Week 9: Seahawks 27, Buccaneers 24 — Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and Alternate Endings

If anybody out there wants to write some Seahawks fanfiction, today’s game can serve as the script for an alternate ending to last year’s playoff loss in Atlanta.*  The two games were very similar, with the outcome being the big exception.  Today’s was much better for people in the Puget Sound region.

When I said in my preview that the Bucs weren’t as bad as their record indicated, I certainly wasn’t expecting them to come into Seattle and open the game with 21 unanswered points.  But the NFL is weird sometimes.**  In this case, the Bucs capitalized on two bad turnovers (somewhat weird), gashed the Seahawks D-line with Mike James (also somewhat weird, even given the events of Monday night), got a few timely pass interference and unnecessary roughness calls (not weird at all, given the Legion of Boom’s aggressive style), and converted virtually every third down they faced (quite weird).

In the second half, things went less weirdly, and it looked certain the Seahawks were going to come back; the only question was whether or not they would have enough time to finish the job.  They did.  Barely.  Russell Wilson nearly threw it away with a terrible interception in the Bucs’ end zone (awful play call, worse decision), but the defense got stops when it had to,*** Russell Wilson hit his targets down the stretch, Golden Tate made his weekly huge play (this one tauntless), Beastmode ran at his beastliest, and Steven Hauschka sealed the deal with a lazy-legged chip shot.  If you just watched the second half, the ‘Hawks looked pretty damn good.

But if you watched the entire game, you saw things that were a bit concerning.  At the top of the list is 28-158-5.6.  Mike James rushing numbers.  And they look even worse, being that we’re not even a week removed from the Zac Stacy gouging.  The ‘Hawks have to get this run D thing sorted.  If they’re giving up six yards a pop to rookies who don’t have the backing of a good passing game, what’s going to happen when they go to Candlestick?  All the other negative stuff, you can chalk up to “shit happens”.  The inability to stop the run is something deeper.

That’s the bad thing.  The good thing is that the Seahawks are 8-1, and there’s still plenty of football left to watch.

-DJG

*In the rewritten version, Atlanta gets a two-point conversion after their last touchdown, and then lets the game go to overtime after the ‘Hawks tie it at 28 on Marshawn Lynch‘s score, instead of playing for the game-winning field goal.  The Falcons win the toss and receive the kick in OT.  After a three-and-out, Wilson puts together a drive, before Ryan Longwell kicks a 35-yard game-winner … Not that I’ve given this any thought before.

**As I write this, the Texans, losers of five straight just scored to go up 21-3 on the Colts who beat the 49ers, Seahawks, and Broncos — arguably three of the five best teams in the league …  And the Texans’ head coach Gary Kubiak just collapsed walking off the field for halftime, and is being taken away in an ambulance.  Hopefully he’s okay … And the Colts just came back to win.

***I hate that trope, “when it had to”, as if yards and points in the first half don’t count.  But in this case it’s pretty apt.  After starting the game 8 for 9 on third down conversions, the Bucs ended it 0 for 6.