Seahawks-Buccaneers: What we learned

Scott Johnson, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Seahawks pulled another Houdini act Sunday, shaking off a first-half slumber to force overtime and knock off the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-24 on Sunday.
Seattle (8-1) overcame a 21-0 deficit, and 158 rushing yards from rookie Mike James, to barely escape one of the biggest shockers of the NFL season.
Kicker Steven Hauschka converted a 27-yard field goal with 4:18 remaining in overtime as the Seahawks recorded their 12th consecutive home victory and the extended their best season start in franchise history.
"You've got to be able to win these games," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "When it's crunch time, and you're biting your fingers, you've got to be the team that's poised and executing."
Running back Marshawn Lynch gained 44 of his 125 rushing yards in overtime, as the Seahawks went 51 yards on one drive to set up the game-winner. It marked the first time in franchise history that Seattle overcame a 21-point deficit to win.
"To do that," Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said, "that's big-time."
Tampa Bay (0-8) remains winless despite a breakout performance from James, a sixth-round pick from Miami who is filling in for injured starter Doug Martin. In addition to his career-high 158 rushing yards on 28 carries, James threw for a touchdown on a 2-yard jump-pass on a halfback option play to tight end Tom Crabtree in the second quarter.
It wasn't enough to save the Buccaneers from a winless first half of the season.
"This one's a tough one," Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano said. "You win the turnover battle (3-0), you rush the football (for 205 yards, the most allowed by Seattle this season), and you handle the (crowd) noise. ... A good football team came back and beat us."
Seattle trailed 21-0 late in the second quarter and 24-14 heading into the final quarter but rallied to tie the score on Doug Baldwin's 10-yard touchdown reception from Wilson with 1:51 remaining.
That touchdown came five minutes after Wilson was intercepted at the goal line by Tampa's Keith Tandy, which helped maintain a 24-17 lead for the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay won the overtime coin toss but had a three-and-out before punting the ball to the Seahawks. Lynch had runs of 14 and 13 yards to help put Seattle in range for Hauschka's game-winner.
The Seahawks barely escaped St. Louis six days earlier, having survived a goal-line stand to beat the Rams on the final play, and won in overtime for the second time this season.
"We have done that a couple of times this season," Baldwin said of having to rally from behind. "We control what we can control. ... We're never confident being behind, but we understand that there's a process. We focus on what we need to do and take it one play at a time."
Tampa Bay jumped out to a 21-0 lead after scoring three unanswered touchdowns in a span of just over 9 1/2 minutes during Sunday's second quarter. Two of those scores came within 39 seconds, thanks to a fumble by Seattle return man Jermaine Kearse on a Tampa Bay kickoff.
What the Buccaneers said
"It certainly hurts. Guys put forth great effort. But at the end of the day, it's about having more points than they do - and we didn't. There are a lot of things to build on and a lot to feel optimistic about, but right now I don't feel very optimistic." -- Head coach Greg Schiano
"We have no other choice but to find positives and build on those. But ultimately, it's about wins and losses - and we didn't win. So there were some good things that we did going forward, but ultimately it comes down to wins and losses." -- Quarterback Mike Glennon

What the Seahawks said:
"The running game was terrific today. We were able to run the ball with power and efficiency." -- Quarterback Russell Wilson

"They're a team with nothing to lose. It's tough; everybody's going to give you their best shot." -- Cornerback Richard Sherman

"(Tampa Bay running back Mike James) did a good job, but at the end of the day, I think it was more on us than what he did." -- Linebacker Bobby Wagner

What we learned about the Buccaneers:
1. Head coach Greg Schiano could be growing closer to vindication for his quarterback decision, but he might not be around for the victory lap. While Josh Freeman waits for another chance to make an impact in Minnesota, rookie Mike Glennon made the most of his second start Sunday. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns and was particularly effective on third downs (9 of 11, for 89 yards) and made the most of his fullbacks and tight ends to move the chains against Seattle's highly-ranked defense. The overall results -- losses in 13 of the past 14 regular-season games, including eight straight defeats to start the 2013 season -- could ultimately sink Schiano.
2. There's no need to rush RB Doug Martin into action from a shoulder injury. Rookie Mike James, a sixth-round pick from Miami, looked the part of an every-down back during his 28-carry, 158-yard performance Sunday. James showed burst at the line and was at his best running between the tackles. A running game that looked desperate to get Martin back - the original target date was next Monday night - suddenly looks to be in pretty good hands.

What we learned about the Seahawks:
1. The bye week can't come soon enough. While back-to-back games against Atlanta and Minnesota don't necessarily leave the Seahawks in a vulnerable position, they need to get healthy as soon as possible. The eventual addition of wide receiver Percy Harvin and the expected returns of starting offensive tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini could cure a lot of the things that are ailing Seattle's offense right now. If the Seahawks can come out of the bye week with all three players healthy and playing, the upcoming games against New Orleans and San Francisco will look a lot less daunting.
2. This defense, for all its strengths, is not built for power. The Buccaneers used a pretty traditional run game to gouge the Seahawks for 205 rushing yards Sunday. While Seattle has the versatility to compete with offenses like those in San Francisco and maybe even Denver, the Seahawks might be in for a surprise if they see a more conservative offense -- ahem, Kansas City -- in the postseason. Until then, opposing bruisers like Steven Jackson and Adrian Peterson, who will face the Seahawks in back-to-back weeks, might be licking their chops. The midseason swoon of Seattle's run defense -- the Seahawks also gave up 200 rushing yards in last Monday night's win over the Rams -- is looking pretty familiar after opposing runners started to gash this defense about this time last season.

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