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Little Things, Week 11: Seahawks record costly victory over Eagles

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Losing hurts; winning too, sometimes

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks
stop, in the name of me
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

This convincing 26-15 home win over the Eagles had some beautiful big things in it. C.J. Prosise’s brilliant 72-yard touchdown run, which would end up being the second-longest play from scrimmage for the Seattle Seahawks in 2016. Look at it from an all-22 angle.

Re-enjoy Jimmy Graham’s equally brilliant 35-yard touchdown catch:

And finally, a trick play that showcased how much healthier Russell Wilson was in Week 11 than in the first half of the season.

(Also Doug Baldwin isn’t that bad of a passer under pressure. Maybe he could take more snaps under center... if Wilson and obvious backup Colin Kaepernick both have to miss time.)

I joke about injuries now because what are you gonna do at this point -- cry about them after the fact? What’s done is done and different injuries will surface in 2017. The human body was not meant to get beat up in the way this sport beats it up.

All three little things below revolve around three players who did not finish the 2016 season at full health. We’ll need a couple of them back at 100 percent for the fall, please, football fates.

little thing one: a roster decision explained

circumstances: qtr 2, 1:45 left, ball on sea 34, for now

Yes indeed, that is number 48 making the tackle, who you’ll immediately recognize as (/scans last year’s roster) Nolan Frese. Reports throughout the year established that Frese was valued for his coverage ability downfield. He got to the return man quickly against Oakland, grabbing the coaches’ attention.

Here he is in another scrum later, taking a Viking down a notch.

And of course in the video above, it’s Darren Sproles he stops, after Sproles had already chunked 15 yards on the return.

A person can dispute that Frese was a good long snapper. Stephen Hauschka missed ten kicks in 2016 after missing ten kicks combined in 2014 and 2015. Some of that could easily be attributed to inconsistent service from Frese.

But it’s harder to dispute that Frese delivered on the skill that was promised: enhancing the punt team’s coverage. And thus the decision to cut Clint Gresham loose comes into clearer focus -- whether you agree or not.

little thing two: and we almost sidestepped serious injury

circumstances: qtr 2, 0:16 left, ball on sea 40

The season-ending shoulder injury to C.J. Prosise depended on three little things all going wrong, all in a row.

That was the final down of Prosise’s prosmising rookie campaign. And how easily could it have been avoided? All too, is how.

1. A worse punt return would’ve helped set up a less bleak timeline. Tyler Lockett cranked out a 19-yard return that sets the Seahawks up near midfield, at the 40. If he’s tackled early, or is forced into a fair catch at the 21, unlikely that the coaches try to advance the ball with minimal time remaining.

2. Typical conservative play calling or typical timeout wasting would’ve helped. How many times have we seen Pete sit on the ball at the end of the half, because Seattle’s out of field goal range and out of timeouts? Seems like more than we can count. This time, though, with three points just a couple nice plays away, and with two timeouts in his pocket, Carroll elects to try and inch into scoring territory. You can’t blame him, but you can wish Cautious Pete had reared his cautious head.

3. A Wilson decision to throw it away would’ve helped. And honestly this is the biggest little thing of them all here. What does a theoretical short completion in bounds even accomplish? Picks up a handful of yards, you have to call timeout with 10 seconds left. If Wilson chucks it at a coach on the sideline, you’ve lost nothing and gained a C.J. Prosise for many more snaps.

Meaningless gains aren’t worth the risk of injury they pose. Nobody could have predicted that Prosise’s shoulder would fail upon impact at that time. As such, you can’t blame Carroll or Wilson for the result. But you can ask them to not expose their playmakers to unnecessary risks.

little thing three: earl thomas’ roadrunner legs

circumstances: qtr 3, thomas hears a “pop”

Earl Thomas missed half of Week 11 and all of Week 12 with a first-degree hamstring strain he suffered on an interception by Richard Sherman. To bring the pain into closer focus:

The injury was Thomas’ second of his career, after the dislocated shoulder he suffered in the 2014 NFC Championship Game versus Green Bay. It would of course soon lead to his third injury, the inescapable broken leg that cut short his season and hamstrung our Seahawkian joy.

After an indestructible career at Texas (27 games in two seasons) and 80 starts in 80 regular-season games with the Seahawks, 2016 Earl Thomas missed time twice.

Leading to your holiday coronary:

false alarm everyone

Get those “likes” outta here!

To turn away from psychology and return to the firmer ground of statistics, Thomas’ injuries here and against the Panthers provided us with a neat three-game spread against PHI, TB and CAR in which he was present about half the time and absent the other half. During that time, opponents took their shots downfield, because you have to. But their success was far greater with Thomas out. (Obviously.)

With Thomas healthy, the Eagles/Bucs/Panthers completed a total of one pass deep downfield for 16 yards and no scores.

With Thomas injured, the Eagles/Bucs Panthers completed six deep passes for 181 yards and two scores.

You don’t need to be told, again, that Earl Thomas is two levels beyond crucial to the Seahawks defense. But that didn’t stop me.