Russell Wilson and the Seahawks finally ran out of great escapes Sunday. After winning with dramatic, fourth-quarter comebacks at Carolina and Houston en route to the first 4-0 start in franchise history, Seattle squandered a 28-23 third-quarter lead and couldn’t solve Andrew Luck or overcome their own mistakes in the fourth, losing 34-28 to the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Luck, switching to an up-tempo offense, directed two huge fourth-quarter drives, a 14-play, 86-yard march in the middle of the quarter that consumed 8:55 and ended with Donald Brown’s three-yard touchdown, and a 42-yard, nine-play drive that gobbled another 4:43 and ended with Adam Vinatieri’s 49-yard field goal.
Luck was nearly flawless on both drives, continually hitting Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton for drive-extending plays, including a 12-yarder to Hilton on a third-and-eight and a five-yarder to Wayne on a third-and-five at the Seattle 27. Luck’s 19-yarder to Wayne set up Brown’s touchdown that put Indianapolis ahead to stay.
After Vinatieri extended the Colts’ lead to 34-28, he Seahawks had one more shot at a game-winning drive with 1:55 left and no timeouts. Seattle burned its final timeout after Brown’s touchdown when it couldn’t get the right personnel on the field to defend a two-point conversion attempt, which proved successful.
On the last possession, Wilson, 5-1 in his previous six road starts, had a 22-yard scramble to start what could have been the seventh fourth-quarter comeback win of his career. But couldn’t connect with any of his receivers after that. His final throw, intended for Sidney Rice, was picked off by Darius Butler, Wilson’s only turnover of the day.
In a contest that featured a safety followed a blocked punt by Seattle and a blocked field goal for a TD by Indianapolis, Wilson finished 15 of 31 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for a career-high 102 yards, with seven runs of 10 yards or longer. Marshawn Lynch also rushed for 102 as the Seahawks accumulated 218 overall.
But the Seahawks couldn’t cope with Luck. He threw a touchdown pass to Hilton directly over Richard Sherman’s head and tossed another to Hilton at Brandon Browner’s expense. Luck finished with 229 yards, two TDs and no interceptions while Hilton caught five balls for 140 yards.
The Wilson vs. Luck matchup was as advertised, so close in individual performance that at the 6:38 mark of the fourth quarter both had identical passing lines: 15 of 27 for 210 yards, two TDs, no interceptions.
The Seahawks piled up 423 total yards to Indianapolis’ 317, but couldn’t prevent Luck from making big plays, especially on third down. The Colts converted seven of 12, including seven of the final nine.
The Seahawks started out like they were going to blow out the Colts in own building. After holding Indianapolis to a three-and-out, Lynch ripped off a 24-yard run on Seattle’s first play from scrimmage, setting up Steven Hauschka’s 42-yard field goal, his ninth of the season without a miss, for a 3-0 Seattle lead.
The Seahawks held Indianapolis to another three-and-out on its second possession and Lynch busted another one, 19 yards to the Colts 45. A couple of Wilson scrambles set up his nine-yar pass to Golden Tate, his first TD of the season, for a 10-0 lead.
The Seahawks made it 12-0 four plays later when Jermaine Kearse blocked a punt through the end zone, giving Seattle a safety, although it appeared Jeron Johnson recovered for a touchdown. Replay officials claimed Johnson didn’t control the ball as he slid out of the end zone.
Luck quickly quashed Seattle’s momentum when he threw a career-long, 73-yard touchdown pass to Hilton, who slipped behind All-Pro corner Sherman.
Wilson put the Seahawks into position to score again and Hauschka trotted out for a 48-yard field goal attempt. But Lawrence Guy blocked it and Delano Howell returned it 61 yards for a touchdown, the longest ever against the Seahawks (Dave Waymer returned one 58 yards for the Saints Oct. 16, 1988).
Wilson answered with 28-yard TD pass to Kearse, and a 41-yard field goal by Vinatieri left Seattle with a 19-17 halftime lead.
Two more Hauschka field goals, from 36 yards at the 11:18 mark of the third and from 41 at 8:12, increased Seattle’s lead to 25-17. The latter was set up by a Chris Clemons strip sack of Luck and a fumble recovery.
Luck went up top, hitting Hilton with his second TD, a 29-yarder. Indianapolis went for two, but failed, leaving Seattle ahead 25-23.
A 27-yard throw from Wilson to Baldwin down the left sideline on third down set up Houschka’s fourth field goal, from 46 yards, increasing Seattle’s lead to 28-23. But that was as good as it would be for Seattle.
Luck then engineered the 14-play drive put Indianapolis ahead at 8:55 of the fourth quarter.
NEXT: After consecutive weeks on the road, the Seahawks return to CenturyLink Field Sunday to face the Tennessee Titans, a 26-17 loser Sunday to 5-0 Kansas City.