Almost every NFL game features an oddity or two, but Seattle’s 14-9 victory over the St. Louis Rams Monday night was rife with them: Only eight carries for Marshawn Lynch, including none when Seattle had first-and-goal at the Rams’ one-yard line; Pete Carroll’s refusal to call timeout in the final minute to preserve a few ticks of the clock in case St. Louis scored a touchdown.
Odder yet is that the Seahawks triumphed despite making seven first downs (team record is 34) and gaining 135 total yards while yielding seven sacks against Russell Wilson. Has a team ever managed seven first downs, or fewer, while allowing seven sacks – and won?
Well, yes, as a matter of fact. But it’s as rare as a truth-telling Congressman. There have been only four games in the NFL in the past 50 years like Monday’s in that respect. The most recent was a Houston Texans victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers Dec. 8, 2002.
That day, the Texans offense actually came up worse than Seattle’s did Monday. The Texans completed only three passes (Wilson completed 10), made three first downs and generated 47 total yards, but defeated Pittsburgh 24-6 with three defensive touchdowns.
The Seahawks became the first team to win with so few yards since the Miami Dolphins (131 yards) against the Jets in Week 14 of 2010. Seattle also became the first to win a game with seven or fewer first downs since the Dolphins in the same game. Miami had six and eked 7-6.
Seattle had minus-1 yards of offense in the first quarter Monday and 38 yards at the half, its fewest since gaining 37 in the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs Oct. 4, 1998.
Odd that the Seahawks could win a game in which their quarterback went down hard seven times. The Seahawks yielded seven or more sacks in a game on eight occasions before Monday night and lost all but one – a 17-16 victory over Kansas City Nov. 11, 1990, in which the Chiefs sacked Dave Krieg nine times, seven by Derrick Thomas.
Thomas was about to nail Krieg for the eighth time, barely missed, and Krieg found Paul Skansi for a 25-yard touchdown and a last-second win.
Also weird: The Seahawks are 7-1 with a quarterback who leads the NFL in what Pro Football Focus describes as “pressured throws.” Wilson has 261 dropbacks this season and has come under official statistical assault (to say nothing of physical assault) – sacks, hurries, hits – 46.7 percent of the time, well ahead of 44.7 percent of Oakland Terrelle Pryor.
Seven quarterbacks besides Wilson, under pressure on 12 of 25 drops Monday, have been pressured on 40 or more percent of their throws. Only one other, Andrew Luck of the Colts, has a winning record (5-2) as a starting quarterback. The seven combined have a record of 20-33. And yet, here are Wilson and the Seahawks at 7-1. Odd.
Strange that the Seahawks could win with Lynch producing 23 rushing yards on eight carries. Prior to Monday, Lynch had rushed for fewer than 50 yards in a game 15 times. The Seahawks lost 12 of them.
The Seahawks are 12-1 in their last 13 regular-season games with Wilson dating to Week 13 last season. Wilson has 18 wins since he was drafted, tied for the second-most by an NFL quarterback over the past two seasons (Peyton Manning 20, Wilson and Tom Brady 18).
But Wilson also been sacked 60 times in 24 regular-season games, including 27 times this season. Only one quarterback in franchise history went down more times than 27 in the season’s first eight contests.
|1985||Dave Krieg||29||4-4||Sacked 7 times by Rams, 5 times twice|
|2013||R. Wilson||27||7-1||Sacked 12 times in last three games|
|1978||Jim Zorn||24||4-4||Went down 6 times in 28-16 loss to Lions|
|1995||Rick Mirer||23||2-6||San Diego sacked him 7 times Oct. 22|
|1989||Dave Krieg||21||4-4||Suffered 5 sacks in a 10-7 win over SD|
|1993||Rick Mirer||21||4-4||13 sacks 1st 3 games of career|
|1980||Jim Zorn||20||4-4||Sacked 6 times by Oakland Raiders|
|2000||Jon Kitna||20||2-6||Sacked 10 times in Weeks 4 and 5|
|2010||M. Hasselbeck||20||4-4||49ers, Pitt got him 10 times in 2 games|
Note from the chart that Wilson is the only Seattle quarterback to suffer 20 or more sacks in the first eight games of a season and play for a team with a winning record.
Part of the reason the Seahawks have survived Wilson’s weekly miseries is that they have allowed the lowest completion percentage (31.6%) in the NFL on plays in the red zone, and rank second in opponent quarterback rating (65.1). The first stat was perfectly illustrated on the final play Monday, when the Seahawks caused St. Louis quarterback Kellen Clemens to overthrow his intended receiver on fourth down from the one-yard line.
Also, with interceptions by Bruce Irvin and Richard Sherman, the Seahawks took over the league lead in takeaways with 21, one ahead of the Chiefs. They needed both in one of the strangest games in franchise annals.