SEATTLE – As the Miami Dolphins slashed and gashed their way downfield toward what loomed as the winning touchdown Sunday, it may have been indelicate to think that perhaps the Seattle Seahawks had linked arms in solidarity a few hours prematurely.
When the going gets desperate, even the idea of a little Red Rover defense does not seem insane.
And desperation was the default emotion at Century Link Field, where the 69,012 customers recalled all-too-clearly the fourth-quarter meltdowns of 2015 – the swoons against the Rams and Packers, the 17-point collapse in Cincinnati, and the nine-point lead Cam Newton made disappear and which triggered the crisis of conscience that eventually salvaged Seattle’s season.
Surely the worshippers wondered how their Seahawks could be so stout and so fragile all at once. Again.
And then the craziest thing happened. The Seahawks scored a touchdown, too.
An unlikely, unanticipated, against-the-grain touchdown. The winning touchdown.
“Ultimately, we want to win – no matter what it takes,” said quarterback Russell Wilson. “We like winning, we love winning. It’s an addiction to win.”
Now, if you gave up on the game when quarterback Ryan Tannehill punched it in for a 10-6 Dolphins lead, you’re not likely to buy that the scoreboard read Seattle 12, Miami 10 at game’s end. And by all means confirm with an independent source. You can only trust what you see.
And what you saw was mostly artless and disjointed, and requiring local anesthetic.
Had we known what was in store for the game, all the ado over pre-game flag calisthenics would have been more understandable.
Yes, the Seahawks defense dished up some typical nasty, sacking Tannehill four times, holding Arian Foster to just 39 yards rushing and delivering some wicked pops. Jeremy Lane out-Kammed his fellow Legion of Boomer a couple times. Tackle Jarran Reed was the rookie hell-raiser du jour.
As such, victory should not have been remotely in doubt. And it was. Because, well, because Seahawks.
Because the organization continues to staff its offensive line on a Value Village budget, to hire Barney Fifes for security when it needs badasses. The Seahawks collect assorted parts and then turn them over to line coach Tom Cable and tell him to come back when he’s put together a limo.
Sunday’s model included two players who have each been waived twice in their careers, an undrafted free agent and a center on his fourth position. It’s this extreme: Former Seahawk J.R. Sweezy, who escaped in the offseason, is making more money than what Seattle is spending on its entire line – $8.6 million, last in the NFL.
So while Wilson limped around the Clink on an injured ankle Sunday, he was lucky he didn’t get rolled out on a gurney.
This happened early in the third quarter, when Miami’s Ndamukong Suh – speaking of badass – blew by tackle Garry Gilliam and sacked Wilson, stepping on his ankle in the process. It was officially Suh’s first unintentional stomping in his NFL career.
Wilson was finished as a running threat, but was still potential roadkill, as demonstrated on the first play of the fourth quarter. Guard Mark Glowinski was pushed so far back so quickly that Wilson tripped over his leg while trying to hand off to Thomas Rawls – turning the play into a lateral and a fumble and potential disaster averted only when Cassius Marsh blocked a Miami field goal.
There were drive-killing holds, too, and yet coach Pete Carroll was moved to insist, “We’re OK.”
And the men in question?
“You tell me,” Gilliam challenged. “You guys are always ready to talk trash about us. As long as we win, I think we did our job.”
Boiled down to the afternoon’s final four minutes, he’s right.
But the Seahawks will face more potent offenses than what the Dolphins could offer Sunday, and there won’t be hot-button demonstrations and last-minute heroics to distract the clientele. And the season blows up if Wilson’s on crutches.
And the Seahawks knew it as soon as he came up hobbling.
“I told him ‘You need to suck it up,’” said receiver Doug Baldwin, who caught the winning fade pass, “and he said, well, I can’t repeat what he said. But he let me know it wasn’t going to affect his play, and he obviously showed that.”
The winning drive was indeed a splendid blend of run and pass, made possible yes – by that crazy quilt line. Twice the Seahawks converted on fourth down. Tight end Jimmy Graham, just working his way back from last year’s knee injury, got back in the mix. For good measure, the Seahawks threw in some comic relief – Christine Michael getting hit in the helmet with a pass he wasn’t expecting, and Steven Hauschka blowing a PAT that left Miami a small window to win.
“The story will tell itself,” said Wilson, “but it’s a good thing that we won.”
On this afternoon, desperately good.
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