The phrase of the day used during the Seahawks/Bills broadcast by commentator John Lynch was “shellac.” This is the perfect word to describe Sunday’s game. The Seattle Seahawks shellacked the Buffalo Bills in Toronto 50-17. With the win, the Seahawks improve to 9-5 on the season and Buffalo falls to 5-9. In their last two games against Arizona and Buffalo, the Seahawks have outscored these two teams by a combined score of 108-17. They also are the first team since the 1950 Los Angeles Rams to score 50 or more points in two consecutive games. The Seahawks are suddenly red-hot with two home games remaining to wrap up the regular season. Here are my talking points from Sunday’s game.
Wilson Makes History: Russell Wilson made Seahawks history in only the first half of Sunday’s game. Wilson became the first quarterback in Seahawks history to run for three touchdowns in a game. He accomplished this feat with touchdown runs of 14, 25, and 13 yards respectively, all of which came in the first 24:29 of play. The zone-read option had a tremendously positive effect in this game overall as Wilson ended the day with 92 rushing yards in addition to his 205 passing yards and one passing touchdown. There is no question Wilson has the hot hand and a lot of the success has been because the offensive line has given Wilson plenty of time to make plays. With a dominant pass rush in the San Francisco 49ers coming to town next weekend, the Seahawks and Russell Wilson needs to make sure the hot hand sticks around as Wilson needs to make sure he is quickly decisive next week.
Seahawks Defense Dominant, For The Most Part: The Seahawks jumped out to a quick early lead but temporarily let Buffalo back into the game with a touchdown rushed in by C.J. Spiller and a Ryan Fitzpatrick touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson. With a 14 point halftime lead, I was critical of the Seahawks defense needing to show that they would not slack in the second half no matter what the scoreboard read. They did not disappoint. In the second half, the Defense picked off two Fitzpatrick passes; one by linebacker K.J. Wright and one by safety Earl Thomas which was returned for a touchdown. They also shut out the Bills in the last 30 minutes of football as the offense continued to pile on points, making the lead more comfortable. The pass rush still was not as dominant as I would have liked to have seen although Chris Clemons had 2.5 sacks and Jason Jones also added half a sack. The Seahawks defense got the job done overall on the scoreboard and with the defense on a roll, with a huge primetime game on deck, the 12th Man will be able to boost the defense into another good performance next week, hopefully.
My Thoughts On The Fake Punt: After last week’s accusations that the Seahawks ran up the score on Arizona, I defended Pete Carroll and the Seahawks with the opinion that it is the defense’s job to stop our offense. If they can’t then we should be entitled to put up any number of points if the opportunity presents itself. This week however, there was another play that has the national media wondering if the Seahawks were deliberately trying to run up the score when other options could have been taken. The play under review is the Seahawks fake punt in the fourth quarter. With the Seahawks leading 47-17 with roughly 11 minutes left in the game the Seahawks faced 4th down and 4 yards to go. In punt formation, Clint Gresham direct-snapped the ball to Chris Maragos who then handed the ball off to Michael Robinson for a 29-yard gain. The Seahawks ended the drive with a Steven Hauschka field goal. Coach Carroll said after the game that he regrets calling for the fake punt. Bills head coach Chan Gailey had no comment about the play in his postgame press conference. I agree with Coach Carroll. There is no need to pull plays like that with a 30-point lead that is virtually guaranteed to hold up. The primary reason why I do not approve of the play call is because we used it in a situation where we did not need to use it. Knowing it would be that effective I think it would have been much more beneficial to save the play and use it when closer circumstances arise such as next week or sometime in the playoffs.
The Bills And The Toronto Effect: I’ll keep my thoughts on the play of the Buffalo Bills brief. The offense never really got off to a rhythm but C.J. Spiller did show flashes of gutsy running. Ryan Fitzpatrick started off making good throws but struggled as the game wore on. The defense started strong, sacking Russell Wilson twice in the first quarter. Buffalo’s defense just could not figure out how to stop the zone-read option and that killed them for 28 total points.
If I were a Buffalo Bills fan I would be furious at the NFL about the fact that a home game is taken away and moved to Toronto. Watching the game on television there was NO home-field advantage for the Bills and at times the cheering was louder for the Seahawks than for the Bills. At one point after a positive Buffalo play I remember seeing a section of fans where nobody was clapping or cheering. The people in attendance seemed to be casual spectators who looked like they would rather be watching Toronto Maple Leafs re-runs at home than be at the Rogers Centre watching NFL football. You can speculate all you want about how that game would have looked if it were played at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo. I think it definitely would have been tougher for the Seahawks and could have been a closer ballgame. The Bills Toronto series is an experiment that has failed on the whole. I understand the revenue streams it brings in for the Bills and for the NFL, but the league is doing a disservice playing a game in international waters each year. I think it is a fair assumption that Canadians just do not care about the National Football League.
Random Thoughts: The grey uniforms look very sharp. I wish we would have worn them for a game at home… I have to give a shout-out to rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane. Lane started at cornerback on Sunday in place of injured starter Walter Thurmond. The Bills tested Lane early, as in on the first play of the game. Lane stayed right over the top of Bills receiver T.J. Graham and made a play with a pass-defensed. Lane did an outstanding job in place of Thurmond this week. It’s good to know Lane can step in and do a good job if his number is called… I love 1pm road games. I’m not as tired throughout the course of the day if the Seahawks play in the afternoon. I always fight the temptation to take a nap during the 1pm games if the Seahawks play at 10am… My friend Brent came over for Sunday’s game. He just got back from Pittsburgh for winter break so it was nice to have him over to the house for the first time. My roommates and I haven’t seen him since the summer… Football is not meant to be played in baseball stadiums. Just saying… Tarvaris Jackson just looked silly wearing a Bills hat and sweatshirt on the sidelines. How do you go from starting quarterback one year to inactive week after week the next year?… It’s nice to see Zach Miller get involved in scoring plays. That’s why we paid him the big bucks. That is his second touchdown in as many games… I did not track my consolation bracket fantasy football matchup. When you barely miss the playoffs, what’s the point… The Seahawks only had 4 penalties for 32 yards. That is always a beautiful stat to see. Let’s keep that up next week against San Francisco… Speaking of San Francisco, I hate the fact that they beat New England on Sunday Night Football, meaning next week’s game will not determine the leader of the NFC West. It is still an important game no question about it because we can clinch a playoff berth, but at this point I have a hard time dealing with the notion that the environment at CenturyLink Field next weekend will not be nearly as intense as it would be if we were playing the 49ers for the division lead.
Seahawks Playoff Outlook: With the win over Buffalo, the Seahawks improve to 9-5. If the season ended right now the Seahawks would be the 5th seed in the NFC and would play the Washington Redskins in D.C. in the NFC wild-card playoffs. If the Seahawks win one of their last two games they will clinch a playoff spot. Things can still change however as the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Giants are all still in contention for playoff spots. Here are next week’s games with potential NFC playoff implications:
San Francisco (10-3-1) at Seattle (9-5)
Washington (8-6) at Philadelphia (4-10)
Minnesota (8-6) at Houston (12-2)
Chicago (8-6) at Arizona (5-9)
New Orleans (6-8) at Dallas (8-6)
New York Giants (8-6) at Baltimore (9-5)
This week is hate week as the Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers next weekend on Sunday Night Football. Look for my preview of the 49ers/Seahawks game on Saturday afternoon. Go Seahawks!