Rost: Takeaways from Seahawks’ 28-26 win over Steelers
Russell Wilson completed over 80 percent of his passes and threw for three touchdowns in his first ever game at Heinz Field and the Seahawks – who were 3 1/2-point underdogs – beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-26 Sunday.
Wilson’s 82.9 completion percentage was the highest of his career and it came on nearly double the number of attempts (35) he made in Week 1 (20).
“We put Russ really in command of the rhythm of the game, and all the quick stuff he did a great job on,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said postgame. “Did a great job throwing the seam routes to (tight end Will Dissly) for the two touchdown passes. But other than that I thought Russ’ rhythm really picked up and the sacks went away in the second half and really cleaned things up.”
Wilson’s completion percentage against the Steelers just barely edged out his performance in a 2015 win over the 49ers (where he completed 82.76 percent of his pass attempts) and a 2018 game against the Detroit Lions that saw Wilson complete 14-of-17 and finish with a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
Second-year tight end Will Dissly caught two of Wilson’s touchdown passes, while the third was hauled in by rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf. The 28-yard score was first career touchdown for Metcalf.
It wasn’t a flawless execution by Seattle’s offense; Wilson was sacked four times and running back Chris Carson had two forced fumbles – though Carroll said the second wasn’t Carson’s fault. Still, even while losing the turnover battle, the Seahawks managed to outgain the Steelers in nearly every offensive category. Carson also had a chance to make up for his fumble with a one-yard run on fourth-and-1 late in the fourth quarter that effectively sealed Seattle’s win.
“He did get one knocked away and we’ve got to get to business right there and get that out of our football,” Carroll said of Carson. “But no, there was no one I was going to but Chris on that one.”
After managing just 72 yards on the ground last week, the Seahawks finished with 151 net rushing yards, which is far more in line with their 2018 per-game average of 160. That total included a 37-yard rushing touchdown from second-year running back Rashaad Penny.
The Seahawks entered the game with a change at safety. Starting free safety Tedric Thompson was inactive with a hamstring injury, so veteran starter Bradley McDougald filled in at free safety instead while Lano Hill took over for McDougald as the starting strong safety.
Hill finished with three tackles and also intercepted a two-point conversion attempt by the Steelers in the fourth quarter.
Carroll didn’t say whether Seattle would stick with Hill at strong safety moving forward but did say he was pleased with the group’s performance.
“We gave up that darn flea flicker again – I don’t know why that’s the best play in football all the sudden,” Carroll said, referencing the fact that both the Bengals and Steelers have had long gains on similar trick plays in the first two weeks of the season. “They got us. Other than that, I thought (Hill) did a nice job. I liked the way we played today. I liked the style we played with. We’ll see. We’re still putting together. We’re so new.”
Pittsburgh led Seattle 10-7 entering the third quarter. Seattle’s offense initially got off to an anemic start, gaining no yardage on a three-and-out, but got another shot with prime field position thanks to an interception by Bradley McDougald. The veteran safety took advantage of a tipped pass from Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph intended for Donte Moncrief (covered by Tre Flowers) and managed to haul in the ball while sliding out of bounds. Seattle scored on the following drive.
Rashaad Penny‘s 37-yard touchdown run gave Seattle what proved to be a vital eight-point lead (21-13) in the third quarter. Penny side stepped pressure from the middle of Seattle’s line and bolted to the right, where both Wilson and wide receiver Jaron Brown acted as blockers to give Penny a lane for a score.
One of the biggest plays, though, came courtesy the league’s new rule on replay review for pass interference calls and non-calls.
Up just two points and facing second-and-20 in the fourth quarter, Wilson targeted wide receiver Tyler Lockett deep over the middle, but the pass fell incomplete after Lockett became wrapped up between a pair of Pittsburgh defenders. Pete Carroll challenged the play on the premise that Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds should have been flagged for defensive pass interference.
The opportunity was made possible thanks a new league rule – currently in effect for the 2019-20 season only – that makes pass interference calls and non-calls reviewable plays. (The proposal stemmed from the controversial end to the 2018 NFC Championship game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams.)
Carroll had already lost one timeout on a failed challenge in the first half, but his second challenge paid off: the challenge was successful, and the Steelers were dealt a defensive pass interference penalty that gave Seattle 38 yards. Three plays later, Wilson found Metcalf for a score.
The Seahawks left Pittsburgh mostly injury-free. Right guard D.J. Fluker briefly exited the game with a left ankle injury, but returned in the third quarter.
Carroll said the Seahawks could see a return of wide receiver David Moore (shoulder) and defensive end Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) soon.
“We kind of decided late in the week that this next would be his chance,” Carroll said of Ansah. “We’re hoping we can pull that off.”