By Danny O’Neil
HOUSTON — It was irritating and then it was incredible.
After an inexplicable first half, Seattle played an unbelievable second half.
It was simply unbelievable. Not that Seattle won, but how the Seahawks did it, first giving up 20 consecutive points to fall behind 20-3 and then scoring 20 in a row to win 23-20 in overtime.
It was simply a remarkable game that resulted in an unprecedented achievement: Seattle is 4-0 for the first time in franchise history after going to Houston and overcoming a first half that was atrocious with a second-half comeback that included a 98-yard drive and an interception Richard Sherman returned for a touchdown and concluded with a 45-yard game-winning field goal by Steven Hauschka with 3:19 left.
The significance: Seattle got off to its best start in franchise history, coming back from a 17-point deficit to beat the Texans and win its ninth consecutive regular-season game. It was Seattle’s second consecutive overtime victory.
Play of the game: Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin had a third-down catch on the sideline that the officials had two see twice before they believed it. It was third-and-7, Seattle deep in its own territory on a drive that began on the Seahawks’ 2. Quarterback Russell Wilson threw a ball to the sideline, which Baldwin caught by getting both feet down. Coach Pete Carroll challenged the initial ruling of incomplete in the first 2 minutes of the fourth quarter to gain a first down. Seattle trailed 20-6 at that time and would have been punting early in the fourth quarter. The catch extended what turned out to be a 98-yard touchdown drive that consumed more than half of the fourth quarter.
Turning point: A penalty on cornerback Kareem Jackson for unnecessary roughness gave Seattle a first down in overtime and put the Seahawks in position to score the game-winning field goal, but this game turned on the play that tied it in fourth quarter. Houston had the ball at the Seattle 40, third-and-4 with 3 minutes on the clock. They led by seven points and were two first downs from clinching. Safety Kam Chancellor came unblocked on a blitz, Houston quarterback Matt Schaub had a play-action pass and then lobbed off his back foot toward tight end Owen Daniels. Sherman broke on the ball, jumped in front of Daniels and returned the ball 58 yards for a touchdown to tie the game 20-20 with 2:40 left.
Player of the game: Wilson passed for 123 yards, but it was his 77 yards scrambling that were so crucial down the stretch, including a fourth-and-3 conversion that put Seattle in position for its first touchdown. Wilson had three rushes for 3 yards in the first three quarters and seven for 74 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime.
The good: Seattle scored 17 consecutive points in the second half. The Seahawks’ first touchdown drive of the game covered 98 yards, consumed more than half of the fourth quarter and included two third-down conversions and a fourth-and-3 that Seattle made with Wilson’s remarkable scramble. The Seahawks had a touchdown catch by Jermaine Kearse negated by a penalty and also faced a second-and-24 yet still drove 14 plays for the touchdown, culminating in a 3-yard scoring run by Marshawn Lynch. Seattle held an opponent scoreless in the first quarter for the fourth successive game. The Seahawks drew a pass-interference penalty on its first offensive play of the game, Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph flagged for interfering with Sidney Rice. The Seahawks gained 33 yards via the penalty and had only 24 yards net passing.
The bad: The Seahawks allowed five sacks in the game. Schaub became the first quarterback in 12 regular-season games to pass for 300 yards against Seattle. Arian Foster became the first opponent in 11 regular-season games to hit 100 yards rushing. Seattle gave up a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter, a 31-yard pass from Schaub to Garrett Graham. Seattle allowed an average of 238.3 yards and nine points over its first three games. The Texans had 324 yards and 20 points at halftime. Seattle allowed 20 consecutive points.
The ugly: Seattle gave up more first-half yards to Houston than it had allowed in any of its first three games this season. Lynch fumbled at Seattle’s 19 with 6 minutes left in the second quarter, giving Houston its best field position in the game after the Texans had taken a 14-3 lead. Michael Bennett suffered a neck injury in the final minute of the second quarter as his head bent back awkwardly as he fell into Schaub at the same time teammate Cliff Avril hit Schaub from behind.
Seattle: C Max Unger, RT Breno Giacomini, S Jeron Johnson, FB Spencer Ware, DE Benson Mayowa, DT Jordan Hill, LB John Lotulelei. Houston: QB Case Keenum, WR Lestar Jean, LB Tim Dobbins, G Cody White, T Duane Brown, DE Sam Montgomery, DE Tim Jamison.
Seattle: LB K.J. Wright suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter, but returned in the first half. DL Michael Bennett suffered a neck injury in the second quarter and was taken off the field on a stretcher. Houston: LB Brian Cushing was taken in for a concussion evaluation in the third quarter.