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Monday, September 30, 2013

Seattle shakes off road stigma with dramatic comeback

The Seattle Seahawks have proverbially shaken off their detractors with a nothing-than-dramatic comeback victory in overtime against the Houston Texans.

Russell Wilson and Seattle have been the media darling of the NFL this season, along with the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning, but one thing that critics and analyst have repeatedly pointed out is the difference between Seattle at home and on the road. Seattle has been unbeatable at Century Link Field, but there road play has been less than spectacular, despite winning their last three road games previously. Critics would point out that those road victories came against inferior teams, with the exception of beating the Redskins in Washington during the playoffs. The Seahawks had not really beaten a playoff caliber team in the regular season, on the road; until now.

Houston, who went 12-4 last season, and were 2-1 at the beginning of this one, were finally a feather in the Seahawks cap that they needed to shake off the last few detractors they had. Now, at 4-0 for the first time in franchise history, the Seahawks have proven they can play with playoff caliber teams on the road.

In what was surely an emotional roller coaster of a day for Seattle fans, the Hawks got off to their typical slow start on the road. Seemingly inefficient in their offense through the first half, the Seahawks found themselves in a large hole, 20-3. Matt Schaub for the Texans carved up the #1 ranked defense in the league for a half, and Arian Foster seemed to run at will against them. Seahawk fans must have been groaning and shaking their heads as it seemed their teams habit of average play on the road was rearing its ugly head once more.

But the second half was a totally different story. In a reversal of roles, Russell Wilson began to make things happen against the J.J. Watt led Houston defense, ranked #2 right behind the Seahawks. Scrambling out of the pocket, Wilson rushed for several first downs when his protection broke down, and his rushing offense opened up holes for Marshawn Lynch and Seattle's receivers. The Seahawk defense also ramped it up considerably, especially their pressure on Schaub, forcing him to be sacked twice, and throw a pick-6 to Richard Sherman, Seattle's infamously boisterous cornerback. That defensive score tied the game at 20, leading the two teams into an overtime battle, which eventually ended with Steven Hauschka kicking a field goal for the Seattle win.

The boo-birds were also out in Houston during the fourth quarter and overtime period, as Matt Schaub and his offense could no longer get any momentum going against the strangling Seattle defense. The loss drops the Texans to 2-2 , and left the fans and organization scratching its head about the question marks around the Texans season. Houston, on paper, is an elite team with multiple offensive weapons and an elite defense, but for some reason, they simply haven't been able to put it all together during any of the games this season. The two wins were unimpressive, against weaker opponents, and this loss to the Seahawks, with a 20-3 lead at halftime in their own building, has got to leave a bad taste in the mouths of Texans fans.

Seattle, in the meantime, has proven they can win outside of Century Link, and against playoff caliber teams. That leaves a great taste in the mouths of Seahawks fans, and expectations of a second Superbowl appearance for their team, and the first since 2005, with the then Matt Hasselbeck led Seahawks. If the Seahawks continue to live up to the media's and fans' expectations, it very well could be; and with a team led by the dynamic Russell Wilson at quarterback instead of Matt Hasselbeck, the outlook for not only making the Superbowl, but a Superbowl win looks even better.

by: Keith Ishii
twitter: @keithishii

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