Just after Brandon Marshall somehow hauled in that unbelievable 56 yard completion near the end of regulation, my dad turned to me and said "well, if Seattle misses the playoffs, this is the play we'll look back on." Of course, Seattle could look back at a lot of plays this season (I'll spare you the recap) and wonder. He was right though. As tough as the Stafford comeback was, as tough as the endings in Arizona and Miami were, what Chicago did in the final 20 seconds of regulation was essentially unprecedented. The NFL was stunned when Atlanta pulled a similar play to beat Carolina, but that drive began with 45 seconds on the clock. Chicago had just 20.
And if Seattle had lost in overtime, that's all we'd be talking about. It was the perfect exclamation point on a growing theme in recent weeks: that Seattle's defense is more of a cause for concern than the offense is. Jay Cutler is one of the most sacked QBs in the NFL. He was not sacked today and was barely touched. The secondary again played too much zone defense and allowed Brandon Marshall to embarrass them on numerous occasions.
But even saying that, if Seattle had lost- I would have pulled the "officiating sucked" card. Some people wouldn't want to hear it- after all Seattle's defense did almost everything they could to lose this game. I don't like blaming the officials, in fact I go out of my way to point them out when they have a solid outing. But today was just awful. Not just awful, but one sided, with all the terrible calls going against Seattle and often at critical times.
First, there was the Lynch fumble on a play where barring video game physics he was almost certainly down and the play had stopped. Additionally, if the refs had blown the whistle like they should have (Lynch had clearly been stopped before the ball came out), it's not a lost fumble. That fumble swung a promising Seahawks drive and helped turn it into 7 points for Chicago.
Then there was the illegal block on a punt called against Seattle that was actually a facemask by Chicago. It was one of the worst calls I've seen since the Hasselbeck "block below the waist" in the Superbowl. Now making a horrible call that results in 5, 10, or 15 yards is one thing, but that play was basically a 25 yard swing in Chicago's favor.
Then there was Chicago's other TD drive, which would have been a 3 and out from inside their own 10 if not for the most ticky tack hands to the face call I've ever seen. If they had called it "hand to the side of the helmet", then I might have found it more agreeable. That drive was later extended by a dubious "late hit" by Alan Branch where Branch clearly crossed over the point of no return before Cutler began his slide. Further, Branch's contact with Cutler was not harsh in the least. What really infuriated me though was a little later in the game where Wilson got clocked doing the same slide from a blatant illegal hit, and yet the refs just looked at each other and shrugged.
There was also a key play that was wiped about by an Okung hold. The hold was legit, but on that same play Wilson was nailed by a blatant late hit that went uncalled. If my understanding of the rules is correct, a personal foul 15 yard penalty does not offset a 10 yard penalty, it over-rides it. So that was a huge blown call as well that helped out Chicago tremendously.
Then to top it all off, you had the Edwards TD reversal, which I think was actually the right call. But if I wanted to put my lawyer hat on, I could argue that there wasn't quite enough evidence to overturn. The most decisive angle looked like it was 200 feet away and wasn't exactly in HD. It was the right call, so I won't rib the refs for it, but it was just one of many examples where the refs made a controversial or incorrect decision that badly hurt the Seahawks. It seemed like those awful calls only went against Seattle all game long.
Today Seattle faced a great defense with a good QB and a great WR. They faced a team with an 8-3 record that is in contention for a bye. This game was on the road at 10am. And during this game the defense played poorly and the NFL went to WWE referees. Yet despite all those things, Seattle still somehow won the game, for one reason and one reason only.
Funny enough, his 105 passer rating today was the lowest he's had in over a month, but I'd argue this was Wilson's best game yet. Today he tied his career high for passing yards and set a new career high for rushing yards. He even had more rushing yards and more rushing 1st downs today than he had in any of his preseason games. Seattle was over 50% on 3rd downs and was 1/1 on (a critical) 4th down. And that was almost entirely on Wilson. He pretty much put the team on his back today, against a very good team that was at home and catching breaks left and right. He won the game for us. Twice. Everyone talks about how composed Wilson is for a rookie. Maybe they should start omitting the final three words from that statement.
What an emotional game. What a bizarre ending. And watching how it unfolded under Wilson in the final two drives, I couldn't help but feel that I was watching a future Superbowl champion QB.
A few other thoughts:
-On numerous occasions this year John Moffitt has shown himself to be a very good seal blocker on running plays in the red zone. Lynch's TD run was almost entirely thanks to a great seal block by #74.
-James Carpenter got owned by Julius Peppers in the first quarter. It's not often you see a 320+ offensive lineman get pancaked by a DE.
-Overall this was a good game by our O-line. Lynch was productive but I also feel that he might have left some yards on the field today. Seattle's line got a great push all game long. The pass protection was just average, but against Chicago in Chicago, I'll take it.
-For all the negative attention Irvin gets, I feel he's more consistent this season than Clemons. At least Irvin will get you a few pressures every game. Clemons was invisible today. That said, Irvin got some looks early in this game at LEO with Clemons off the field, and Irvin was just as invisible from the LEO spot as Clemons was.
-All season long, Jeremy Lane has been really good at downing punts inside the 10.
-Brandon Browner had brutal game. Seattle caught some lucky breaks of their own- one of them being a sure fire deep TD that was dropped. Browner was burned badly on the play. He struggled in pretty much every aspect today. Earl Thomas missed a key tackle on Cutler and didn't play deep coverage well. Sherman failed in his quest to stop Marshall. Really, only Chancellor had a solid game of the back four, which is pretty much the opposite of what's happened most of this season. Did Walter Thurmond play? I don't remember seeing him.
-Chicago's OC should get slapped for some of the decisions he made in the 2nd half. In the first half Chicago's line was giving protection, Cutler was playing very well and Marshall looked unstoppable. Yet for whatever reason the Bears went run heavy in the 2nd half which basically took the ball out of the hands of their biggest playmakers. They also had a terrible draw playcall on 3rd and 12 that fooled nobody. I mean, I know Seattle's 3rd and long defense is bad, but it's not THAT bad.
-It was nice to see that the 3rd and short quick hits to Real Rob are still really hard to stop.
-We got Tim Ryan again. At this rate he's going to cover the Seahawks almost as much as Steve Raible does.
-Russell Wilson, to the best of my knowledge, was never a read option QB in college. At NC State they ran a WCO, and at Wisconsin they ran an offense with pro-style elements. I am impressed then with how quickly he was taken to the read option wrinkle that Carroll has introduced in recent weeks. As said by Ryan on the broadcast, Carroll has apparently been watching film on RG3's rookie season and has been copying some of the same ideas for Wilson. So far at least, those efforts have paid off. Let it not be said that Pete doesn't know anything about offense.
-Russell Wilson's overthrow problem returned- after being absent for several weeks. Wilson had to scramble a lot in this game, and Chicago's front four is surprisingly fast. There might be a link to Wilson's being pressured and his overthrowing. That's my theory, anyway.
-Sidney Rice had a terrific game. I sure hope he's okay.
-Doug Baldwin had a nice game. I sure hope he's okay.
-Golden Tate continues to develop and the guy we saw today looked like a star in the making. It wasn't very long ago that Tate was indecisive and stupid looking with the ball in his hands. Today he knew exactly how to prepare for the catch, transition his body for the run, and knew what cuts to make, and he made them all very quickly with a great deal of explosiveness and a hint of shiftiness. This was the player Seattle put a 1st round grade on in 2010. And his (should have been) game winner was just ridiculous.
-I'm fine with drafting another WR, but I've liked this WR corps from the beginning of the season and I feel like they've just gotten better and better since then. The WRs are beginning to feel like a big strength for this team, even if we won't have anyone close to 1000 yards.
-Everyone else lost this week. The Saints, the Vikings, the Bucs, and even the 49ers (holy crap!). I guess Green Bay won, but I have no reason to keep my eye on them. Not yet anyway. That and they beat the Vikings to do it. So yeah. Good weekend.
-Something about getting screwed by the refs makes you want to win a game even more, and even before then this was like a playoff game for Seattle. So yeah, this game was very emotional. It was probably the most emotional game I've experienced in the regular season since the Giants game in 2005. What a great win.