaun’s 14-yard run on 3rd and 14, then got tangled up in Hopkins’ 72-yard TD on the screen pass. Lastly, Jeremy Lane played six snaps and committed pass interference (which I thought was a garbage call). Trade deadline is Tuesday, by the way.
Terry McAulay and his officiating crew
It was bad. Very bad. I already brought up the Lane DPI, but on that aforementioned Hopkins TD, I was certain that the penalty was on Houston for holding and a block in the back on Coleman. On the failed fade to Graham, the Texans defensive tackle jumped offside and no flag was thrown. I have no idea why they even pondered an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Houston defender who stumbled into Doug Baldwin along the sidelines (and didn’t even knock Doug down), but thankfully they picked it up. Seattle also was bizarrely awarded a first-down on a Jimmy Graham catch that was clearly two yards short of the marker, and I’m pretty sure the Seahawks o-line got away with a couple of holds throughout the day.
Thanks for taking the ball out of Watson’s hands and trusting Lamar Miller (21 rushes for 54 yards and a TD) to get four yards when he’d not even averaged three all day. That’s the second time he’s done that this season, and like Russell Wilson on Sunday, Tom Brady made the Texans pay for conservative playcalling. By the way, what was up with D’Onta Foreman being a healthy scratch? I was expecting him to pose problems for the Seahawks run defense, and instead his carries went to Alfred Blue.