BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 11/05/2013

Seahawks Overcame More Than 21-Point Deficit

The Seahawks should be 7-2 and smarting after losing to winless Tampa Bay Sunday at CenturyLink. Russell Wilson upset three big predictors in making sure it didn’t happen.

Former University of Washington Husky Jermaine Kearse  had a big fumble and a big touchdown catch against Tampa Bay Sunday. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scored their third touchdown of the first half Sunday, taking a 21-0 lead over the startled Seahawks, it didn’t take long to determine that not once in 37 years and 610 regular-season and playoff games had Seattle overcome such a deficit and strutted off a winner. Previous teams surmounted a deficit as large as 20 only once, that rally at Mile High Stadium in Denver Dec. 10, 1995, by John Friesz at John Elway’s expense.

That Russell Wilson pulled off the ninth fourth-quarterback comeback of his career, bringing the Seahawks back from the 21-0 hole to an improbable 27-24 overtime win, makes Seattle’s eighth victory one of the most remarkable in franchise annals.

But there was more to the record rally than merely outscoring a winless Tampa team that stood in remarkably well with a rookie quarterback, Mike Glennon. In winning, the Seahawks also overcame two other big predictors of defeat.

The Seahawks prevailed even though they allowed Tampa Bay to rush for 205 yards, marking the second consecutive week Seattle allowed an opponent 200 or more (the Rams rushed for an even 200 last week).

In Seattle’s 37+ seasons, it has allowed an opponent to rush for 200+ yards in a game 61 times. The Seahawks won eight (13.1 percent), and none since Jan. 2, 2005 against Atlanta, which had 204 (132 by Warrick Dunn) in a 28-26 defeat. Now, the Seahawks have won back-to-back contests while allowing 200+ yards in each for the first time in club history.

More rare than winning despite allowing 200+ rushing yards is that the Seahawks defeated Tampa Bay with a minus-3 turnover margin, becoming only the second team to win this season with such a deficit, following Detroit’s victory over Dallas in Week 8. In that game, the Lions won 31-30 with a turnover margin of -4. Teams with a -3 turnover margin are 2-19 this season.

Wilson had two interceptions, the last at the goal line in the fourth quarter. The fumble was by Jermaine Kearse on a kickoff. Tampa Bay didn’t cough the ball up once. Although winning with a -3 turnover margin may not sound like much, it is.

The Seahawks hadn’t won’t with a -3 since Dec. 21, 2003 against Arizona. Prior to that, it was Nov. 28, 1988 against the L.A. Raiders. They hadn’t even won with a -2 turnover margin since the first game Jim Mora coached, Sept. 13, 2009 vs. St. Louis.

Since 1976, their inaugural season, the Seahawks have played 610 games, including regular season and playoffs. They have won 297. On 50 occasions  — 16.8 percent — the Seahawks prevailed when they lost the turnover battle by a margin of -1.

However, the Seahawks won only 18 of the 297 with a turnover margin of -2, 6.06 percent, and a mere four of 297 in nearly four decades with a -3 turnover margin (1.34 percent). The games, listed chronologically, first with -3, then -2:

Year Date Opponent Sea Turn Opp. Turn Diff. Result
1986 Nov. 23 vs. Philadelphia 3 0 -3 W 24-20
1988 Nov. 28 vs. L.A. Raiders 5 2 -3 W 35-27
2003 Dec. 21 vs. Arizona 4 1 -3 W 28-10
2013 Nov. 3 vs. Tampa Bay 3 0 -3 W 27-24
1979 Oct. 29 at Atlanta 2 2 -2 W 31-28
1980 Sept. 14 at Kansas City 2 0 -2 W 17-16
1985 Oct. 13 vs. Atlanta 3 1 -2 W 30-26
1987 Dec. 13 vs. Denver 4 2 -2 W 28-21
1988 Dec. 18 at L.A. Raiders 3 1 -2 W 43-37
1990 Nov. 11 at Kansas City 2 0 -2 W 17-16
1991 Oct. 27 vs. San Diego 2 0 -2 W 20-9
1992 Nov. 30 vs. Denver 4 2 -2 W 16-13
1995 Nov. 5 vs. N.Y. Giants 2 0 -2 W 30-28
1999 Sept. 19 at Chicago 3 1 -2 W 14-13
2002 Dec. 29 at San Diego 3 1 -2 W 31-28
2003 Dec. 27 at San Francisco 3 1 -2 W 24-17
2006 Jan. 14 vs. Washington 3 1 -2 W 20-10
2009 Sept. 13 vs. St. Louis 3 1 -2 W 28-0

The Buccaneers didn’t sack Wilson Sunday, keeping his season total at 27, but put him under duress on a career-high 55 percent of his dropbacks (16 of 29). But Wilson, who entered the game as the most-pressured quarterback (39 percent of dropbacks), somehow threw both of his touchdowns and gained 125 of 217 passing yards when hit or hurried.

To refine the point, the Buccaneers, according to Pro Football Focus, sent at least five pass rushers on half of Wilson’s dropbacks in the second half after doing so 36 percent of the time in the first half. How he did this is anyone’s guess, but Wilson went 9-for-11 and averaged 13.5 yards per attempt against such pressure vs. 10-for-15 and 4.6 yards per attempt when facing four or fewer rushers. Is there a way to explain this? Pete Carroll gave it a go after the game.

“He never thought for a second that we weren’t going to win this football game,” Carroll said. “And he made the plays he needed to make to put us in position to win.”

Given the 21-point deficit, the 200 rushing yards allowed, and the -3 turnover margin, they should be 7-2 today and smarting over their first home loss in two years, and to a 16½-point underdog, at that. But they are 8-1 because he’s Russell Wilson, and we’re not.


YourThoughts

  • Dan

    (puts on copy editor hat) – 2nd paragraph, I think you mean “ninth fourth-quarter comeback” – (takes hat off). Love the last line. I’m glad he’s Russell Wilson.