Squeaker: Seahawks Pick Their Jaws Up Off The Floor Long Enough To Beat The Broncos In Overtime

How about that Jon Ryan, huh?  I know that’s probably not where you want to start after a game like this, but you could really make an argument that he was the most important player on the field yesterday.  Take a look at it like this:  against the better offenses in the league, the Seahawks tend to play a Bend/Don’t Break style of defense.  Give up nothing deep, and as a compromise, the Seahawks will give the opportunity for completions underneath.  To be fair, the Seahawks are certainly one of the very BEST Bend/Don’t Break defenses in football, but they’re still going to give up some yards every now and again.  So, to pin them deep, to flip the field position battle every time our offense failed and we were forced to punt, was just what the doctor ordered in a game this tight.  Denver starting inside the 10 yard line vs. starting around their own 30 is all the difference between forcing Denver to punt vs. forcing them to kick a field goal.

I dunno.  I just think if you’re EVER going to lavish praise upon a punter, it might as well be after a game like that.  I mean, shit, did you see that free kick after the safety?  Have you ever SEEN one of those kicks travel all the way to the opposing goalline?  Usually in those situations, the other team ends up with the ball around the 30 or 40 yard line!

So, yesterday, I was pretty surly.  Long story short:  the vast majority of my fantasy players had played in the morning and not a God damn one of them got me any touchdowns.  I was staring down the barrel of an embarrassing defeat and what’s worse was I was losing because I followed some very bad advice by the so-called fantasy experts out there (seriously, Joique Bell can eat all the dicks until Reggie Bush gets injured).  Anyway, going into the Seahawks game, I really needed a pick-me-up, and for the most part I got one.  That was quite the enjoyable football game!  Got a little scary at the end – had some flashbacks to the Seahawks’ defense of 2012 (where we were mostly great, but had a few too many late-game breakdowns that let other teams beat us) – but the good guys won and that’s all that matters.

Before I go any further, let me just say this about Phil Simms.  I was reading Twitter during commercial breaks, and catching a few text messages from friends, and the general consensus is that overall Phil Simms sucks as a broadcaster and in particular he sucks because he was overly-favoring the Denver Broncos.  I want to be there with you guys, I really do, but here’s the thing:  I don’t have the energy to hate any more sports announcers.  I’m kinda all wrapped up in this whole Dave Sims Is The Worst thing, and then I ended up spending yesterday morning listening to Ronde Barber stammer his way through the Saints/Vikings football game alongside Chris Myers for three straight hours.  When you tack on Joey Harrington and the vast majority of announcers on the Pac-12 Network, I just don’t have what it takes to lump in Phil Simms.

Is he ideal?  No.  But, they can’t all be Cris Collinsworth or Gus Johnson or Kevin Calabro.  I’m sorry.  If you’re like me, you’ve been listening to Phil Simms talk about football for about 20 years now.  I don’t look to him for smart insights.  I’ve gotten used to his down-home, folksy charm.  And for crying out loud he wasn’t rooting for the Broncos, he was rooting for a good, exciting football game.  Considering the Seahawks grabbed control of the contest from the get-go, of course he’s going to talk about what the Broncos have to do to get back in the ballgame!

But, enough about that.

There was more than punting and poor announcers in this contest.  There was getting the best of Peyton Manning yet again!  There was holding their running game to almost nothing.  There was Emmanuel Sanders getting nearly 27 points for my bench in fantasy.  There was Aqib Talib nearly picking off a pass, then getting beat for a 39-yard touchdown to Ricardo Lockette, then later deflecting a ball that would lead to a pick by someone else and eventually a Broncos touchdown.

This game had it all.  Or, at least, it had it most.  Lots of good things to build upon, lots of bad things to work out.

The offense looked a lot more balanced.  Denver’s got a pretty stout run defense up the middle, so it was nice to see those fake fly-sweeps work to our advantage with Beastmode.  Oftentimes, I see the sweep coming and when it’s a fake, I wonder what would have been had we given it to a sprinting Percy Harvin instead.  These are especially lamentable when the defense isn’t prepared to put a body on our receiver and they end up clogging up the run straight ahead.  But, it looks like the word is out on these plays, as teams are concentrating more on Harvin, thus giving us a chance to gash.

One play I particularly like is when Harvin runs across the formation pre-snap, then Wilson fakes the swing pass, turns around, and throws a swing pass to the opposite side (to Lynch, mostly).  These misdirection plays are fantastic and I’d like to see them more often when we get down into the red zone.

Aside from that Lockette reception, there wasn’t a whole lot available with the deep pass in this game.  That’s a shame, and also a real testament to Denver’s dedication in shoring up their secondary.  I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but my gut feeling is that the Seahawks haven’t been able to take advantage of the deep pass as much through the first three games of this season.  Which leads me to wonder:  are we running these play-action passes with less regularity?  Are defenses playing us differently, knowing how we get off on making secondaries look silly?  Or, is this some sort of commentary on our wideouts and their inability to get open on deeper routes (or our quarterback’s inability to look off an opposing safety?).  I tend to believe it’s how other teams are scheming us, to which I reply:  do so at your own peril.  Because, let’s face it, you’re playing right into our hands when you do that.  We WANT to run the ball a ton!  So, by you playing deep and giving us less-populated fronts on which to run against, we’ll just continue running for 5 yards per play and methodically wear you out.

Defensively, we were much better than we were against the Chargers.  Denver only converted 6 of 16 third downs, which I will take every single time against an offense that potent.  Of course, a couple of those plays were curious draw plays on third & long, which led many to wonder if they were just giving up on those drives.

Overall, the run defense has been FANTASTIC this season!  Yesterday, the Broncos really made it their mission to pound it on the ground, and they were taken to task accordingly.  20 rushes for 36 yards, which is just God awful.

We saw a little bit of the good pass defense (2013) and the not-so-good pass defense (2012) in yesterday’s game, when the fourth quarter came around.  In 2012, we generally found ways to lose games like these, as teams like Detroit, Miami, and Atlanta in the playoffs ultimately drove on us late in ballgames to secure victories.  In 2013, we mostly found ways to win those types of games.  Even if teams would drive on us late, we made just enough big plays to hold them off.  Well, yesterday the Broncos had a chance to score a go-ahead touchdown, but Manning was picked off by Chancellor, who ran it all the way back to field goal range for the Seahawks.  We ran them out of time outs and knocked the clock all the way down to just under a minute, while taking an 8-point lead that looked practically insurmountable given the circumstances.  And yet, we all know what happened:  Manning drove them down 80 yards on 6 plays (on the back of two big passes on similar routes down the sideline) in 41 seconds to tie the game.

I have no doubt about one thing in this game:  had Kam not brought that interception all the way down, allowing us to eventually hit that field goal to go up by eight, we would’ve lost this game.  Let’s say, for the sake of argument, when the Seahawks were up 17-12, that instead of the INT, Denver scored a touchdown there, with something like 2 minutes left to go:  I have very little faith that we would’ve been able to generate a drive in that short of time to either tie the game or take the lead.  Not with the way we were playing offense in that second half.

Overtime was the biggest blessing (aside from winning that coin toss in overtime, of course).  With a fresh quarter in which to work with, the Seahawks were able to methodically drive the length of the field to score.  80 yards in just under 6 minutes.  See, in this scenario, we could take our time.  We were still deprived of anything deep, which meant that Russell Wilson was able to take advantage of all those keepers he turned down through the first four quarters.  There were LOTS of opportunities where Wilson handed off to Lynch instead of pulling the ball back for moderate gains on the outside.  Obviously, I’m not going to bash him for this, because I want him to remain healthy and I want him to improve as a pocket passer.  But, when push comes to shove, it’s nice to know that he’s got his running ability in his back pocket.  We NEEDED to score a touchdown in overtime, because no one wanted to see Denver’s offense back on the field.  It was Russell Wilson’s grit and determination that made this victory possible.

Just when you think you’ve got the Seahawks figured out and bottled up, we find another way to get the job done.

Aside from the obvious stars – Jon Ryan, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch – I’d like to give it up to the receivers for getting the job done against a tough secondary.  Kearse, Baldwin, Harvin, Walters, and Lockette had a bigger collective impact on this game than their individual numbers may indicate.

I thought Maxwell was overall pretty solid, even though he’s absolutely getting picked on each and every game.  It’s hard to ask a cornerback to be perfect when teams are actively avoiding the other side of the field and going after you on a near-constant basis.  Shout out to Marcus Burley as well for doing a great job in the nickel corner spot.  I find it’s no coincidence that Denver was able to start moving the ball easier once he was knocked out by a little friendly fire.  Secondary depth is a little iffy at the moment, but when we’re able to get Jeremy Lane back, all should be awesome in the stretch run (here’s to hoping Lane is available by the time we play the Eagles in week 14, if not sooner).

I noticed Cassius Marsh got some quality reps in the first half and made a great impact.  He’s going to be really good for us if he manages to stay healthy.  Mebane was his usual rock-solid self as well.

Now we go into our BYE week.  Because fuck you NFL schedule-makers.  Then, we have to go play the Redskins on their abysmal field in two weeks.  Oh joy, I’m sure none of our guys will get injured in that game!

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