BY Art Thiel 06:22PM 09/29/2013

Thiel: Lynch tells Wilson, ‘Take over, Russ’

On day when so little worked as it had, Seahawks’ two outsized leaders, Wilson and Sherman, come up with ways to pull off a ridiculous win, on the road, shorthanded.

Again, Russell Wilson sees and does what others cannot. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest file

SCOREBOARD, BABY

Seahawks 23, at Houston Texans 20, OT

TERSE TRUTH

The only way the Seahawks could have been deader at halftime was finding 53 toe tags in the locker room. Overwhelmed in all phases by the hyper-aggressive Texans and a rowdy crowd in Houston, the Seahawks were still down 20-6 with eight minutes left.

But the dead men, behind Mr. Preposterous, quarterback Russell Wilson, walked, ran and then exulted, stunning the Texans with a rally to tie in regulation and an overtime field goal to win a game Sunday that will be chiseled into Seattle sports history for a day past forever.

“We call that grit,” said a still-breathless Pete Carroll afterward. “That’s what that game had.”

The Seahawks have never before been 4-0, and no 4-0 team has reached that benchmark in a more flabbergasting manner.

FISTS TO SKY

  • Because of injuries, the Seahawks started a rookie, Michael Bowie, at right tackle, an inexperienced center, Lemuel Jeanpierre, and at left tackle Paul McQuistan, and lived to tell about it.
  • After foundering all day, the offense put together in the fourth quarter a seven-minute, 14-play, 98-yard touchdown drive — it began with a fumbled snap at the two-yard line — that actually covered 113 yards, counting ground lost via penalties. The score was a three-yard pass from Wilson to a wide-open Marshawn Lynch in the flat, cutting the Houston lead to 20-13 with 7:43 left.
  • *With 2:40 remaining, CB Richard Sherman, executing on a pass defense practiced all week, intercepted a weak throw in the flat from pressured Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and returned it, minus a right shoe, 58 yards for the game-tying touchdown.
  • In overtime, PR Golden Tate, defying all convention that mandates taking a touchback, caught a Texans punt a yard deep in the end zone and returned it to the 32-yard line, setting up the drive that resulted in a 45-yard FG from Steven Hauschka that was the triumphal margin in the Seahawks’ ninth consecutive regular-season win.
  • In the fourth quarter, Wilson, responding to the weakness of his overmatched line, began to run from the pocket, scrambling five times for 53 yards. He finished the game with 77 yards in 10 carries, and was sacked five times for 32 yards in losses.
  • Lynch, who finished witgh 98 yards in 17 carries, had a mini-”Beastquake ” run of 43 yards in the second quarter in which at least five defenders had hands on him and failed to bring him down.

PALM TO FOREHEAD

  • Inside three minutes, on third-and-4 at the Seattle 40-yard line, needing only a first down to perhaps wrap up the game, Texans coach Gary Kubiak, declining to run the ball, called for a swing pass to the tight end. Seahawks SS Kam Chancellor blitzed, forcing Schaub to throw across his body and off his back foot, and Sherman made his pivotal interception. Said Kubiak: “I take responsibility. I could have called a helluva lot better play.” It was Schaub’s third pick-six of the season.
  • In the Seahawks final drive in OT, Wilson completed a seven-yard pass to WR Doug Baldwin that became a 22-yard gain when DB Kareem Jackson was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness after picking up Baldwin and slamming him to the ground. It was the biggest yardage play in the drive.
  • Lynch lost his first fumble of the season when LB Brian Cushing caught him behind the line of scrimmage, lifted him up and slammed him to the ground.
  • On Houston’s second possession, Schaub threw to TE Owen Daniels, who bobbled the tipped ball. It went airborne and was tipped by two more Seahawks before FS Earl Thomas made a leaping interception inches before the ball hit the ground.
  • The Seahawks did not convert a third down until midway through the second quarter and had only four first downs and 88 yards of offense at the half. The Texans had 367.

WILSON!

  • Overall: “We didn’t start the way we wanted. We had three offensive line starters out, we were against one of the best defenses and one of the best defensive linemen ever in J.J. Watt. We kept playing one play at a time and found a way. I told the guys on the sideline they’re giving us a shot. They’re not getting first downs like they were. We found  a way to make big-time plays in big-time situations. It wasn’t the prettiest win in the world, but it sure does look pretty now.”
  • On his running game: “Their defensive line is so good, I was just trying to find enough time. Our line did a great job, I’m so proud of them to step in like that. I just had to find a way to move the chains.”
  • On Sherman’s pick: “Their formation looked kinda funny. They were going to throw. Our defense is so intelligent and they had practiced that play. Kam (Chancellor) forced him to make a tough throw, Richard stepped in front and took it to the house.”
  • At halftime: “The mood was great. We knew if we could stay in the moment, in the now, and just played one play at a time, we could do it. That resilient attitude showed up.”
  • On running the ball late: “Marshawn and I talked about it. He told me, ‘Russ, just take over.’”
  • On the impact of the win: “Our confidence stays the same. We never get too high. We’re in close games,. and we find a way. We believe in each other all the time, no matter what the circumstances.”

CARROLLING

  • On Houston’s first half: “The Texans handed it to us in every way in the first half.  We were running in sand. The best thing going was to be able to go in the locker room at halftime.”
  • On the shutout pitched by the Seattle defense in the second half: “To go for the final half and overtime and not give up a score against that team was crazy good.”
  • On the big yardage given up in the first half: “We didn’t get any pressure on the quarterback, and a few plays got away from us. We settled down in the second half.”
  • On the interception by Sherman: “It was a fantastic call by (d-coordinator) Dan Quinn. We practiced exactly for that play this week. When he caught it, the world stopped for a second. It was really cool that it happened.”
  • On the rally: “As the game went on, we got stronger. I love that about our team. It was a fantastic win over a very difficult football team.”
  • On Wilson: “He was off the charts. His numbers don’t matter. He kept saying, ‘Just gimme a chance. Just gimme a chance.’”
  • On the newbies in the offensive line: “You could tell we were having a hard time picking guys up. Russell was running for his life. They had a great pass rush. For us to do this this with Bowie, Lemuel and Paul, that’s at fantastic accomplishment.”
  • Halftime: “We had one specific thought: It was about coming back one play at a time, being patient and keep believing.”
  • On the change from last year’s defense that had trouble closing out some games: “We were unable last year to end drives and get the ball back to offense. Now we are. It’s a tremendous sign of growth. Big improvement for us. Last year we probably left three wins out on the field.”
  • On persevering: “So many times, we could have said, ‘Not today.’”

THE CLOSER

As the offensive line’s problems piled up in the first half, it was plain that Houston’s defense had the game won. And since the Seahawks’ defensive coverages were a mess against the Texans — Seattle had given up more in a half against Houston that in any of the three entire games on the schedule so far — the best hope was to get home without being blown back to Boeing Field.

But no. Where there is Russell Wilson, there is always a way.

As Wilson recounted it, the sideline conversation between him and Marshawn Lynch said it all: “Marshawn and I talked about it. He told me, ‘Russ, just take over.’”

With guts, wit and legs, Wilson took over, leading a 98-yard drive when nothing had been working. He took a beating with five sacks and numerous hits, but never was consumed with the shortfalls around him.

Yes, the Texans made a bushel of dumb plays late in the game that helped. But they were the home team, and the Seahawks were the ones playing with holes in the O-line.

There will be other wins and probably a few losses, but no game this season, and few in Seahawks history, will resonate like this one. Rarely is there a team about which it can be said, sincerely and accurately, that anything is possible.


YourThoughts

  • Diamond Mask

    Interesting that it was Marshawn that told Wilson to run. Obviously that was key. It also obviously helped that Cushing was cushioning his head in the locker room instead of spotting Russell on the field when he decided to do it.

    One of the best things about this nervous but victorious day was knowing that SFO fans were watching the score like bird dogs. Probably gleefully thought that it was over by the start of the 4th quarter. Wish I could be there to see all of their sad faces when they learn the truth.

    Go Hawks!

    • art thiel

      Cushing’s absence was large. So too was Bennett’s.

      To have a team sincerely capable of greatness at any time is a thrilling, rare virtue.

  • Mark T. Ingham

    Given what they showed today (and looking at the rest of the schedule) if they can pull off a win in Indy next week, I don’t think it’s too far-fetched this team could go undefeated this year.

    • art thiel

      I realize that Kool-Aid is being drunk by the tanker car, but running the table in the NFL is far harder than when the Dolphins last did it in 1972. As Wilson always advises, live in the now.

      • Mark T. Ingham

        I’ll be Csonka’d — I’d forgotten the ’72 Dolphins were the last to achieve a perfect record. In any event, I hope the Hawks get the top NFC seed and home field in the playoffs. That would be huge. Bring in the supertankers of Kool-Aid if that happens.

        • Pixdawg13

          “I’ll be Csonka’d — I’d forgotten the ’72 Dolphins were the last to achieve a perfect record.”

          THEY haven’t forgotten. They still do a little celebration when the last unbeaten goes down each season. ‘Hawks may not run the table–but it’d be very sweet if they were to do so.

          • Brent

            My hoped-for scenario this year is that the Seahawks and Broncos are both undefeated going into the Super Bowl. Just so SOMEONE will end up undefeated for the year, and I don’t have to hear about the 1972 Dolphins anymore.

          • art thiel

            That’s ambitious, but more than the ’72 Dolphins shutting up, the NFL’s collective head would explode with two 16-0 teams meeting in the first NY SB.

          • art thiel

            Down three OLs, the unbeaten streak probably won’t last through this weekend. But that’s hardly a shame to lose on the road in a dome. As far as record, what matters is getting home field for two playoff games, so 12-4 could do it this year.

  • jafabian

    Even though he didn’t have a lot of yardage and only an interception the leadership from Wilson is obvious. Not sure if Matt Flynn, Tavaris Jackson or even Charlie Whitehurst could engineer a come from behind win like this one, especially from 20-3. There was a never-say-die attitude that only champions show in todays game. And when you consider how many players couldn’t play today and what they mean for the team that’s even more amazing.

    Hopefully Bennett is okay. But what’s great about this franchise is that Carroll and Schenider probably already have a contingency plan in place if he isn’t. They’re that prepared.

    Go Hawks!

    • art thiel

      What struck me from TV was Schaub’s tentative look. It happens to nearly all good and great athletes at some point — a sudden anxiety that failure is imminent. It may only be a moment, or a game, and it’s rarely permanent.

      Haven’t seen that look in Wilson.

      • Bruce McDermott

        Schaub looked disconsolate and beaten up for the last quarter and a half of the game. His body English before the snap, during the play, and post-snap was not good.

        • art thiel

          He seemed to be expecting the worst.

  • JimC

    Sherman needs a nick. Shoeless Dick or something.

    • art thiel

      Or something.

  • Gerald Turner

    A fan was attempting to light a Shwab jersey on fire, did not see a photo of it
    burning though, just like the Texans, no second half spark. Seems to
    me it would make more sense to sell it on e bay, of course just how
    much could one get for Shawb garb at this point in his carrier is a
    question.
    What happened to that guy spying Russel? He was on him in
    the first half, gone in the second.
    We need a game where we are up by fourteen in the second half to get Beast Mode some rest, needs to be fresh down the stretch, and I needs to see me some Christin Michel.

    • art thiel

      Carroll would like same, but the Seahawks play Jacksonville only once. Schaub isn’t terrible — they did win 12 last year — but the contrast between his command and Wilson’s was startling.

  • Bruce McDermott

    Russell didn’t pass the ball to Lynch for the 3 yard touchdown. It was a lateral, so it goes in Marshawn’s column as rushing yardage, not a TD pass from Wilson. But who cares, really. What a game. That little dude is something else. He owns this team now. Everybody believes in him. If Marshawn Lynch, who is no rah-rah guy, tells him to “take over”, Russ owns this team.

    • art thiel

      The huddle, the team, the town — all his. Goes without saying, but he’s the rare athlete you dare not stop watching.

      • Bruce McDermott

        At the most important position on a football team, for a 3rd round pick.

        • art thiel

          One of the reasons the Seahawks can afford to be deep is because the QB is paid cheaply through next year. Once Wilson cashes in, rejiggering the roster will hurt the depth.

          • Bruce McDermott

            Yup. Although I believe he is actually paid cheaply through the next two years, it doesn’t matter, because after next year his contract can be renegotiated, and the Hawks will want to wrap him up. With Thomas, Sherman and Wilson, let alone Wright, Baldwin, Bennett, Avril and others, all coming up here next year or the year after, Schneider will have to earn his money again to keep this team together.

  • RadioGuy

    I’ve got to admit it: Even though I love the Packers and think Number 12 is pretty decent AND been a huge Colin Kaepernick fan since his first start as a redshirt freshman at Nevada, if I had to pick between Rodgers, Kaepernick or Russell Wilson to lead a fourth-quarter comeback, I’d take Russ. The numbers don’t come close to quantifying what Wilson means to the Seahawks.
    It spoke volumes to me last year after the Atlanta game that more than one player said, “We wanted to win this for Russ,” and a Pro Bowler like Lynch’s comment to “Just take over” just confirms it. After all, this is a guy only a year beyond being a third-round draft pick who seems to always find a way to win and has become the heart and soul of a Super Bowl-quality team. A very, VERY special player and I can’t think of anyone in my lifetime who’s worn a Seattle jersey in any sport that he can really be compared with.

    • art thiel

      The early Griffey was transcendent as well, but he played six years before they won. Wilson is fresh, young, great and transformative all at once, now.

  • Bayview Herb

    It seems that most of the time a great pass catch happens it is with Baldwin coming off the bench. Perhaps they should be starting him.

    • Diamond Mask

      Instead of say……..Sidney Rice! Could not agree more.

    • art thiel

      Baldwin is in the slot because he’s not fast enough to play one of the outside spots. But Rice hasn’t been as effective, whether for injury or other reasons. But I don’t think Carroll wants to change roles. He’s assigned them roles for specific reasons.

  • Fiftyone

    Mr. PreposteRUSS.
    You’re welcome.

    • art thiel

      Oooh. You da man, fiftyone. I’m stealing that and sharing with the world. Props.

  • bobk333

    Art Thiel: “Rarely is there a team about which it can be said, sincerely and accurately, that anything is possible.”

    Art Thiel understands this Seahawk team more than anyone else in the media. He and Warren Moon were the only members of the media who understood how good Russell Wilson was, starting before the pre-season of last year. He understands how good this current team is where *anything* is possible.

    Thiel has always been good at turning a phrase. His writing has always been good, but the thoughts he expresses now are so much deeper and more meaningful. He now writes more about the beauty of the game, the human spirit it exposes and effect it can have on a region.

    .