Seattle Seahawks

MVPs of Seahawks’ rally for rare win at Pittsburgh: Wilson, Penny--and Schottenheimer

Bobby Wagner spied a Gatorade bucket full of water and matched it with an idea: Dump it on Pete Carroll.

“Water. Yes. Stay healthy,” Wagner said, smiling.

Why?

“It’s everything,” the Seahawks’ All-Pro linebacker said of his now-68-year-old coach. “It’s his birthday. One-hundredth win. Who he is as a coach. His energy. We just wanted to show him we are thinking about him, and we appreciate how much work he puts in to help us get to where we want to do.

“You watch him, you see he is 68 years old, he doesn’t look it one bit. He does not move around like that, one bit. He actually hit me on the sideline a little bit, felt a little power.”

The Seahawks could also have dumped on Russell Wilson, Rashaad Penny — and, yes, Brian Schottenheimer, the oft-criticized play caller — for what they did to earn Seattle’s first victory at Pittsburgh since 1999. It was a rousing rally, 28-26, on Sunday over the Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers at stunned Heinz Field.

The Seahawks are 2-0 for the first time since 2013. That was the season in which they won their only Super Bowl championship.

Seattle’s Sunday was a third quarter for the haters. And a fourth quarter for Wilson’s brilliant resolve.

Schottenheimer adjusted his play calls after Wilson got sacked four times and the coordinator called two more of those maddening, second-and-10 runs in the first half. The play caller the Pacific Northwest loves to rip for running too much called quicker throws after halftime, one- and two-step drops for Wilson with a faster pace between plays.

As the Steelers’ pass rush tired into exhaustion then irrelevance on the 82-degree day, Wilson completed 14 of 16 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns—and no sacks—after Schotteheimer’s adjustment.

“I think Schotty did a great job just taking...it was just one of those classic taking-what-they’re-giving,” Carroll said. “(It) put Russ, really, in command of the rhythm of the game. And all the quick stuff, he did a really great job on. ...

“I thought Russ’ rhythm really picked up. And the sacks went away in the second half and really cleaned things up.”

Penny, the maligned first-round draft choice from 2018, darted away from a blitzing Steeler linebacker for a remarkable, 37-yard touchdown run. Wilson was Penny’s lead blocker on the run that put Seattle (2-0) ahead 21-13 in the third quarter.

Penny said he expected Pittsburgh’s Mark Barron to shoot the inside gap on the left side of the Seahawks’ offensive line as soon as he received the hand-off with the play flow that way, How did he know?

He, Schottenheimer and the offensive staff saw Barron doing the same thing on the same play in the first half.

“We went back and watched film,” Penny said of the halftime in Seattle’s locker room. “Same exact thing. Same exact run. If I would have cut it back (then), it probably would have been the same result, or a good gain.

“So I said, ‘Forget. Let’s go for all the marbles here. Just make one guy miss.’

“And I’ve got to give my guy Russ, my lead blocker, all the credit.”

Wilson responded from getting besieged again in the first half with two splendid touchdown passes in the second half. The first was Will Dissly’s second score of Sunday. The other touchdown came three plays after Wilson got blasted by Steeler Bud Dupree in the side of the head following an incomplete pass.

Wilson’s absolutely perfect throw onto the hands of covered rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf clinched the Seahawks’ first victory in Pittsburgh since Sept. 26, 1999. Jon Kitna out-played MIke Tomczak for that Seahawks win at Three Rivers Stadium, which is now a parking lot for the Steelers’ home park.

“Terrific win for the franchise today,” Carroll said. “To go on the road like this and play in such a tough place with a club that we’re always concerned about...it just challenges you.

“We’re just getting warmed up.”

Wilson passed Tom Brady to become the fifth-fastest player in NFL history to throw 200 touchdown passes. It took Wilson 114 games. It took Brady 116.

Despite getting harassed and hammered early, Wilson completed 29 of 35 throws for 300 yards and three touchdowns. His passer rating of 131.0 was his 11th time with a rating over 100 in his past 14 starts. The Seahawks are now 49-9 in games in which he has a passer rating above 100.

“He’s an unbelievable quarterback,” said tight end Will Dissly.

The former University of Washington tight end caught two of Wilson’s touchdown passes.

Tyler Lockett had a career-high 10 receptions on 12 targets for 79 yards, one week after not getting a target until his winning touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter against Cincinnati.

But this didn’t end easily.

This riverside stadium was emptying, revealing much gold—not Terrible Towels, but empty seats—with 6 minutes left and the Seahawks in possession. But then Chris Carson (15 carries, 61 yards) lost his second fumble of the day. The Steelers had the ball at the Seattle 4-yard line, and scored on a touchdown pass from Mason Rudolph to Vance McDonald on the next play. Rudolph took the reins when Roethlisberger left with an elbow injury in the second quarter.

The Seahawks’ lead was down to two points with 5 minutes to go.

Wilson answered with a first-down throw to Lockett for his 10th catch. Then, on a third and 16 following the third holding penalty accepted against a Seahawks offensive lineman Sunday, Wilson galloped 15 yards through the middle with 2 minutes remaining. His slide appeared earlier than he thought it was, just short of the line to gain.

On fourth and 1 at the Pittsburgh 33, the Seahawks called time out following the 2-minute warning. Then they changed the play. They took out Penny, and ditched the shotgun they had been lined up in. Wilson went under center in power formation with Carson behind him. Carson bulled for the first down to ensure the win.

Wilson responded to this hit by Dupree with one of his finest of many exquisite throws in his career.

Carroll challenged that play for no pass interference being called down field on Pittsburgh safety Terrell Edmunds for pulling Lockett around before Wilson’s long pass arrived. For the first time in three tries this young season under the NFL’s new rule for challenging pass interference, Carroll won one. The 38-yard foul set up Wilson’s fine throw and score.

The quarterback put a perfect pass onto the hands of the covered Metcalf in the end zone for the touchdown that put Seattle up 28-19 midway through the final quarter. The rookie wide receiver earlier had been throttled by Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson.

The Seahawks won for the 12th time in their last 18 games that began at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.

The much-maligned Schottenheimer deserves credit for adjusting to quicker passes for Wilson on 1- and 2-step drops after the Steelers sacked him four times in the offense’s malfunctioning first half. Those sacks and Carson’s first fumble into the arms of Barron that set up a Pittsburgh touchdown had Seattle down 10-7 at halftime.

Before the Seahawks revival, that is.

Now, it’s New Orleans coming to Seattle next Sunday. The Saints lost 27-9 at the Rams in Los Angeles Sunday—and more ominously lost quarterback Drew Brees to a thumb injury that reportedly left him unable to grip the ball.

Brees’ status is already a big story for the Seahawks’ quest to go 3-0 next weekend.

DISSLY’S HUGE DAY

Unofficially, Dissly became the first former University of Washington defensive lineman to snare two touchdown catches in an NFL game. He has to be.

The tight end UW coach Chris Petersen converted after messing around during a Huskies’ bowl practice years ago would have had an even bigger day if not for teammates’ penalties.

Wilson scrambled and found him for a 40-yard pass and catch to the Steelers 35 in the first quarter. But officials called holding fouls on tackle Germain Ifedi and guard Mike Iupati to negate that play.

It was Dissly’s second game since surgery for a torn patellar tendon in his right knee. That ended his rookie season after just four games.

Dissly hurt the same knee during last week’s win over Cincinnati, but showed no sign of that Sunday.

“It was a lot of hard work. I didn’t do it by myself,” Dissly said outside the visiting locker room beneath Heinz Field. “My family was with me the whole time. The strength staff, David Strickland, the head athletic trainer. Shoot, they worked their (butts) off for me.

“I can’t be more appreciative of them, the Seahawks organization for taking a chance on me. I’m just doing the best I can.”

LOST CHANCES

The Seahawks got into Steelers territory four times in the first half. They scored only once.

D.J. Fluker and Germain Ifedi appeared responsible for the three sacks the Seahawks allowed of Wilson in their first two drives, ruining those.

An offensive pass-interference foul on Pittsburgh’s Vance McDonald blocking before a bubble-screen pass arrived outside on third down forced the Steelers to settle for a go-ahead field goal by Chris Boswell instead of a chance for a touchdown late in the second quarter.

On Seattle’s ensuing 2-minute drive without any timeouts, Wilson threw 30 yards to Malik Turner, who had his first three catches of the season Sunday playing more for malfunctioning veteran wide receiver Jaron Brown. C.J. Prosise, in the role of 2-minute running back, had a 9-yard catch plus two runs, one for a first down. That got the Seahawks into prime position for a tying field goal.

But Metcalf was called for offensive pass interference and facemask on Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson, during a jump-ball pass by Wilson to the left sideline. The 15-yard personal foul for facemask pushed the Seahawks to midfield with 8 seconds left in the half. A Wilson completion to Tyler Lockett for 9 yards salvaged a field-goal try of 58 yards by Jason Myers. He missed it wide left as the half ended.

The Seahawks were fortunate to be down only by three. They had seven penalties, four sacks allowed and Carson’s fumble. Despite those 12 negative plays and being minus-1 in turnovers, they were down only 10-7 on the road with the kickoff coming to them to begin the second half.

But the offense went three and out to begin the third quarter.

Fluker left in the first half with an ankle injury. Ethan Pocic replaced him. Pocic then got the offensive line’s third holding penalty of the day before Fluker returned to finish the game.

JARON BROWN’S FORGETTABLE HALF

Brown had two penalties in the first half on blocking in the back along the line of scrimmage coming in from the flanks, on a 1-yard run by Carson and a 2-yard run by Prosise.

The veteran wide receiver also lined up on the wrong side in a three wide-receiver formation before a third-down snap in the first quarter. Wilson had to call timeout, part of the reason Seattle used all of its time outs for the half by the middle of the second quarter.

The Seahawks lost another timeout when Carroll lost a challenge of a pass-interference in the first half.

NOT YET FOR ANSAH

Ziggy Ansah’s Seahawks debut remains on hold.

The Seahawks decided to leave their prized offseason acquistion and 2015 Pro Bowl pass rusher inactive for the second consecutive week to start the season. Ansah was one of three starters on defense Seattle declared inactive before Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh.

Free safety Tedric Thompson, burned for a touchdown by Cincinnati in the opening game, and defensive tackle Poona Ford were the other inactive starters on defense against the Steelers.

Ansah, 30, is coming off shoulder surgery that ended his time with Detroit in December. Then he had a groin injury last month during conditioning. Sunday morning he worked on his pass-rush moves and sudden sprints on the field for about a half hour with a trainer closely watching. It wasn’t an effortless workout.

The Seahawks now hope to have Ansah and Jadeveon Clowney as their bookend Pro Bowl pass rushers next weekend when they host Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.

Special-teams captain Neiko Thorpe was also inactive because of a hamstring he injury in last week’s win over Cincinnati.

Clowney, by the way, got handled most of Sunday by Pittsburgh left tackle Alejandro Villanueva. Clowney finished with two tackles and one pass batted down at the line. He was often a stand-up tackle inside end Quinton Jefferson on third downs, a swap from Jefferson being inside him in the opener.

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.
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