Well, that was something, huh?
That game was about as Seahawky as it gets. No score in the first quarter, a slow build through the next two quarters, still a one-score game in the fourth quarter, until the Seahawks pour it on and win by 20, 26-6.
Just when I thought the offensive line would never be able to get its collective shit together, they put up their single best game of the 2016 season. Quite frankly, this is what we’ve been waiting for all year, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Well, except for maybe in this next game against Atlanta. Or the game after that, should we be so fortunate as to somehow get past the Falcons. Or, you know, the Super Bowl. But, considering this game was do-or-die in itself, I guess I’ll take it.
It turns out I put too much ado into the Lions for the nothing we saw in that game. The Matthew Stafford finger injury on his throwing hand proved to be one of the primary reasons why they never got anything going. His throws were off target all day, and the ones that weren’t were dropped by his collective of what has to be the most maddening receivers in the NFL. Pile on top of that the fact that they had to start two rookies in place of injured offensive line starters, and the fact that they haven’t had a running game since Barry Sanders retired, and I suppose I was worried about them for nothing.
I came into this post thinking we just saw Thomas Rawls’ career-best game, but I forgot he had some really dynamic performances in his rookie season before the injury. Nevertheless, this was easily his best game of the 2016 season, and also the best-ever rushing performance by a Seahawks player in the playoffs, surpassing Marshawn Lynch’s game against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game. It was a nice reminder that Thomas Rawls has elite talent, but he just can’t stay healthy.
As a quick aside, it’ll be interesting to see what the Seahawks do with the running game for 2017. This is probably a subject for another time, but between Rawls and Prosise, you’ve got two very different types of backs, with two glaring similarities: they’re game-changers, and they can’t stay on the field. It seemed like a no-brainer that the Seahawks would look to the draft – and maybe very high in the draft – to bolster that position, but with the very clear step forward in his progress, I wonder if Alex Collins’ power running puts some of that to bed. For the Seahawks, you probably can’t have enough game-changing talent at the position, so they might very well make a first rounder or a second rounder their next running back project regardless. But, I do wonder …
While I think the co-players of the game have to be Rawls and the O-Line (particularly Glowinski and Britt, who were called out all night during the telecast for their improved play), the guy everyone’s talking about is Paul Richardson. What a coming out party! He’s had big plays before, but they’ve been few and far between. In this game, he had 3 catches for 48 yards, but each one seemed to be more difficult than the last! Jumping over, around, and through defenders; getting interfered with on at least two of them (with the third going uncalled); you’d have to say most receivers need two arms to play the position, but I’m beginning to wonder about P-Rich. What some are calling the Catch of the Year will go down as at least the most entertaining catch of the year. 4th and goal, Wilson lobbed it to the corner of the endzone but left it mighty short, causing P-Rich to adjust, causing the defender to interfere with him, which led to P-Rich inadvertently(?) grabbing the defender’s facemask and twisting it (uncalled), while he corralled the ball with his left hand for the game’s first touchdown. Outstanding! I don’t know if it’ll show up on any Year-End highlight reels by the NFL – considering it showed in equal measures one man’s athleticism and the league’s major problem with officiating – but it’ll go down as one of the most impressive catches by a Seahawk in the history of the franchise for sure!
The actual best receiver on the field was Doug Baldwin, though. He pulled in a NASTY 42-yard catch near the sideline, which was one of his 11 receptions for 104 yards. He was so good, he even caught a touchdown that was going to Jermaine Kearse near the end of the fourth quarter! While I’ll always lament the team choosing Harvin over Tate, if that move means we were eventually able to make Doug Baldwin our #1 receiver, I’ll gladly take it, because he’s the best over ALL of those guys!
Defensively, it was another fantastic group effort. Bobby Wagner led the team in tackles (again). I don’t think Richard Sherman was targeted all game. DeShawn Shead was real damn sticky all day. Cliff Avril ended up with 2 sacks against his former team; Michael Bennett had 1. We held them to 49 rushing yards on 15 carries, and we held Stafford to 205 yards passing. And, even though he didn’t appear to show up on the stat sheet, I’d like to call out Frank Clark for being a force to be reckoned with along the line. He’s not quite there yet, but he’s growing into one of the best pass rushers on this team, and I don’t think it’s crazy to say that he just might be this team’s very best as soon as next season. Year 3 for Frank Clark: WATCH OUT!
In the end, it amounts to the Seahawks moving on, to a matchup with the Falcons next Saturday. And we get to obsess about the Seahawks for another week, which is always fun!