Before the season, Brian Schottenheimer said his key for winning offensive football is the number 53: The combination of pass completions and runs that typically result in victory.
“If you rushed the ball, say, 30 times and throw 23 completions, that was like the second determining factor of wins and losses after turnovers,” Schottenheimer told The Seattle Times. “Some weeks, it’s going to be different and it’s going to be 33 completions and 20 rushing attempts. But we are always going to go in with the understanding that we should be able to run the ball, and believing and expecting we can do it at a high level.”
The Hawks hadn’t done that in the first two weeks. They had run the ball just 38 times and completed 41 passes. The combo tally was 35 in the loss in Denver, where they also broke even in the turnover battle. In Chicago, the formula netted 44 and another split in turnovers.
But, in their 24-13 win over Dallas, they ran it 39 times and completed 16 passes — hitting the magic number (Pete Carroll calls it an even 50) and also winning the takeaway battle 3-0.
As Carroll told 710 ESPN, “When it’s over 50, you win. When we don’t turn the ball over on offense, we win. When we get three turnovers, we win.”
He’s largely correct.
Carroll’s Seahawks are 48-5 when hitting the magic 50 with 30 or more runs. They aren’t as successful when the 50 comes more from passing — just 5-4. But overall: 53-9 when runs and completions add up to 50.
Carroll just tied Chuck Knox for second on the franchise list with 80 wins (six behind Mike Holmgren for the franchise record), so obviously a third of Carroll’s wins have come when the offense has not hit that magic number. But the win percentage (.855) with that magic number is pretty solid.
As for the two other “we win” stats: Seattle is 34-8-1 (.802) when the offense doesn’t turn the ball over and 25-4 when it gets three takeaways.
Third downs also factor big in Carroll’s formula. After winning 44.9 percent of all third downs in the first two losses this season, the Hawks won 58.6 percent (17 of 29) against Dallas — so they basically got everything they needed in one game.
“All of that is what we’re shooting for,” Carroll said. “I don’t think that all had to happen for us to have a good game. But that’s what we’re all about. It’s the formula. It’s what we’re shooting for. When we get close to those numbers, we’re going to have a successful game. Yesterday was a really good ballgame for us.”
The Seahawks averaged just 2.9 yards per carry (Dallas, meanwhile, rushed for 166 yards, at 8.9 per run). But, as Bill Parcells always professed, the yards are not as important as the attempts — which keep the defense honest and slow down pass rushers.
“We didn’t run the ball that well,” Carroll said of the Dallas game. “We didn’t have to. We were committed to it. … We’ve just got to stick with it.”
Despite his mixed messages to Brian Schottenheimer — throw deep NOW! — in the first couple of games, Carroll made it clear this is what Seattle should do to win.
“We hadn’t gotten there yet in the first two weeks, and it was unfortunate that we weren’t quite on it,” he said. “This is the kind of style that we know we win with for so long. This is just winning football. You take it back to Vince (Lombardi) or any of the old-style dudes. Take it back to Marty Ball (the nickname for the style long run by Schottenheimer’s dad), which Brian and I were laughing about. That’s how you win football games over the long haul — you can be consistent.
“Over the last couple of years, the running game was banged up. It’s hard to stay committed to it when it was the way it was. We’re not there now. We’ve got healthy (running backs). We can go for it.”
Carroll touted the aggressive nature of the front five, especially with D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy joining the group.
“Our guys up front are physical and tough. You can see how hard they played and aggressive. That’s the formula,” Carroll said. “Sometimes it doesn’t look real pretty and it’s not real flashy … but, if you wait it out and find your game, the game comes to you. And that’s really what happened. That’s what it’s supposed to look like.”