GLENDALE, Ariz. — In film study leading up to the Seahawks’ matchup with the NFC West rival Cardinals in Arizona, Bobby Wagner saw something that would end up helping his team out tremendously on Sunday Night Football.
As Arizona lined up for a 39-yard field goal early in the second quarter of the Week 7 game at University of Phoenix Stadium, the Seattle middle linebacker put his good study habits to use. Moments before the Cardinals snapped the football, Wagner sprinted toward the line of scrimmage and leapt over the crouched body of Aaron Brewer, clearing the 6-foot-5, 232-pound Arizona player as he snapped the football. Wagner landed safely on the other side and extended both arms in the air to block the oncoming boot from Chandler Catanzaro. Wagner recovered the football, too, and more importantly kept a game that to that point had been a defensive battle locked in a 0-0 tie.
“I just saw him really low,” Wagner said from Seattle’s locker room postgame following the 6-6 tie, the team’s first draw in franchise history. "Something we’ve seen on film that he was really low and I felt like I could jump over him, so I tried it and it was a success.”
Despite seeing an opportunity on film, Wagner, who finished with a game-high 13 tackles (12 solo), said he didn’t practice the play this past week. He did, however, used to jump over people “when I was little.”
“I’ve been trying to tell you guys I was a basketball player first,” he said. “So I knew I could do it. Just waiting for my opportunity.”
Wagner’s remarkable play was reminiscent of what strong safety Kam Chancellor did on two consecutive occasions in January 2015 during a divisional round playoff game against the Carolina Panthers. Chancellor, though, didn’t come up with the block. Instead, Chancellor was flagged for running into the kicker. So whose field goal-leap was better?
Said Wagner: “Well, I got the block, so…"
Wagner’s field goal block was a standout in a series of “incredible special teams plays,” as Seattle head coach Pete Carroll put it.
Seahawks rookie receiver Tanner McEvoy blocked a fourth-quarter Cardinals punt that linebacker Cassius Marsh recovered to help Seattle get on the scoreboard, as four plays later kicker Steven Hauschka booted a 40-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3. And in a game that saw both offenses struggle to move the football throughout, Jon Ryan punted nine times, which gave way to solid punt coverage from players like Neiko Thorpe and DeAndre Elliott.
"We’re big on special teams here,” said Elliott. “So I’m just doing whatever they ask me to do."
Added McEvoy: “We always talk about how big special teams are. That’s kind of our mentality to it.”
Game action photos from the Seahawks' 6-6 tie against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.