Ladies and gentlemen, introducing your still undefeated Seattle Caveats.
Yes, they’re the only 5-0 team in the National Football League, but …
Hey, they like their buts big in Seattle. Wasn’t that even the city anthem for a while?
And speaking of big, the parlay of clutch and comeback don’t come any bigger than the miracle the Seahawks manufactured Sunday evening – a 94-yard march in a driving rain and Russell Wilson pulling another rhinoceros out of his hat with two fourth-down completions to DK Metcalf on a 94-yard drive, including the winner with 15 seconds to play.
“What was the final score, anyway?” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wondered afterward. “I don’t even know.”
It was Seattle 27, Minnesota 26, Pete.
It had no business being that.
But that’s what it was.
And once again, Carroll was moved to lament the one cost in this year of COVID most immediate to him and his team, if admittedly trivial in the bigger picture.
“I have a major regret that the 12s weren’t here to see that one,” he said, “as well as all these other games that have been here. You guys never would have gone home tonight. But in speaking to our fans, I hope you had a ball at home where you’re doing it. And I hope you guys believe like our guys believe.”
With the Seahawks, believing rules.
But what the Vikings did was give them a reason to believe.
Two minutes remained when Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer, leading 26-21 and with a fourth-and-1 on the Seattle 6-yard line, passed on a field goal and sent running back Alexander Mattison off tackle in search of the knockout punch. Alas, Mattison – who was otherwise terrific in relief of the Vikings’ bell cow, Dalvin Cook – opted against an outside cut, and a likely touchdown, and headed inside where Cody Barton closed the hole and Benson Mayowa pulled down Mattison.
It wasn’t an indefensible choice. All the stat wonks’ computers kicked out percentages that the difference between kicking and going for it suggested it was a wash. Even with a Vikings field goal, maybe Wilson gets the Seahawks into the end zone and adds the 2-point conversion that sends the game into overtime, and Seattle wins it there.
But at least you don’t lose it in regulation.
And you pile one more pressure point on Wilson – as if it makes any difference.
“We’ve got (No.) 3 in the fourth (quarter),” noted tight end Will Dissly. “We’ve got them right where we want them.”
As opposed, this night, to the other three quarters.
The Seahawks had nothing going for them – not even Wilson – until they seemed to get a spark from seeing Cook limp off with a groin injury in the early moments of the third quarter. Wilson found Dissly for Seattle’s first points moments later, and in the space of just 1:53 the Seahawks had a 21-13 lead thanks to a Spiderman-ish interception by linebacker K.J. Wright and Damontre Moore’s strip sack.
But as quickly as they found momentum, the Seahawks lost it – and the lead.
This is the kind of thing that keeps skeptics fed, that quells any rush to go all-in on the Seahawks as Super Bowl sure-things and makes them the Caveat Kids. As do stats like this: Seattle has allowed 25 points or more in each of its past 10 home games, an NFL record.
• Yes, they’re 5-0 – but against teams that aren’t nearly as daunting as their recent reputations. Atlanta, New England, Dallas, Miami and now Minnesota are a collective 7-17 this season, and other than the opener against the Falcons, each win has required some great escape.
• Yes, the Seahawks were feeling quite secure about their rush defense – but hadn’t had to prove it because they’d been so dismal against the pass. The Vikings gashed them for 201 yards on the ground. Until the madness was uncorked, it wasn’t a game of Let Russ Cook, but Let Cook Rush.
• Yes, Metcalf is turning into one of the NFL’s best receivers in front of our eyes – but it’s unlikely he makes that first fourth-down catch if rookie cornerback Cameron Dantzler doesn’t give up on the play.
Even Wilson’s MVP-worthiness took a hit with a horrible decision on a fourth-quarter interception that probably should have sealed the game.
But what was that final score, again?
“I believe this is one of the top three or four most impressive things I’ve seen this team do,” said Wright, checking his files from 10 seasons with the franchise. “I knew once we made that fourth-down stop, we’re about to win. You should have seen all the confidence we had on the sidelines. Even when it was fourth-and-10, it was ‘We’re going to find a way.’ “
In fact, Carroll seems to prefer it like that, rather than a Sunday cruise.
“Because it’s so much friggin’ fun,” he said. “But it’s way more than that. One, I like to feel like I felt in the fourth quarter, when I was chill about the whole thing … to expect that those situations can arise, so you’re comfortable with the moment. That’s part of it.
“We’re making memories, that’s two. Another thing is, each experience these guys have just fortifies why they believe. It adds on and adds on to why they should keep hanging tough and outlast the people we’re playing. That’s all we’ve been doing for five weeks now.
“They’ve got all the stories they need right now.”
But since these are the Seattle Caveats, there are bound to be more.
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