Going into this game even the most ardent Seahawks fan was expecting a loss. With a 3-6 record, the playoffs all but out of the question, there was still a lot to play for and learn in this game. Seattle was finally healthy, apart from concussion to cornerback Josh Wilson, for more than one game. How would Seattle play in an early game, against a quality opponent, with something to prove?
For one quarter, the Seahawks played well. The defense keyed on stopping the run and attacked the quarterback during pass plays. They forced two punts but the offense was completely out of sync and couldn’t get a first down, punting back to the Vikings and putting the defense back on the field.
Then the second quarter blues hit again. The Seahawks defense was still focused on stuffing the run but played soft zone against the pass. Minnesota exploded for 21 points, their highest point total in a quarter all season, as Brett Favre found open receivers all over the field. Seattle managed two first downs and negative rushing yards.
The play of the game was the kickoff to Seattle after Minnesota had gone up 14-0. Wide receiver Ben Obumanu made a great return from the end zone out past the 30 when he fumbled the ball. Minnesota recovered, cashed in with another touchdown, and the rout was on.
On a side note, what was up with the turf in the Metrodome or whatever they call it these days? It looked like a bad attempt at making an AstroTurf patchwork quilt.
1. Run Defense. Yes, the defense gave up 35 points. But they held Adrian Peterson to 82 yards on 24 carries. Most of the yards were on three or four runs of 10 yards. The rest of the time, the defense did a good job of staying home in their gaps and controlling the backside. Yes, Chester Taylor got 73 yards on 11 carries but his last carry was for 45 yards.
2. Cory Redding. He was a monster in the middle, more than proving he was worth trading Julian Peterson in the offseason. He had to be to make up for the dismal game Brandon Mebane had.
3. Special Teams. Apart from the fumble, which I noted above as my turning point in the game, the Seahawks special teams outplayed Minnesota. Returners consistently got good returns and they bottled up the Vikings super returner Percy Harvin.
4. David Hawthorne. I haven’t been as eager to give Hawthorne props because I’ve felt that though he makes a ton of tackles, he misses his gap assignments too often, giving up big runs. Against the Vikings, Hawthorne showed that he has learned that lesson. Oh, and he led both teams with 11 tackles.
5. Adrian Peterson. By the end of the third quarter, Stockton and Davis were remarking on how Peterson now had another 1,000 yard rushing season. They showed Steve Hutchinson, a very sore point to Seahawks fans, on the bench and showed a graphic on how many 1,000 yard rushers he’d blocked for in his career. Peterson then lost yardage on his next two runs, taking him down to 999 yards for the season. The Vikings must have noticed because they tried to run Peterson again late in the 4th quarter where he lost yardage again. Yes, it’s a petty point, but it makes me happy.
1. Pass Defense. I’m not sure if focusing on the run made the corners play with more of a cushion or what but the pass defense was horrible. Part of that was due to Brett Favre playing well, going 22-of-25 for 213 yards and four touchdowns in basically two and a half quarters, but part of it was an inability to play aggressive with the Vikings wide receivers. Favre did a lot of check downs to his tight end and running backs as well, something Seattle didn’t do well with either. Part of that is scheme, which is the coach’s fault for playing that God awful zone that Kurt Warner picked apart, and part of it was not getting pressure on the quarterback. This isn’t a new problem for the defense and I blame the coach again. As much as I cringed with John Marshall as the defensive coordinator, I felt his best idea was to send Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill as delayed blitzers. They would watch where the running back went and if the situation was right, they’d be able to blitz through the gaps. Why the Seahawks defense is not doing this now is beyond me but we are not getting anything rushing three or four.
2. Offense. The offense was completely out of synch early. When it got back into sync, if ever, there was good and bad. The good was attacking Minnesota’s secondary. This was dependent on keeping the Minnesota defensive line off of Hasselbeck, which I felt they did an okay job on. Jared Allen was kept sackless, something that hasn’t happened very often the last few years, and Hasselbeck was only sacked twice which is a victory for the Seahawks these days. The bad was offensive coordinator Greg Knapp’s inexplicable decision to keep trying to run the ball up the middle. Seattle was held to four yards total rushing. That’s total as in the whole game. Up until late in the game, that was a negative number. Justin Forsett, the hero of the game last week, was held to nine yards on nine carries. Watching the game, every time Seattle got a good play in, they followed it with a hand-off up the middle or a screen pass, both for a loss. How many times can we see that before we try something else?
3. Patrick Kerney. Kerney this season has reminded me a lot of Grant Wistrom from a few years ago. A step slow on passing downs and a liability against the run, Kerney has turned into another defensive end that has stayed past his prime. No one questions his desire, no one questioned Wistrom’s either, but the time has come to shut him down.
4. Tempo. The offensive tempo under Mike Holmgren was much faster. That has changed now and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. Hasselbeck is not calling audibles, otherwise I am sure he would have changed the play on that horrid 3rd and 1 call where Seattle lined up two fullbacks and tried to run up the middle while Minnesota had 10 men in the box. Surprise, it got stuffed for a loss. In the past, Hasselbeck would have audibled or called time out. In that case, slowing down would make sense. Now it makes no sense.
5. Deion Branch. Not only did Branch contribute nothing, Hasselbeck’s one interception was completely Branch’s fault. I was in favor when Ruskell traded a first round draft pick for him on the basis that as a veteran receiver, Branch would be able to contribute more right away than anyone Seattle could have picked. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say.
1. Offensive play calling. Of course, I am talking about the play calling on the offense but come to think of it, the play calling was pretty offensive. To me the blame comes right back to Knapp. If the run up the middle isn’t working, and it certainly wasn’t, find something else. A screen or a wide receiver screen didn’t work either. Rolling the pocket, deep passes, those worked.
2. Seneca Wallace. I am done watching Seneca at quarterback. I was excited to see what he could do with the Wildcat style of offense, which the Seahawks call the Seneca Package, but Seneca has failed to deliver. I have seen him run out of bounds nine yards behind the line of scrimmage twice now. Seneca, you’re a quarterback, right? Throw the damn ball away instead of taking a nine yard loss! You’re killing me, I want to defend you, and I think you could add a major dynamic to the offense but that is just indefensible for me!
3. Dick Stockton and Charles Davis. For the third away game in a row, I have gotten to listen to these two nincompoops. Seriously, I don’t care how bad I’ve been this year; Santa is going to have to take this into consideration when considering my status. Although they’ve gotten better at player names, and they should since they seem to be the official announcers for my team now, I’ll give one example of how bad they are. On a pass play from Favre to Rice, Deon Grant was flagged for tripping Rice. Now, this was a bad call and I’ll tell you why. Grant was knocked to the ground while being blocked by another receiver. As he was falling, he hits Rice in the legs with his body. There was no attempt to trip Rice; Grant probably didn’t even see where he was being hit. Stockton and Davis spent four replays trying to say why that was a stupid move by Grant before finally conceding that maybe it was a bad penalty. Please, someone, anyone, stop these two before they strike again!
4. Time of possession. Minnesota held the ball for 42:11. Since the game is officially 60 minutes, you don’t need to be a math wizard to figure out Seattle only had possession for 17:49. Looking at that, I’m a little surprised Minnesota only scored 35 points.
5. Extra Point. Seattle scored its only touchdown in the 4th quarter, with about eight minutes left in the game. They decide to go for two instead of the extra point. What, seriously? Where is the logic in that? Say they convert which they didn’t, but say they did. That means the score is now 35-11 with eight minutes left. The Seahawks are still down by 24 points. To make things worse, not only do the Seahawks fail to convert, they challenge the incomplete pass and lose that as well.
It’s getting a little old now. Last season we could accept the fact that injuries killed any chance the team had but this is four games in a row where the team has been at pretty much full strength. Four games, three losses and none of them good no matter how much Mora talks about making progress.
This team needs to clean house in the offseason, much like the Mariners did last season. Tim Ruskell is in his last year, he should be gone. Jim Mora has done nothing for me so far although I’m willing to see how he finishes the season. If the team plays for him then give him another year. If the players quit on him then he should be gone too. Greg Knapp and Gus Bradley, the coordinators, should be gone already.
Seattle finishes their three game road trip in St Louis next. A win there and another one somewhere later in the season means the team has improved from last year, at least record-wise. Don’t be fooled though. It’s going to be a long cold winter in Seattle.