By Brady Henderson
A few notes and thoughts on the Seahawks’ 23-17 overtime win over the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago.
The lead: Another Seahawks road game went down to the wire, but this time they came out on top thanks to Russell Wilson’s heroics and despite their defense’s inability to hold on the final drive of regulation. Wilson led a go-ahead, 97-yard scoring drive in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, and then took Seattle 80 yards for the game-winning score on the first possession of overtime after Seattle’s defense allowed Chicago to kick a tying field goal at the end of regulation. The win was the Seahawks’ third in Chicago since 2010, and it gives them some life in the NFC West race after the 49ers lost to St. Louis.
The good: Wilson continued his tear, completing 23 of 37 attempts for 293 yards, zero interceptions and the two late touchdown passes, one to Golden Tate for what seemed like a game-winning score and another to Sidney Rice in overtime. He picked up 71 yards on nine carries, a few of which produced first downs in critical moments.
Seattle’s receivers, inconsistent this season, had one of their better games. Tate made another sensational play to set up the Seahawks’ first touchdown, making defenders miss on a 49-yard reception up the sideline. His touchdown in the fourth quarter was even more impressive. He found his way into the end zone on a 14-yard pass, avoiding several defenders before diving across the goal line. Doug Baldwin and Rice had key receptions, including Rice’s game-winner. Baldwin had a key block on Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown run. Tight end Zach Miller made a 7-yard catch on fourth-and-3 to extend the fourth-quarter touchdown drive.
Lynch finished with 87 yards on 19 carries, at times finding nice holes to run through.
The Seahawks responded after a poor start, beginning with a stop on fourth-and-1 deep in their own territory.
The bad: The Seahawks, leading 17-14 after Wilson’s touchdown pass to Tate, were in prime position to win the game in regulation as Chicago took over at their own 14 with 24 seconds left. But Brandon Marshall somehow got open down the field for a 56-yard gain, setting up the tying field goal.
The Seahawks, even with cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner playing, had no answer for Marshall, who finished with 165 yards on 10 catches.
A miserable start put the Seahawks in an early 7-0 hole. Lynch was stripped while dragging a pile of defenders on Seattle’s opening possession. Chicago scored six plays later.
Seattle’s pass rush, stellar at times this season and non-existent at others, was more of the latter on Sunday. Jay Cutler had all day to throw. The Seahawks were credited with one sack, but that came thanks to a fumble that Cutler fell on.
Penalties, another season-long issue for Seattle, helped shift momentum in the Bears’ favor. Bruce Irvin was called for illegal hands to the face, negating a third-down stop that would have forced a punt and likely would have given Seattle excellent field position. An unnecessary roughness penalty on Alan Branch gave the Bears 15 more yards on that drive, which ended with the go-ahead score. The Seahawks finished with eight penalties for 55 yards.
Close call: Braylon Edwards was originally awarded a touchdown after diving to make a catch in the end zone in the closing seconds of the first half. Officials reviewed the play and reversed the call, determining the ball hit the ground before Edwards possessed it. It seemed like a call that could have gone either way. The Seahawks settled for a 31-yard field goal. Coach Pete Carroll argued to no avail before heading to the locker room at halftime.
Home-field bounces: It wouldn’t be fair to say the Seahawks couldn’t catch a break in the first half, not considering Chicago’s Earl Bennett dropped a wide open touchdown pass. But they certainly couldn’t get a bounce. On the Bears’ first scoring drive, Brandon Browner stripped Marshall but Marshall recovered his own fumble after the ball bounced back to him. Another favorable bounce helped Eric Weems recover his muffed punt later in the first quarter.