Breaking down the Seahawks exciting 39-30 win over the Steelers, including taking a look at what worked and what needs improving
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The Seahawks victory over the Steelers was one of the sloppiest, mistake filled games witnessed this season. However, it also doubled as one of the most exciting and spectacular, with both teams giving their all in a matchup with so much at stake.
Pittsburgh entered the game as 3.5-point underdogs, but there were certain points where it looked like there was no way they could lose. In the end Seattle stepped up, and they now find themselves in control of their own destiny in respect of qualifying for the postseason.
Overall, the game had lots of ups and downs, regardless of which team you were following. Let’s break down the Seahawks exhilarating 39-30 win:
1) Russell Wilson
There were questions entering this game, about if Russell Wilson could continue the impressive form he showed last week against the San Francisco 49ers. In the end, the answer was an emphatic yes, as he surpassed that performance.
When it was all said and done, Wilson had set career regular-season highs, with 345 passing yards and five touchdown strikes. The two-time Pro Bowler was particularly sensational in the fourth quarter, throwing for three touchdowns to help lead Seattle from behind, to clinch an important victory.
It is also worth noting that Wilson woke up on Sunday morning feeling ill, but nothing was going to stop him. Three in-game IVs and a win later, he had cause to celebrate a memorable 27th birthday.
2) Doug Baldwin
The Seahawks wide receiver sometimes has an ability to rub people up the wrong way. However, you have to give him credit where it is due.
Doug Baldwin had a career day against the Steelers, catching six passes for 145 yards. Most impressive of all, he became the first Seattle receiver since 1997, to catch three touchdown passes in a game.
Baldwin even put aside his chip-on-the-shoulder mentality after the game. Joking about the game-clinching 80-yard touchdown reception, he said: “It caught me.”
3) Richard Sherman
We’ll get to the Seahawks secondary shambles as a whole in the next section. However, Richard Sherman at least deserves some individual praise.
Nov 29, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) runs back an interception in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks won 39-30. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Charged with covering Antonio Brown, there were some concerns about Sherman’s ability to cover the NFL’s second-best receiver. In the last two weeks alone, the Steelers wideout had 27 receptions and 423 yards.
In the end though, Sherman was up to the challenge. Brown finished the contest with six receptions for 51 yards, but was limited to three catches and 24 yards when covered by the Seahawks three-time All Pro cornerback.
Bad day at the office:
The Legion of Boom
Despite entering the game with the second-best pass defense in the NFL, everyone knew the Seahawks secondary was not up to its usual standard. Unfortunately, this game did nothing to change that notion.
By the end of the night, Seattle’s pass defense had slide all the way down to ninth place. In total, they allowed 480 net yards through the air, the second-most in franchise history.
One positive is that they managed a season-high four interceptions, including Sherman’s first of the year. However, this doesn’t change the fact the secondary has a lot of work to do, to return to their position as one of the most dominant forces in the game.
At least the Legion of Boom still has a chance to bounce back. The same can’t be said for Jimmy Graham.
The three-time Pro Bowler tore a patellar tendon, which will require season-ending surgery. He suffered the injury in the end zone, during the fourth quarter.
There is no timetable for Graham’s return, although injuries like this typically take six-nine months to recover from. Furthermore, many patients have reported they require 12 months to reach all their goals.
Play of the game:
In a game with seven lead changes, there were numerous plays to choose from. In the end though, the play of the game has to be Wilson’s 80-yard touchdown pass to Baldwin.
The Seahawks were faced with a crucial third and nine from their own 20 yard line, with 2:14 remaining. Failure to convert the third down would have given the Steelers the ball back, needing just a field goal to win the game.
Fortunately, Baldwin had other ideas:
Turning point of the game:
Truth be told, similar to the play of the game, there are numerous candidates for this category. However, let’s go with Jeremy Lane‘s interception in his first game back, since his injury in Super Bowl XLIX.
At the time, the Seahawks were trailing 3-0, and facing a fourth and two at their own 27-yard line, when the Steelers decided to go with a trick play. If it had worked, Pittsburgh could have gone up 10-0 up and put themselves in a commanding position.
However, Lane made sure that wasn’t the case:
What we learned:
The offense is capable of winning a shoot-out
This is the first time in the Wilson-era when the Seahawks won a game, after giving up more than 24 points. This should provide the team with more confidence, when faced with similar adversity down the road.
The penalties will never go away
Seattle once again had their fair share of boneheaded penalties, perhaps best illustrated by J.R. Sweezy needlessly jumping on the pile after a play. As infuriating as this must be for fans, there comes a point where we have to realise it’s always going to be part of the makeup of Pete Carroll’s team.
What needs to be answered:
How much will Jimmy Graham be missed?
While Graham may not have been as productive as he was with the New Orleans Saints, this was partly down to his having a different role in Seattle’s offense. He was still a key weapon in Wilson’s arsenal, and it will be interesting to see how the team adapts to losing the 2013 All-Pro.
Can Kris Richard turn the defense around?
Fair or not, Richard is getting a lot of the blame for the defense’s failure to live up to the standard of previous seasons. Regardless, the defensive coordinator needs to find a way to get them back on track , as Seattle continues its playoff push.
Quote of the day:
“I don’t guard small receivers well, so I don’t know what I did, but that’s not what I do. I’m not very good at guarding small receivers. That’s my biggest weakness. So I don’t know what I did.”
Richard Sherman, making fun of the critics who questioned his ability to keep up with, and cover small, shift wide receivers.