It’s easy for fans to think that all players on a team know each other. It’s often not the case, especially when a team sinking fast like the Seahawks needs so much help that every Amazon driver through the headquarters doors gets a once-over by frantic scouts.
Fortunately, the guy through the door Wednesday was RB Adrian Peterson, who has almost as many NFL touchdowns as Amazon has trucks. By Sunday, he was good enough and the Seahawks desperate enough to put him in the starting lineup, despite being 36 and oblivious to the playbook. The Seahawks had nothing to lose — they’d already lost five of their past six games — and the opponent, the 49ers, had won four four their previous five.
The future Hall of Famer had no time for introductions. So after he scored on a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter of the wackiest game of Seattle’s lamentable season, FB Nick Bellore thought about finally introducing himself. He did, after all, help block for the score.
“He’s probably wondering who I was, because I hadn’t actually got to meet him,” Bellore said. “He kind of looked at me. I didn’t want to introduce myself. I was just glad to kind of help out. I think he passed somebody for touchdowns (actually, he tied Jim Brown on the NFL career list with 126, 10th all-time), which is awesome. Because I’m really old (32), and he’s even older.
“I remember watching him when I was in college and high school. Some of these guys were in elementary school. A legend like that, you have a little extra juice for.”
Whether it was partly from Peterson’s work (just 16 yards on 11 carries), aura, good health, or that he bore no responsibility for the previous three months of crap, the Seahawks had extra juice in upsetting San Francisco, 30-23 (box), for a series sweep.
Besides the introduction of Petersen, some re-introductions seem to have been made. In no particular order:
*Russell Wilson re-connected with his alter ego, Mr. Unlimited, completing 30 of 37 passes for 231 yards and no interceptions, making moves and decisions with confidence;
*Pete Carroll reconnected with his younger, bolder self, twice ordering to go for it on fourth down, including a direct-snap run from punt formation on the first possession by upback Travis Homer for a 73-yard touchdown;
*LB Carlos Dunlap re-connected with his 2020 self as chief defensive disrupter, sacking SF QB Jimmy Garoppolo for a safety, and knocking down Garoppolo’s fourth-down pass from the Seattle 3-yard line with 22 seconds left to seal the victory.
*The entire team re-connected during a meeting Saturday led by Tyler Lockett focused on the “whys” of playing football.
“Tyler did a really nice job in the meeting,” Carroll said. “He had a chance to bring up something that he wanted to talk about, and gave them the opportunity (to talk). He did a great job with our guys about hanging together and about why we are connected in the way we are. Really cool. I think it had something to do with today.”
Quantifying that woo-woo contribution is hard to do, of course. What was knowable is the Seahawks are 4-8 after going oh-for-November, with a game next Sunday at 2-10 Houston. And the 49ers are 6-6 mostly because their formidable rushing attack, the talk of the league after three wins in a row, was held to 71 yards in 25 attempts.
Yes, their primo guy, Deebo Samuel, was out. But the Seahawks don’t want to hear about absent running backs after missing Chris Carson and Alex Collins Sunday — and wishing TE Gerald Everett had gone missing after committing all three of their turnovers.
Carroll was nearly ecstatic in describing the defense, which forced three turnovers and held San Francisco scoreless in the second half. That was vital since the Seahawks’ recovering offense had drives that reached the the 49ers’ 28, 31, 25, 5 and 1 yard lines, and came away with no points.
“(The 49ers) have rushed for almost 700 yards in the last three weeks and turned their season around doing that,” he said. “I saw up there on the board one time, it was 61 yards in the fourth quarter. Holy cow. This is a team that is fully committed to running the football.
“Our guys took the challenge. That’s a big deal. That’s a big deal.”
The capstone was the final possession when the Niners took over with 4:02 left on their own 2 after Everett fumbled away a Wilson shovel pass that otherwise looked to have been a TD.
With 38 seconds left, SF was first and goal at the Seattle 7.
Two runs netted only four yards, then on third down, CB Sidney Jones knocked away a pass in the end zone. As the crowd of 68,738, heavily populated with Niners fans, stood and screeched, Dunlap swept in from Garoppolo’s right to go all Dikembe Mutombo on Jimmy G.
A week after playing just four snaps in the loss at Washington, Dunlap was in need of hero time.
“It felt amazing to come through for my teammates,” he said. “They’ve been looking for me to make these plays all season, I hadn’t quite made them. Whatever you want to say is going on, today I came through.
“It is as simple as that.”
Wilson came through as well.
Entering the game, according to ESPN Stats & Information, Wilson had the highest off-target rate (23.7%) among all qualified quarterbacks since his return in Week 10. But Sunday his accuracy, complete with follow-through that kept throws on trajectory, was remarkable. His only interception was Everett’s fumble after a goal line catch that his foot kicked to a waiting defender.
“Every day I get better,” Wilson said. “This past Friday was the first day they were hoping that I could practice. I feel great. Tonight was a huge night. Made some great plays. Ball came out of my hand great. Every throw felt confident.
“I got better today and I get better every day. So it was a good night.”
He even got to hand off to Peterson for his score.
“What a remarkable experience for me personally,” he said. “That was pretty special. I’ve always
admired his work.”
For a change in this tumultuous season, the work of numerous Seahawks was worthy of admiration.