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The Afterthoughts: Damontre Moore, Benson Mayowa also saved the day

Many things had to go right for the Seahawks to topple the Vikings Sunday night, including a pair of plays by a pair of unsung players

toverman@theolympian.com

Loyal readers, meet Damontre Moore.

His clean yet brutal hit doesn’t have much do with the post, except in a roundabout way. On a night when the late touchdown-makers got all the glory, as is customary after all, Moore and fellow d-lineman Benson Mayowa were many fans’ afterthoughts — if they were thought of at all.

Time that changed.

In the absence of any flashy free-agent acquisitions to bolster the pass rush, the untimely demise of Bruce Irvin, an unfortunate injury to Darrell Taylor that will rob him of a full rookie season, and general malignment of the defensive line — into this portal of apparent doom stepped Mayowa and Moore.

The two Seattle Seahawks who many fans would be hard-pressed to recognize on the street each turned in a secondary critical play besides the obvious ones that led to key turnovers. Yes, Moore forced Kirk Cousins’ first fumble and Mayowa got in there for the second, but everyone’s seen those plays, and replays of the plays, and replays of the replays. Fumbles are cool.

Our mostly anonymous d-linemen/intrepid heroes each came through elsewhere (elsewhen?). Specifically, on the two final meaningful offensive plays run by Minnesota, and we do mean run. Watch Moore chase down Adam Thielen and help Mayowa deny a first down from happening. In the open field, where the Pro Bowl WR ought to thrive.

The first men on the scene are Ryan Neal and Quandre Diggs; the latter does well to beat his block and harass Thielen. But neither safety makes the tackle.

Moore’s closing speed is elite and his choice of angle is precise. He needed both. Mayowa arrives at the same time. The Seahawks needed both. Thielen gets three and a half yards when he needed four.

Here’s a still when it looks like Thielen is going to not only reach the marker, but probably the pylon too. Moore and Mayowa are the red and yellow dots.

As mentioned, Diggs is key to disrupting the play, but it takes the hustling M’n’M’s to actually force fourth down, when a first would’ve been fatal to Seattle’s chances.

Mayowa won’t be remembered as a crucial part of the ensuing fourth and inches, the inevitable-looking conversion that would’ve sent the Seahawks into the bye at a pleasant 4-1 instead of a barnbusting 5-0. Cody Barton stands up the fullback and that’s huge. Bobby Wagner cleans up. (Of course he does. Stop freakin’.)

But if you can, peer through the mass of bodies and spy, with your little eye, the man of the moment: Mayowa. He engages with the blocker, maybe doesn’t drop low enough, loses some ground, senses the play coming straight at him, disengages smartly, gets in the way, and then when it matters the most, doesn’t surrender any real estate when Alexander Mattison enters the chat.

Good thing Mayowa doesn’t give up an inch, too, because there was precious few left to give.

Seahawks history is resplendent with non-superstars superstarring in the biggest moments. Luke Willson in the 2014 NFCCG, receiving the two-point conversion from heaven like manna. Cliff Avril pressuring Colin Kaepernick from the right side, rushing Kaep’s throw by a fraction of a second, leading to a pretty big tipped pass. Brandon Stokely worming his way impossibly open against the Saints again and again, helping Seattle keep pace on the scoreboard, biding time until the earth eventually shook.

Every victory has its background heroes. Every winning season has overlooked contributors. Every special season hinges on a few bang-bang right-place-right-time plays. Damontre Moore and Benson Mayowa filled those roles Sunday night.