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Russell Wilson led a drive to stay alive

Posted Sep 30, 2013

Monday metatarsal musings: After three all-but-pointless quarters against the Texans on Sunday, Russell Wilson passed for 46 yards and ran for 53 in a 14-play, 98-yard drive to the Seahawks’ have-to-have-it first touchdown.

Ninety-eight yards. Fourteen plays. Almost 7½ minutes.

While the Seahawks’ never-say-die touchdown drive in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium wasn’t a game-winner, they would not have won 23-20 in overtime without their longest TD drive since going 99 yards against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10 of the 2009 season.

All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman plucked a Matt Schaub pass that was intended for tight end Owen Daniels, lost his right shoe in the process and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown that tied the score at 20 with less than three minutes left in regulation.

Steven Hauschka then drilled a 45-yard field goal – his third of the game – as if he was kicking just another one in practice with 3 minutes, 19 seconds left in the overtime period, and the Seahawks were 4-0 for the first time in their 38-year history.

But it was that drive to stay alive that is prompting us to abandon our weekly “Monday metatarsal musings” format to further examine exactly what happened. So, let’s go …

Things actually started late in the third quarter, and without any indication of what was to come, as Golden Tate fielded a punt as he was stepping out of bounds at the Seahawks’ 3-yard line. A holding penalty on Kellen Davis during the play moved the ball to the 2, and Russell Wilson fumbled the first-down snap and recovered the ball at the 1.

On second-and-11, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Wilson passed to fullback Derrick Coleman for a 4-yard gain. On third-and-7, Doug Baldwin’s catch along the Seahawks’ sideline was ruled incomplete because he didn’t get both feet inbounds. But eagle-eyed coach Pete Carroll challenged the ruling and the replays clearly showed that Baldwin did indeed make the tippy-toe grab for a 24-yard completion to the 29.

“I felt like I was close enough that when I tapped my left foot I thought I got it inbounds,” Baldwin said in the locker room after the game. “Knowing where you are on the field, practicing it so much, you feel like you got it in. But it was so close I didn’t know, so I asked Sidney (Rice) and Sidney said it was a catch for sure – that I got it in.

“I was ecstatic when I saw the replay and I did get it in.”

Wilson never had a doubt. “I knew it was in,” he said. “It was kind of a fake screen and then Doug runs up the sideline. The guy was covering him pretty well, so I had to kind of back-shoulder him (with the throw). I knew he had his feet in.

“That was definitely a game-changing play right there. It allowed us to keep the drive going and we made some other big plays later in the game.”

It was just the latest big play by Baldwin, who has 12 receptions in the first four games.

“You make the best of the opportunities you’re given,” Baldwin said. “Russ gave me a ball on that sideline pass and I was able to make a play on it.”

Still, the Seahawks had 71 yards between them and their first touchdown of the game – and were operating against the Texans’ No. 2-ranked defense with an offensive line that was missing three injured starters.

On the next play, Wilson reduced that to 46 yards by scrambling for 25. Marshawn Lynch followed with a 4-yard run to the Texans’ 42, and then followed that with a 17-yarder to the 25. Wilson then went to Jermaine Kearse in the end zone. The second-year receiver made the catch, but was penalized for pushing cornerback Brandon Harris just before doing it.

On first-and-20 from the 35, Wilson tried the same side of the field, but his pass to Tate was incomplete. On second down, Wilson was on the move again. This time he did a full 360 after taking the snap before taking off for a 13-yard gain. That made it third-and-7, and Wilson went to Baldwin again for an 8-yard completion to the Texans’ 14.

“We knew that we had to just keep battling, keep playing one play at a time, just try to find a way,” Wilson said. “We just had to find a way to get first downs and make plays and keep the chains moving.”

But that’s when this segment of the fourth quarter reverted to the first three quarters, as first-and-10 became first-and-15 when the offensive line was called for a false start; and first-and-15 became second-and-24 when Wilson was sacked for a 9-yard loss. Wilson then ran for 11 yards and passed to Tate for 10. That left the Seahawks looking at fourth-and-3 from the 7, and looking like they had reached the bottom of their bag of magic plays as Wilson couldn’t find an open receiver in the two-tight end, two-running back set and didn’t seem to have the needed lane to run for the first down.

So what did he do? Ran, almost casually, up the right side before skipping out of bounds at the 3.

“On that fourth-and-3, I knew I had to go get it,” Wilson said. “Normally on third-down situations, I slide or whatever. But I was like, ‘I’ve got to find a way to get in there and get that first down.’ ”

And get it Wilson did.

“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Russell Wilson because he had some third downs that he converted with his feet,” Baldwin said. “That was big for us. He came through huge in the fourth quarter. He just said, ‘Screw it, if I can’t get time in the pocket I’m going to find time and make plays happen.”

On the first-and-goal play, Wilson pitched the ball to Lynch on the left side and he ran untouched into the end zone for the score.

In case you lost score of just what Wilson accomplished on his drive, he was 4 of 5 passing for 46 yards and ran four times for 53 yards. All of that after having 57 yards passing and 3 yards rushing in the first three quarters.

“That’s a testament to what Russell Wilson is,” Baldwin said. “That’s a testament to what this team is. We’ve got weapons all across the board and you’ve got Russell Wilson back there. When he has time, we’re able to make plays for him. And then on top of that, he can make plays with his feet.”

What changed? “There was definitely a point in the game, Marshawn and I were talking about it … and (he said), ‘Hey, Russ, just take over,’ ” Wilson said. “I just decided, ‘You know what, I’m going to step up. I’m going to slide a little more, if it’s not there I’m going to take off and see what happens.’ ”

In this case, on that drive that refused to die, what we all saw was the unbelievable.