Monday, November 14, 2011

Drive Rewind: Seattle Closes The Door On Baltimore

Individual plays take your breath away. There are those moments that last for an instant, but are remembered forever. Entire drives, especially those that result in zero points, are rarely worth the mind space necessary to commit them to memory. The Seahawks had one of those drives against the Ravens on Sunday. It was a drive that will act as a mile marker on the Seahawks road to recovery. One of the best teams in the NFL had just closed to within one score with just under 6 minutes to go. The Ravens were used to comebacks, having beat the Cardinals and Steelers the last two weeks in unlikely fashion. They had their intimidating defense on the field against an offense that featured Tarvaris Jackson and the youngest offensive line in the NFL. A quick three-and-out would give their offense the ball with three timeouts and well over four minutes to drive the field. The Seahawks have consistently lost this year when given the chance to rise up in the fourth quarter. They entered the fourth quarter of last week's game against the Cowboys down one score, before turning the ball over repeatedly on the way to 10-point loss. They climbed to within one score of the Bengals in the fourth quarter a week earlier, before collapsing into an eventual 34-12 blowout. 

Drives like this, against teams of this quality, are how young teams learn how to win. Let's see how it unfolded.

NOTE: Click on any image for a larger version


The drive starts at the 20-yard line with 5:52 seconds left on the clock. Starting receivers Doug Baldwin and Sidney Rice are out with concussions at this point, leaving Golden Tate and Ben Obomanu in to pick up the slack. Marshawn Lynch had 23 carries for 67 yards at this point, good for a 2.91 average. The entire Seahawks offense had only managed 60 yards in the second half up until this point, after gaining nearly 200 in the first half.

FALSE START: Russell Okung kicks things off with a false start. Move back 5 yards.

ILLEGAL MOTION: Golden Tate is flagged for illegal motion next. Move back five more yards to the 10, and see if you can actually get Pete Carroll to frown. He at least reaches exasperation in this pic, as the team gets their 13th, and final, penalty.

1ST & 20: Seattle goes with two WRs, two TEs and a RB. 

The Ravens send four to rush the passer, and Seattle sends out all receivers, tight ends and running backs. The line creates a nice pocket for Tarvaris Jackson to throw.

JACKSON TO TATE FOR 10 YARDS: A big completion to Tate gains back 10 yards. You can click the image to zoom and see how tight the defender was on Tate's back. Great protection, great throw, nice route and catch. 

2ND & 10 FROM THE 20: Now back to the original line of scrimmage.  Seattle features two tight ends and a WR in bunch formation up top, and a WR below. Single RB.

Russell Okung seals beautifully, as does Robert Gallery and Max Unger, creating a lane for Marshawn Lynch. Lynch plows ahead for five yards, setting up a crucial 3rd down.

3RD & 5 FROM THE 25: Only a minute has burned off the clock at this point. Failure to convert would give the Ravens the ball in good field position with about four minutes to go. Seattle has Mike Williams and Golden Tate on top, and Ben Obomanu below, along with a tight end. 

The Seahawks run a pick play with Mike Williams running a slant route meant to cut off Golden Tate's defender as Tate circled around behind him. Note the protection as the Ravens send four against only the five lineman. Nobody is left in to help block. 

24 YARDS & 1ST DOWN: Jackson delivers the ball perfectly to Tate in stride who makes the clutch  catch and runs an additional seven yards to the 49-yard line for a first down. Each first down is worth around two minutes of game clock unless the opponent calls a timeout or there are incompletions. This was arguably the play of the drive. How many people would have predicted Tarvaris Jackson to Golden Tate on 3rd down deep in Seahawks territory against the Ravens defense? Big play all around.

PLAY #5, 1ST & 10 FROM THE 49-YARD-LINE: Michael Robinson makes an appearance as a fullback. The Seahawks run up the gut for a gain for four yards. The line does a great job as first contact did not happen until Lynch was 3.5 yards past the line. 

PLAY #6, 2ND & 6 FROM THE RAVENS 48: The Seahawks stick with the ground game.

The line blocks well, but Lynch is only able to gain one yard, leaving another  big 3rd down.

PLAY #7 3RD & 5 FROM THE 46: One WR, Two TEs, 1 FB, 1 RB

The Ravens send an extra rusher, with five men. The Seahawks send out everyone, leaving just the offensive line to protect Jackson. Check out that pocket as Jackson hits the top of his drop. Also look at Lynch leaking out of the back-field with nobody near him.

Lynch catches the ball and sets Ray Lewis and Jarret Johnson up for a vicious fake by dropping his head down to the left, along with all of his weight, before bursting nearly two yards laterally to his right.

Lewis and Johnson lay in heap as Lynch motors by untouched for the first down.

That's 9 yards, and another crucial Seahawks 1st down. This play also merits play-of-the-drive consideration. It certainly was the flashiest.

Just for good measure, here's the endzone view. Look how far Lynch collapses his body to the left, and how dead to rights the two tacklers have him.

Whoops! Lewis' right leg literally buckles as he falls to the ground, and Johnson takes the Nestea plunge as Lynch meanders by.

PLAY #8 1st & 10 FROM THE 38: The Seahawks have burned over two-and-a-half minutes off the clock to this point.  They run the ball again for a modest two-yard gain.

PLAY #9 2ND & 8 FROM THE 36: The Ravens use a timeout ahead of the two minute warning. Seattle bunches toward right side of the formation with no fullback. The Ravens now have eight men in the box, crowding the line of scrimmage. 


The line blocks well, but there is little push. The Ravens appear to have stacked up the play about a yard from the original line of scrimmage.

Robert Gallery and Anthony McCoy throw key blocks and Lynch finds a seam all the way to the 32-yard line when he makes initial contact with the defense. This is indicated by the red line I added to the image. Lynch was not done.

Lynch keeps pushing and Lemual Juanpierre keeps pulling and Lynch pushes ahead  four more yards for another first down. This would be the third nominee for play-of-the-drive.

PLAY #10 1ST & 10 FROM THE 28: Seattle reaches the two-minute warning and won't be throwing the ball again.  The Ravens still have eight men near the line of scrimmage, and you can see one linebacker starting a run blitz pre-snap.

That linebacker goes untouched through the hole, and Lynch looks to be facing a loss on the play.

Of course, Lynch sees it differently, pulling another massive jump cut that moves him around the linebacker untouched on the way to a seven-yard gain. Look at every other Raven defender near the line being blocked beautifully by the line.

PLAY #11 2ND & 3 FROM THE 21: The Ravens have used their final timeout. A first down here will end the game.

Another perfectly blocked play creates a great seam for Lynch to the right.

The two teams snuggle after Lynch gets the game-clinching first down. Sweet dreams, Ravens.

Seattle does the victory formation to run out the clock.

Lynch finishes the series with 9 carries for 42 yards and a 4.66 avg. Remember, he started with 67 yards for the entire game and 2.91 avg. Jackson was 3-3 for 42 yards, including two big 3rd down conversions. The team goes 74 yards, from their own 10 to the Ravens 16, and burns nearly six minutes of clock. That's a drive to remember.

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