HOUSTON – The Seattle Seahawks were battered on defense in the first half, bruised on offense and soundly beaten in every statistical category.
What hadn’t been broken, though, was their confidence – their belief in themselves and each other.
“The mood in the locker room was unbelievable at halftime,” quarterback Russell Wilson insisted after the game. “We knew that if we could just hang in there, if we could just play one play at a time, stay in the moment … and we did that, throughout the whole entire second half.”
The Seahawks turned what was an afternoon of misery for most of three quarters into a day of history, rallying from 17 points down to beat the Houston Texans 23-20 in overtime.
The comeback from a 20-3 halftime deficit was the largest for the Seahawks since 1997, and the win improved Seattle’s record to 4-0 for the first time since the franchise began play in 1976.
“This is an extraordinary day,” coach Pete Carroll said. “That game was all about grit. You just had to keep hanging and just not let all the things that had happened build up and stop you from believing.”
Steven Hauschka completed the comeback, hitting a 45-yard field goal with 3:19 left in overtime.
He was one of just many heroes, though.
There was cornerback Richard Sherman picking off an ill-advised and poorly-thrown pass from Houston’s Matt Schaub and returning it 58 yards for a game-tying touchdown with 2:40 remaining in the fourth quarter.
There was receiver Doug Baldwin making a tiptoe catch on the sideline in the third quarter to spark Seattle’s first significant drive of the game, which cut the Houston lead to a touchdown with 7:43 left in regulation.
And there was Wilson, at times seeming to single-handedly will the Seahawks back after unleashing the reins on his legs in the second half, running for 74 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“We found a way to make some big-time plays in big situations,” Wilson said. “That’s what great teams do – they find a way to make a play when they need one.”
In the first half, though, it was all Houston, as a Texans team that also has Super Bowl aspirations simply dominated on both sides of the ball.
The Texans pushed around a Seattle offensive line playing without three starters, holding the Seahawks to 88 yards and four first downs in the first half while sacking Wilson twice.
Even more surprising, the Texans plowed through Seattle’s defense, which came into the game ranked No. 1 in the NFL, allowing an average of just 241.7 yards.
Houston had 324 yards in the first half as Schaub, who rarely was pressured, hit on 17 of 27 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
“They handed it to us every way they wanted to in the first half,” Carroll said.
The only mystery at the half was why the Texans weren’t up by more. An Earl Thomas interception, though, stopped one drive inside the 20, and the defense also rose up to hold Houston to a field goal after a Marshawn Lynch fumble at Seattle’s 19.
The result seemed a foregone conclusion when Seattle took over at its own 2, down 20-6, with 11 seconds left in the third quarter. But the Wilson-to-Baldwin pass for 24 yards on third-and-7 got the Seahawks going, and Wilson ran for 4 yards on fourth-and-3 later in the drive to lead to a 3-yard Lynch TD.
The game seemed out of reach after Wilson threw an interception with 5:13 left, giving Houston the ball at its own 43.
But on third-and-3 from the Seattle 40, though, Schaub got heavy pressure from Kam Chancellor on a blitz, and threw a floating pass that Sherman stepped in front of, and then took to the end zone. That tied the game at 20 with 2:40 left.
Houston coach Gary Kubiak later took the blame, saying he put Schaub “in a bad situation… probably should have run the ball there and punt and play defense.”
Seattle – which held the Texans to 152 yards after halftime – then stopped another Houston drive, and two more in overtime, before moving into position for the winning field goal.
“It hurts real bad knowing how important of a game it was, and against a very good opponent, and we had them on the ropes,” Schaub said.
Carroll said defensive end Michael Bennett was OK after being taken off the field on a stretcher after injuring his lower back on a hit on Schaub. He strained a muscle in his lower back.
Seahawks 23, Texans 20 (OT)
Seattle 3 0 3 14 3 — 23
Houston 0 20 0 0 0 — 20
Sea—FG Hauschka 48
Hou—Graham 31 pass from Schaub (Bullock kick)
Hou—Foster 5 pass from Schaub (Bullock kick)
Hou—FG Bullock 22
Hou—FG Bullock 42
Sea—FG Hauschka 39
Sea—Lynch 3 run (Hauschka kick)
Sea—Sherman 58 interception return (Hauschka kick)
Sea—FG Hauschka 45
First downs 15 29
Total Net Yards 270 476
Rushes-yards 30-179 35-151
Passing 91 325
Punt Returns 4-60 1-1
Kickoff Returns 3-55 2-52
Interceptions Ret. 2-58 1-1
Comp-Att-Int 12-23-1 31-49-2
Sacked-Yrds Lost 5-32 4-30
Punts 6-46.3 7-45.3
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 2-1
Penalties-Yards 9-62 6-86
Time of Poss. 31:48 39:53
RUSHING—Seattle, Lynch 17-98, Wilson 10-77, Turbin 3-4. Houston, Foster 27-102, Tate 7-44, Schaub 1-5.
PASSING—Seattle, Wilson 12-23-1-123. Houston, Schaub 31-49-2-355.
RECEIVING—Seattle, Lynch 3-45, Baldwin 3-39, Tate 3-17, Rice 1-11, Miller 1-7, Coleman 1-4. Houston, Johnson 9-110, Daniels 6-72, Foster 6-69, Graham 5-69, Hopkins 2-27, Martin 1-6, G.Jones 1-1, Tate 1-1.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.