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Cigar Thoughts, Game 5: Seahawks play game of the year, win game of the year

The Seattle Seahawks used a series of heroic plays, and a missed field goal, to beat the Los Angeles Rams 30-29, improving to 4-1 in the process

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

For the last couple of years, the Rams have killed the Seahawks. Seattle made the last couple of games close but it’s fair to say there’s been a noticeable gap between the two teams and it hasn’t been in favor of Seattle. This game, however, felt different. Something about the short week, the home game, the Rams’ horrific loss to Tampa Bay, and the way Russell Wilson has been playing made us all feel like this might be the night. Add to it the induction of Paul Allen into the Ring of Honor, an event that turned the Clink into a goosebumps factory, and maybe we’d be in for a classic win. Hoo boy...

Seattle started with the ball but didn’t keep it for long. After Wilson hit Jaron Brown for a big gain, he had the ball ripped from his hands on a really impressive play by Nickell Robey-Coleman. Facing a mountain of criticism for only giving him 5 carries in last week’s loss, Los Angeles fed Seattle a huge helping of Todd Gurley. Gurley responded by running hard and dynamically, popping heads and flattening tacklers. The way it was going, with the field position they were given, it looked for all the world like the Rams would be up 7-0. Still, the Seahawks were able to hold the Rams to a field goal. After a punt and more Gurley, they did it again. 6-0. That, combined with relentless harassment from LA’s vaunted DL, made the start feel pretty bad. Still, the fact that it wasn’t 10-0 or 14-0 was a win unto itself.

Then Seattle put together a remarkable drive. A quick hit to DK Metcalf and an improbable scrambling throw to Will Dissly moved them into scoring position. What followed was incredible. Feeling themselves after the big gain, they spent all their newfound set of downs at once. Taking the snap and dropping back, Wilson found himself without Aaron Donald up his ass for the first time. In fact, no one was. You know how in movies you start to get nervous if everything is going well for the good guy for just like, too long? Turns out Wilson’s luxurious amount of time in the pocket was coming at the cost of absolutely no one being open.

Eventually, the defenders would come. They always do. The right-handed Russ suddenly found himself sprinting towards the left sideline, predators nipping at his heels. As the darkness closed in around him, Wilson saw 8 defenders covering 5 receivers. At full speed, Russ somehow contorted the top half of his body 90 degrees towards the goal line and let it fly. As he did, a prayer to the heavens slipped from his lips and ascended.

Wilson’s lifetime of righteous living was rewarded as the ball somehow found its way to the back left corner of the endzone. To all of us idiots it looked like he was throwing it away, but as the ball headed out of bounds, it was speared by a tiny angel clad resplendently in atomic vomit. Tyler Lockett stretched his child-like frame up to full adult size as he dragged his toes along the turf. He snagged the spiral with his feet in bounds by two fake blades of grass for the most impressive play of the year. I mean, that throw was impossible. I am honestly sitting here wonder where that one ranks among Wilson’s all-time best*.

*Per NextGen stats, it was the least-likely completion in the NFL in the last two years.

That put the Seahawks up 7-6 and the entire atmosphere palpably shifted. It was still a slugfest but that was the first punch that landed. After the Rams traded two short drives for one of Seattle’s, the ‘Hawks offense retook the field from their own 27. Wilson immediately dialed Lockett up again for 17 to the right side after a David Copperfield escape, then handed it to Chris Carson for 6, then 2, then on 3rd & 2 it was Carson again for the first down. On the next play, Wilson faked it back to CC, and tucked the ball under his arm. When he stood back up into the pocket, he saw a superhero sprinting across the field and heaved it from the 50.

Meanwhile, DK Metcalf was running at a speed normally reserved for Saharan cats until he found himself behind the entire Rams secondary. He continued to accelerate until he opened a portal and entered a universe all his own. After living a thousand lifetimes on the other side of the stars, Metcalf re-entered our sphere just in time to have Wilson’s pass hit him in the chest for the score.

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The Rams got a little something going on their next drive but any attempt to halt their hosts’ momentum but all of that snuffed out when Bobby Wagner and Jadaveon Clowney closed on Gurley as he fought for extra yards. With Gurley lunging, Clowney snaked a hand into his grasp while Wagner ripped at the ball from behind. The combined ferocity forced the ball free and Clowney fought KJ Wright for the recovery until he got it. It was the latest in a series of huge plays for Seattle and it looked like they were gonna put a little distance between them and the defending division champs.

The offense picked right back up where they left off, using 8 plays to go 53 yards until they found themselves facing 4th and less than a yard. The Rams were reeling and I was screaming GO FOR IT at the screen. And, for a glorious few moments, it looked like they were going to. But then instead of letting their nuts hang, they tried the lame-ass try-and-draw-an-offsides play before calling a timeout to try a long field goal instead. It was a dick-punch decision even if they made they field goal but when Jason Myers pushed the 48-yarder to the right, it was just so deflating. Still, the defense had been tremendous to this point so maybe they could bail Pete and Jason out.

Unfortunately, the Rams unveiled a series of quick-hitting throws and slick screen passes to get the ‘Hawks backpedalling. All of a sudden, Seattle was reacting to the Rams’ attack instead of dictating terms. As the seconds clicked away, the Rams continued rack up first downs. In the time it takes to fix a drink, Los Angeles had moved from their own 33 to the Seahawks’ 9. On the next play, Goff darted a throw into Cooper Kupp for a touchdown to send the teams to the locker room with Seattle up just 1 and LA getting the second half kick.

In the third quarter, the Rams straight carved up the ‘Hawks. Kupp and Gerald Everett made a series of incredible plays after the catch and Seattle’s defenders went from forcing the issue to trying to play tag. All of a sudden it looked like the Seahawks only had 9 defenders on the field and it wasn’t long before Gurley was skipping into the endzone to give the Rams a 20-14 lead. Seattle responded with a three-and-out :-(. Now I would be extremely remiss if I didn't mention that this drive would likely have resulted in just 3, or even 0 points at Ziggy Ansah not been unfairly flagged for a low hit on Goff on a 3rd down incompletion. The personal foul gave LA their first 3rd down conversion of the game and set up the TD. A good enforcement of a bad rule.

Now, the Rams have owned the Seahawks over the last couple of years and it would’ve been easy for the Seahawks to fold after giving them their best shot. No one would have blamed them- the Rams are the defending conference champs and the sexy Super Bowl pick for 2019. They have All Pros everywhere, the hottest coach in football, and all the juice you could ever want.

But the Seahawks don’t fold. I mean, hardly ever. And tonight was no exception. Despite not moving the sticks, they were picked up by their punter-savant Michael Dickson, who crushed a 56-yard field goal that was downed by (who else?) Ugo Amadi at the 1-yard line. From there, LA ran three don’t-die plays and shanked a pressured punt to give Seattle great field position.

Then it was Carson for 7, Carson for 5, Wilson shaking pressure to scramble for 12, then Lockett for 9. After Carson got 4 more around the end, Brian Schottenheimer drew up a Bevell Special with a bubble screen to David Moore. This time, everyone hit their blocks, didn’t commit OPI, and Moore weaved his way into the endzone for a one-point lead. It was an exceedingly necessary drive and the hockey assists went to Dickson and the defense.

The Rams were undeterred, as Goff consistently fed Kupp and Everett on a series of big pass plays- none more impressive than the underneath route to Everett that he turned into a pinball 32-yard gain to the 1 (shoulda been a touchdown). Gurley banged it home on the next play and the Rams were ahead once more. At 26-21, Los Angeles kept their offense on the field to go for two. On that play, Goff kept the ball around the left end and appeared to squeeze the ball into the endzone, except replay showed that his shin was down* with the ball outside the plain and the lead remained at 5.

*Is it crazy to anyone else how NFL bodies bend? The pressure applied to the bones and joints of these dudes is insane.

The Rams are relentless, and only relentlessness will give you a chance against them. Seattle showed their mettle, churning out 61 yards over 9 plays on the next drive including two improbable elusions of pressure from their quarterback. It looked for a while like the drive would end with the latest salvo in the barrage of touchdowns. After a Seattle 3rd down conversion was called back on a hold, Wilson’s one real miss of the night came when he skipped a difficult throw to Brown. It forced a 42-yard field goal attempt and this time Myers banged it home to make it 26-24.

LA’s answer was a frustrating 10-play drive that also seemed destined for the endzone but it too finally stalled out after a couple of really impressive plays from Jamar Taylor and Shaquille Griffin to break up would-be first downs. It forced the Rams to settle for a field goal and Greg Zuerlein easily knocked a 36-yarder down the middle to move the ledger to 29-24. We were just getting started.

What followed was the best, most impressive, most important drive of the Seahawks season to date. After a touchback, Wilson hit Lockett for a quick 12 then Carson piggybacked for 8 more. Then Carson powered through a couple defenders for the first down to set up a pass play that never developed. No matter, Wilson tucked it and ran for another 8 yards. The Carson for 1 and Carson for 3. Move the chains.

On the next play, Wilson got flushed out to his right and threw it away, but this time a flag flew. Turns out that after he threw the ball, Clay Matthews hit him and got tabbed with a personal foul. The replay showed as clean a hit as you could want and as much as I love Russ and detest Matthews, it was a horseshit call. Whatever, karma for the Ansah call.

Rashaad Penny got 2 on the next play then tagged Carson in for another 14. Chris got bottled up for a loss on the next play which was followed by an incomplete pass. That brought up a long 3rd & goal but instead of aiming for glory, they handed it back to Carson who trucked his way from the 11 to the 5. That set the stage for a 4th & everything. On that play, the Seahawks went 5-wide and nobody got open. Wilson whirled and juked, dodged, ducked, dived, dipped, and dodged until he was in the right flat. By then, the Rams defense was a frothy mess and Carson found himself wide open in the endzone. Wilson lobbed the ball his way for the easiest score of the year— but these are the Seahawks. Carson watched the ball clank off his hands, pop up in the air, then flutter back into his grasp for the go-ahead score. It was a virtuoso 12-play, 75-yard drive that ate up 7 of the remaining 10 minutes.

DK Metcalf barely missed corralling a contested 2-point throw and the Rams got the ball back down by a single point. Goff was sharp with the game on the line, but his two most reliable receivers weren’t. A low pass to went off Kupp’s hands for an incompletion then a certain first down ricocheted off Everett’s hands and incomplete in front of a sprawling Tedric Thompson. But wait! Did he? No. Absolutely not. But there’s the replay! He picked it. he picked it! HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE? What a catch! Is it reviewable? Has Pete used all his reviews??? Challenge that Pete!! Yes! He has a red flag left and he’s using it. That’s a pick!

Tedric has been a favorite whipping boy for Seahawks fans the last couple of years but his interception- a spread-eagled flail as his body flew in the opposite direction, somehow sneaking his hand under the ball and tipping it himself as he laid on his back. The defensive play of the year in the season’s biggest moment. Just like that, the Seahawks were a first down away from icing it but two Carson plunges and an ill-advised option pitch to Lockett forced them to punt it away with just under two minutes left

The Rams came right out and hit a series of short outs to Kupp followed by a gorgeous pass up the seam to Everett to Seattle’s 30. At this point the outcome seemed academic, as they were well within the range of one of the three best kickers in the world. To the Rams’ credit, they kept passing, pressing the issue. Fortunately for our heroes, they miscommunicated on 2nd down and had to eat a devastating delay of game penalty. After an underneath completion, Zuerlein trotted out with the game on the line. I was only 44 yards.

The snap was good, the hold was solid, and Greg whipped his leg through for the win. The ball left his foot and angled just inside the right upright. It was good... until it wasn’t. That’s because Paul Allen reached down from his newly appointed place in the Ring of Honor and swiped the ball to the right. The kick was no good by one Ince and the Seahawks were 4-1.

SMOKE RINGS

~Aside from the 4th down travesty at the end of the first half, I thought the play-calling was terrific tonight. They kept switching it up on the Rams defense all night, grouping runs and passes together then counter-punching for big gains. I’ve been hard on them this season but I can recognize improvement when I see it and the last two games have been great. kudos.

~When Russell Wilson tossed the ball through a bottle top to Lockett for that first TD I started to wonder if he was about to have one of those nights. And oh man. This was as good as he’s ever been, and that is saying something. He was insanely collected under consistent pressure, scrambling when nothing was there and dishing dimes when there was. His final line is some video game shit: 16 of 21 for 268 yards, 4 TDs, and 0 turnovers. Again. He’s now thrown 12 TDs and run for 2 more against zero interceptions. He is leading the NFL in TDs and completion percentage, playing the best football of his career, and absolutely leading this team in every way. I never thought I’d admit an athlete could be more important to Seattle than Ken Griffey Jr but Russ has done it. He is the man.

~Chris Carson was a problem for the Rams tonight. He turned 27 carries into 118 violent yards with the touchdown catch. He has been sensational over the last two weeks and is re-earning his spot as a focal point for this offense. Rashaad Penny was also outstanding with the opportunities given, including splitting out wide and dusting Aqib Talib on a go route for 30 yards on top of his 18 rush yards. Nothing eye-popping in the box score but a couple of huge plays and 49 yards from your RB2 is juuuuust fine.

~Tyler Lockett’s catch was one of the best you’ll ever see. I don’t know what else to say about it. 4 catches for 51 yards and the score on just 4 targets for one of the most efficient WRs in NFL history.

DK Metcalf is just such an incredible athlete. Built like Transformer and still the only guy fast enough to outrun a Russell Wilson deep ball. Two catches for 44 yards and the score. Again, high-risk/high-reward and frankly, I love it. And him.

Will Dissly’s hands are softer than a mother’s lullaby. I bet the ball doesn’t even make a sound when he catches it. 4 catches (2 of them absolutely remarkable) for 81 yards on 4 targets. He just keeps doing it.

~The defense was awesome today. Yes, they got gouged on a few drives but the Rams do that to almost everyone. The fact that they only gave up 6 points on those first two drives kept this classic from getting out of hand early on. The Thompson pick was out of this world. The Wagnmer/Clowney strip was Gurley’s first lost fumble in well over 300 touches. Their 3rd down efforts kept the Rams to just 3-11. KJ Wright had 10 tackles and while he had no chance one-on-one against Everett, he made a number of big tackles in the open field to help stop drives.

Michael Kendricks was everywhere, registering 7 tackles of his own. McDougald was great, Griffin was unreal (he’s literally been one of the best CBs in the league this year), and the DL kept consistent pressure on Goff.

~Awesome to see Michael Dickson be awesome.

The Seattle Seahawks are 4-1 and get a week and a half to chill. T<he trajectory of their season just changed in a huge way, and all off a sudden there’s no reason not to consider them among the NFC heavyweights. Gotta say- I didn’t expect to see that from this squad so early. If they play as well as they usually do late in the season, there is no ceiling for this team. Not with Wilson playing like this.

I don’t even know who Seattle plays next and I honestly don’t even care. I don’t even know if it matters. Onward, upward, go ‘Hawks!

Jacson on Twitter | Cigar Thoughts Hub | Cigar Thoughts Facebook

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Tonight’s smoke was tremendous. Padron Family Reserve 1964. It was so good that I admit I had to look it up. I was thrilled, but not surprised, to learn it was named Cigar of the Year in 2009. Just insanely smooth and flavors like you wouldn’t believe. It was worthy of the Whistlepig I broke out for this game of games.

Once again, I am STOKED about our cigar partnership this year. One of our readers has the plug on some insane stogies has offered them to Cigar Thoughts readers for 20% off. These are high-end sticks, and among the most enjoyable I’ve ever smoked. To get the hookup, just email SeattleCigarConcierge@gmail.com. They are carrying over 70 cigar brands with many rare releases, including Davidoff, OpusX, and Padron. You can also hit him up on Twitter: @SeattleCigars

The 2019 season of Cigar Thoughts is also proud to be sponsored by Fairhaven Floors and Brandon Nelson Partners.