Focus on: The offensive line

Posted Sep 30, 2013

Down three injured starters on their offensive, the Seahawks didn’t stand a chance against the Texans and their J.J. Watt-led No. 2-ranked defense on Sunday, right? That was the general perception, everywhere but in the offensive huddle.

What was the best thing about the Seahawks’ 23-20 overtime victory against the Houston Texans on Sunday?

Steven Hauschka’s 45-yard field goal to win it? Richard Sherman’s 58-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to tie it? The Russell Wilson-led 14-play, 98-yard touchdown drive earlier in the fourth quarter to get the Seahawks back in it?

“I think the biggest part of the game, and just the whole week to be honest with you when I’m looking back at it, is nobody really talked about the fact that we had three offensive linemen out,” Wilson said after the victory that lifted the Seahawks to the first 4-0 start in their 38-year history.

"“Those guys just kept believing in it. They came in early for meetings. They kept watching film. I kept watching film with them, kept talking to them. And that’s what I believe made the difference.”

Who’s going to argue with a player that Sherman referred to as Houdini on Monday morning because of everything Wilson was able to do in willing the Seahawks to that fourth-quarter touchdown?

“Those guys” would be rookie Michael Bowie, who stepped in at right tackle for Breno Giacomini; and Lemuel Jeanpierre, who was at center for Max Unger. Left tackle Russell Okung also was out for the second consecutive game, so left guard Paul McQuistan has slid outside and been replaced by James Carpenter.

It became obvious on Friday that Unger and Giacomini would not play, but it was just as obvious that their absence would not be viewed as an excuse or a reason for hands simply being thrown in the air as the Seahawks prepared for the Texans’ No. 2-ranked defense that is led by end J.J. Watt, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

“Think about it, our right tackle is a rookie who’s going against one of the best defensive lineman to ever play the game,” Wilson said. “That’s not easy.”

And it wasn’t easy for Bowie. But it wasn’t as ridiculously easy for Watt as most were expecting, either. Watt had half a sack and eight tackles, but then he averaged one sack and seven tackles in the Texans’ first three games. So Bowie and friends battled Watt to roughly an average outing in a game where he was expected to feast on the Seahawks’ blocker for lunch.

“Coming into the game, I wasn’t nervous,” said Bowie, who was playing at Northeastern State in Oklahoma last season and was available to the Seahawks with the 242nd pick in April’s NFL Draft. “I was (eager) to get out there because you know it was good competition. I wanted to test myself to see where I was at.

“So coming into the game, I just kept telling myself, ‘You’re built for this. You’re here for a reason. They have confidence in you to start you, so go in there and do what they expect.’ ”

The 6-foot-4, 332-pound Bowie could be in there for a while, after coach Pete Carroll announced on Monday that Giacomini had a surgical procedure on his knee Monday.

“The surgery went really well and the doctors were really pleased that there wasn’t a lot of problem with his knee structurally and that he can get back quickly from this,” Carroll said during his weekly day-after Q&A session.

Now that Bowie has seen Watt very up close and very personal, he should be better prepared for whatever the future might throw at him.

“Houston came out with their punch,” Bowie said. “They came out early on us, but this group here – this group of guys that has a lot of heart – we know how to finish.”

Even with three starters out on the offensive line.