BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 11/27/2018

Thiel: Seahawks win pot with a pair of sevens

In the Seahawks’ stunner at Carolina, RB Chris Carson and WR David Moore, 7th-round picks, each made a play that spilled food and drink across the Northwest.

Pete Carroll is thrilled with finding some seventh-round draft magic. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

After the 2008 hijacking of the Sonics, the state of Oklahoma gets little slack from Seattle sports fans. But after the Seahawks’ dramatic win in Charlotte Sunday over the Panthers, two obscure football sons of the Sooner State may offer cause for pause in the decade-long acrimony.

RB Chris Carson and WR David Moore made the two most startling plays in the game, which spilled nacho plates, beer and popcorn across the Northwest.

Carson, by now a YouTube phenom, had one of the greatest moments, airborne division, in NFL history. His third-quarter leap over Panthers defender Eric Reid resulted in a forward somersault and a half-roundoff, from which he landed on both feet and managed to keep going.

“That was out of this world,” coach Pete Carroll said after the game. “All of us said we’ve never seen that happen before. Maybe it has somewhere, but I’ve never seen a guy flip, land on his feet and make some more yards. That was extraordinary.”

The other play, given the situation, was astonishing from the point of sheer guts.

Trailing 27-20 with under four minutes to play and facing a fourth-and-three at the Carolina 35-yard line, the Seahawks skipped the chance for a 53-yard field goal, or a punt.

Instead of a safer run with Carson or a flat pass, QB Russell Wilson, behind good protection, opened the bomb-bay doors. He lofted a perfect ball that Moore, who had 18 career NFL receptions entering the game, caught at full speed over his shoulder almost nonchalantly for the game-tying score.

It came despite tight coverage by Corn Elder, a little-used backup in the game after a first-play injury to starter Donte Jackson. Credit offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer with setting up Moore for success by targeting a Panthers vulnerability.

“That was an exquisite job of holding space by David to make his play,” Carroll said. “It was a great throw. Execution was just gorgeous. Going down the stretch to find his way open, and Russ to find him, and protection to be there. Just beautiful football stuff.

“Those were his natural instincts on playing that ball. He delayed the other guy’s opportunity to discover what was going on.”

The spectacular plays by Carson and Moore were gratifying for the Seahawks on another level: Both have become starters after beginning their NFL careers as seventh-round picks in the same draft.

Moore, from obscure Division II Central Oklahoma in Edmond, was the 226th player taken overall in 2017. Carson, from big-time Oklahoma State, was the 249th player selected. After limited play as rookies, they emerged as starters in positions absent veteran incumbents where the Seahawks were desperate. Moore Sunday had career highs in catches (four) and yards (103).

They are two in a group of young players helping fill voids left by stars. The new guys aren’t close to equivalence yet. But they have made Carroll even more ebullient than his usual amped self, as a 6-5 season heads into December, traditionally under Carroll the Seahawks’ best month.

“There is just a real upbeat aura about this team,” he said. “They’re real hungry to learn, they’re hungry for the challenges. They have not allowed themselves to go downward at any time. They keep looking to the future.

“It’s just been a really good group to work with.”

Translated, it means that moving on from the dramas with veteran stars Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett and Marshawn Lynch has had its upside. Each was his own separate case, but glancing around the league shows that every successful team in a salary-capped league has player/management conflict that results in movement. It’s the only personnel constant.

In Seattle, the truth hit harder for fans because the departing players were as engaging as they were dominant, and because so much turnover happened in a relatively short period. After missing the playoffs for the first time in six years, the ability to recover to contention quickly seemed remote.

Finding a contributor such as Moore from the draft’s depths was critical.

“I remember David coming down to LA,” said Wilson of off-season workouts he set up.  “We got a lot of work in, also throughout training camp. He has worked extremely hard. He is an amazing athlete.”

Wilson said the big play’s target wasn’t automatically going to be Moore, but when the defense at the snap provided a one-on-one match-up with Elder, the decision was made.

“I saw him going down the sideline and I gave him a chance to make a play,” Wilson said. “I told the guys in the huddle right before, ‘Got to have no fear, let’s go for it.’ We were able to make that big play. Guys stayed calm.”

Unlike numerous witnesses back home, who spent Sunday afternoon delighted to mop up the spills.

 


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YourThoughts

  • Kevin Lynch

    Playing a pair of sevens through to fruition has to be one of life’s significant challenges. Never underestimate Pete Carroll, Art Thiel, Russell Wilson or the hand of the city that drew them.

    • art thiel

      The guy in the middle of your triplet is not like the other two.

      • Kevin Lynch

        In the field of sports journalism, if it’s 4th and 3 and the game on the line then you’re getting the ball. Jim Murray and Mike Royko ain’t around anymore.

        • Husky73

          Or John Owen. Or Melvin Durslag.

  • DJ

    Thanks Art! Nice take on the “pair of 7’s”.

    It’s fun to hear Russell’s inside take on the Moore play. MNF classified Carson’s flip as Best Spiderman! How could they not?!

    It’s amazing what the Seahawks can accomplish when they believe in themselves – and that was front and center after the tight GB win, the look of purpose and intensity on both Carroll’s and Russell’s faces. It’s the reason they won Sunday. These big plays by late round draftees will only bolster that.

    Next lesson – how to push through and beat an inferior opponent without playing down to their level or losing intensity.

    GO HAWKS!

    • art thiel

      I think for this match at the Clink, all Seahawks know who’s playing for the other guys.

      • DJ

        Yeah, Niners with you-know-who has even got MY adrenaline going.

  • WestCoastBias79

    That 4 and 3 was the epitome of a, “NO! NO! NO! NO! YEEEEESSSSSS!!!!” play. Great game.

    • art thiel

      If Moore had dropped the pass, the fire-Schottenheimer committee would have convened its first meeting.

    • John M

      Good description westcoast, kind of how it affected me . . .

  • tor5

    Great late season synopsis, Art! As a full on Hawk Borg, I never doubted. But I still marvel at Pete and John for turning the team upside down and having no real letup in their competitiveness. Remarkable! As hard as it was for fans to let go, they knew it was time for Sherm and Bennett to move on. Both great players and teammates, but their dwindling “belief” was antithetical to Pete’s whole approach. And Earl’s middle finger maybe forced all of us to see the truth: some superstars grow contemptuous of the very team, individuals, and culture that nurtured their greatness. Bring on the kids!

    • art thiel

      The ruthless world of the NFL mandates that a team jettison expensive stars too soon rather than too late. But Avril and Chancellor would have really helped this year.

      • tor5

        No question. Totally solid dudes in every respect. I could never imagine either of them screaming on the sidelines or giving us the finger.

  • Mícheál Mac Cionnaith

    Thank You, Art, as always, for yet another article that is insightful, yet makes one laugh with an obscure reference or metaphor. Your modesty will deny it, but you are the pinnacle of Seattle sportswriting. Thanks again. :)

    • art thiel

      A bow in your direction, kind sir. As well as using what I assume to be your real name.

      Imagine the change in our national rhetoric if everyone had to put their real names to their public words.

  • Will Ganschow

    Reflecting on how much moire fun it is to read about folks like Carrol who is so genuinely upbeat, than say for example Jim Mora. Seahawks football starts with Carrol, and this will only be fully appreciated when he no longer coaches here.

    • art thiel

      Carroll’s optimism gets him carried away sometimes, but players seem to have a universal appreciation for the way he presents himself and his plan.

  • Husky73

    Two words…Ortege Jenkins.