Earl Thomas, Sheldon Richardson, Frank Clark.
Three names that contributed the most to a gritty, palpitation-inducing, years-off-the-end-of-your-life victory against the LA Rams on the road. It was their first time beating the Rams on the road since 2013, which was a #good year for the Seattle Seahawks if there ever was one. (There was one. 2013.)
While Thomas, Richardson, and Clark will get their deserved props on the highlights shows, across social media, in the newspapers, and throughout the blogosphere, three very under-the-radar things happened Sunday, without any of which a victory would have been far less likely.
Full highlights via the league website are here, but let’s draw attention to two specific plays, one by the punt coverage team, one by Russell Wilson, and one to the shutdown team defense that also helped save the day.
The Thorpe Recovery
Full video is at Seahawks dot com while we await .gifs and film. Neiko Thorpe will be credited with the timely recovery here, as well he should, yet the thing that’s coolest is that it’s a team effort. After Tavon Austin muffs the punt at his own 29, no fewer than three Seahawks are in perfect position to jump on it.
The ensuing Seahawks drive amounted to nothing, but there are two positives to take from the moment:
A) the defense needed a breather after the offense’s previous two drives had lasted all of four plays combined, and
B) there’s no telling what LA would have done on its next drive — the Rams had already hung two 60-plus-yard drives on Seattle and the game was young.
Anyway, the muffed punt set up the biggest point-saving play of the day by the offense.
Wilson and the Hawk Tackle
The interception pictured below did not result in — repeat, not result in — a pick-six.
Because Wilson smartly uses the sideline as an extra tackler, he sprints down and can position himself a couple seconds later as the last line of defense:
The Rams set up a nice-looking three-on-two fast-break, but fortunately for the Seahawks, this isn’t basketball ...
... because the defender is allowed to tackle. Above, Wilson commits. Let’s hope he’s studied the Pete Carroll tackling videos.
Turns out he has. Gotcha.
If Wilson fails to make the tackle, the Rams go up 14-0. They had to settle for a field goal instead. Wilson may have forgotten to put enough zip on the pass to Luke Willson in the first place, but not giving up on the play kept points off the board.
Run D clamps down
Todd Gurley’s first four rushes went for 29 yards. After that: 10 carries, 14 yards.
Tavon Austin’s first three rushes went for 30 yards. After that: three carries, -3 yards.
When it counted most, the Seattle run defense was at its best. The Rams’ last nine rushes netted them seven yards. After the infamous Jared Goff 22-yard scramble on third down in the third quarter, LA’s ground attack went incommunicado, with the Seahawks effectively rendering the Rams one-dimensional for the final 25 minutes of the game.
And while that one dimension might be good enough to get the job done against the defenses of the 49ers and Cowboys, Seattle is not those teams. Instead, they are a team in first place, in no small part to the plays you remember, and the ones you may not.