With the Seattle Seahawks heading into Chicago 1-5 on the road, head coach Pete Carroll felt like his team needed a confidence boost to show they could win away from home.
And the Seahawks accomplished that feat against a team that they appear to have their number in Chicago. Only the 11-1 Houston Texans have defeated the Bears at home this season.
“It was a tremendous finish for us,” Carroll said. “We’ve been struggling on the road. We’ve been there so many times. This could have happened four times already this year, and now everybody knows that it can in talking to them in the locker room.”
Not only was the win important, the way the Seahawks showed resiliency in finishing off the Bears off was impressive. The Seahawks finished 8 of 15 on third downs. And 1 for 1 on fourth down – Zach Miller’s nervy, 7-yard catch over the middle on 4th and 3 from Chicago’s 48-yard line, that kept Seattle’s drive alive during regulation.
At the center of Seattle’s success was an even-keeled Russell Wilson.
“It’s just exquisite poise,” Carroll said about Wilson’s performance down the stretch. “It really is. There were so many plays in there where he had to do something special in the play to move, to find a guy or to locate a receiver. And then to use the right throw or the right decision, or to take off and run – he’s just so beautifully poised and so confident, that it gives himself a chance to play at this kind of level.”
Wilson said he told his teammates to continue to have faith on the final drive of regulation.
“I just told the guys, ‘You know guys this is what the season comes down to,’” Wilson said after the game. “Right here, right now. We have 97 yards to go. We have to play one play at a time, stay in the now and execute, and just make the plays when we need them.’ And the guys really did that tonight.”
Wilson finished 10 of 13 for 129 yards and two touchdown passes on the final two drives of the game for Seattle.
Seahawks safety Earl Thomas said the defense received a confidence boost from watching Wilson expertly run the offense down the stretch.
“It just makes you want to play hard, when you see a guy giving his all like that,” Thomas said. “Especially with 90-yard drives, and 80-yard drives, you just want to play your tail off to support him.”
Hawks switch things up on the game-winning play
With the Seahawks effectively running the zone read option, Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell used that to the Seahawks’ advantage.
With first and 10 on Chicago’s 13-yard line in overtime, the Seahawks initially were going to run the zone read option again. But because of a timeout, Seattle had a chance to regroup, and Bevell changed the play, going with a naked bootleg off the zone read action, with Sidney Rice running a crossing route from the right side of the formation.
With Wilson rolling to his left, he found Rice wide open in the middle of the field for the score.
“We talked about it before going in, saying ‘Hey, we’ve got the read option there,’” Wilson said. “But we went back, and the referees were changing something or whatever. So we just changed the play.”
Rice was drilled by Chicago safety Major Wright at the end of the play, and had to be attended to by the team’s training staff before leaving the field on his own.
Rice said in the locker room that he was okay, and the training staff was just being cautious because he suffered two concussions last year.
Carroll said his plan all along was to go for the win in regulation and not settle for a field goal.
“We wanted to win the game,” Carroll said. “We were trying to win the football game there. We weren’t thinking about just kicking the field goal.”
Hawks ‘D’ slips up
The Seahawks should have closed things out in regulation, but Seattle’s defense relaxed and let Brandon Marshall sneak behind them.
With 20 seconds left, on first and 10 from their own 14-yard line Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler scrambled to his right and fired a bullet to Marshall, who outdueled cornerback Richard Sherman for the ball and ran out of bonds at Seattle’s 30-yard line for a 56-yard play.
Two plays later, Chicago kicker Robbie Gould drilled a 46 yarder to send the game into overtime at 17-all.
It looked like Sherman could have knocked the ball down, rather than going for the interception on the play.
“It never should have happened,” Carroll said. “But it was a great job by their quarterback. Jay’s a terrific football player. And obviously Brandon is just so talented. And those two guys together, they make it really hard.”
Thomas, who was trailing Marshall on the play, was a little more blunt on his assessment.
“The long catch was kind of a fluke play,” Thomas said. “I think we were in Cover 2. I think we just need to be better on our assignments, and bat the ball down.”
The Seahawks had trouble dealing with Marshall the entire game. Marshall was targeted 14 times, and finished with 10 catches for 165 yards. It’s the most receiving yards the Seahawks have allowed from an individual receiver this season.
Carroll said that James Carpenter felt a twinge in his surgically repaired knee in the first half, so the team replaced him with John Moffitt at left guard. Carpenter did not return to the game. Carroll said that Carpenter had X-rays on his knee, which came back negative. Carroll said that Carpenter will have an MRI on Monday. … Seattle defensive end Red Bryant made it through the game okay, finishing with a couple tackles on a sore foot. “That’s amazing, because we didn’t think he was going to play,” Carroll said about Bryant. “I thought Leroy (Hill) might be able to, but he didn’t get through the workout. And Red did. Just to make it out, that was a great challenge for him. And he pulled it through, and toughed it out.”
* Rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner led the team in tackles again with a combined 11, and also recorded his third sack of the season.
* Linebacker Malcolm Smith with two tackles, including a tackle for a loss, in his first career start for injured teammate Leroy Hill.
* In his first action of 2012, Walter Thurmond played about 20 plays in nickel situations and did not record a tackle.
* Sidney Rice finished with six catches for 99 yards, while Golden Tate had five catches for 96 yards.
* The Seahawks head a 459-358 advantage in total yards — the most yards the Seahawks have had in a game all season. Seattle finished with 10 plays of 14 or more yards offensively.
* Although they gave up 132 rushing yards, Seattle’s defense did a much better job against the run.