Three impressions from the Seahawks’ wild 30-29 win against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night:
If you’re going to wear those bright-green neon jerseys for a prime-time game with everyone watching, you’d better be ready to make a bold statement. And the Seahawks did that Thursday night, declaring themselves one of the favorites in a muddled NFC playoff picture with an impressive fourth-quarter rally before a rowdy crowd at CenturyLink Field. Sure, it’s only Week 5, but the NFC West looks like perhaps the toughest division in the NFL — with the Seahawks, Rams and 49ers all looking like early playoff contenders — and a win like this keeps Seattle in the driver’s seat. Thanks to Greg Zuerlein’s missed field goal with 11 seconds remaining, the Seahawks also snapped a three-game losing skid to the Rams and shifted momentum in the rivalry back north.
Fortunately, the Seahawks have Russell Wilson.
And, you might have noticed, he is really good. How good? Maybe better than ever. Maybe the best thing going in the NFL right now.
That touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett in the first quarter has to rank among the best throws of Wilson’s career. The pass was so wild, and so impressive, that the NFL’s Nex Gen Stats says it had just a 6.3% chance of being successful — making it the most improbable completion in the NFL over the past two years.
Wilson, as has been well documented, had a perfect passer rating when he targeted Lockett in 2018. Nothing was more perfect than that throw and that double-tab catch — a perfect pairing, indeed. Just as impressive was the 12-play, 75-yard, 6-minute, 51-second, fourth-quarter drive Wilson orchestrated with the Seahawks trailing 29-24.
On fourth down, Wilson scrambled right, drew two defenders and threw a lob pass to a wide open Chris Carson in the front right corner of the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown — a heart-stopping touchdown grab after Carson juggled the ball dramatically before hauling it in. Everything that left Wilson’s hands tonight, it seemed, had some magic attached to it.
Let’s talk about Pete Carroll’s fourth-down decision-making.
Because it you could argue it almost cost the Seahawks the game Thursday night. First, a quick rewind: Remember what happened just 11 days ago on this same field? Carroll opted to go for it on fourth-and-1 late in the first half against New Orleans, and it backfired. The Seahawks were stuffed for a loss on the play, and the Saints then turned their ensuing possession into a touchdown to take a commanding 20-7 lead into halftime.
Seattle was 1 for 4 on fourth downs in that loss to New Orleans and Carroll said he regretted his end-of-half decision.
“I would take that back in a heartbeat,” he said the next day.
Well, he had his chance Thursday night in a similar situation late in the second quarter, his team leading 14-6. Carroll did not go for it on fourth-and-1, instead opting to let Jason Myers attempt a 48-yard field goal. Myers missed.
Yes, an NFL kicker should make that field goal, but that’s a separate argument. Carroll did not need to give the Rams the ball back there — if the Seahawks convert the fourth down, they can, in an ideal scenario, drive deep into Rams’ territory and eat up the rest of the clock while putting more points on board.
The Rams, of course, did get the ball back with 1:38 and promptly drove down the field and scored on a Cooper Kupp touchdown reception from Jared Goff, cutting Seattle’s lead to 14-13 at halftime. That’s a huge, huge swing.
Sure, it’s easy to second-guess a fourth-down decision — any decision — after it fails. But Carroll and the Seahawks seem so confounded on fourth down right now that they appear to be second-guessing themselves before the play even happens.