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All the Reasons Texans-Seahawks Was the Best Game of the Year

Seattle outlasted Houston, 41-38, in one of the wildest matchups we’ll see all season

Houston Texans v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images

The Seahawks’ thrilling 41-38 barnburner of a win over the Texans on Sunday was more than fun. It was an unbelievable roller coaster ride. It featured five second-half lead changes, 79 combined points, 988 total yards, two of the most exciting and dynamic quarterbacks in the league combining for 854 passing yards and eight touchdowns, and a handful of huge, game-changing defensive plays. It was the game of the year. By a mile.

If you were unlucky enough not to watch live, here’s a little glimpse of what you missed.

Deshaun Watson Dazzled

Watson came into this game as a challenger to Dak Prescott for the Most Impressive Performance Ever by a Rookie Quarterback award—and he came out of it as a rock-solid favorite. Watson played brilliantly in one of the toughest road venues in the NFL, where he became the first quarterback in league history to throw for 400-plus yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 50-plus yards. Watson completed 19 of 30 passes for 402 yards, with four touchdowns, three picks, and 67 rushing yards on eight carries, and nearly led his team to an exhilarating road win.

Watson showed little fear facing an experienced and—at least until this point—stingy pass defense. He went right at Seattle All-Pro safety Earl Thomas on the game’s fifth play from scrimmage, connecting with receiver Will Fuller for a 59-yard touchdown bomb.

He challenged All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman a few times, too, connecting with DeAndre Hopkins downfield on throws into tight coverage, and he showed off his Houdiniesque escapability, getting away from pressure to pick up a big first down on this third-and-14 early in the third quarter. That play helped lead to a Houston field goal.

He did it again in the fourth quarter, shrugging off what looked like a sure Marcus Smith sack to find Lamar Miller open in the end zone:

Of course, Watson wasn’t perfect. He threw a pair of interceptions that led to 10 Seahawks points, and after Seattle took the lead back from the Texans with 21 seconds left in the game (we’ll get to how that all went down), he threw a game-ending interception on the team’s last-ditch attempt to try for the tie or the win. But it’s clear that Watson’s record-setting start is no fluke: He led his team to 509 total yards—fourth-most ever against a Pete Carroll–coached Seahawks defense—and he did it all with veteran-like poise, style, and a smile. Watson leapt past Hall of Famer Kurt Warner for most passing touchdowns by a quarterback in their first seven games (19), and it feels like we’re witnessing the birth of one of the league’s brightest new superstars.

Russell Wilson Was Somehow Even Better

If anyone was going to upstage Watson in this one, it was going to be Wilson. The sixth-year gunslinger threw for a Seahawks record 452 passing yards to go along with four touchdowns, one pick, and 30 rushing yards on four attempts. He got no help from his run game—Seattle running backs and receivers combined for 3 net yards on 17 attempts (good gravy)—so the Seahawks’ offense ran almost exclusively through their star quarterback’s arm. You can watch the full highlights of Wilson’s performance here, but here’s the stat you need to know:

Wilson’s career day was nearly derailed, though, by a late fourth-quarter interception. Trailing 38-34 with less than five minutes left in the game, he marched the Seahawks’ offense down the field—and after his nifty 21-yard scramble put Seattle at the 20-yard line with 2:55 remaining, it looked almost inevitable that Wilson would punch it in for a score to recapture the lead. Then disaster struck: Wilson tried to hit Paul Richardson near the goal line and it was picked off by Marcus Williams, giving Houston the chance to salt the game away.

But Seattle’s defense held (with the help of three timeouts and the two-minute warning) and forced Houston to punt, and when Wilson got the ball back with 1:39 left, he made the most of a second chance to lead his offense 80 yards for the go-ahead score. Unphased by the end of the previous drive, he unleashed three straight big-time throws—a 48-yard bomb to Richardson, an 19-yard pickup to Tyler Lockett, and this 18-yard touchdown strike to Jimmy Graham, the eventual game-winner.

Wilson did it all behind a porous offensive line and without any semblance of a run game. And he showed that when the Seahawks play an aggressive, downfield-passing style of offense, good things happen.

Will Fuller Is an Absurd Touchdown-making Machine

Conventional wisdom says that Fuller—who came into the game with five touchdown catches on just 14 targets—can’t possibly maintain his ridiculous TD rate for much longer, but he sure as hell hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. Fuller caught another two scores on eight targets to push his touchdown total to a seven, tied with Hopkins for the league lead. He’s now on pace to, well, break Randy Moss’s single-season touchdown record (23) by a landslide:

By the way, Fuller missed the first three weeks of the season.

DeAndre Hopkins Remains Amazing

I don’t have to spend much time convincing you that Hopkins is a supremely talented playmaker and one of the league’s most exciting stars—if you’ve seen him play the last four and a half years, you already know. And Hopkins came up big again this week with eight catches for 224 yards, including this 72-yard jail-break touchdown with just under five minutes remaining that gave Houston back the lead:

Speaking of Big-Play Aficionados: Paul Richardson, Everybody

Richardson, who caught the Fail Mary 2.0 in Seattle’s win over the Giants last week, seems to be good for one spectacular play a game for the Seahawks. On Sunday against the Texans, he came through again for Seattle—this time more than once.

Richardson caught six balls for 105 yards and two first-half touchdowns, but his biggest play of the day might’ve been a leaping, 48-yard grab at the Texans’ 33-yard line with 1:29 remaining—a play that put Seattle in position to score the game-winning touchdown two plays later.

The Mini–Jimmy Graham Redemption Story:

Graham’s season remains a series of peaks and valleys. He’s been, at times, a go-to playmaker for the Seahawks, capable of catching jump ball passes in the end zone and a force in one-on-one mismatches on the outside. At other times, he’s been a pass-dropping disappointment for fans in Seattle, and, as we saw this week, the subject of plenty of trade rumors.

The 6-foot-7 former All-Pro got a bit of redemption on Sunday with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown grabs, including the game-winner from Wilson above. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s play-calling seems to mirror Graham’s up-and-down season: At times, Bevell shows a keen understanding of how to maximize Graham’s talents and at others, a near-criminal neglect of his skill set and size. But at least in this game, the big touchdown-making tight end was a major weapon for the Seahawks offense.

There Was Some Defense, Too!

I’d be remiss if I failed to mention Earl Thomas’s 78-yard pick-six in the first quarter—

—or both of Richard Sherman’s picks, including the eventual game-sealing play with nine seconds left.

A Fullback Caught a 66-yard Pass, Because of Course He Did

This game couldn’t have been complete without Seahawks fullback Tre Madden making his second catch as a pro go for 66 yards.