Four key plays as Seattle survives a wrecking-ball performance from J.J. Watt:
Malcolm Smith’s forced fumble: Down 20-3 and barely pulsing late in the third quarter, Smith had primary force on a lead stretch play to Seattle’s left edge. Smith’s job was to absorb a kick-out block from Houston’s tackle by keeping his outside shoulder free and thus forcing the play inside to “fill” pursuit. Smith did this and more by spinning back to the hole and pulling the ball from Ben Tate.
Doug Baldwin “rail” route: Early in the fourth quarter, Seattle faced third-and-five at its own 7. Seattle showed a fake sideways “smoke” screen to Golden Tate in which Baldwin simulates a stalk block then releases vertically against cornerback Kareem Jackson. Jackson wasn’t fooled, but a perfectly placed ball nearly always beats perfect coverage. Of course, credit Baldwin for a spectacular tiptoe catch for 24 yards.
Russell Wilson’s scramble: With 8:24 left in the game and Seattle still down two touchdowns, the Seahawks faced fourth-and-three at the Texans’ 7. Freeze your DVR after two seconds of the play — a naked bootleg to Wilson’s right — and this is the picture: linebacker Whitney Mercilus, who didn’t buy Wilson’s fake to Lynch off the left end, was in perfect position to sack the retreating Wilson. Wilson’s pass-option tight end, Kellen Davis, was totally covered on his corner route, as was second option Zach Miller and third option Jermaine Kearse. Now press play and watch Wilson somehow evade Mercilus and linebacker Darryl Sharpton before picking up a vital block from Miller and incredibly gain the first down.
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Richard Sherman’s pick-six:
Jayson Jenks had a great write-up of the play describing Dan Quinn’s defensive call anticipating the naked bootleg from Matt Schaub. Further credit Kam Chancellor for aggressively taking the perfect angle — not at Schaub, but to where Schaub would be after faking to Arian Foster. As for the actual stretch play, had the Texans run it, Seattle was blitzing two defenders from its left side, so Houston had five lead blockers from the center over to battle four Seahawk defenders. Would Foster have picked up the necessary four yards? Glad we’ll never know.