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SEATTLE—In the wildest game the Seahawks have played this season, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Houston Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson traded blows all afternoon. When the dust had settled, the Seahawks had secured an improbable 41-38 victory, coming back to win with a three-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in the final two minutes of the game.
Wilson, who passed for a career-high 452 yards, connected with Jimmy Graham for an 18-yard touchdown pass to put the Seahawks on top with 21 seconds left on the clock, then Richard Sherman sealed the win with his second interception of the afternoon, giving the Seahawks a 5-2 record and a four-game winning streak.
Here are five rapid reactions to Seattle’s wild win at CenturyLink Field:
1. Russell Wilson was spectacular… And so was Texans rookie Deshaun Watson.
With the Seahawks struggling to run the ball all game long, it was on Wilson and the passing game to carry the offense, and the quarterback and his pass catchers were up to the task. Wilson completed 26 of 41 attempts for a career-high 452 yards, four touchdowns and a passer rating of 123.2. Wilson also added scrambles of 11 and 21 yards on a fourth-quarter drive with the Seahawks trailing, but unfortunately for him and the Seahawks the drive ended with an interception. Thanks to a stop by the defense, however, Wilson and the offense got one more chance and produced a quick 80-yard drive to win the game on a touchdown toss to Graham.
Amazingly, Wilson’s effort was barely enough thanks to an equally amazing performance by Watson, who had a monstrous game of his own, completing 19 of 30 attempts for 402 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions, giving him a passer rating of 106.9. Watson also rushed for a team-high 67 yards on 8 carries, nearly becoming the first rookie quarterback to win at CenturyLink Field since Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals won in Seattle in 2011.
2. It was an eventful game for Earl Thomas.
When talking about Earl Thomas’ value to Seattle’s defense, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll often mentions the plays that don’t happen, most notably the deep passes over the middle of the field that almost never happen against the Seahawks. As much as Thomas can be a playmaker, what really makes him special are the plays that don’t even get attempted.
On Sunday, however, Watson did what few quarterbacks attempt against Seattle, and even fewer do successfully, throwing a perfect deep ball over the middle to hit Will Fuller V for a 59-yard pass. Immediately, Thomas pounded his chest as if to say, “my fault,” but Thomas didn’t let that play be his defining moment in the game. The next time Houston had the ball, Thomas jumped a route to intercept a pass intended for DeAndre Hopkins and returned it 78 yards for his second career pick-6 and fourth career touchdown.
Unfortunately for Thomas and the Seahawks, his day also ended early with an apparent hamstring injury in the fourth quarter.
3. Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham keep coming up with big catches… as did a couple players you might not expect.
In his first season as a full-time starter, Paul Richardson was already off to a solid start through six games, catching 16 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. He continued that strong play against the Texans with a pair of first-half touchdowns, including an impressive grab on a low pass after Wilson bought time scrambling. Richardson, who finished with six catches for 105 yards, also made an impressive diving third-down catch to pick up a first down on a fourth-quarter touchdown drive, as well as a huge 48-yard grab on Seattle’s game-winning drive.
Graham, meanwhile, had only four catches, but made them count, recording two second-half touchdowns, including the game-winner in the final minute. Graham has now scored in three straight games.
And while Richardson has been coming up with big plays all season, the Seahawks got two of their biggest offensive plays from unlikely sources. Tanner McEvoy, who so far this season has seen most of his playing time on special teams and did not have a catch, hauled in a 53-yard pass to set up Richardson’s second touchdown. In the third quarter, fullback Tre Madden was wide open in the middle of the field for a 66-yard catch and run that led to a Seahawks field goal.
4. The Seahawks struggled to run the ball.
While Wilson and the passing game were on fire, the Seahawks struggled to do anything on the ground. It wasn’t for a lack of effort—the Seahawks attempted 16 runs by running backs—but Houston shut down nearly every attempt, limiting the Seahawks to 33 total rushing yards, 30 of which came on Wilson scrambles.
5. Dwight Freeney made an immediate impact and the pass-rush overall was impressive.
Dwight Freeney’s first practice with the Seahawks was on Wednesday, but the veteran pass-rusher not only played, but had a pretty big role in Seattle’s defensive plans. Freeney pressured Watson on a few occasions, and split a sack with Sheldon Richardson to up his impressive career total to 123.
Overall the Seahawks pass rush was effective, recording five sacks, including two by Frank Clark, who helped haul down Watson on Houston’s final possession.