Thomas Rawls pretty much “rope-a-doped” us all. His 161 yards on 27 carries against the Detroit Lions in the NFC Wild Card game on Saturday was an unexpected burst that was the perfect scenario for the Seattle Seahawks.
The performance resurrected the muscling take on what was once Seattle’s signature style. Rawls was basically unstoppable the entire night — during the Seahawks’ first touchdown drive, which was 14 plays and began early in the second quarter, he ran the ball seven times for 49 yards as Russell Wilson finished the drive with a pass to Paul Richardson for the touchdown.
The catch from Richardson, which came on fourth down at the two-yard line, was one of those blue-collar grabs that perfectly encapsulates the scrapping, teeth-grinding battle between a wideout and a cornerback. Wilson lobbed a pass in the direction of Richardson and Detroit cornerback Tavon Wilson, and, Richardson, seeing that it was a little short, steadied himself, clung onto Wilson (inadvertently grabbing and twisting his facemask in the process), extended his left hand, and somehow, clung onto the ball and cradled it in while pulling Wilson down in the process.
It was a curious play to run on fourth down, especially since the play before Wilson threw incomplete to Rawls. But, as we all know, Darrell Bevell loves to throw the ball on the goal line, for better or for worse. And it’s a good thing he made the call, otherwise we wouldn’t have seen the potential catch of the year (and facemask of the year, for that matter).
You’ve seen it about 50 times already, so hey why not watch it again:
After drawing first blood on that marvelous, Rawls-featured drive, both teams hit field goals to close out the first half at 10-3 in favor of the home team.
The second half wasn’t much better for Detroit. They hit a field goal with four minutes left in the third quarter, but that would be their last whimper as Seattle scored two more touchdowns to cage the Lions, sending them back to the Mitten State with a muddled future after a respectable season.
Rawls made waves the entire game with his sharp cuts and brutal bursts, while Richardson had his moments, which included another one-handed catch late in the fourth quarter that eventually led to Seattle’s final touchdown to bury the Lions.
On that aforementioned score, the Birds went on an 11-play, 84-yard drive which finished off Matthew Stafford and crew. Three plays stand out on that beautiful, dark, twisted drive, which highlighted the three key offensive players on the day.
First, Richardson made another one-handed snare on third down for 27 yards, which drew the obvious comparison to Lena Dunham’s favorite football player. Then, Baldwin, who was as unstoppable as Rawls, one-upped the previous Richardson catch by using his ass to secure the ball — and secure the ball he did with his ass, yes he did.. Yes, his ass, in what was a good-ass grab, or, a good ass-grab, depending on how you look at life and depending on how well you appreciate a well-placed hyphen.
Then, as Wilson lined up on 2nd and 9 at the Detroit 13, he fired a pass to the middle of the end zone. Jermaine Kearse, who finished with two catches for 14 yards, readied his hands as he prepared to catch the touchdown. But Baldwin, who probably wasn’t supposed to be there, saw the ball, reached one hand out, and stole the catch, getting the touchdown. Kearse, who did not have a good game, probably needed that more than Baldwin, but nevertheless the Seahawks as a team still scored and eventually won 26-6.
And here’s the steal from Baldwin, because why not:
Yes, it was a fantastic drive, with subtle, hilarious touches of All-American football humor. The Lions were outmatched the entire game, and lost their fourth straight to end their season. It was the perfect game for Russell Wilson, who stayed out of harm’s way for pretty much the entire game. And for how well Baldwin, Richardson, and Rawls played, and for how well the defense covered Detroit, the Seahawks’ grand reward for playing such a great game is a trip to the ATL to take on MVP-candidate Matt Ryan and all-world ass-kicker Julio Jones.
The Seahawks take on the Falcons on Saturday, January 14th at 1:35.