ReFo: Seahawks @ Bears, Week 13
Russell Wilson dazzles as the Seahawks overcome their road woes in Chicago. Steve Palazzolo breaks it down.
ReFo: Seahawks @ Bears, Week 13
Apparently the Seattle Seahawks’ road woes refused to make the trip to Chicago. For the third year in a row, the Seahawks have defeated the Chicago Bears on their home turf, this time in dramatic overtime fashion.
The game was moving along with neither team establishing the upper hand until Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson took over the fourth quarter, and eventually the overtime as well. With a combination of efficient passing, designed runs, and backyard scrambles, Wilson engineered a 12 play, 97-yard drive that culminated in a touchdown pass to wide receiver Golden Tate to put them ahead 17-14 with 24 seconds to go in the game. The would-be game-winning touchdown was negated, however, as the Bears pulled out some heroics of their own as Jay Cutler hit Brandon Marshall for a desperation 56-yard completion to get into field goal range and send the game into overtime on a 46-yard field goal from Robbie Gould.
But, overtime belonged to Wilson as the Seattle took the opening kick and drove 80 yards on 12 plays before Wilson hit a crossing Sidney Rice for a 13-yard touchdown to win the game and ensure the Bears offense never saw the field in the extra period.
With both teams battling for their playoff lives, this may prove to be one of the benchmark games of the season, and the type of road win that proves Seattle’s worth as a viable contender.
This game was more than just Wilson, however, so let’s take a look at the other key performances.
Seattle – Three Performances of Note
Wilsons’ Big Day
I know I said the game was more than just Wilson, but his day is certainly worth being featured. It was setting up to be a rather average afternoon, but that’s when Wilson showed his diverse skill set. Of his +4.9 grade on the day, he was +3.0 as a passer and +2.2 as a runner. Seattle kept Chicago off balance with a number of zone read plays, some which Wilson kept for big gains, and others that led to first downs from running back Marshawn Lynch.
They also rolled the pocket to open throwing lanes for Wilson, including on his last two passes of the game. He converted a 3rd-and-10 to Doug Baldwin and followed it by hitting Rice in stride for the game winner, both on designed rolls to his left. To say it was a break out game for Wilson likely dismisses the already impressive rookie season he’s been having, but rather, his play down the stretch further confirms his place with the other top rookie signal-callers.
Impressive First Start
Filling in for the injured Leroy Hill, linebacker Malcolm Smith played well in his first career start. With only 75 career snaps to his name, last year’s seventh-round pick played a career-high 49 in this game, finishing with an overall grade of +2.1. His four stops were second on the team as he did a nice job shedding pulling linemen in the running game to make plays, while allowing only 8 yards on his two targets in the passing game. It was a good showing for Smith who was rarely caught out of position and made the necessary plays when they came to him.
Left Guard Woes, Part 1
When left guard James Carpenter went down with a knee injury after only five snaps, he’d already given up a sack with a -1.4 grade to go with it. His replacement, John Moffitt, was not much better. He played the remaining 68 snaps on offense, grading at -4.5. His two hits and one hurry surrendered came in a variety of ways as defensive tackle Henry Melton beat him with a speed rush, defensive end Israel Idonije got him with the bull rush and he was late in picking up a stunt from Shea McClellin. Moffitts’ bigger issues came in the running game as Melton was able to use his quickness to pick up three stops. It was not a good day for Moffitt who saw his first extended action since Week 10.
Chicago – Three Performances of Note
Left Guard Woes, Part 2
The left guard position was not much better for the Bears. With Chris Spencer injured, Edwin Williams (-4.8) got his first start since Week 17 of last year. Seahawks defenders beat him early and often in the running game as he surrendered six stops in the first half alone. He consistently gave up inside leverage to Seattle’s defensive tackles and when asked to pull, was beaten on three different occasions by second-level defenders. He surrendered only two hurries in the passing game, but his poor run blocking marred an otherwise average effort from Chicago’s offensive line.
Melton Dominates Up Front
Despite only two sacks, Chicago’s defense put consistent pressure on Wilson, and Melton was the best of the bunch. He graded at +5.1 for the game, including +3.8 as a pass rusher on the strength of five hurries and a hit. As mentioned, he had his way with Moffitt at times, but he also picked up pressures against Paul McQuistan and Russell Okung. As the Seahawks were driving late in the fourth, Melton beat Okung for pressure on back-to-back plays, one of which forced a holding call on the big left tackle. In addition to his pass rushing prowess, Melton picked up four stops in the running game as he continues to establish himself as one of the best, and most underrated, defensive tackles in the league.
Mixed Bag for Idonije
Melton wasn’t the only Bears defensive lineman providing pressure, as Idonije picked up six hurries and a hit on his 33 pass rushes. He showed great quickness on an inside rush from a defensive tackle position that flushed Wilson on his near touchdown to Braylon Edwards at the end of the first half. In addition to the aforementioned bull rush on Moffitt, he had success with the same move on tight end Zach Miller on another occasion. The only issue for Idonije was in the running game where he missed one tackle and was also man handled to the ground by Okung on another play. So while a potentially big day got wiped out by some poor play against the run, he still graded at +1.2 and has quietly put up back-to-back dominant games as a pass rusher.
– The Seahawks did not shy away from CB Charles Tillman who gave up a season high 98 yards on 10 targets his way. The game winner to Rice was only the second TD he’s given up this season.
– Marshall caught 10 of the 12 balls thrown his way for 165 yards. His big day was marred by a dropped pass and a fumble.
– Wilson graded at +6.5 with a clean pocket, but only -2.0 when pressured.
PFF Game Ball
Could it go to anyone but Russell Wilson? He led the Seahawks to a fourth quarter comeback and an overtime win, all while showing the poise of a 10 year veteran on the road.