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Focus on: Midseason honor roll
Most Valuable Player
Earl Thomas. This could have gone to All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who was the choice after the first four games. It could have gone to quarterback Russell Wilson. Or even leading rusher Marshawn Lynch. But as Sherman put it, “Earl is playing outstanding. He’s playing his best ball that I’ve seen him play since I’ve been here.” Perhaps the two best examples are interceptions that Thomas didn’t make, but helped others make. On Sherman’s pick-six in the fourth quarter to tie the game against the Texans, Thomas shaded to the middle of the field to help dupe Matt Schaub into throwing the ball Sherman’s way. “We knew it was coming,” Sherman said. “I disguise. Earl disguises. And then you come make the play.” On Bruce Irvin’s first career interception in Monday night’s win over the Rams, Thomas tipped the second-year linebacker that the play was coming. “I’m not going to lie,” Irvin said. “Earl called the route out before he ran it so I was kind of alerted. We were working on the play all week and they ran it and I stepped up and made a play.” Click here for more on Thomas.
Best Offensive Player
Russell Wilson. He has started his second season the same way he ended his first season, with seven victories in eight games. But this 7-1 start hasn’t been as easy or effective as that 7-1 finish. Because of injuries to starting tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini, Wilson has been pressured and under duress too often. But his passer rating (99.0) ranks sixth in the league, he has a 13-4 TD-pass-to-interception ratio and he leads all NFC QBs with 339 rushing yards.
Best Defensive Player Not Named Earl Thomas
Richard Sherman. He got his fourth interception, to share the league lead, in Monday night’s win over the Rams. And without that pick and 38-yard return to setup the first touchdown, it’s likely that the Seahawks don’t win the game. Then there was that pick-six in the fourth quarter to tie the game against the Texans that the Seahawks won in overtime. He also shut down the 49ers’ Anquan Boldin in the home opener, a week after Boldin had caught 13 passes for 208 yards.
Best Special Teams Player
Steven Hauschka. He’s 16 of 17 of field-goal attempts, including the game-winner in overtime against the Texans. He’s hit each of his 21 PATs. His only miss? A blocked 48-yarder. He kicked field goals in each of the first seven games, including four in one game and three in another. He’s also tied for seventh in the league with 26 touchbacks on his kickoffs. It just doesn’t get much better, or more consistent, than that.
Luke Willson. Coach Pete Carroll foreshadowed this in January, when he said it would be difficult for the team’s yet-to-be-selected draft choices to make the 53-man roster because of the depth on the team. Four of the 11 picks remain, and Willson has contributed the most with 10 catches for 144 yards.
Best Free Agent Addition
Michael Bennett. This is a choice that didn’t change from the first-quarter honor roll. The competition has increased with Cliff Avril back on the field and Tony McDaniel making plays as the starting three-technique tackle in the base defense. But Bennett has 4.5 sacks and 13 QB hits to lead the NFL’s No. 2-ranked defense.
Best In-Season Return
Clinton McDonald. He had his contract terminated on the roster cut to 53 players in August, but was re-signed the week of the home opener. Good decision. The veteran defensive tackle has 3.5 sacks among his 17 tackles and also seven QB hits.
Zach Miller. The best example of what Miller means to this offense came in the two games he missed because of a hamstring injury. The rock-solid tight end has three touchdown catches to share the team lead with wide receivers Golden Tate and Sidney Rice. He’s also become a security-blanket option for Wilson on third downs and in the red zone. And he might be the team’s best blocker right now.
Best Offensive Play
It wasn’t a scoring play, but it was a wow-factor play – as well as the choice in the first-quarter honors: Doug Baldwin’s tippy-toe act along the sideline to catch a 24-yard pass from Wilson against the Texans. As tempting as it is to dig deeper, we’re standing pat for two reasons. First, without Baldwin’s effort on that third-and-7 play from the 5-yard line, Jon Ryan would have had to punt out of the end zone and the Seahawks do not win the game – because 11 plays later, Lynch scored on a 3-yard run to cut the Texans’ lead to 20-13 with 7½ minutes left in regulation. The second reason? Wilson’s reaction. “Doug making that catch is as good as it gets, for sure, especially in terms of a situation. We’re on the 5-yard line and it’s third-and-7. So just for him to make that big-time catch, it’s something spectacular.”
Best Defensive Play
Sherman’s pick-six against the Texans, which wouldn’t have had the impact it did and might not have happened at all without Baldwin’s catch either. It tied a game the Seahawks had let slip away. It was a great example of the chemistry and camaraderie between Seahawks’ Legion of Boom secondary, as Thomas and blitzing strong safety Kam Chancellor played vital roles in the play. It was the signature play in Sherman being named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September.
Best Special Teams Play
Hauschka’s game-winning field goal in overtime against the Texans. It’s as simple as that.
“He's Houdini. There's some Houdini in there somewhere. I don't know if he's a relation.”
Four road victories. Only two teams in franchise history have won more road games in an entire season than this team has won in the first half of the season. And those were the teams that posted the best records in franchise history – the 2005 team that went 13-3 and the 1984 team that went 12-4.
The continuing pressure on Wilson. Measure it in sacks, after he was dropped a career-high seven times by the Rams on Monday night and now has been sacked 27 times in the first half of this season after being sacked 33 times all of last season. Measure it in the percentage of attempts when the second-year QB has been under pressure, a league-leading .466 before the Rams’ onslaught. What started as a problem has become a predicament.