Entering the fourth quarter of yesterday’s road game against the Houston Texans, the Seattle Seahawks knew they would need at total team effort to erase the 20-6 deficit and force overtime.
They got it.
When quarterback Russell Wilson fumbled and recovered the ball at the Seahawks own 1-yard line on the last play of the third quarter, a long touchdown drive looked unlikely. The Texans’ pernicious defense had been bothering the quarterback all day, limiting him to just 73 yards passing. Yet the confidence the team has displayed over their 3-0 start remained.
“Marshawn [Lynch ] and I were talking and he said, ‘Hey, Russ, just take over,’ ” Wilson said after the game. “I just decided I was going to step up and I’m going to slide a little more. If it’s not there just take off and see what happens.”
What happened was amazing to see. Facing 3rd and 7 from their own 5-yard line, wide receiver Doug Baldwin made a spectacular 24-yard toe-tapping catch that was initially ruled out of bounds but was overturned on a Seattle challenge.
On the next play, Wilson made things happen with his legs. With his receivers blanketed, Wilson sliced up the middle of the defense and used his uncommon shiftiness to pick up 25 yards.
Two plays later, it was running back Marshawn Lynch’s turn to make a play. Following an outstanding lead block from Derrick Coleman, Lynch powered through the first line of defenders and picked up 17 more yards, getting the ball down to the Texans 25 yard line.
The subsequent play appeared to be a Wilson touchdown to Jermaine Kearse but it was call back for offensive pass interference, sending Seattle back to the 35-yard line. Another 13-yard scramble for Wilson set up 3rd and 7 from the 22, which Doug Baldwin converted with an 8-yard catch.
The Seahawks committed another penalty, their lone area of weakness, on first down then gave up a 10-yard sack from Whitney Mercilus, setting up 2nd and 24. Wilson scrambled for another 11 yards on 2nd down then hit receiver Golden Tate for 10 more on 3rd.
With the ball now at the Texans 7-yard line, head coach Pete Carroll faced a choice: kick the easy field goal or try to convert the first down. Most coaches would have chosen the former; Carroll is not like most coaches.
On 4th and 3, Wilson took the snap but was driven into the backfield from pressure. But as anyone who has seen him play knows, Wilson doesn’t give up easily and after spinning out of trouble, he made his way back up-field, picking up the first down.
“On that fourth-and-3, I knew I had to go get it,” Wilson said. “Normally on third-down situations, I slide or whatever. But I was like, ‘I’ve got to find a way to get in there and get that first down.’ ”
Lynch capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown on the next play.
All told, it was a 14-play, 98-yard touchdown drive that gobbled up nearly half of the fourth quarter. Russell Wilson accounted for 99 of those yards between his running and passing.
A Richard Sherman pick six forced overtime and the Seahawks won it on Hauschka’s 45-yard field goal, but this well-orchestrated touchdown drive against one of the better defenses in the league was the highlight of the game, and perhaps the entire season.