Admit it, you thought the Seattle Seahawks were just about cooked when the Carolina Panthers were already into Seattle territory before the two-minute warning.
Then Graham Gano missed his field goal. Hope rising.
Then the Seahawks were quickly faced with 3rd and 5, with a very real chance of giving the Panthers the ball back.
Russell Wilson finds Tyler Lockett for 43 yards, and the rest is history.
The Seahawks won a game they absolutely had to win if they wanted a realistic shot at making the playoffs. On the road, 10 AM start, on a pretty awful grass surface. It feels good, doesn’t it?
Let’s look at the Winners and Losers from this amazing game in Charlotte.
Wilson started the game 4/9 for 60 yards and finished 22/31 for a season-high 339 yards and two touchdowns. He was absolutely sensational in the 2nd half, particularly that game-tying touchdown on 4th down to David Moore. The essential game-ending lob to Lockett was phenomenal, and his pocket movement on that play was terrific. Carolina’s secondary obviously isn’t very good, but great quarterbacks exploit vulnerable defenses, and with the running game not working, Wilson and the passing attack needed to get the job done... they did exactly that and then some. Consecutive weeks of clutch 4th quarter comebacks by #3, and now he’s the all-time leader in wins by a Seahawks starting QB.
What a breakout year for Lockett. Five catches for 107 yards and a career-high eighth touchdown on the season. Two of the biggest 3rd down conversions of the game both went to #16. The Russ-Lockett combination has been money.
Unfortunately, Russell Wilson-to-Tyler Lockett has not been very effective this season. Out of 54 targets to Lockett, 11 have gone incomplete, whereas the other 43 have only gained 661 yards, 8 TDs, and a rating of 157.25. What happened on those other 11 plays????— Field Gulls (@FieldGulls) November 25, 2018
For someone who didn’t make his first catch until game 4, David Moore is the team’s second-leading receiver in terms of yards (413) and touchdowns (5). This was the best game of his young career, with 4 grabs for 103 yards and that aforementioned 4th down TD. He had some growing pains in recent weeks, but he was terrific on Sunday, and I don’t think anyone imagined he’d be this much of a factor on offense even during his outstanding preseason.
Tyler Lockett and David Moore’s “Allen Iverson steps over Tyronn Lue” celebration
This is one of the best touchdown celebrations I’ve ever seen.
Lockett hit em with the Iverson stepover @TDLockett12 pic.twitter.com/JhvxIHTvCk— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 25, 2018
On a day when the Seahawks defense was largely awful, the red zone produced some great “bend but don’t break” moments. McDougald’s interception of Cam Newton was Seattle’s first takeaway this month, and it led to a touchdown the other way. That’s a 14-point swing that proved to be one of the biggest moments in Seattle’s victory.
I want to single out one moment for Sweezy that might be the most important block of the season. Watch him double up with Duane Brown on Kawann Short:
Eventually coming through that hole is #97, Mario Addison. This could be disastrous. But here’s what happens when Addison charges towards Russ.
Sweezy disengaged from Short, blocked Addison, and Wilson showed exemplary pocket maneuvering to slide away from the oncoming pressure to find Tyler Lockett for the 43-yard dagger. That’s what an improved offensive line can do for you. The Seahawks OL as a whole was great in pass protection given the repeated blitz calls, but Sweezy’s critical block is my personal highlight.
First career NFL catch turned 2nd and 14 into a 17-yard gain. Well done, rook!
Janikowski has not missed any extra points this season, and he came through with his second game-winning field goal of the year. I won’t advocate for Seabass as “Well-Fed Justin Tucker” or anything of that nature, but he’s certainly a hell of a lot better than the previous guy.
Flowers made two pivotal tackles in this game that perhaps saved 10 points. The first one was an end-of-half open field tackle on Christian McCaffrey to deny the Panthers a touchdown in the red zone. Instead of 17-10 CAR, it’s 13-10. Then at the end of the game, Flowers trailed DJ Moore and brought him down at the 34-yard line, short of the first down, thus denying the Panthers the ability to run out the clock and then kick the FG. He also had a forced fumble that obviously wasn’t recovered. I’m probably overly optimistic about Tre Flowers, but I like his upside. He’s arguably the best tackler in the secondary already.
Wow is this run defense awful. Nazair Jones’ early stop of Christian McCaffrey in the opening quarter was one of the few good plays managed all game. They are consistently dominated at the line of scrimmage, failing to set the edge, and getting gashed up the middle. It has been one of the most disappointing aspects of the season.
Linebacker depth below Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright
Austin Calitro played better this week than last week, but he’s essentially another Michael Wilhoite out there (slow to diagnose plays, a liability in run support, and not great in coverage). Barkevious Mingo had a nice moment denying Greg Olsen a touchdown with tight coverage off play-action, but a good tackler he is not. Mychal Kendricks returns in two weeks, and that is a welcome sight.
Griffin’s sophomore slump is worrisome. It’s possible that he is better suited to being on the right side as he was in his rookie year (even after Richard Sherman’s injury), but Griffin fell on his face giving up a touchdown to Curtis Samuel, and committed an obvious pass interference in the end zone that set up another score. That DPI was caused by being burned on a double move. Griffin hasn’t been getting routinely torched, but many of the big passing plays allowed have involved him at some level.
Chris Carson’s ball security
The hurdle-turned-backflip was cool, but not a great day for him overall. 16 carries for 55 yards and a touchdown, but he had a fumble and then a near-fumble that was (rightly) overturned upon replay. Ball security is a very legitimate concern for him right now, especially since we saw some of that even in preseason against the Chargers.
- Cam Newton is genuinely better than I’ve seen in recent seasons. He’s more accurate, taking easier throws, and he’s still as dangerous as ever on the run. Norv Turner has done a good job with Newton, plus those misdirection plays were well-crafted.
- Did you see Delano Hill snuffing out a McCaffrey screen? That was awesome!
- Not awesome? Curtis Samuel’s TD was clearly ineligible man downfield. Since when can an OL initiate a block nearly three yards beyond the LOS?
- Seattle is 10-6 over its last 16 regular season road games and went 3-0 in 10 AM kickoffs this year.
- The San Francisco 49ers are 2-9 and terrible, but Kyle Shanahan is an excellent offensive mind with a very effective rushing attack. I’m worried about this run defense against Matt Breida, but not much else.
- Enemy Reaction is going to rule.