The more I watch Russell Wilson’s game-winning touchdown pass to DK Metcalf the stranger it is. Both teams committed major errors. Wilson connected with Metcalf, and by extension, the Seahawks won the game, because in a sea of schoolyard chaos, Wilson and Metcalf were perfectly in sync.
Left defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo was let loose into the backfield
Minnesota only sent four pass rushers. Seattle countered with seven blockers, though Travis Homer and Greg Olsen both released into routes. Yet Minnesota’s second most dangerous pass rusher (by scheme) was barely blocked. Check it out.
The pre-snap read must have been massively off, because while Odenigbo was free to nearly win the game for his team, Brandon Shell was left shadowing Eric Wilson—who idled in some sort of a spy still out in the cold position—and Ethan Pocic was left doubling D.J. Wonnum with Jordan Simmons. It was a wholly unnecessary double team. Olsen momentarily blocks Odenigbo before releasing into a route.
That route may have freed DK Metcalf from double coverage
Should Olsen have continued blocking? Certainly someone should have blocked the Vikings’ left defensive end. But loosely covering Olsen likely stopped Harrison Smith from doubling Metcalf. The coverage was made disrespectful never closing to within five yards of Seattle’s tight end. Yet it drew Smith away enough to open a space for Metcalf to run into.
Minnesota’s coverage went to hell in a handbasket
Here’s what this play looked like according to the NFL’s official tracking data.
It’s another play in which Seattle’s receivers “x” crossing routes. The way this affected Minnesota’s coverage is pretty staggering.
Cameron Dantzler does not so much interfere with Freddie Swain as body check him.
The contact wasn’t the product of a pick either. Dantzler breaks off coverage of Metcalf to chuck Swain, perhaps believing a potential flag was better than certainly being beat. Mike Hughes, who was also covering Swain, doesn’t pass his coverage off. Swain was doubled, drawing coverage and interference from Dantzler and regular ol’ legal coverage by Hughes.
Metcalf was left to be covered by Anthony Harris
The product of all these bonkers errors was that Harris was left to pick up coverage of Metcalf, and it’s friggen hopeless. His reaction speed was fine. He had a two yard cushion.
Over four or five strides, Metcalf is able to turn that two yard cushion into a yard of separation.
Pressure forces Wilson to throw to a spot
Bringing this full circle, Odenigbo’s pressure forces Wilson to target Metcalf well in advance of Metcalf being open.
Here is the moment Wilson commits to passing to DK.
The picture is (clumsily) altered to show the location of the reception. Wilson threw to a spot. That spot was something like 30 feet to the right of where Metcalf was when Wilson began his throwing motion. Wilson’s pass and Metcalf’s path intersected so that Metcalf was clear of coverage but the pass was close enough to his body as to be easily caught. Pretty good.
Harrison Smith wins this week’s Jim Lawrence Mora Dirtbag Award
Smith reacts to Metcalf’s triumphant moment by jerking on his shoulder and attempting a forced fumble like an indignant little brother.
As Mora once said during a presser “if you can’t beat em, you can at least poke at their ball(s).”