I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. It’s all so confusing. You know how, like, on a sitcom where a nervous, fumbling guy asks someone out on a date, and he’s so convinced ahead of time that she’ll say no that he doesn’t even listen for her response? He quickly sputters through his spiel, “Will you go out with me?” and before she even gets two words out, he follows up with, “You know what, nevermind, I don’t know what I was thinking, I was just kidding, let’s pretend none of this ever happened,” and he starts walking away as she tells him, “Yes, I’ll go out with you,” but he’s still so far in denial he doesn’t hear it – to the comedic delight of the studio audience – and this misunderstanding goes on far too long, much like the lede to this particular blog post?
See, that’s where I’m at right now. My brain was so ready for the Seahawks to be 1-1 that it hasn’t dawned on me yet that we’re 2-0 and heading back home to face a Brees-less Saints team that’s living on the west coast for a week.
How did we get here? More importantly, when did it dawn on me that the Seahawks might actually prevail in that game?
It started off as most Seahawks games tend to do: with lots of punts. On both sides! There were some very fine punts on both sides. Throughout the entire first quarter. Then, at the end there, Chris Carson fumbled which set up a touchdown for the Steelers, and the game started to make sense again. Seattle, on the road, struggling to get anything going on offense, unable to overcome their own mistakes. I’ve seen it dozens of times.
Even when the Seahawks tied it up on the very next drive, I had my doubts. A long, 12-play drive, with multiple 3rd/4th down conversions, and no big plays? That’s not sustainable. That’s not Seahawks football. Say what you will about how we love to run the ball, but our scoring drives tend to be pretty quick, with at least one chunk play for huge yards.
Then, on the final drive before halftime, Ben Roethlisberger did something to his throwing elbow. When it became clear he wouldn’t return, I’ll admit that gave me some confidence in our chances. But, we were still down by 3 points on the road, and you never know how a backup quarterback is going to respond.
It turns out, Mason Rudolph acquitted himself pretty well. He looked poised, he made good decisions, and if it weren’t for Donte Moncrief letting another ball go through his hands (this time for a crucial Seahawks interception), we might be having a very different discussion today.
The short field led to the Seahawks taking a 14-10 lead, which was cut to 14-13, which was subsequently extended to 21-13. The offenses really came alive in this portion of the game, as teams traded touchdowns like football cards. The Steelers came right back to pull it within 21-19 (thanks to a botched 2-point attempt). Then, the drive of the game.
The Seahawks had already made a futile attempt at challenging a PI call in the first half, costing us a time out which would’ve come in handy on our final drive of the half, when we were trying to inch closer for a field goal attempt. Then, in the second half, nursing that 2-point lead, the Seahawks started shooting themselves in the foot. There was a first down false start, then a first down holding penalty to make it 1st & 25. After a predictable run play, it was 2nd & 20 when Wilson took a deep shot into double coverage for Tyler Lockett. There was marginal contact, but more than anything it just looked like a couple of guys going for the ball. When Pete Carroll threw the challenge flag, I thought it was the dumbest thing ever.
But, the refs determined it actually WAS defensive pass interference! Instead of 3rd & 20, it was first down 38 yards closer to paydirt! From there, we were a few plays away from a touchdown to the future Offensive Rookie of the Year, D.K. Metcalf!
At that point, victory felt all but certain. Then, a botched handoff to Carson left the door wide open for the Steelers to pull the game back to within 2 points with a little over five minutes left in the game. Thanks to some semi-aggressive play-calling (based on expectations, not necessarily compared to the rest of the football world), the Seahawks were able to convert multiple first downs – including a 4th & 1 conversion to seal it – and run out all the clock.
The stars of the game are plentiful! Russell Wilson had 300 yards on 29/35 passing. Tyler Lockett reeled in 10 catches for 79 yards (plus that PI flag he drew). D.K. Metcalf had his first NFL touchdown. Rashaad Penny busted out a 37-yard touchdown. Will Dissly caught 2 TDs! Carson had a rough day, but still plowed through for that final 4th down conversion. And, of course, who can forget Donte Moncrief? The Steelers sure did, as I don’t think he played another snap for them after he let us get that INT.
Defensively, the Seahawks were FAR better than I expected. I was expecting 475 yards passing out of Roethlisberger, so to fall 400 yards short was something to behold. Even if he stayed healthy, it didn’t look like he had many answers for whatever we were doing. The Steelers’ rushing stats were pretty skewed by a 23-yard run; otherwise we did a good job of holding them in check. I wouldn’t say everything is all better, but it was a solid effort on the road. There was definitely improved play from the secondary that I think made all the difference.
This is still a tough Seahawks team to figure out, but I feel like I say that all the time, ever since the Super Bowl seasons anyway. This is a REALLY encouraging start though, and lines up pretty perfectly to what I was hoping for heading into the season. Go 4-1 in the first five games, go 4-1 in the next five games, and rock & roll down the stretch and let’s win a division! Well, with a 2-0 start, and with the Saints coming in without Brees next week, it’s all setting up for something special. Gotta take care of business, though.