HOUSTON – As Pete Carroll has said a bazillion times, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
That was indeed the story out of Sunday’s 23-20 overtime victory over the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on Sunday. After being outplayed for three quarters, the Seahawks tied the game in the fourth quarter and then won it on a 45-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka with 3:19 left in overtime.
The kick capped an eight-play, 42-yard drive.
On second-and-12 on the game winning drive, Russell Wilson passed for 7 yards to Doug Baldwin, but it became a 22-yard gain to the Texans’ 36 when Kareem Jackson was called for a roughness penalty.
The victory kept the NFC West-leading Seahawks unbeaten, and lifted them to the franchise’s first 4-0 start. It also extended a few other streaks, as the Seahawks have won nine consecutive regular-season games and 12 of their past 14 overall – including the playoffs; and also won four consecutive road games for the first time since a five-game streak during their run to the Super Bowl in 2005 – and only the fourth time in franchise history.
The Texans got the ball first, but the Seahawks scored first on a 48-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka with 11:11 left in the first quarter. But the rest of the first half was all Texans, as they scored 20 points in the second quarter against a Seahawks defense that had allowed seven first-half points in its first three games.
On the Texans’ game-opening possession, Red Bryant rejected a Matt Schaub pass on first down and Chris Clemons pressured him into an incompletion on third down. The Texans drove to the Seahawks’ 18 on their next possession, but All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas made a diving interception at the 9 of a Schaub pass that was tipped by Brandon Browner and also went off intended receiver Owen Daniels.
Marshawn Lynch then got the Seahawks out of that hole as he broke four or five tackles on a 43-yard run.
On the first play of the second quarter, Schaub passed to a wide-open Garrett Graham for a 31-yard touchdown to cap a six-play, 90-yard drive that began in the first quarter. Schaub was 4 of 4 for 87 yards.
The Texans scored again with 6:11 to play in the half, this time on a 5-yard pass to Arian Foster who was wide open because K.J. Wright slipped and fell in coverage. That TD pass capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive.
The Texans got the ball right back when linebacker Brian Cushing forced Lynch to fumble on the Seahawks’ first play and nose tackle Terrell McClain recovered. The defense held, and Randy Bullock kicked a 22-yard field goal to make it 17-3 with 3:51 to play.
The Seahawks also lost defensive lineman Michael Bennett, their sack leader, just before the half when his head snapped back as he hit Schaub low and he was taken off the field on a stretcher.
Bullock then made it 20-3 with a 42-yard field goal with 1 second left in the half.
The Texans’ offense not only scored two touchdowns, they gouged the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense on 90- and 80-yard drives in doing it. They then closed the half by driving 67 yards in 12 plays to a 42-yard field goal. In the process, they produced 11 plays of double-digit yardage – including 31-, 31- and 21-yard pass plays against a Seahawks defense that also was ranked No. 1 in average passing yards allowed. And, the receivers were wide open on both TD passes.
The second half opened as the first half closed for the Seahawks, as they got the ball but did nothing with it. Russell Wilson was sacked on the first play, there was a false start on “most of the offensive line,” as referee Tony Corrente announced it, and Wilson had to lunge to get a 1-yard gain on third-and-13.
The defense came up with a needed big play with 4:19 left in the quarter when Malcolm Smith forced an Arian Foster fumble that Bobby Wagner recovered at the Texans’ 21. The offense stalled, so Steven Hauschka kicked a 39-yard field goal to make it 20-6 with 3:54 left in the quarter.
Wagner made his recovery just as the ball was heading to the sideline.
The Seahawks scored their first touchdown on a 3-yard run by Marshawn Lynch that capped a – are you ready for this? – 14-play, 98-yard drive that consumed almost 7½ minutes. Before Lynch scored, Russell Wilson scrambled for 4 yards on a fourth-and-3 play; he passed 8 yards to Doug Baldwin on third-and-7; Lynch ran for 17 yards; and Baldwin made a tippy-toe catch of a 24-yarder along the sideline that was ruled incomplete but reversed after coach Pete Carroll challenged the call. Wilson 4 of 5 for 50 yards and also ran four times for 52 yards on the drive.
The defense then forced its first three-and-out, as Chris Clemons got his first sack of the season. But Wilson then threw a third-down pass to Jermaine Kearse that was intercepted by Johnathan Joseph.
Richard Sherman then intercepted Matt Schaub’s third-down pass and the Seahawks’ All-Pro cornerback returned it 58 yards for a TD to tie the score with 2:40 left. The Texans got the ball and drove to the Seahawks’ 43, but All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas made a leaping deflection of Schaub’s pass to Owen Daniels.