SEATTLE, Wash. — You'd be hard pressed trying to find an NFL tight end more noticeable than Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham. So when Graham and his 6'7", 265-pound frame gallops down the middle of the field wide open against a secondary, you have to wonder … how?
That was the case Sunday, when Graham's 18-yard touchdown reception across the middle from quarterback Russell Wilson gave the Seahawks a 41-38 win in a shootout against the Houston Texans at CenturyLink Field.
"You know, I haven't been left that open over the middle in a while," Graham said at the podium postgame. "Really, it was a perfect play call."
From the sidelines, Graham's teammate Luke Willson knew it was out of the ordinary.
"That was quite bizarre," Willson said. "I don't know if I've ever seen, or will ever see that one again to have a guy like Jimmy running free."
Graham's game-winning touchdown came for the Seahawks with their backs against the wall as they trailed 38-34 from their own 20-yard-line with two minutes remaining against Houston. However, it took only three plays for Wilson to pull off some fourth-quarter magic. Following a 48-yard completion to Paul Richardson and a 19-yard throw to Tyler Lockett, Wilson dropped back in the pocket and cleanly delivered the strike to Graham down the middle.
"His will to win and his will to overcome is like no other, it is unbelievable," Graham said of Wilson. "Who he is as a person. Right there at the end, we hit the play and we were able to get the ball and decided to go deep on them. He called a perfect play, he just opened up in the middle, and for some reason no one was guarding me, which was awesome. So, I scored."
Graham finished with four catches for 39 yards and two touchdowns against the Texans. He also scored a one-yard touchdown in the middle of the fourth quarter to put the Seahawks ahead 34-31 at the time, marking the third consecutive game Graham scored a touchdown for Seattle.
Wilson said he saw Graham and his No. 88 jersey break open pretty early after he went through his first progression to the left side of the field.
"I kind of looked left, looked off or whatever, and then next thing I know, big 88 is running right down the middle," Wilson explained. "That is always a good thing."
Graham said the Seahawks practice their 2-minute offense literally every day and were prepared for the situation they were faced with Sunday. The touchdown to Graham went exactly the way they practice it during the week.
"It was just magnificent execution and the poise and the timing to do that exactly the way we practice it," head coach Pete Carroll added. "Russ delivered the ball, the protection and all that stuff, and then Jimmy coming through, it was really fun."
"I mean, it's crazy because at those moments, (Wilson) has the most confidence you've ever seen," Graham said. "It's just unbelievable, his mindset and his focus at those times, how upbeat he is. You believe every time, if there is 20 seconds left on the clock that we are going to score, that were are going to get that Hail Mary. It was just unbelievable, his actions and his demeanor in the huddle was unbelievable."
Wilson dueled it out Sunday with Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, passing for a career-high and Seahawks franchise-record 452 yards with four touchdowns. He also scrambled for 30 yards. Watson threw for 402 yards and four scores with three interceptions.
Although the Seahawks dug themselves into a hole late against the Texans because of an interception by Wilson, Graham and his teammates never lost the belief that they would be able to set themselves up to pull off the comeback at home.
"Never look at the scoreboard, never look at the last play, and just continue to believe," Graham said. "This team always does, it doesn't matter the circumstance."
Game action photos from the Seahawks' 41-38 victory over the Houston Texans in Week 8 at CenturyLink Field.