Before the Seahawks played the Houston Texans on Sunday, Seattle general manager John Schneider said the team will not trade tight end Jimmy Graham before the NFL’s trade deadline. In the fourth quarter, Graham showed why.
Graham hauled in two touchdowns from Russell Wilson in the final six minutes, including the winning score with just 21 seconds left, to lead Seattle over Houston 41-28 in a shootout at CenturyLink Field.
Here is a recap of each quarter of the Seahawks’ win, which improves them to 5-3 on the season.
Seahawks 14, Texans 14
The Seahawks appeared poised from the start to add to their storied history of frustrating rookie quarterbacks, as Frank Clark came around Houston QB Deshaun Watson’s blindside and put him down for a sack on the second play from scrimmage. It ended up not counting, however, as it was deemed the Texans called a timeout before the play. Watson then actually drew first blood, completing a long bomb to Will Fuller that resulted in a 59-yard touchdown less than three minutes into the game. The Seahawks’ defense responded in a big way with Earl Thomas stepping up to pick off Watson on a third down pass attempt, getting a running start as he caught the ball. He didn’t stop until the end zone, needing just one simple cutback to go 78 yards to the house. That evened up the score, but Seattle wasn’t getting much of anything out of its offense to that point, and Houston took the lead back when running back Lamar Miller finished off an eight-play, 82-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. That’s when Russell Wilson and company woke up, however, and the Seahawks tied things up again on a 20-yard scoring pass to Paul Richardson at the end of an eight-play, 75-yard drive. Seattle continued to gain momentum towards the end of the frame, forcing Houston into its first punt of the day after Michael Bennett registered the first official sack of Watson on the day. Seattle also benefited from an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Houston on the punt return.
Notable: Before the game, the vast majority of Houston Texans players took a knee during the national anthem, a reaction to team owner Bob McNair’s comments to fellow NFL owners during a meeting that “we can’t have the inmates running the prison” in regards to players kneeling during the national anthem.
HOU – Deshaun Watson 59 pass to Will Fuller, 12:38 (Ka’imi Fairbairn kick, 7-0 HOU)
SEA – Earl Thomas 78 interception return, 10:08 (Blair Walsh kick, 7-7)
HOU – Lamar Miller 3 run, 6:08 (Fairbairn kick, 14-7 HOU)
SEA – Russell Wilson 20 pass to Paul Richardson, 2:11 (Walsh kick, 14-14)
Seahawks 21, Texans 21
A shootout broke out in the first half, with veteran quarterback Russell Wilson and the longtime playoff stalwart Seahawks squaring off with rookie sensation Deshaun Watson and the high-flying Texans. Each QB had two touchdown passes to the same receiver before halftime – Paul Richardson for Wilson, Will Fuller for Watson – but Wilson and Seattle were able to keep the score even through two quarters despite getting next to nothing out of the running game. Seattle rushed the ball nine times for a net of just 4 yards, while Houston had 75 yards on 19 rushing attempts. The Seahawks’ defense was struggling to hold down the Texans at home, although it perhaps shouldn’t be too surprising considering Houston entered the game ranked third in the NFL in points per game (29.5). Seattle shot itself in the foot just before the two-minute warning when a pair of penalties on offensive lineman Germain Ifedi forced it to punt back to Houston, but the defense stood tall to get the Texans to punt as well and send the game into halftime even at 21-all.
HOU – Deshaun Watson 20 pass to Will Fuller, 9:34 (Ka’imi Fairbairn kick, 21-14 HOU)
SEA – Russell Wilson 7 pass to Paul Richardson, 6:02 (Blair Walsh kick, 21-21)
Seahawks 27, Texans 24
If it wasn’t for three missed opportunities, the Seahawks would likely have taken a much more commanding lead into the final frame at CenturyLink Field. They still took an advantage for the first time in the game, but they had to settle for a pair of 21-yard field goals by Blair Walsh after twice stalling out in the red zone. A key penalty on Seattle allowed Houston to put three points on the board, as well. The Texans found themselves in Seattle territory midway in the quarter after Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner was flagged for a horse collar tackle, and Ka’imi Fairbairn hit from 31 yards to put Houston up 24-21. The Seahawks had a big play on offense when fullback Tre Madden picked up 66 yards after hauling in a play-action pass down the middle of the field, but Seattle failed to score six after a wide open Thomas Rawls had a pass hit off his hands in the end zone. Instead, Walsh hit his first field goal of the day, evening the game up for the fourth time. The Seahawks took the ball back pretty quickly when Richard Sherman produced their second interception of Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson, returning it 19 yards to Houston’s 16. Seattle ran five plays in the red zone, including a shot at tight end Jimmy Graham in the end zone on third down, but again had to turn to Walsh to move into the lead.
HOU – Ka’imi Fairbairn FG 31, 7:05 (24-21 HOU)
SEA – Blair Walsh FG 21, 4:36 (24-24)
SEA – Blair Walsh FG 21, 2:24 (27-24 SEA)
Seahawks 41, Texans 38
The offenses of the Seahawks and Texans continued to go toe-to-toe in the final quarter, trading touchdowns for the first 11 minutes of the frame. But with Seattle trailing by four points and the two-minute warning approaching, Houston’s Marcus Williams stepped in front of a Russell Wilson pass to end a promising Seahawks drive and give Deshaun Watson an opportunity to put the game on ice. The Texans were able to get one first down on the series but had to punt with 1:49 left, giving the Seahawks one last chance to win. They didn’t miss it. A huge 48-yard pass Paul Richardson put Seattle in Houston territory, Tyler Lockett followed up with a 19-yard reception, and Wilson found Jimmy Graham for his second score of the quarter from 18 yards out to give the Seahawks a 41-38 advantage with just 21 seconds left. Seattle dropped Watson for a sack and then Richard Sherman made his second interception of the game to seal it for the Hawks.
HOU – Deshaun Watson 2 pass to Lamar Miller, 9:09 (Ka’imi Fairbairn kick, 31-27 HOU)
SEA – Russell Wilson 1 pass to Jimmy Graham, 5:37 (Blair Walsh kick, 34-31 SEA)
HOU – Watson 72 pass to DeAndre Hopkins, 4:49 (Fairbairn kick, 38-34 HOU)
SEA – Russell Wilson 18 pass to Jimmy Graham, :21 (Blair Walsh kick, 41-38 SEA)