Week 9: In which Seattle nearly blunders away the season
Even in the very best of seasons, this. Tampa Bay, starting the quarterback who unseated Russell Wilson at North Carolina State and coached by future laughingstock Greg Schiano, took an early lead which they held into the final two minutes of regulation. A late rally pushed the game into overtime, where we find our defining play.
3RD & 6 AT TB 33(10:17)
(Shotgun) M.Lynch right tackle to TB 19 for 14 yards (L.Johnson; K.Tandy)
Seattle’s drive had bogged down at the Bucs 33. The Seahawks faced third and six. A field goal attempt would be 50+ yards, 51 to be precise, and for his career, Steven Hauschka had been considerably worse from 50+ as compared to the 40-49 yard range. This of course is a deceiving simplification, as kickers do not kick from data bins, and one would assume the likelihood of making a 48 or 49-yard field goal would be little different than the likelihood of making a 51-yard field goal.
Calling a pass in an attempt to convert the first down was almost certainly the better plan, but Darrell Bevell called an exceptionally conservative play, and it proved so counter-intuitive as to be kind of genius. He called a run. And though few runs go for six or more yards, this run seemed to catch Tampa completely by surprise.
This is obvious if you look at the all-22. Tampa calls a 3-3 nickel with both safeties walked back.
Tampa’s left edge is incredibly soft. The very undersized Daniel Te’o-Nesheim is tasked with holding the edge, and that’s a tactical blunder made obvious almost immediately. I think Marshawn Lynch is one of the best pure rushers in NFL history, but this run is eating liquefied cake through a tube feed levels of easy.
One second after the snap.
Michael Bowie walks Te’o nearly out of the shot. JR Sweezy takes full advantage of Ramon Foster’s (59) inexplicable pre-snap alignment, and the hole created for Lynch to rush through, well the hole’s pretty big.
I fully believe Bevell wanted only three yards and a more centralized position between the hash marks. Lynch ran for 14, converted the first, and ran for 13 on the next play. Russell Wilson kneeled for a loss of three to centralize the snap, and Hauschka kicked a gimme from the 1-10 yard bin. Proving that, in life, it is often better to face Greg Schiano than be good.
Week 10: In which Marshawn Lynch runs wild
After looking like a contender in 2012 Atlanta was 2-6 entering this game, which strange cycle of contention and collapse has marked the last 20+ years of Falcons football. After a long run by Lynch, and a flea flicker converted for a score, this game was never again close. The run, to me, is the more fun and significant play.
1ST & 10 AT SEA 20(06:30)
(6:30) M.Lynch right end to ATL 43 for 37 yards (D.Trufant; T.DeCoud).
Once again the run blocking is great. Bowie and Sweezy more or less execute to perfection. Sweezy turns and walls off Malliciah Goodman (93). Bowie pulls into the second level and ragdolls Joplo Bartu (59).
Last I read, Bowie was coaching at Sand Springs in Tulsa.
Lynch proceeded to run through contact right over the Falcons logo.
I’ll leave it there, Lynch still fighting, Lynch still unconquerable in his drive for glory.
Week 11: In which Cliff Avril turns the corner
3RD & 4 AT MIN 36(13:38)
This game was surprisingly close entering the second minute of the first quarter.
(13:38) (Shotgun) C.Ponder sacked at MIN 29 for -7 yards (C.Avril). FUMBLES (C.Avril), RECOVERED by SEA-C.McDonald at MIN 33. C.McDonald to MIN 33 for no gain (C.Johnson).
When Avril induced what might be called a Tom Brady pass:
Week 13: In which Avril passes a touchdown to Michael Bennett with Drew Brees’s arm
Avril had a week off to improve his mechanics.
3RD & 5 AT NO 25(06:37)
(6:37) (Shotgun) D.Brees sacked at NO 18 for -7 yards (C.Avril). FUMBLES (C.Avril) [C.Avril], RECOVERED by SEA-M.Bennett at NO 22. M.Bennett for 22 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
This time that spiral is so damn sweet.
And since Field Gulls is a family-friendly website, I include Bennett’s helpful tutorial on how to make one.
Week 14: In which Jim Harbaugh dons Tom Landry’s hat
“He did everything that he could do to hide our inadequacy of talent.” —Tex Schramm on why Tom Landry developed the motion offense.
Seattle was up 17-16 deep into the fourth quarter, when two of its best players combined to allow one of the season’s worst plays.
1ST & 10 AT SF 31(04:21)
(4:21) F.Gore left tackle pushed ob at SEA 18 for 51 yards (R.Sherman).
The confusion begins when Vance McDonald motions from right to left.
Kam Chancellor and Bobby Wagner do not seem to know which of the resulting gaps they’re assigned.
In the blink of an eye, this goes from concerning to disastrous. Red Bryant, as you can see above, is not setting the edge. Who should? Well ...
not everybody, of that we can be sure. With Wagner, Kam and Bruce Irvin all vigorously attacking the rarely seen E gap, the C and D gaps fly open like barn doors.
Leaving Earl Thomas at just a little bit of a disadvantage.
Some few minutes later Pete Carroll is left to wish Harbaugh a “good job” while famished TV cameras snap at any chance for drama.
Next Week: Weeks 15-17, NFC Divisional Round, NFC Championship, and Media Week.