Seattle no longer a pushover away from home
On the verge of getting bounced out of Houston, the Seattle Seahawks delivered one of the best comebacks in team history.
It was a gutty statement by the Seahawks in their 23-20 overtime win. Not only did Seattle reaffirm its position as the class of the NFC, but the Seahawks also displayed more evidence they are no longer pushovers away from home.
Dating back to last season, the Seahawks have won five of their last six - including the playoffs - away from Seattle. They have wins in Chicago, Washington, Carolina and now one of the biggest comebacks in franchise history in Houston.
The 17-point comeback tied them for the fourth-largest deficit the Seahawks have ever overcome to win. The Seahawks trailed by 14 midway through the fourth quarter before a pair of late touchdowns forced overtime.
Seattle trailed by 20 and won at Denver in 1995 and trailed by 18 vs. Pittsburgh in 1981 and at Oakland in 1997 and rallied to win.
''What I was most excited about and to really see it on the films, as well as look at the game in depth, is to see the effort and intensity that mounted and grew as the game was going on and as we got farther into the game,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ''I felt our guys were getting better. ... I'm really proud that it turned into a win so that we could really take all of that out of it.''
It was also the second time Seattle has rallied from down two scores in the fourth quarter with Russell Wilson at quarterback. A year ago, the Seahawks trailed New England 23-10 at home midway through the fourth quarter before Wilson threw two touchdowns in the final 7:21, including a game-winning 46-yarder to Sidney Rice for the 24-23 victory.
On Sunday, Wilson got a huge assist from Seattle's defense, which held Houston scoreless for the final 41 minutes and 41 seconds, and contributed Richard Sherman's stunning 56-yard interception return touchdown with 2:40 left in the fourth quarter that forced the extra session.
But Wilson was the reason Seattle was in position to force overtime.
''The play of Russell Wilson was just extraordinary in how he did it,'' Carroll said. ''It wasn't just by big numbers in throwing the football, it was just by playing the game and taking advantage of the opportunities that he could and he did.''
Wilson essentially took the game over in the fourth quarter and overtime with his mixture of running and passing. Wilson's ability to scramble from trouble and gain positive yardage running had not been displayed much through the first three weeks because it wasn't needed. He threw for 320 yards in the opener at Carolina, was helped by the running of Marshawn Lynch in the win over San Francisco and barely played into the second half in a blowout of Jacksonville.
But Sunday in Houston was different. Seattle needed Wilson to do everything. Their offensive line was struggling to keep the pass rush off Wilson's back and receivers could not break coverage and get open downfield. He finished with 123 yards passing and another 77 yards rushing, the second highest rushing total of his young career.
Wilson's takeover started on the second play of the fourth quarter at his own 5, with a back shoulder throw to Doug Baldwin for 24 yards that was originally ruled incomplete but overturned on replay. On the next play, Wilson dropped back but chose to take off scrambling through the middle for 25 yards.
Later in the drive, facing second-and-20 at Houston's 35, Wilson ran for 13 yards, then found Baldwin on an 8-yard pass to convert the third down.
But his best came at the end of the drive. Facing second-and-24 after a penalty and sack, Wilson ran for 11 yards and found Golden Tate for 10, setting up fourth-and-3 at the Houston 7. The play was a run/pass option for Wilson, but all of his passing targets were covered. Wilson scrambled back to the Houston 21 to avoid the rush, then sprinted for the sideline getting the first down. Lynch scored on the next play and Seattle was in position so that Sherman's interception forced OT.
In the fourth quarter and overtime combined, Wilson was responsible for either running or passing for 140 of Seattle's 150 total yards.
''He doesn't change the way he plays, it's just that the opportunities were there and I think he took advantage of the fact that there were some lanes to get out of,'' Carroll said. ''They were coming hard after him, there were some spaces, and he was well aware of how things were going. We needed his help and he gave it to us.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org