Last thing anyone – you, me, and Las Vegas swamis — expected from the Seahawks Sunday night, especially against one of the best defenses in the NFL, and on the road, was a 300-yard passer, nearly two 100-yard rushers, two 100-yard receivers, an 80-yard catch-and-run by a tight end who outraced a safety for more than half the field, and a near-repeat of Beast Quake.
Imagine the depth and breadth of carnage if Seattle hadn’t played with so many backups. Or if Steven Hauschka hadn’t clanked three field goals all within his range. Or if Marshawn Lynch, ailing with a bad boiler, played the first quarter.
“That,” Pete Carroll said after Seattle’s 35-6 demolition of the Arizona Cardinals, “was just about the most fun you can have in football.”
True enough. And that was, in a narrow sense, one of the most rare games in NFL history.
Start with the fact that since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, only four teams amassed more yards in a road victory than the Seahawks, who piled up a franchise-record 596 at University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday night.
The Washington Redskins accumulated 676 at Detroit Nov. 4, 1990, New England 622 at Miami Sept. 12, 2011, Arizona 615 at Washington Nov. 10, 1996, and Minnesota 605 at New Orleans Oct. 17, 2004.
But in only eight games since 1940 did a team on the road, against an opponent with a .500 or better record, total more than 500 yards AND limit the foe to seven or fewer points, as the Seahawks did. One was played in the 1940s, another in the 1950s, four more in the 1980s.
Not counting Seattle’s eye-popper Sunday, in only one of those other games – Bears at Giants Nov. 14, 1943 – did a team gain more yards than the Seahawks posted against the Cardinals. And in only one of those other games – Cincinnati at New England Dec. 7, 1986 – did the winning team (Bengals) defeat an opponent that had 10 or more wins entering the contest, as did the Seahawks, who stuffed the 11-3 Cardinals. The eight games:
|1943||Nov. 14||Chi (6-0-1)||Hunk Anderson||at NYG (2-2-1)||682||56-7|
|1952||Oct. 19||Clev (2-1)||Paul Brown||at Phil (2-1)||507||49-7|
|1980||Sept. 14||Phil (1-0)||Dick Vermeil||at Minn (1-0)||529||42-7|
|1986||Nov. 2||NYJ (7-1)||Joe Walton||at Sea (5-3)||553||38-7|
|1986||Dec. 7||Cin (8-5)||Sam Wyche||at NE (10-3)||594||31-7|
|1988||Sept. 25||SF (2-1)||Bill Walsh||at Sea (2-1)||580||38-7|
|2011||Oct. 23||Hou (3-3)||Gary Kubiak||at Tenn (3-2)||519||41-7|
|2014||Dec. 21||Sea (10-4)||Pete Carroll||at Ariz (11-3)||596||35-6|
As the chart indicates, Seattle was on the losing end of two such games, in 1986 and 1988, debacles now put to rest.
Seattle’s 596 yards Sunday broke by five the club mark of 591 set Dec. 29, 2002 in a 31-28 victory at San Diego that featured 449 passing yards from QB Matt Hasselbeck and 100-yard receiving games by Itula Mili (119) and Koren Robinson (103).
Good Hand Luke
Russell Wilson targeted TE Luke Willson three times Sunday and the Rice product, who clocked a 4.5-second 40 at the NFL combine before the 2012 draft, responded with three receptions for 139 yards. His first TD, an 80-yarder, gave Seattle a 7-3 lead. His second, of 20 yards, upped the advantage to 21-6. Willson also nearly turned a 39-yard reception into a third touchdown.
Willson not only set a franchise record for most receiving yards in a game with three or fewer targets (includes all receivers), he became the second tight end in club history to crack 100 with three or fewer. Anthony McCoy, injured the last two years, had 105 yards on three targets in a 58-0 wipeout of the Cardinals Dec. 2, 2012.
Willson also came within a yard of matching the club record for most single-game receiving yards by a tight end. Charle Young had 140 on seven receptions against San Diego Oct. 9, 1983.
Wilson threw for 339 yards (two TDs) and ran for 88 more (one TD), missing by 12 rushing yards of duplicating his one-of-a-kind, 300/100 game posted against the Rams in St. Louis Oct. 19 (313/106).
Along with Michael Vick, Wilson is one of two players in NFL history with multiple games of 300+ passing yards and 75+ rushing yards. In reverse chronological order, the list:
|2014||Dec. 21||Russell Wilson||Seahawks||Cardinals||339/2||88/1|
|2014||Oct. 19||Russell Wilson||Seahawks||Rams||313/2||106/1|
|2011||Oct. 9||Michael Vick||Eagles||Bills||315/2||90/0|
|2011||Oct. 2||Michael Vick||Eagles||49ers||416/2||75/0|
|2010||Nov. 15||Michael Vick||Eagles||Redskins||333/4||80/2|
|2006||Oct. 22||Donovan McNabb||Eagles||Buccaneers||302/3||76/0|
|2000||Oct. 8||Rich Gannon||Raiders||49ers||310/2||85/1|
|1989||Dec. 18||R. Cunningham||Eagles||Saints||306/2||92/0|
Had Wilson hit 100 rushing yards, the Seahawks would have had a franchise first: A 300-yard passer (Wilson), two 100-yard rushers (Wilson, Lynch), and two 100-yard receivers (Willson, Doug Baldwin).
As it was, Wilson (339 passing), Lynch (113 rushing), Willson (139 receiving) and Baldwin (113 receiving), became the second quartet in club annals to pull off that rare feat.
On Nov. 30, 2002, Matt Hasselbeck (328 passing), Shaun Alexander (127 rushing), Koren Robinson (122 receiving) and Darrell Jackson (102 receiving) beat Cleveland 34-7 win with four centurians.
Sunday’s game would have turned into a rout far earlier if the Seahawks hadn’t been flagged for 10 first-half penalties to one for the Chargers. For the second consecutive season, the Seahawks lead the NFL in penalties (128), but will probably finish with a lower total than the 2013 team incurred (152) en route to the Super Bowl.
The major difference between this year and last: This year’s team is sloppier in advance of the snap, drawing a galling 61 infractions (false start, illegal motion, delay of game, etc.) to last year’s 52. The rash of mental miscues drew a rebuke from NBC’s Chris Collinsworth during the broadcast Sunday night.
“They need to clean that up during the playoffs,” he said. “They are making it harder on themselves than it needs to be.”