Seahawks coach Pete Carroll summed up his team's 13-10 victory over the Detroit Lions best when he called it a "crazy night of football."
The Seahawks lost the turnover battle 3-1, their quarterback was sacked six times, one of them leading to a Lions defensive touchdown, and if not for Kam Chancellor forcing a fumble inches from the goal line, the Seahawks would have needed a dramatic late-game comeback to avoid a 1-3 start. But the Seahawks survived their mistakes, got another strong performance from the defense and enough big plays from an offense on an up-and-down night to improve to 2-2 after an 0-2 start to the season.
"We had to overcome being a couple of turnovers down and we just don't normally have to do that," Carroll said. "We overcame a lot.
"I'm really pleased that we're battling and finding our way. We're still a work in progress, we're still trying to find it. We're not as clean as we need to be."
Perhaps no one player's performance summed up a "crazy night of football" more than that of quarterback Russell Wilson, which leads our five takeaways from Monday night's win.
1. Russell Wilson had an eventful evening.
On a night when Seattle's pass protection struggled and the Seahawks were without Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson completed 20 of 26 passes for 287 yards, one of them a perfect strike for a 24-yard touchdown—which required an equally great catch by Doug Baldwin—giving him a season-best 125.0 passer rating. Wilson also added 40 rushing yards, and made a handful of jaw-dropping escapes to set up big throws, none better than the Houdini act he pulled to avoid a sack before hitting Jermaine Kearse for a 34-yard gain one play before that Baldwin touchdown.
"I can't even think of all the crazy scrambles that he made tonight and found stuff," Carroll said. "Receivers made the plays, and it just changed so drastically from what looked like was going to happen to what eventually happened. It was a remarkable night."
But in addition to those big plays in the passing game, Wilson was sacked six times, at least some of which, by his own admission, were on him, and two of those sacks led to fumbles that were recovered by the Lions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
"I thought we made some great plays," said Wilson, who completed passes to nine different players, a season high. "We want to be explosive, we want to have some big-time plays. (But) if I don't fumble the football, the game is a completely different game. That's on me, and it's nobody else fault but mine. I look forward to fixing that part. That's the mentality there. I think I slowed us down more than anybody else."
Wilson may have slowed Seattle down with those fumbles, but he was also the best thing the offense had going for it for much of the night.
2. The pass protection is still a work in progress.
While Wilson was willing to take the blame for some of the sacks, the offensive line took its lumps as well. After not settling on a starting five until midway through the preseason, the Seahawks are still working out the kinks along the line, and while there have been positive signs, Carroll and everyone else want to see improvement.
"It was not as good as we needed it to be," Carroll said of the line play. "We didn't run the ball as well as we wanted to tonight, and we obviously had trouble protecting. We just have to help those guys more. We'll find out as we look again at it this week. Each week has been a little bit different, but the results are similar in the protection thing. We have to get better. Week 2 was our best one, and then we didn't do as well the last two weeks."
Carroll and offensive line coach/assistant head coach Tom Cable remain confident that this group will continue to improve and get the job done, but right now it is clearly a work in progress, as is most evident in the 18 sacks Wilson has taken this season, which is tied for the most in the NFL.
"It's just experience, really," Carroll said. "That is fostered by being out there together. They communicate well when they see things the same, so it just takes time. We're working on it, it's a big-time work in progress. Cable will get it done, we've seen it happen before. We're fortunate that we've won a couple games now and get going again as we're putting it together."
3. The defense is on a roll.
Yes, the Lions drove 90 yards late in the game and were inches away from taking the lead before Chancellor made what Carroll described as "one of the great plays in ball," but lost in that incredible ending to the game was the fact that that was Detroit's only trip into the red zone all night.
On nine possessions prior to that drive, the Lions had punted eight times, kicked one field goal and gained just 166 yards. So dating back to Seattle's shutout win over the Chicago Bears, Seahawks opponents have punted on 18 of 20 possessions, fumbled once and kicked one field goal.
"This was an incredible night of playing defense," Carroll said. "… It was a fantastic effort on defense all night long."
Seattle's defense gave up several uncharacteristic big plays in losses at Green Bay and St. Louis, but in a second straight dominant performance, they held the Lions to 5.8 yards per pass attempt.
"That's what we do, man," linebacker K.J. Wright said. "It's just a great defense. We all play together, we're connected out there as a unit and I believe these last two games are just a statement of how good we can be."
Even when the Seahawks did give up their first long drive in two games, Chancellor made a huge play just before Calvin Johnson could score the go-ahead touchdown.
"That's our defense in a nutshell," said defensive back DeShawn Shead. "Give us an inch of grass and we've got an opportunity to win the game."
For the second consecutive week, the 12s set a new record attendance at CenturyLink Field, with 69,005 fans bringing the noise to the Monday Night Football Game versus the Detroit Lions.
4. Steven Hauschka is clutch.
In a year when NFL kickers seem to be struggling more than ever, Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka might be kicking better than he ever has. Hauschka, who went 4 for 4 on field goal attempts last week, made both attempts on Monday, one from 51 yards and the other form 52, making him the first Seahawks kicker since Josh Brown in 2007 to make two 50-plus yard field goals in one game.
Hauschka, who is 10 for 10 on field goals this season, including a 54-yarder at Green Bay, said long-range kicks were a focus heading into this season.
"I've worked on my range," he said. "It's just about trusting it physically and mentally and just going out there and swinging away. The longer I do this, hopefully I can trust my swing from any distance."
Hauschka led the way in what was a good game for Seattle's special teams, aside from a Tyler Lockett muffed punt, a performance that also included Jon Ryan averaging 48 yards per punt while pinning the Lions inside their 20 on three of his four punts.
"Huge night again, huge kicks, 51 and 52," Carroll said. "Fantastic effort. And Jon kicked the ball like crazy. The big kick he hits, the 70-yarder, he averages 48 for the night. It was a fantastic job of field position, and special teams in general was some really good stuff."
5. Strange things happen in/near CenturyLink Field's north end zone.
Back in January of 2007, it looked like the Dallas Cowboys were going to win a playoff game at Seattle with a short field goal, but then the seemingly routine play of getting a snap down was botched by Tony Romo. The Cowboys quarterback/holder scrambled and had a chance to score, but was tackled from behind by Jordan Babineaux, allowing the Seahawks to escape with victory in very unusual fashion.
Amazingly, that play is arguably only the third strangest thing that has happened in or near the north end zone at CenturyLink Field following the latest crazy finish in that end of the field. In addition to Calvin Johnson's fumble and the subsequent "batting" controversy, there was also the disputed Golden Tate game-winning touchdown against Green Bay in 2012. Add to that Terrell Owens pulling a Sharpie out of his sock to sign a ball after a touchdown, and it's safe to say that if you're sitting in or near the Hawks Nest, be prepared to witness something crazy, especially late in the game.
"That was an interesting game," Wilson said with a laugh to open his postgame press conference.
An interesting game that was decided in one of the most interesting patches of FieldTurf in sports.
Take a look at the photos from the Seahawks' 13-10 thrilling victory against the Lions, which made it their 10th Monday Night Football game win in a row.