O’Neil: How do you explain Seahawks’ win over Falcons, or their 6-2 record?
Matt Schaub threw for 460 yards against the Seahawks on Sunday.
Yes, that Matt Schaub who was last seen throwing an interception six years ago that Richard Sherman returned for a touchdown while missing his shoe. Six years later, the Texans’ one-time franchise quarterback is now the Falcons backup, and all he did Sunday was throw for 309 yards in the second half of a game against Seattle that was closer than it ever should have been.
Of course, Seattle remained a perfect 7-0 under Pete Carroll when the opposing quarterback throws for more than 400 yards.
Anyone with any ideas on how to reconcile Schaub’s success with Seattle’s 27-20 victory can probably do a better job than me of explaining not just Sunday’s game but this Seahawks season.
In what world does all this make sense?
On one hand, the Seahawks are 6-2 at the halfway point of this season and undefeated on the road. On the other hand, they were outscored 20-3 in the second half on Sunday by a one-win Falcons team that was missing its starting quarterback. The Falcons gained 346 yards in the second half, the Seahawks had 82.
That might sound worse than it was, though. Atlanta didn’t get the deficit inside of 10 points until the final minute of the game. The Seahawks intercepted one pass and recovered two fumbles, the second of which occurred in the third minute of the fourth quarter inside the Seattle 10. It was forced by safety Marquise Blair, recovered by Bobby Wagner and the Seahawks gained 78 yards on the next drive, consuming 6 minutes, 50 seconds and culminating with a field goal that provided the cushion that Seattle needed.
Atlanta had to resort to attempting two onside kicks in the fourth quarter, neither of which worked, and the Seahawks improved to 6-2, remaining a perfect 4-0 on the road.
Contrary to what Pete Carroll likes to tell his team, it is possible to win a game in the first quarter. Or at least the first half. The Seahawks won their sixth game of the season on Sunday in Atlanta due almost entirely to the way they started the game. It certainly wasn’t because of the way they finished a game that turned out to be much closer than it needed to be.
DK Metcalf caught two touchdown passes, neither of which was contested in the first half. Those pair of scoring catches were sandwiched around a 1-yard touchdown run by Chris Carson, who ran for 90 yards in the first half alone.
The Falcons seemed sunk without quarterback Matt Ryan, who sat out the game with a high ankle sprain. That ended his string of 154 straight regular-season starts, and he was replaced by Schaub. Remember him? He’s the guy whose career might as well have ended back in Week 4 of the 2013 season when Sherman returned a pass he picked off from Schaub for a game-tying touchdown in a game the Seahawks won in overtime.
Six years later, Schaub is back with the Falcons – the team he entered the league with after he was drafted to back up Michael Vick. In the first half, the Falcons didn’t get the ball within 30 yards of Seattle’s end zone. Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant missed two long field-goal attempts, and Schaub also had a pass picked off by Mychal Kendricks.
The Seahawks’ 24 points at halftime was their most in any first half since Nov. 16, 2017 when Seattle scored 28 points in the first two quarters of a Monday night game against Buffalo.
And on Sunday, the Seahawks seemed content to play just half a game on offense. Seattle went three-and-out on three of its first four possessions in the second half.
Meanwhile, the Falcons never punted over the final two periods, and while there was nothing little about Atlanta’s second-half output, it was too late to change the outcome of the game.