Russell Wilson, Paul Richardson lead Seahawks in wild win over Texans

SEATTLE — During their 4-2 start, the Seattle Seahawks won games with a mostly dominant defense while their offense made just enough plays. The roles were reversed Sunday at CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks beat the Houston Texans in a 41-38 shootout.

Seattle allowed 21 first-half points, which was more than what they had allowed in all four quarters of five of their first six games.

When it seemed like the Seahawks were about to suffer their first home loss to a rookie quartrback since 2011, their offense delivered the winning drive in the final two minutes. Russell Wilson found Paul Richardson for a 48-yard gain and then threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game to tight end Jimmy Graham to put the Seahawks ahead.

Richard Sherman‘s second interception of the game sealed a wild victory for the Seahawks.

What it means: The Seahawks pulled into a tie for first place in the NFC West with the idle Los Angeles Rams, who still seem like their only legitimate threat in the division. The Seahawks have to shore up the issues that allowed Houston to gain 509 yards of offense, which is not something you see against Seattle’s defense. But it’s encouraging for the Seahawks that the offense could carry the team to a victory on a day where their defense struggled.

What I liked: Earl Thomas strengthened his first-half case for comeback player of the year with a 78-yard pick-six. He looked like he knew where Watson was going the entire time when the rookie tried to throw deep over the middle to a receiver running an in-breaking route. Instincts are a huge part of Thomas’ game and they were on display there.

What I didn’t like: The Seahawks managed only 33 yards on the ground as their running game continues to be ineffective. As much as Eddie Lacy has been a target of criticism, it’s not as though he’s alone in not producing. Lacy gained zero yards on six carries and Thomas Rawls lost a yard on his six attempts. Seattle had managed all of two yards rushing late into the fourth quarter before Wilson gained 32 on a pair of scramble runs. Getting their running game going will be a priority for the Seahawks in the second half of the season.

Fantasy fallout: Paul Richardson continues to emerge as a playmaker in Seattle’s offense. He caught six passes for 105 yards and two more touchdowns to give him a team-high five on the season. A Seahawks penalty negated what would have been a third Richardson score. The fourth-year receiver was slowed by injuries over his first two seasons, but he’s healthy now and has developed a lot of trust with Wilson, which has been evident. Meanwhile, Graham caught his third and fourth touchdowns, giving him four in three games. His first of two Sunday was again near the goal line, where he’s suddenly becoming much more of a factor than he was over his first two seasons with Seattle.

Freeney gets involved: So much for easing Dwight Freeney into action in his Seahawks debut. The veteran defensive end who signed with Seattle in the middle of last week, played 12 of 40 defensive snaps in the first half, according to Pro Football Focus, and was routinely on the field in passing situations. He shared a sack with Sheldon Richardson at the end of the first half. That gave him 123 for his career, which moved him into a tie with former Indianapolis Colts teammate Robert Mathis for 17th on the all-time sack list. The Seahawks added Freeney to give their pass rush a boost after losing Cliff Avril. The early returns are encouraging.

What’s next: The Seahawks are home again next week to host the 3-4 Washington Redskins. Their roster could look a little different at that point with the NFL’s trade deadline Tuesday.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider shot down any thought of the team trading tight end Jimmy Graham, which didn’t seem likely in the first place. But the Seahawks still need help at left tackle — Houston’s Duane Brown may be available after all — and they have a potentially tradable asset in cornerback Jeremy Lane, who has lost his starting job to rookie Shaquill Griffin. Stay tuned.

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