8 Down, 15 To Go: Injury-Plagued Seahawks Steal A Win In Houston

After a win like that – where the Seahawks came back from a 20-3 halftime deficit to win in overtime 23-20 – the impulse is to scream out from the rooftops, “THAT WAS THE GREATEST GAME EVER!”  But, of course, that’s not true.  Maybe it was the greatest ending to a game, or the greatest HALF ever, but if you want to be in the running for greatest game ever, don’t make me feel fucking miserable for 30 football minutes.

I don’t know what happened!  Houston got the ball first and we quickly forced a punt.  Then, we came right down the field and got ourselves a three-point lead.  That’s followed by a Houston drive ending with an interception and we were all on cloud nine.  How does it go from that to the Texans generating 20 straight points while we can’t do a God damn thing?

The first-half defense left a lot to be desired, no doubt about that.  Had that continued through the whole game, it would’ve been a blowout and we would have tumbled pretty far down the national power rankings (not that that’s something altogether important, but still).  There would have been a lot of questions about this team.  Is this REALLY a Super Bowl team?  Will this team ever consistently win on the road at 10am?  Does the coaching staff have control of its players?

You know, all the usual bullshit.  Sports writers trying to put their spin on things the only way they know how:  by dredging up the same inane topics whenever a good team has a bad game.

Here’s what we know from what we saw yesterday:  the defense really couldn’t stop the run for the longest time.  The defense had the wrong people covering their tight ends, who were catching everything in sight.  The defense – after those first couple of drives – didn’t get any pressure on the quarterback for the longest time.  There are plenty of things to get to, so let’s start at the top.

Houston is a very good rushing team.  Arian Foster, when healthy, is one of the top five running backs in the league.  Ben Tate might be the best backup running back in football.  This is a team, like the Seahawks, that is dedicated to the run.  Therefore, their offensive linemen are geared to run block.  It’s going to take quite the feat to shut them down with your front four.  The Seahawks, unfortunately, don’t have their world-beater front four that clogs up running lanes like they did in 2011.  Even with Red Bryant still on the end, the line is a little more finesse, a little more interested in pressuring the quarterback.  Stopping the run in 2013 involves more linebacker contributions.  And, truth be told, yesterday the linebackers weren’t the greatest.

As you could plainly see whenever K.J. Wright or Malcolm Smith got beat by Owen Daniels or Garrett Graham.  Those two guys accounted for 11 receptions, 141 yards, and a touchdown.  They were open all damn DAY!  Finally, towards the end of the game, it looked like we were throwing Kam Chancellor and Byron Maxwell on them, so at least we know the coaches are paying attention and actually made an adjustment.

The most damning thing for this team was the fact that we couldn’t get a man anywhere near Matt Schaub.  It looked like we were a little in-between for most of the second and third quarters, concerned about the run (which was really gashing us) and still trying to get in Schaub’s face.  Our front four isn’t quite good enough to allow us to have our cake and eat it too, so thankfully we ratcheted up the blitzes when it mattered most.  Many of the great quarterbacks in the NFL flourish under pressure.  A defensive blitz is an opportunity for a quarterback to take advantage for a big gain.  Not for Matt Schaub.

It’s interesting.  This game went from being all about the Texans and how they are a legitimate contender for the Super Bowl to Matt Schaub and what are they going to do with him?

I don’t know how Schaub threw that pick-six to Richard Sherman, but I’m glad he did it.  If you go back and re-watch the game, you’ll see a hyper-confident Matt Schaub early on, when the Texans were moving the ball with ease.  Then, take a look at him in the fourth quarter, especially after that interception.  He looked like a broken and defeated man – and that interception only TIED the game.  You could tell right there that unless there was some flukey play or ill-timed penalty by our defense, we were going to win that game.

When you think of quarterbacks, you think of three types:  the greats, the game-managers, and the awfuls.  It’s pretty easy to see where just about every quarterback fits.  But, when you look at someone like Matt Schaub, you come to the realization that there is a fourth type.  An in-betweener.  Not quite great, but not just a simple game-manager.  The team doesn’t just rely on him to “limit mistakes” and let the team around him win games.  Sometimes, they have to hop on and let Schaub carry them to victory.  AND, sometimes he succeeds!  But, he fails just enough to drive everyone crazy.  Fans will never fully believe that he’s the guy to give them a championship, in the same way that Cowboys fans will never fully believe in Tony Romo.  The same way that Chargers fans don’t believe in Philip Rivers.  Probably in the same way that Bengals fans (in a few years) will feel about Andy Dalton.  I don’t know what you call these types of quarterbacks, but they’ve got to be some of the most frustrating to have.  They’re good, so you can’t just dump them at the drop of a hat, but they’re not good enough to take you all the way.  I hate to say it at a time where we’re celebrating a 4-0 start, but Matt Hasselbeck was probably one of those guys.

Luckily, we’ve got Russell Wilson now, and the man is a straight-up winner.

I keep thinking that there is no way Wilson can impress me more.  His leadership, his poise, his talent level, his grit and determination, his elusiveness.  It’s all been on display for a year and a quarter now, but yesterday might be his most impressive effort to date.  And that’s not just hyperbole based on the newness of this win!  Our offensive line looked like 2009-levels of bad.  You remember that year, right?  We’d lost Walter Jones and Tim Ruskell refused to replenish the line through the draft, so we were left scrambling.  I don’t know how we EVER sustained a drive yesterday, except maybe the Texans got tired from getting free runs at the quarterback all the time.

Russell Okung, who has been lost since the 49ers game and won’t be back until late this season, was a pretty big loss.  Breno Giacomini, our right tackle, who got injured in last week’s game, made our job that much tougher, because we were playing with two replacement tackles instead of just the one.  But, Max Unger ALSO going down last week really took the cake.

For the most part, all five of our linemen looked like they’d never played football before.  Pancakes Carpenter looked absolutely miserable at times in pass protection.  The Texans were employing your most basic of stunts and our guys didn’t know WHO they should block, so they did the prudent thing and blocked no one.  Russell Wilson had, like, negative three seconds per pass attempt to try to throw the ball.  And, what’s worse:  it looked like the coaching staff didn’t anticipate this would be coming!

The Texans blitz something like 80% of the time.  They’re one of the most aggressive defenses in the NFL, with one of the best players in the NFL in J.J. Watt.  We were coming into the game with one guy on the line playing in the same position he started the season with (J.R. Sweezy).  What did we counter this with?  Giving Kellen Davis an inordinate amount of playing time so he could lead both teams in penalties.

Why wouldn’t your immediate thought going into this game be:  let’s reintroduce the zone read and slow down their aggression by having Russell Wilson run the ball?  That should have been Day 1, Item 1 of the game planning this week!  What, you’re worried about Russell Wilson taking hits?  If you’re worried about Russell Wilson taking hits, how about don’t put him in a pocket protected by a paper mache line???  The guy was going to take hits either way.  But, if you wanted any semblance of a passing game, you needed to make their ends worry about contain, instead of trying to take someone’s head off.

This game was, if nothing else, the greatest test of our depth.  Whenever you can lose some very-important starters – especially along your offensive line – and still come away with the win while getting some younger guys valuable experience:  that’s the ultimate high.  But, I wouldn’t recommend making this a trend if we want to go anywhere in the playoffs this year.

Normally, I’d be pretty thrilled with having the final BYE week of the NFL season.  But, this year, I dunno.  Seems like we could use a week off to get guys healthy sooner rather than later.

I’ll close with my Individual Game Balls, a new feature that I’ll probably forget about after this week.

First up, Doug Baldwin for his sideline tippy-toe catch for 24 yards on third down at our own 5 yard line.  If either foot is an inch closer to the sideline, that’s an incomplete pass and we’re probably punting away the game.

Next:  Russell Wilson, for somehow staying alive, but also for that 4-yard scramble on 4th and 3 near the Houston goalline to convert a first down.  One play later, we scored a touchdown to bring the game to within 7 points.

Then, there’s Marshawn Lynch, for making chicken salad all day against another elite front seven.  I keep expecting this team to run into some easier defenses, but will we see one before we face the New York Giants in week 15?

Of course, who could forget Richard Sherman?  He dropped a sure pick in the endzone earlier in the game.  But, in the fourth quarter, with less than three minutes to go in the game while still down a touchdown, Sherman jumped in front of a pass intended for Owen Daniels (solid strategy to start putting cornerbacks on their tight ends, considering the linebackers weren’t doing dick) and brought the rock back to the house 58 yards.  It single-handedly tied the game and saved my fantasy football bacon all in one move.

Finally, my co-players of the game:  Steven Hauschka, for nailing the game winner in a hostile environment (when he, along with everyone else, expected their coach to “ice the kicker”), and Kareem Jackson, the Texans DB who unnecessarily roughed Doug Baldwin on that final drive to put us down to Houston’s 36 yard line to set up that game-winning field goal.  Without their combined efforts, we may never have won that game.  We might currently be sitting *shudder* 3-0-1.  Ties … ties are the WORST!  What is this, soccer?

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