BY Art Thiel 03:21PM 09/08/2013

Seahawks win a game likely lost a year ago

Despite taking the worst beating of his pro career, QB Russell Wilson had a 300-yard day. But the 12-7 win over Carolina belonged to defense and special teams.

Russell Wilson had his first 300-yard regular-season game as a pro Sunday in Carolina. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest file

SCOREBOARD, BABY

Seahawks (1-0) 12, Carolina Panthers (0-1) 7.

TERSE TRUTH

The Seahawks won on the road, in the Eastern time zone, in southern sticky heat against a team that was superbly prepared to stop QB Russell Wilson and RB Marshawn Lynch. The game was left to the defense and special teams, and they responded by holding Carolina’s passing game to 119 yards, keeping QB Cam Newton in check, punting and kicking well and getting a game-saving, red-zone turnover on Carolina’s final possession.

FISTS TO SKY

  • Wilson made the equivalent of a full-court basketball shot in the third quarter when he avoided a sack at least twice and, almost 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage, flung the ball off his back foot a moment before he was splattered. About 50 yards later along the sideline, Doug Baldwin grabbed the ball over a defender and came down barely in bounds. The improbable play set up a field goal that closed Carolina’s lead to 7-6.
  • With less than six minutes remaining, Carolina RB D’Angelo Williams broke free for a 13-yard run to a first down inside the Seahawks 10-yard line. But FS Earl Thomas, who missed him earlier, caught up from behind and knocked the ball free. The fumble was recovered by DT Tony McDaniel. The Seahawks offense burned up the clock’s final 5:35.
  • In the fourth quarter, one play after WR Stephen Williams couldn’t hang on to what would have been a 40-yard pass and near-touchdown, Wilson went back to the same streak-play route. This time, WR Jermaine Kearse went over the top of a defender at the 3-yard line for the catch and tumbled into the end zone for the Seahawks’ only touchdown.

PALMS TO FOREHEAD

  • Pass protection, a problem throughout camp and preseason, remains unresolved. Wilson took his worst beating as a pro with two sacks, six hits and 11 hurries. On Seattle’s first play, Wilson was nearly sacked in the end zone for a safety, before getting rid of the ball. In the third period, Seattle’s OL had two holding penalties on the same play. A part of the protection problem may have to do with rookies at tight end (Luke Willson) and fullback (Derrick Coleman), but Carolina created a blueprint for how to keep Wilson contained in the pocket to limit his explosiveness on rollouts.
  • Continuing their felonious ways from the preseason, the Seahawks had nine penalties for 109 yards. Two that seemed to be fatal were in Carolina’s final possession, which looked to be sustained by a face-mask penalty on DT Michael Bennett, nullifying a tackle for loss, and SS Kam Chancellor’s late-to-the-pile personal foul.  A Panthers turnover killed the drive, otherwise Carroll would have to consider waterboarding Bennett and Chancellor.
  • No surprise, given all the personnel absences, but the Seahawks didn’t get much pressure on Newton. Newcomer DE O’Brien Schofield had the lone sack, for minus-six yards. But the secondary didn’t give Newton many downfield options except to run, which he did five times for 38 yards. Health permitting, DEs Cliff Avril and Chris Clemons may return next week.

WOE TO FOE

  • Special teams gunner Armond Smith was penalized twice for going out of bounds on Carolina punts. The second one in the fourth quarter prompted a televised rebuke from teammate Steve Smith on the sidelines. For good reason: The Seahawks accepted the penalty, received a re-kick, and PR Golden Tate improved the field position from the 8-yard line to the 26-yard-line, from where they began the drive to the game-winning touchdown.

WILSON!

The first 300-yard, regular-season game of his pro career seemed most unlikely, given the beating he took. But he was 25 for 33 for 320 yards and one turnover, when he was strip-sacked into a fumble in the red zone. But he led the sixth fourth-quarter comeback of his young career primarily by finding the underneath routes the defense gave him, and eluding multiple sack attempts.

On the TD pass to Kearse: “We called another shot play. It surprised we missed the first one (to Williiams). Maybe I threw it too far. I just kind of read the (Kearse) play. I went through my progressions and he was the second option. Kearse just keeps showing up and making those big plays.”

On finding just enough plays at the right time: “The biggest thing is the small things.”

On the sideline bomb to Doug Baldwin before he was clobbered: “I figured nobody was going to get to it, but I tried to get him a chance. I knew I was getting blown up. Doug has a great ability to create and make the smart decisions on third down. Biggest thing we worked on (in the off-season) is having that camaraderie. In the second half (of last season), he was lights out.”

On completing so many passes in tight windows: “The biggest thing I’ve learned is to trust what you you see. Going against our DBs in practice — they’re the best in the NFL –makes you realize how tight the windows can be.”

On returning to the the state where he spent his first three years of college ball at North Carolina State: “I’ve had so much support here, from the day I first stepped on campus. I’ll never forget NC State and all the people who’ve helped me.”

CARROLLING

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on Newton: “We gave him a chance to be in command early, but we hung in there real tight against him. He made some nice plays, but we wanted to stay connected to him.”

On the red zone troubles: “We had troubles with penalties and a turnover. It was really hard today. The thing I love about our guys is they hung tough. It’s so hard. I thought Carolina played excellent. It was a quality win for us.”

On Wilson: “After the first five or six passes, he was on fire. He made a ton of plays. Finding Doug on the sidelines, that was a ridiculous play. . . . Russell did a great job against the pass rush. He’s more in command of everything we’re doing. We don’t have to hold anything back. He can handle it.”

On Thomas forcing the turnover: “No one takes more pride in knocking the ball loose. They had a lot of momentum. It was a gigantic play for us.”

On the largely absent running game: “We didn’t feel good at all the way we ran the football. We thought we would be better than that. We tried everything. Carolina was very active and difficult.”

On the offensive line: “I don’t think anyone did well up front.”

A NUMBER OF THINGS

  • WR Doug Baldwin: 9 catches, 71 yards.
  • RB Marshawn Lynch: 43 yards on 17 rushes, but last carry was his longest, 14 yards,  biggest because it was for a first down that kept Seattle in possession until the gun sounded.
  • Seahawks rushers: 26 for 70.
  • P John Ryan: four for 49.5 average. A big help in a field-position game.

THE CLOSER

The Seahawks won ugly in Charlotte a year ago, 16-12, but they lost two close games earlier by not finding a key third down offensively, or failing to a key third-down stop defensively. This time, just enough. Winning a grinder on the road at the outset, in adverse conditions, was a great omen for Seattle for the 2013 season.

 


YourThoughts

  • Eric K

    The Bennett face mask was a bad call. He pulled down on Newtons shoulder pads from the front and it looked like a face mask by how Newton reacted.

    All in all any win on the East coast is good, but the O-Line is a big concern, they were horrible.

    • Matt712

      It was a bad (and non-reviewable) call, but I could at least understand it, given the speed of the game, the way Newton’s body reacted, and the possible angle of the ref’s view. What really bothered me was the ‘no call’ even after the slow-motion replay by the JV team in the broadcast booth we get saddled with every year.

      Not one single time did Chris Myers get Star star Lotulelei’s name right. And what’s with Tim Ryan’s hair? He always looks like he just got out of the shower.

      • Eric K

        Yeah it is a call that is commonly blown, when you grab the jersey/pads that way it looks like a face mask. It is a shame that such a huge swing can happen on a call that isn’t reviewable.

        Not only did they keep getting his name wrong they said he was from Utah State instead of Utah. would be like calling a Husky a Cougar.

        Lame that the Seahawks are one of the best teams in the league and we get saddled with Fox’s worst announcers every week

        • WestCoastBias79

          It’s one of the perks of being a fan of the Southern Alaska Seahawks. Anyone want to go outside in the rain, listen to some Pearl Jam and toss the fish around?

          • art thiel

            Meet you at the coffee shop.

      • art thiel

        Didn’t listen to the TV booth much. Had the radio on to Steve Raible. The man spends a lot of time at practice and knows his stuff. Moon, too, but he needs to be more honest.

        • Timekeeper

          So watching the tube and listening to Raible means living with TV’s imposed “delay of game.” How exciting is that?

          • art thiel

            As a writer, I’m interested in information more than excitement. Raible is good with that.

    • art thiel

      Part of the failed protection could be the rookieness of TE Luke Willson and FB Derrick Coleman. As far as the mask, it looked as if Bennett had him by the helmet.

  • Matt712

    Wow! Hugely encouraging to win so ugly. It’s agreat sign when a team can win even when it gets beat. Conventional wisdom states that the team who wins at the line of scrimmage, usually wins the game. Seattle did not win the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball today, but still prevailed.

    This game reminds me of the opener in Arizona last year that the Hawks lost. They were totally set up for it. Carolina was doing everything right, everything anyone could ask to beat the Seahawks. But in the end, it came down to superior talent at the skill positions – just enough big, isolated, timely plays by Seahawks; and just enough big, isolated, timely mistakes by Panthers.

    Now, watch Carolina go on to win their next five games. And when the Hawks’ line play improves (It couldn’t get any worse, could it?), so will the margins of victory.

    • art thiel

      The D-line will improve when all the hires get to work. Can’t say that about the O-line. Carpenter is way out of shape, and the other four appeared over-matched at times. Carolina has one of the best front sevens in the game.

      • Marcus

        I think it’s more the “Carolina has one of the best front sevens in the game” than our D line is terrible. Wilson also looked a bit rusty at first. I didn’t see Carolina having much opportunity to play better. I think our D actually could have played better (Sherman making that early pick for one). I know our offense will play better. :)

        • art thiel

          First week was unpredictable because all teams have less off-season practice time. Lots more unknowns at the beginning of this season than any other. And every team can play better, except for the Raiders.

      • jburnshire

        I def could be wrong. For any injuries/surgeries Carpenter had before the season, it was alarming how out of shape he looked! There were a couple plays I seen where barely touched the defensive player close to him. I don’t want to pick on anyone, but he looked like he was more than out of playing shape to me. Definitely hope I’m wrong

        • WestCoastBias79

          Caronlina’s D line is legit, and our bigs were playing in the hot/humid south, which for big guys, if they’re not used to it, is like donning wetsuit full of jell-o and being asked to run a half-marathon. I’ll give them a mulligan for this week. Fortunately, this is their last hot game of the season, and the best interior line they’ll see on the road this year (that includes Little Jimmy and the Whiners). Expecting this game to be a blowout is probably the result of reading too many Seahawks Super Bowl picks. They have four more 10am games in a pretty brutal road schedule. This season is going to be a slog.

          • art thiel

            I expected the Seahawks to lose, for some of the reasons mentioned. But for the final fumble, they may have. A blowout was nowhere in the cards. Especially not this early.

        • art thiel

          you’re not wrong. He is not ready to play. And that was a key part of the run-block problems.

  • Hammtime

    Ugly with a lot of shakiness in several areas but…..it’s a win and I’ll take it!

    • art thiel

      Artful wins on the road for anyone in the NFL is rare. This was first road win in September for Carroll here.

  • jafabian

    Interesting the Hawks have played two years in a row at Carolina. So does this mean the next two years they play here?

    I figured the Hawks might have problems today as that the Panthers would adjust from their last matchup. Great that the Hawks were able to overcome that plus the injuries that caused them to be missing some players. Need to work out the kinks in the running game but I think last season Marshawn had something of a slow start in the first few games.

    • art thiel

      Scheduling was coincidence.
      The fact that Lynch remains a threat opened things up for the passing game. Carolina game-planned to stop him, and left themselves vulnerable over the top.

  • Doug E Fresh

    The Seahawks seemed like they were damaged goods when the game started. Do you think that was the heat/humidity or was it the holes in the defense due to injuries combined with the election to receive on the coin toss?

    • art thiel

      Heat and injuries were factors, but I think Wilson converting 10 of his last 11 third downs suggests that things were OK by the end. And the defense did hold Carolina to one score and Newton’s worst pro day as a passer.

  • tee72

    The foolish/longshot money is placed on the Seahawks being there in the Big game in February,. Please confirm.