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UHPOG, Week 4: Al gets the Seahawks out of the Woods

Very veteran defensive lineman sets the tone

the pat on the back is warranted

Past commenters have suggested that the UHPOG award could also come with honorable mentions when warranted. A division road victory warrants. Those are hard to come by, are worth Al Woods’ weight in gold, and are almost always the product of several role players rising to the occasion.

So let’s hear it for UHPOG Honorable Mentions Jon Rhattigan and Cedrci Ogbuehi. Rhattigan, you’ll recall, recovered the fumble that led to the Seattle Seahawks going up two scores and essentially putting the game out of reach for a rookie quarterback who looked very much like a rookie.

Two plays later?

SPECIAL TEAMS MATTER. If there existed a Superitalicapslock, I would employ it here. Please invent it, font support.

Ogbuehi, for his part, came on in relief of RT1 Brandon Shell and RT2 Jamarco Jones to turn in a game PFF loved.

Your third-string tackle being serviceable-to-good is the kind of luxury the Seahawks have never seldom always wait how’d that get in there scarcely enjoyed. It is a welcome sight.

But we are here to celebrate the primary UHPOG (UnHeralded Player of the Game), and this time around his name is Al Woods.

Woods, you’ll recall, is 34 and took all of 2020 off. As players sometimes do during global pandemics. He’s back in 2021, fresh as ever, a force on early downs, and suddenly a playmaker among many on the defense? Is that a sentence I just typed?

First let us make a little chart. I love charts. When they are happy little charts.

Defensive stuff that helps you win

stat vs. Minnesota vs. San Francisco
stat vs. Minnesota vs. San Francisco
QB hits 4 8
Passes Defensed 1 9

Woods was responsible for maybe the coolest pass deflection outside of Jamal Adams in the open field and Quandre Diggs’ interception. He also had two QB hits to lead the team. All this in only 35 snaps played out of 76 possible.

How many times have coaches rhapsodized, with longing, about the importance of interior pressure? How many times have fans pined for a DT who disrupts?

Woods was on a mission against the Niners. He got hits for a team that wasn’t getting them recently and deflections for a team that looked allergic to touching the ball in Week 3.

The tipped pass came at a key time, too — the Seahawks were up two scores, 12 minutes remained in the game, and if the hosts were going to make any kind of move, it really needed to be on this drive.

Woods wasn’t having it. For openers, he got in on the first-down tackle, before striking paydirt and forcing a 3rd and 7 that led directly to a Darrell Taylor sack and SF punt. The game wasn’t technically over, but the Niners had blown their best shot.

Let’s see the big play.

The pressure Woods provided also meant the San Francisco 49ers OL couldn’t double-team Carlos Dunlap, and when Dunlap got single treatment, he responded by owning the right side of the line so thoroughly that the officials gave up.

Other Seahawks had nice little games. DeeJay Dallas forced the fumble we saw upthread. Alex Collins and Freddie Swain scored touchdowns out of nowhere — but they’ve been plenty heralded for the last 48 hours. This might be Woods’ only chance.

A P.S. about the QB hits: Russell Wilson took three sacks in the first half last week. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matt Stafford has taken three sacks this entire season. If there’s ever a time in 2021 when the Seahawks pass rush needs to peak, it’s Thursday night. Or the playoffs. We’re still doing those, right?

Perhaps another UPHOG will rise to the occasion.