Closer look at evolving Seahawks tactic

December, 6, 2012
12/06/12
6:00
PM ET
The Seattle Seahawks unleashed nine read-option plays for quarterback Russell Wilson against the Chicago Bears during the fourth quarter and overtime Sunday.

They then faked such a play to set up the winning touchdown pass to Sidney Rice.

Mobile quarterbacks have increasingly used read-option plays in the NFL, but Seattle had only dabbled in the tactic before Sunday, as the first chart shows.

John McTigue of ESPN Stats & Information did the work on this one.

"Basically, the Seahawks used more option runs in the fourth quarter and overtime Sunday than they had the rest of the season combined," he noted. "This may have really set up the play-action passing game for Wilson. If you watch the final play again, it was a play action that looked just like a zone read option."

That's exactly how Wilson and Rice described the play. Rice appeared to go into blocking mode as he approached Bears cornerback Charles Tillman. He released as a receiver and was open.

Before Sunday, Wilson had kept the ball on five of six option runs, gaining 18 yards. Marshawn Lynch had gained two yards on the other carry.

Wilson and Lynch played off one another more effectively against the Bears. Wilson carried four times for nine yards on option runs after the third quarter. Lynch carried five times for 26 yards on these plays. The play-action game came to life, probably no coincidence.

Seattle ran 10 read option plays for 63 yards overall against the Bears. Carolina (two plays) and San Francisco (one) were the only other teams to use the tactic against the Bears this season. No one has used it against the Seahawks' next opponent, Arizona, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The Seahawks played the Cardinals in Week 1. Their offense has grown quite a bit since then. Seattle averaged only 3.6 yards per play against Arizona. That remains by far the lowest average for any team against the Cardinals this season. The Jets (3.9) and Minnesota Vikings (4.4) also fell well below the 5.0-yard average for Cardinals opponents overall. Miami (6.5), San Francisco (6.1), St. Louis (5.6) and Green Bay (5.5) were above average.

Seattle is at 5.4 yards per play for the season and 5.9 after Week 5. That 5.9 figure ranks seventh in the NFL over that period.

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