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The Morning After: Seahawks Explode for 46-18 Win Over Colts
Offense
Defense
Special Teams
4.2Game Rating
Reader Rating: (18 Votes)

This column is brought to you by Pagliacci Pizza. Treat yourself! Exclusive special below.

 

Character is defined by the decisions a person makes. We tend to celebrate and criticize decisions of the bigger and more dramatic variety that are often accompanied by much thought and reflection before they are made. Sometimes, though, you can learn the most about a man by the instant decisions he makes when instinct takes over.

It was 3rd and 10. The Seahawks had played an atrocious half of football and were trailing the lowly Indianapolis Colts by a score of 15-10. An encouraging Seahawks drive had stalled at the Colts 23-yard line. The ball was snapped. Russell Wilson retreated a few steps, scanning the field for an opening. Not seeing what he hoped for through the air, Wilson noticed a hole in front of him. That is when he made his first choice, to dash for the first down instead of trying to buy time waiting to find an open receiver. We have seen him do that before. The first ten yards were easy. He could have safely slid and celebrated a first down. He chose more.

A productive block by Tyler Lockett opened a lane. Wilson reached the 7-yard line and knew one defender stood between him and a touchdown. He could have slid inside the five and kept his body safe. He chose more. With the defender closing in, Wilson accelerated toward the goal line and dove head first as he absorbed the hit he knew was coming. The contact came at the 2-yard line. His body naturally wanted to go down short of the end zone, but Wilson lunged with everything he had to stretch the ball past the white line for a touchdown.

Even the referees did not believe it on first glance. They ruled him down. It was fitting that a challenge was required for the Seahawks to score their first offensive touchdown of the game. The replay told the story. Wilson had chosen the difficult over easy, peril over safety, team over self, winning over losing, and he knew it. Rising like a defender who had just delivered a brutal hit, Wilson screamed and threw his fist in exultation. The message was clear. He was the Alpha. This was his house. If you wanted this game, you were going to have to come through him.

The play galvanized the team. Wilson is far from Shaun Alexander, but he often wisely avoids contact and saves his scrambles for when the team is most desperate. He put his body on the line and his teammates immediately understood what that meant.

A seminal moment in this season?

Everything clicked after that. Well, almost everything. After scoring two straight touchdowns to close the first half, the Colts only points in the second half came after a pass glanced off the hands of Jimmy Graham for an interception which led to a field goal. The Seahawks scored a touchdown on every possession of the second half other than that one. They even scored a touchdown when they didn’t have possession. In all, Seattle had five touchdowns in the second half and a two-point conversion to set a franchise record for most points in the second half of a game.

It was the fourth-highest total in any half by a Seahawks team. Strolling through the record books, this game wound up having many similarities to the stretch of explosive blowouts the Seahawks strung together toward the end of 2012 when Wilson and the read option emerged. This was the first time the team had a fumble return for a touchdown and an interception return for a touchdown since the 58-0 win over the Cardinals that year. The only other time a Wilson-led offense converted 10 or more 3rd downs was during the 42-13 win over the 49ers during that run. The last time the team scored 46 points or more was the 50-17 victory over the Bills in Toronto.

As remarkable as the final score and statistics were, it is hard to shake the specter of that first half. Like Two-Face, one half was hideous and destructive, while the other was clean and elite. The Batman villain is known for flipping a coin to determine people’s fate, and this season still feels like a coin flip for Seattle.

Wilson was MVP caliber in the second half, but made another inexcusable mistake in the first when he held onto the ball in his own endzone and was sacked for a needless safety. The defense allowed just 32 yards in the second half with a long drive of only 11 yards, after allowing over 200 yards in the first while making Jacoby Brissett look like the next great quarterback.

It was so bad that I found myself wondering if the defense truly had gotten old over night and was no longer among the best in the league. People were talking about the team having trouble finishing over .500 this season, and I had little reason to disagree. It looked like the end of an era. And then it wasn’t.

 

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Searching for patterns

Trying to analyze this team has been like searching for extraterrestrial life. The signals are hidden behind noise and static. Step back to examine the big picture and you see two narrow road losses to teams likely to make the playoffs. Zoom in on any one aspect of the team and you see significant flaws. Look at the trends on offense, and the pattern is pretty clear.

The offensive line played its best game against the Colts, and one could argue they have improved each week. They are not great by any stretch, but they are showing more consistent growth than any part of the team, which is a really good sign. It is hard to imagine they will be able to continue the trend against Aaron Donald next week. Their progress, though, has been steady and far swifter than in years past. The same could be said about the offense overall.

Wilson has thrown for six touchdowns over the past two games and threw for 295+ yards in consecutive games for the first time in his career. He was hyper-efficient, needing only 26 attempts to get those yards. Of his five incompletions, two were passes to Jimmy Graham that the tight end failed to catch. His 110.3 passer rating in these past two games is right in line with the 110.1 rating he posted in 2015 when he led the NFL in that category while going on a major tear.

Are we in the midst of another historic outburst by Wilson and this offense? Is it a mirage? We will have to find out without the services of Chris Carson, who suffered a serious injury late in the game, and may be lost for the year. Eddie Lacy played easily his best game as a Seahawk, but the show was stolen by another running back.

The rise of J.D. McKissic

My son and I play this game with my friend Aron before many of the Seahawks games. We ask each other who we most want to see have a great game. It usually focuses on players the team needs to get going in order to build toward great play, or just a guy who we think would be fun. My guy this week with J.D. McKissic. There were plenty of complaints when the team kept him on the roster, and constant questions about why I was so high on him during camp.

He showed on Sunday what I knew he was capable of when I chose him as a super sleeper ahead of camp. This is a player who can add dynamic playmaking to the Seahawks offense. He has history as a receiver and as a running back. He has great acceleration, and is surprisingly tough for a guy of his stature. He makes plays on special teams. He makes plays out of the backfield. He makes plays split out. Put him in space and let him work.

Many folks will want to shovel dirt on C.J. Prosise as he is injured. One player’s talent does not need to mean another player is useless. In McKissic, John Schneider has done the remarkable again by finding a player of unique skills to backup a player of similar unique skills.

I have drooled at what Taylor Gabriel has added to the Falcons offense. He is a guy who can take a short screen a long distance. McKissic does not have Gabriel’s speed, but he has similar ability to create big yards from short passes into space. There are no mixed signals here. This is a guy who could spark the Seahawks offense.

 

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Proving ground

 

Seattle will face a new challenge next week in Los Angeles. The Rams always give Seattle fits, but they are usually a terrible team, especially on offense. Jared Goff looks like a franchise quarterback and his offense has been the best in football so far this season. They stormed back to beat the Cowboys on the road, and have every reason to be confident about winning this key divisional matchup with the Seahawks.

The Seahawks went from hopeless to hopeful in 30 minutes Sunday night. Fans have good reason to be hesitant about getting too excited about the superb second half against the Colts. It is hard to be certain about anything when a team has had such wild swings of performance across nearly every aspect of their game. One thing that is clear is their star quarterback played his best game in a long time. He was accurate. He was productive. He was courageous.

When he is playing like that, I like the Seahawks chances against anyone, anywhere.

10 Responses

  1. Luke Fluker

    Yeah, at this point, it’s Russell Wilson, sink or swim. Here’s hoping Russ goes all Johnny Weismueller* mode, especially this coming Sunday. It’s time we kicked da Rams in da you know what.

    * (pounds chest, grabs a vine)

    Reply
  2. John Cullen

    Brian, I attend most of the games, and read a lot online about the Hawks. There is a lot of “hate” out there dripping with pessimism about this year’s team. Your reference to people “burying” CJ Prosise is among that. Yes, it is disappointing when a player who has obvious talent does not have durability among those talents. I’d rather see Prosise play than be hurt. But really, even in the stadium last night a lot of people are down on the Hawks. I like your honest assessments of what you see and know. It is appreciated. AS a whole Seahawks Nation needs to wake up, each “fan” needs a check up from the neck up. If you can’t be positive and optimistic, be neutral. Hold off on Judgment. Even Softy on KJR needs to chill out and remember that the best teams get better throughout the season. I think the rhetoric from that station has become very dark across almost all the talking heads. You can be an agent of change. There is plenty to find optimism behind. Injuries are part of this game and this league. The Hawks are as well built as any team to withstand most injuries.

    Reply
    • Dani

      Think of what’s coming from the fans as disappointment than pessimism! This team has talent at so many levels and what’s been disappointing is the inconsistencies, especially from veterans. There are some young rookies and 2nd yr players balling out, but few of our key players aren’t and we can see it! It’s time for them to put it together bcos league and other teams are not going to wait for them to “get better” in the second half! What we saw in the 2nd half yesterday makes me hopefully optimistic, but I am not going to raise any expectations until I see them put a full game together as Offense and Defense. To me, Pass rush is key on the defensive side of things and Russ is the key on the offensive side of things. Need both these to show up every game!

      Reply
  3. Ryan

    Honestly, the only thing that has frustrated me so far this season is the fans’ response so far. I completely understand that this has not been the start of the season we were hoping for. That said, we, as Seahawks fans, are known as being some of the “best” fans in the world. I think that should also mean we support our team, regardless of how they are playing. We can galvanize the ‘Hawks and spur them to great things when we stick with them. I do not think there is any room for booing our team or harassing them on social media. That is unhelpful, uncalled for, and pointless. We are the 12th man (or 12s now)! We are part of the team! If we want the other 11 to never quit, then we can’t either!

    Reply
  4. Doug

    Two-face… what a great analogy! I am an optimistic guy by nature and have chimed in with posts “but look at the bright side” here a few times when I thought the picture being painted was too bleak. But the first half of the Colts game… YIKES! I was willing to cave in and admit we were doomed because of the OL. That we turned on the jets and won the game going away had a lot to do with Russ’ involvement in the run game (by design or circumstance) and sheer tenacity. With another LT down I have to say I am afraid of what the LA game is going to show. Maybe some screens to McKissic and some RO with Rawls will slow down the Ram’s DL. We will see!

    Reply
  5. Rowdy Yates

    Maybe it’s just because R.W. & the Hawks (good band name?) were PLAYing so well in the second half, but it seemed like our fearless OC, Daryl Beveled utilized a more strategic game plan the 2nd half, a game plan taking into account the strengths and weakness of our offense, as opposed to trying to appease a philosophy.

    (Less vanilla and more peach-coconut swirl, please).

    Reply
  6. dave

    The 12s had good reason to be disapointed.. The score was tied at 18 with 5 minutes left in the 3rd…. then the hawks woke up. A nice drive topped off by a great run by McKisic, then the defensive sack, strip & TD got the both the players & fans into the game, & indy seemed to resign to their fate. Hopefully the Hawks can carry that emotion & level of play into the Rams game. Hated to see the injury to Carson, hopefully it is not as serios as it looked.

    Reply
  7. Uncle Bob

    Well, a win is a win.
    The team always seems to trickle out injury info over time (probably a good reason, maybe?), so let’s hope that Carson isn’t hurt any worse than the already bad enough info. Same with Ohdiambo, the heart contusion thing was really scary, with the sternum being less scary while still bad for Rees. I’m worried about Avril, a neck injury is no small thing. Hopefully it’s more a dinger than something that will end his career. There is a lot of room between those two scenarios, let’s hope for the best.
    It was good to see Lacy finally make some yards with caveats. It appeared that the line had to change from zone blocking to man (at least partially) to make it work for Eddie, and the Colts, after having much of the first half off, were probably tired and demoralized when he made those runs. Glass half full……………..maybe the success will give Lacy some confidence (if he needed it) and he can become the go to TB. JD looked like fun. With this O-line at it’s current state (and the possible loss of Ohdiambo for awhile doesn’t help continuity) there probably won’t be much up the middle for him, but running to the outside or swinging out for short passes looks good.

    Some may not believe the Rams have improved, but they’ve got quite a few new players along with the new coaching staff, so they may be for real. One thing for sure……….their defensive talent under the guidance of Wade Phillips ain’t gonna be easy to deal with. We’ll see if Bevell and RW can make magic. Unfortunately, just like the Hawks el sucko record on the road in September, they also suck big time on grass. Between a confident Rams team and Coliseum lawn, expectations shouldn’t be too high. But it can’t hurt to wish…………….

    Reply
  8. idaho mouse jockey

    4.5 stars for the offense seems generous given that they still struggle to at least flip the field on drives and time of possession in the first half. It was still a better performance than in other games but it was against the Colts who appear to be one of the worst teams in football. The final score is also misleading since the defense put up 14 of those points and destroyed the colts in the second half.

    Having said that the Hawks are starting to feel like they are going to turn things around. It just seems like they need to have one or two more threats on the field to or in the play book (or both) loosen up coverage. And right now with Wilson’s accuracy improving and few players starting to look good, it feels like they are getting close. Plus September is over…

    Reply
    • Brian Nemhauser

      Yeah, it was tough to grade. Scoring touchdowns on 4 out of 5 possessions and putting up 46 points and 473 yards overall makes it hard to grade them too harshly.

      Reply

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