Drive Rewind: A Lesson In Finishing

People will remember the 23-3 halftime lead the Seahawks took over the Falcons this past Sunday, and the 33-10 final score. What most people will forget is the Falcons outscoring the Seahawks in the third quarter 7-3, and drawing within 26-10 with time left in the third quarter. They are a proud team, playing at home, and accustomed to dramatic comebacks. The Seahawks were up three scores, so the only prudent thing would be to run the ball. An energized Falcons defense could tee off on the run and hopefully get their offense back on the field. They could stack at least eight men in the box, knowing exactly what the Seahawks planned to do. The typical outcome would be a stunted drive that would have given the Falcons added momentum. This is not a typical Seahawks team.

1st & 10 – 20 yd line

Seattle starts with a pass play, but the Falcons cover it well. Russell Wilson quickly decides to scramble, and managed to gain two yards.

2nd & 8  – 22 yd line

Marshawn Lynch takes the hand-off on a read-option play, and picks up two more yards.

3rd & 6 – 24 yd line

This was a pivotal play in the drive, and the first play of the fourth quarter. Third down and six yards to go. A run would largely be conceding, and put the ball back in Atlanta’s hands. Seattle chooses to go four-wide with a tight end and an empty back-field. The Seahawks run a rub route combination with Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin at the top. Tate runs straight into his defender, who is using odd technique of going into a back-pedal before starting to press after a couple of steps. Baldwin times his route perfectly, stutter stepping around Tate to the edge of the field. The Falcons bring two extra rushers on a blitz. Zach Miller stays in to block, but one player is still left unblocked. Wilson wastes no time in getting rid of the ball, and hits Baldwin over his outside shoulder for a big 27-yard gain and a first down.

1st & 10 – ATL 49 yd line

Seattle is done passing now. They line up Miller next to Alvin Bailey, and bring in Michael Robinson. They run an outside zone play where every lineman gets their man, and Robinson gets two. Lynch finishes off the run, pushing the pile another five yards after contact for a 13-yard gain.

1st & 10 – ATL 36 yd line

Paul McQuistan shifts back to left tackle and James Carpenter returns to left guard. Luke Willson comes in as an h-back, lining up as a fullback. Lynch picks up another five yards, bringing up second down for the first time in three plays.

2nd & 5 – ATL 31 yd line

Willson remains in the game at tight end next to McQuistan. Robinson returns to the backfield. Willson owns his defender, driving him five yards off the ball. McQuistan seals his man, at first with Carpenter’s help, and then on his own. Carpenter comes of the combo block with McQuistan and stones another man. Robinson runs through the open hole and takes the safety out of the play. An easy 13 yards for Lynch.

1st & 10 – ATL 18 yd line

Miller comes in at tight end, and Robert Turbin subs for Lynch. Michael Bowie has a nice kick-out block, creating a big hole. Turbin appears to have a bigger gain for a moment, but settles for another four yards.

2nd & 6 – ATL 14 yd line

Seattle goes big here. They bring in Kellen Davis next to McQuistan and Miller next to Bowie. They run a counter with J.R. Sweezy pulling to the left. Davis has a terrific block on the edge, and the receivers are doing a great job on their defenders. It looks like this could be a touchdown, but credit Paul Worrilow for bringing down Lynch by himself. Not many people can say they have done that.

3rd & 1 – ATL 9 yd line

That brought up a 3rd and 1. The Seahawks go with three wide receivers in a bunch to the weakside. Miller stays outside McQuistan. Turbin subs for Lynch, and Wilson takes the snap from shotgun. Folks, appreciate your wide receivers. Baldwin takes on a defensive end and seals him beautifully. That is at least a one-hundred-pound difference. Meanwhile, Tate circles around and stones a linebacker. Jermaine Kearse gets into the act and seals his man as well. It is just enough to get Turbin the one yard needed for the first.

1st & G – ATL 8 yd line

Another single back set, now with Lynch back in. Carpenter mauls his man, clearing a sizable hole for Lynch to run through, getting them all the way down to the three.

2nd & G – 3 yd line

They go back to two-tight ends and run the same counter play they had earlier in the drive. The Falcons do a nice job of stacking it up, but Lynch pushes ahead for a couple more yards.

3rd & G – 1 yd line

They have gone 79 yards to this point, and run the ball eight times in a row. The Seahawks bring Robinson back in and flip Miller over to Bowie’s side. The Falcons are reading the formation to mean the run will be going that way, and have stacked three second-level defenders over there. Bad bet. Seattle runs the other way, and the Falcons simply don’t have enough men on that side to overcome the blocking. Robinson gets just enough of his man to allow Lynch to walk in mostly untouched.

Championship Football

There are not many teams in the NFL that can take the ball 80-yards in over 7 minutes on the road when the opponent knows you are going to run. These are the type of drives that create belief among the Seahawks players and strike fear into the hearts of Seahawks opponents. It is in stark contrast to what we witnessed in St. Louis when Seattle clearly checked out of run plays if the numbers were not in their favor. That is not who this team is. They will run when they want to run against all opposition. 

Drive Totals

Plays: 12
Yards: 80
Runs: 11
Passes: 1
Penalties: 0
Negative Plays: 0
3rd Downs: 3
Avg Yds To Go On 3rd: 2.7
Yards Per Carry: 4.8
Yards Per Pass Attempt: 27.0
Time of Possession: 7 min 14 sec