The Seattle Seahawks have had their struggles this season but they are still a much better football team than the Houston Texans.
Rashaad Penny rushed for a career-high 137 yards and two touchdowns and Tyler Lockett had 142 receiving yards and a touchdown to help carry the Seahawks to a 33-13 win over the bumbling Texans.
Russell Wilson put together his most complete performance since his finger surgery in October, throwing for 260 yards and two touchdowns. It was the first game all season that Seattle's offense put up over 400 yards of offenses, finishing the game with 453 yards. It was also their best third down performance of the season as they converted 7-of-13 tries on third down. It's the first time all season Seattle has been over 50 percent on third down.
"I'm really pleased that we continue to find a way to play good consistent football on the defensive side of the ball. It was a big day on offense and we converted on third down we ran the football, no sacks," head coach Pete Carroll said.
The victory keeps Seattle's hopes of a late season run to the postseason alive. The hole the Seahawks have dug for themselves is still rather large, but the path out remains available for the time being. Next week's meeting with the Los Angeles Rams will be the most significant roadblock they'll face until a Week 18 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals that may or may not matter to them.
Here are the takeaways from Sunday's victory over the Texans:
-- Rashaad Penny gets his chance to shine.
It's been a difficult four seasons for Rashaad Penny in Seattle that have been constantly derailed by injuries. But when given a chance to show what he could do against the Texans on Sunday, Penny responded with the best day of his career.
"I'm just blessed and thankful. These guys never gave up on me," Penny said.
Penny rushed for a career-high 137 yards and scored two touchdowns. The scoring plays came on runs of 32 yards and 47 yards, making Penny just the second running back in team history with two rushing of at least 30 yards, per ESPN Stats & Information. Steve Broussard had touchdowns of 77 and 43 yards in a 16-13 victory over the Tennessee Oilers.
Penny's 32-yard touchdown saw him deliver a stiff-arm to safety Justin Reid to spring him to the end zone.
"I've been telling myself start running more aggressive and just hitting the holes," Penny said. "Nothing is there just just hit it. I mean it was amazing hole there. So I mean, it was just all about hitting and then trusting your block and then, you know, just one-on-one with a safety."
Penny's performance topped his 129 yards gained in a 17-9 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019. That game just two weeks before Penny would tear the ACL in his knee and miss an entire calendar year of action. It's the first time a Seahawks running back had gained at least 130 yards in a game sine Chris Carson rushed for 133 yards against the Carolina Panthers in 2019.
But Penny has always been confident in his abilities on the field. He just hasn't been able to show them as often as he has wanted to because of the numerous injuries.
"To be honest, I'm not satisfied with how I played," Penny said. "Because I know what I can do and I'm pretty sure everybody else know what I can do. It was just all about standing on the field for me, and I'm just thankful I came out of this game injury free."
It's just the seventh time in his career that Penny has received at least 10 carries in a game. He's rushed for 100 yards in three of those seven contests. He had 14 carries against Houston on Sunday.
"Great, great day to see Rashaad Penny come out like that," Carroll said. "We're so happy to see that. We've been waiting and you all have been waiting too that follow us around and thrilled to see that he really got loose. You can see how the explosion in the playmaking that he's got in him was on full display today."
-- Russell Wilson has best performance since injuring finger.
Russell Wilson still isn't 100 percent. But he's a lot closer now than he was when he first returned to action against the Green Bay Packers last month.
Wilson completed 17-of-28 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns. The scoring tosses came to Tyler Lockett on a 55-yard bomb and a 1-yard pass to Gerald Everett.
Wilson has been the worst quarterback in the league on third down this season, completing just 45.6 percent of his attempts on third down. But Wilson was much more effective against the Texans on Sunday. Wilson was 5-of-8 for 81 yards and a touchdown on third down against Houston. He also had a scramble for a first down conversion as well. Wilson authored six of the team's seven third down conversions on the day.
"We didn't play scared," Wilson said. "We took advantage of opportunities. We took some shots down the field. Tyler had some sweet catches on the sidelines just in tight quarters, tight areas. Third down, we were great. We executed the plays that we needed to execute. I moved around a little bit when I needed to, and that was huge."
Wilson did have a couple of throws that weren't on target. He threw behind DK Metcalf on a quick run-pass-option slant near the goal line and sailed another pass out of the reach of Tyler Lockett downfield. But those throws are becoming fewer and fewer as the weeks progress.
Wilson's third down struggles are subsiding as well as he had been at least 35.1 percent coming out of the team's loss to the Cardinals in Week 11. Since then, Wilson has completed 18-of-28 passes on third down for 241 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Those numbers deliver a 112.4 passer rating on third down over the span and have raised his season total to 47.7 percent.
-- Tyler Lockett delivers another gem performance in reaching 1,000 yards for season.
Even if he doesn't get the widespread recognition across the NFL, Tyler Lockett is an absolute stud of a wide receiver.
Lockett caught five passes for 142 yards against the Texans on Sunday to go over the 1,000-yard mark for the season for the third consecutive year. Lockett joins Steve Largent as the only receivers in franchise history to accomplish that feat.
"I don't think people talk enough about him and what he's been able to do," Wilson said of Lockett. "It's been it's been a tremendous honor to be able to play with such great players over my career, but Tyler is one of those guys that that connection is really remarkable."
Lockett is up to 62 receptions for 1,023 yards and five touchdowns this season.
"Those of us that watch Tyler Lockett on a regular basis. I mean, this was another masterpiece today of just the body control, getting open, using the sidelines, the balls that Russ threw to him. Just such a graceful, beautiful athlete," Carroll said. "...Tyler just looked just unbelievably on it today and did a great job, had a bunch of yards, had a big touchdown and all that."
-- Gavin Heslop suffers gruesome broken leg.
With just a minute left to play in the victory over the Texans, defensive back Gavin Heslop sustained a badly broken leg when he was caught underneath a falling Nico Collins.
Heslop, playing the final snaps in place of Quandre Diggs with the game well in hand, came up from the safety position as Collins caught an 18-yard pass from Mills. As Collins was falling to the ground, Heslop planted his left leg. Collins fell and landed on the middle of Heslop's lower leg and the injury was obvious from the television broadcast.
He was immediately tended to on the field with trainers placing his leg in an air cast before he exited the field on a cart.
Carroll said that Heslop is expected to remain in Houston tonight with surgery coming to address the injury.
"I haven't seen it yet, but I was told all about it," Carroll said. "He was really hurting and our hearts and love and everything, you know, his way. Trying to send some good stuff for him."
Heslop had appeared in two games earlier this season as a call-up from the practice squad. With Jamal Adams out for the season, the Seahawks signed Heslop to their active roster on Friday.
Photo Credit: HOUSTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 12: Rashaad Penny #20 of the Seattle Seahawks runs the ball for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 12, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)