The Seahawks were able to bounce back from their loss in Miami and defeat the Chicago Bears 23-17 in overtime on Sunday. This game was a nail-biter and it turned out to be what I would consider to be an instant classic. The Seahawks are now 7-5, in full control of the final NFC wild-card spot while the Bears fall to 8-4 and have the 5th seed in the NFC. There was a good mix of great things and bad things that happened to the Seahawks in this game. This is what I saw.
Déjà Vu: The Seahawks had a 10-7 lead at halftime but the feel of the first half felt eerily similar to the first half of the Miami game. The Seahawks went the first 27 minutes of the first half without scoring. They did put up 219 yards of offense in the first half; about 70 yards more than in Miami. The nicest thing I saw in the first half was that the offense was able to move the ball. The Seahawks only had one first half drive of less than 10 yards. Scoring 10 points in the first half on the road against a superlative Chicago defense is decent but I was hoping for more in order for us to remain competitive throughout the entire game. It was good to see us correct mistakes that doomed us in Miami and carried those adjustments into the rest of this week’s game.
52:27 Of Russell Wilson Dominance: This may seem a bit repetitive because this section reflects some stats that occurred in the first half, but you will be impressed with these numbers. From the end of the first quarter on, the Seahawks had 404 yards of offense, 22 first downs, and all 23 points against the Bears on the road. Russell Wilson had his most impressive performance of the season hands down. Wilson ended the day 23/37 for 293 yards passing and two touchdowns. Wilson also added 71 rushing yards on 9 carries. Wilson showed tremendous poise and seemed comfortable in the pocket all day long. For the most part the Seahawks offensive line did a great job protecting Wilson. Two of Wilson’s throws in particular caught my attention, both to Sidney Rice. One was in the first half down the sideline which was one of Trent Dilfer’s “dimes” on Sportscenter Sunday night. The second pass, Rice laid out on 2nd down and 11 to convert for a first down. The drive ultimately ended in points. With a favorable schedule on the horizon and only one more regular season road game, Wilson is headed for a terrific finish and strong consideration for offensive rookie of the year.
Defense Sputters When They Absolutely Can’t: The Seahawks defense played well enough to hold on for the win. Having said this, we continue to give up big plays at the worst times. I will get to the Brandon Marshall catch with 18 seconds left in regulation in a moment but let’s first talk about our third down defense, our pass rush, and our unfortunate penalties.
Once again the Seahawks did a terrible job of stopping the Bears on third down, especially in the first half. Chicago was able to convert half of their third downs on Sunday. The biggest reason why the Bears could move the ball is our constant lack of quarterback pressure on the road. The Seahawks only recorded one sack which was primarily because Bears quarterback Jay Cutler fumbled a handoff to Matt Forte and had to run back and recover it. The Seahawks would have had this game under control for the majority of the time if they had been able to put consistent pressure on Cutler. We had been successful doing this over the past couple years. I do not see how we were so ineffective this time around.
There were also a couple of big penalties that cost the Seahawks in the Bears second touchdown drive. The Bears came up one yard short of a first down at the beginning of their first third quarter drive on 3rd and 8 but because of an illegal hands to the face penalty on Bruce Irvin, it gave the Bears a first down. Later on in the drive, Alan Branch was called for roughing the passer when he tried to tackle Cutler as he was sliding. The Bears of course ended the drive with a touchdown to Matt Forte to give the Bears a 14-10 lead.
Perhaps the most talked about play of the day was the 56-yard reception by Bears receiver Brandon Marshall with 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks had an entire breakdown in coverage on this play. The Seahawks played prevent-man defense and they were able to let Marshall get free on one-on-one coverage. Instead of going for an interception or even a tackle, cornerback Richard Sherman instead decided to go for the interception. Because of this, Marshall was able to break free for an additional 20+ yards. This play set up Robbie Gould’s 46-yard game-tying field goal at the end of regulation. This play “never should have happened in the first place” according to Coach Carroll and there is no doubt he is right. Our defense must continue to improve and it will be nice for them to get back home next weekend after 4 weeks away from CenturyLink Field.
He’s A Beast: There is no other way to describe Brandon Marshall. In my preview, I predicted Marshall would have ten catches and ultimately torch the Seahawks. Marshall did have ten catches for 165 yards. It does not matter who is covering him, Marshall is big enough to grab any ball thrown in his direction, much like Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. The Cutler-Marshall combination is deadly and will be the biggest offensive factor in determining how long the Bears stick around in the playoffs.
Chicago’s Defense Still Good, But Aging: Here is a warning to any team or fan of a team who could be looking at a matchup with the Chicago Bears later on this season: they are still dominant but they get dramatically tired. In the Seahawks final two offensive drives of the game, Russell Wilson was shredding Chicago’s defense apart and you could visibly tell they were getting tired. Most notably the linebackers seemed the most gassed. Lance Briggs got banged up late in the game and Brian Urlacher had to leave the Seahawks overtime drive. He may have been hurt but to me watching on television he just looked exhausted. If the Bears are going to contend for a super bowl, this has to be the year. This group will not stick together much longer. They can play well against almost every team but they get worn down, which ultimately cost them against the Seahawks on Sunday.
Random Thoughts: The Seahawks debuted the white jersey/white pants uniform combination on Sunday. It looked really good. Hopefully the white pants stick around… My dad came over to my house for this game and I really enjoyed his company. It always makes it better when we win… My roommate had the time of his life being in attendance at Soldier Field on Sunday. I am super jealous he got to see the Seahawks win and I saw them lose twice on the road. I told him he is our good luck charm within the house and maybe we should look into going to Toronto in two weeks for the Bills game (that won’t happen, but it’s a nice little idea isn’t it?)… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan called a good game on the FOX broadcast this week. Much better than in past weeks… The Bears have an annoying fight song… With our win and San Francisco’s loss I am starting to get excited about the possibility of holding on to win the NFC West. Still a lot of football to be played but we have a chance… I am also starting to get excited about the possibility that the NFL and NBC will flex the Seahawks week 16 game against the San Francisco 49ers into Sunday Night Football. That would be so amazing.
Seahawks Playoff Outlook: The Seahawks are now 7-5 and have a full game lead for the 6th seed in the NFC. The Seahawks are also 1 ½ games behind San Francisco for the NFC West lead. It is very possible we could catch them in the coming weeks. Still in the hunt behind the Seahawks are the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Next week’s games to be keeping an eye on with potential playoff implications:
Arizona (4-8) at Seattle (7-5)
Miami (5-7) at San Francisco (8-3-1)
Dallas (6-6) at Cincinnati (7-5)
Chicago (8-4) at Minnesota (6-6)
Philadelphia (3-9) at Tampa Bay (6-6)
The Seahawks now have four games left; three of which are at home in front of the 12th Man. It all starts next week against the Arizona Cardinals. Check back on Saturday afternoon for my preview of next week’s game. It’s really time to start believing everybody. Go Seahawks!