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Little Things, Week 7: Seahawks block Cards from victory

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Final score: Seattle Seahawks 6, Arizona Cardinals 6, missed chip shots 6

It wouldn’t be hard to spend six or more paragraphs just on the officiating from Week 7.

It would be downright easy to spend six more on the Seahawks’ troubles at the line of scrimmage.

And did you know the kickers played a starring role in guiding these teams to the weirdest 6-6 tie in league history? You probably knew. The biggest plays continue to exist as you remember them.

First, “Tanner BlockEvoy” sets up the game-tying field goal, with an assist from Cassius Marsh:

Somewhat later, Earl Thomas sends David Johnson home one pylon short of a full six points.

psych

Bobby Wagner: “I Block You With My Hands”

B-Wagz, Episode II: “I Block You With My Mind”

At the end, Steve Hauschka lines up for a game-winning kick. Instead, he makes an #alternativefieldgoal. Fans across the greater Seattle area simultaneously do “The Shockey.”

(don’t lie, we saw you do it, right as Hauschka went...)

Just like in the Falcons game, and the upcoming Patriots classic, there are innumerable little things that shaped the final result. So whatever the opposite of an exhaustive analysis is, is what you have before you today. When you mention another, different cool thing in the comments below, you’ll be right — that, too, was a turning point in a contest that could have pivoted on any one obscure component of any one play late in the game. That’s the beautiful tightrope we call “overtime.”

Six seems like the appropriate amount of moments to catalogue, right?

little thing one

circumstances: qtr 2, 0:17, 2nd and 10 from sea 25

Frank Clark relieves Carson Palmer of the football when Palmer could not afford to take a sack or give the ball away. So he does both.

Obviously the play is significant for its removal of potential points from the board. (Though Wagner could’ve blocked the upcoming kick if he’d wanted to, let’s be honest.) That being said, to find the fortuitous fumble’s real significance, back up 17 seconds to 2nd and 1 near midfield, when the Cardinals squander their third and final timeout.

At that point Bruce Arians is relying on the savvy of his veteran quarterback. He wagers that Palmer will finish the two-minute drill error-free. It was a bad bet. Because Clark made it so.

little thing two

circumstances: qtr 4, 10:52 left, 3rd and 25 from the sea 6

The Seahawks are more backed up here than a transatlantic air traveler with IBS.

It’s third and longest — more on that in a sec — so at the very least, the offense needs breathing space. Because a conversion is unlikely, eight yards would be welcome, while twelve would be splendid. Here, Seattle gets nine. Jon Ryan does not comply with a good punt, but at least the kick gets the defense to midfield, where Wagner and co. will yet again turn back the Cardinals. Without those nine yards to C.J. Prosise, who knows how Arizona’s ensuing drive unfolds.

What’s more, Russell Wilson pulls off the “breathing space” move on the very next possession, in circumstances even more dire. Three minutes later, it’s 3rd and 29. From the 1. And Russ finds Doug Baldwin for 13 yards. Thankfully, this time Ryan booms the punt. Again, the ensuing Cards drive nets exactly bupkis.

Sometimes it’s a very big deal to take the little things a defense gives you in exchange for a wee bit of field position. You could argue that either of the checkdowns on 3rd and forever kept a field goal off the scoreboard. I will argue that!

little thing three

circumstances: overtime, 6:52 left, 3rd and 4 from the ari 18

With any quarterback, you have to take the good with the bad. The guys under center are going to make bad decisions. All of them. There will be questionable sacks conceded, terrible throws attempted, pressures dealt with poorly, and decisions both you and they want back.

As the game wound down in Glendale on October 23, Wilson was on point. He wasn’t missing. He wasn’t folding under pressure, making bad decisions, or screwing anything up at all. In fact, he was connecting on another level with his receivers. Except once:

Outside of the throw above, RW was 7-of-7 for 104 yards in overtime. That miss to Jimmy Graham was literally (ed. note: used properly) his only bad throw of the extra period. Who knows if Jimmy thought ‘post’ while Russell thought ‘corner,’ giving birth to a game-changing miscommunication. That’s my theory anyway, given a game state of “field goal ties it, interception loses it” and Wilson’s general aversion to taking chances.

One little thing — Graham and Wilson miscommunicate, once — carried so many implications for an evening, for a season, for a playoff run.

Regardless of long-term effects, the incompletion couldn’t have come at a worse time, given that a completion ends the game happily.

little thing four

circumstances: overtime, 5:15 left, 3rd and 7 from the sea 45

You know all about “Bigger Faster Stronger Louder.” It exists as a pillar of the team’s philosophy.

Still, it needs an addendum, borne of the subtext hidden therein. How about...

“Bigger Faster Stronger Louder Fitter”?

Because it’s the final word that saves the day below. Remember we’re in overtime, and TD = loss.

Kelcie McCray already fits the “faster” bill. You need superior change of direction to make this play. You need something like a 7.00 3-cone drill, as McCray demonstrated at the NFL combine years ago. That’s average for all safeties, lumping all FS and SS together. So isolating for strong safeties, safe to say it’s above average. It’s also faster than the typical NFL running back.

McCray also led all Seahawks in this game with 108 snaps played. 95 on defense and 13 more on special teams. This is on snap 103.

McCray is more agile at a moment when agility is required. He is also fitter at a moment when fitness is necessary. Without elite conditioning, it’s impossible for him to catch J.J. Nelson, who ran a 4.28 himself at combine time — one of the swiftest this decade. (Oh, hi, John Ross.)

little things five and six

circumstances: Bobby’s World

Wagner makes flashy plays. I’d contend he had the game of his life in Arizona. Well, of course he did. The blocks! The intimidation! The 75 minutes (approximate) played on defense, holding the Cardinals to two puny half-scores.

It’s true. All of it. But looking beyond the obvious memories, Wagner also took the occasion to invite himself into Johnson’s nightmares for the entire offseason. How rude.

It’s third and two, time is running out in the fourth, the Cardinals need one body length to convert here and thereby inch nearer to field-goal range. To game-winning field-goal range. Instead, Seattle’s middle linebacker barrels in.

Even more crucially, in the clip below, Wagner is in the right place at the right time, with the right amount of leverage to affectionately hug Johnson at the line of scrimmage... when yet again, TD = loss.

Wagner doesn’t get stood up. Here, earlier, or pretty much ever. He doesn’t miss a tackle — here, earlier, or pretty much ever. Bobby Wagner’s unbelievable consistency would be the defining feature of a lesser defense. On the Seahawks, it gets overshadowed on a regular basis, relegated to second-tier excellence behind the eye-popping plays turned in by ET and Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman and others. To forget about Bobby Wagner is a crime against football. Don’t do it. He is not a little thing.