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EPA Replay: The 10 biggest plays from the Seahawks victory over the Colts

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday’s Seattle Seahawks-Indianapolis Colts game was a tale of two halves. The first half saw a tightly contested game, with the Colts taking a 15-10 lead into halftime. The second half looked more like the Seahawks that we expect to see in primetime home games as they outscored the Colts 36-3. There was still plenty of action in the first half, with 4 of the 10 plays here coming before halftime.

For an overview of EPA and this series, see my intro article here. Onto the plays:

#10. Q1 3-8 SEA : (10:58) (Shotgun) Russell Wilson pass deep right to Doug Baldwin to IND 34 for 27 yards (Vontae Davis).

EPA:3.29. Score before play: SEA0, IND0. SEA WP change: 50-> 61. TD% before: 31. TD% after: 51

#9. Q2 1-10 SEA : (3:41) R.Wilson pass deep left intended for Jimmy Graham INTERCEPTED by M.Farley [Jabaal Sheard] at IND 45. M.Farley ran ob at IND 45 for no gain.

EPA:3.42. Score before play: SEA10, IND8. SEA WP change: 55-> 46. TD% before: 27. TD% after: 9

Both of Wilson’s interceptions in this game were targeting Jimmy Graham. In contrast to the other interception, shown below, I’d place the blame for this one solely on Wilson as the throw needed to be closer to the sideline away from the defender.

#8. Q3 2-13 IND : (2:19) J.D. McKissic right end for 30 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

EPA:3.45. Score before play: SEA18, IND18. SEA WP change: 56-> 69. TD% before: 44. TD% after: 100

Nice burst here from Eddie Lacy J.D. McKissic, whose ability to cut upfield without breaking stride jumps off the screen. With the exception of the receivers on the second level (shout out to Tyler Lockett setting the key block by backing up into a defender and boxing out, along with Doug Baldwin’s block downfield), this play wasn’t blocked particularly well, but McKissic was able to maneuver through the clutter and find the endzone.

#7. Q3 3-10 IND : (10:10) (Shotgun) R.Wilson scrambles up the middle to IND 1 for 22 yards (D.Butler). Seattle challenged the short of the line to gain ruling, and the play was REVERSED. (Shotgun) R.Wilson scrambles up the middle for 23 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

EPA:3.88. Score before play: SEA10, IND15. SEA WP change: 39-> 52. TD% before: 33. TD% after: 100

With 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Seattle trailed 15-10 and their win probability sat at 39%. This play put Seattle above 50% and they would not trail again. This play even earned a “F*** yeah!” from Russell Wilson.

#6. Q2 2-5 SEA : (:30) (Shotgun) Jacoby Brissett pass deep left to Donte Moncrief for 18 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

EPA:4.03. Score before play: IND8, SEA10. SEA WP change: 43-> 30. TD% before: 28. TD% after: 100

Despite being in position to make a play, Richard Sherman Shaquill Griffin couldn’t quite get a hand up in time to knock the ball away.

#5. Q4 3-9 SEA : (15:00) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass deep middle to T.Lockett to IND 32 for 41 yards (V.Davis).

EPA:4.41. Score before play: SEA25, IND18. SEA WP change: 68-> 83. TD% before: 26. TD% after: 51

#4. Q3 3-7 SEA : (6:01) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass deep middle intended for J.Graham INTERCEPTED by Malik Hooker at IND 47. M.Hooker to SEA 24 for 29 yards (J.McKissic).

EPA:4.79. Score before play: SEA18, IND15. SEA WP change: 56-> 44. TD% before: 31. TD% after: 6

On 3rd and 7, Wilson delivers a strike to Graham, who needs to catch this. Not much else to say. This was the only time in their final five drives that the Seahawks did not score a touchdown.

#3. Q4 4-3 IND : (2:28) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass deep right to J.McKissic for 27 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

EPA:5.49. Score before play: SEA32, IND18. SEA WP change: 98-> 100. TD% before: 13. TD% after: 100

As Cris Collinsworth pointed out on the broadcast, if teams are going to cover McKissic with a linebacker, it is not going to work well. McKissic shows great adjustment to the ball in flight to score his second touchdown of the game.

#2. Q2 3-4 IND : (12:32) (Shotgun) J.Brissett pass short left intended for Kamar Aiken INTERCEPTED by Justin Coleman at IND 28. J.Coleman for 28 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

EPA:6.60. Score before play: IND2, SEA3. TD% before: 26. TD% after: 0

This is the second time Justin Coleman has impressed while earning substantial playing time in relief of Jeremy Lane, who was ejected early in week 1 against the Packers. Coleman was obtained from the Patriots for a 2018 7th round pick, and New England currently has the worst pass defense DVOA in the NFL. One wonders if the Patriots wish they could have that one back.

(note: I’m omitting the win probabilities for the top 2 plays since something is wrong with them and I can’t check them on this computer)

#1. Q3 1-10 IND : (2:09) J.Brissett sacked at IND 15 for -7 yards (M.Smith). FUMBLES (M.Smith), RECOVERED by SEA-B.Wagner at IND 21. B.Wagner for 21 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

EPA:7.73. Score before play: IND18, SEA25. TD% before: 33. TD% after: 0

A defensive touchdown when the opposing team has the ball on 1st down is likely the most valuable play in football. With Cliff Avril potentially being out for awhile, the possible emergence of Marcus Smith is a welcome one.

Final thoughts

This was the game I chose for my annual pilgrimage to CenturyLink Field from the East Coast, and despite Andrew Luck’s absence on the field, I couldn’t be happier with my choice. There is nothing like the magic of CLink in a night game, especially when the Seahawks score multiple defensive touchdowns. In contrast to previous seasons, Seattle might not be anywhere close to the #1 team in DVOA, but regardless of how good the team is at the time, there is still something special about the environment. I also had the pleasure of meeting many current and former Field Gulls writers, and they were all just as great in person as on the internet. Having this community shouldn’t be something we take for granted.

I don’t have much to say on the game itself because Cris Collinsworth is so good at pointing out everything that happens on the field that there isn’t much to add. He is a legend.

In memoriam of Chris Carson, I’ll leave you with this play, which didn’t make the list but was a crucial conversion on 3rd down.