COMMENTARY | Winning in the NFL is tough, especially against a good team, especially in that good team's house, especially when the visitors are down big.
These are the wins playoff teams and Super Bowl contenders point to as defining moments of their season.
Given the way Seattle clawed its way back in Houston to escape with a 23-20 overtime victory and its first 4-0 start in franchise history, Week 4 might be that defining win that helps propel the Seahawks deep into postseason play.
This game was nothing like Seattle's first three victories. Week 1 at Carolina saw the Seahawks shake off first-game rust to pull out a win. Week 2 against San Francisco showcased how Seattle could manhandle any team on its own field. Week 3 went, well, exactly how it was supposed to, with the Seahawks dominating a lowly Jacksonville team.
But on Sunday in Texas, following the dreaded 10 a.m., West Coast start, Seattle showed its true grit. For an entire half, Houston handed the visitors an old-fashion, Lone Star state whooping. It was ugly for Seahawk fans.
A depleted offensive line missing three of its five starters translated to feeding time for the Texans' dual-headed monster of JJ Watt and Brian Cushing. On the other side of the ball, the NFL's best defense coming into the game saw Houston quarterback Matt Schaub pick apart the Seahawks in the second quarter for touchdowns on 90- and 80-yard drives, giving one of the favorites in the AFC a 20-3 lead heading into halftime.
With the offense going nowhere fast, it was the Seahawks' defense that rattled Seattle's cages just enough to get back in the game.
It clamped down on Schaub and the Texans' passing attack. Shortly before the 4:00 minute mark of the third quarter, Bobby Wagner recovered Ben Tate's fumble on the Houston 21-yard-line, which led to a field goal and a faint pulse for Seattle's chances at a comeback.
On its following drive -- one that began at the Seattle 2-yard-line -- Wilson became ultra-slippery and used his feet to help march the Seahawks the length of the field, reeling off scrambles of 25, 13 and 11 yards. The most critical came on 4th and 3 from the Houston 7-yard-line, when Wilson eluded Houston's rush, ran and stretched past the first-down marker. Marshawn Lynch jogged into the end zone on the next play. All of a sudden, it was 20-13. Seattle had momentum, and Houston was reeling.
Then came the defining play in this defining game.
With under 3:00 left, Kam Chancellor bore down on Schaub, who threw an ill-advised pass that Richard Sherman pried away, then sprinted 58 yards in the opposite direction for the score. The game was tied and Houston was officially suffering a Texas-sized meltdown. The game went into overtime. Both teams traded punts, and following Kareem Jackson's suplex of Doug Baldwin that drew a 15-yard penalty, the Seahawks moved the ball to the Houston 27. Steven Hauschka nailed the 45-yard field goal to seal the improbable Seattle comeback, leaving the 71,756 in attendance stunned.
Afterward, Houston fans and national pundits placed the blame for the Texans' implosion squarely on Schaub, who admittedly should have never lofted the pass that Sherman intercepted. Houston's fortunes also turned when Cushing left the game in the third quarter with a concussion.
But this win was more about Seattle's will than Houston's shortcomings. The defense -- which collected four sacks and two interceptions on the day -- brought this team back from the brink. Its offense, particularly Wilson, did enough at the right time to win.
Statistically, Seattle was dominated in almost every category. Houston won the yardage battle (476 to Seattle's 270) and the time of possession battle (nearly 40 minutes to Seattle's 31 minutes). Yet, the only number that matters -- the score - somehow favored the Seahawks.
The fact that Seattle did it on the road, in an early start, against one of the NFL's best teams, facing one of the league's best defenses makes the win that much more impressive.
This is a game Seattle and its fans should remember. It was one of the most memorable regular-season games in its history.
And if the season plays out the way the Seahawks hope it will, this improbable, overtime, comeback victory at Houston will be where it all truly started.
More from this contributor
- Seattle Seahawks: Should Team Re-Sign Golden Tate when Season Ends?
- Seattle Seahawks: Russell Okung's Injury, Absence Lingers Heading into Week 4 at Houston
- Seattle Seahawks Injury Report: Russell Okung Out Against Jaguars
- Seattle Seahawks: Five Things We Learned from Week 2
Brent Champaco is an award-winning writer who has covered professional, college and high school athletics in the Northwest. He has worked for several newspapers, including The News Tribune in Tacoma, and was a Senior Local Editor at Patch.com. He lives just outside of Seattle with his wife and two daughters. Follow him on Twitter at @Champacoblog.
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