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Seahawks Finally Sputter To Life Against Carolina, 31-14

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It was the kickoff for the second half of Sunday’s Seattle-Carolina game that was the tipping point for me. That moment was the closest I’ve ever come to divorcing the Seahawks.

Leon Washington was set to receive the kick. He muffed it badly in the end zone, and the ball trickled out of it to about the 2-yard line. Washington stood there looking at the ball while the Carolina special teams crew was screaming down the field towards him. Seconds felt like months as we fans screamed at him to pick up the fucking ball and run.

Eventually, (what seemed like) years later, Washington did pick up the ball and started running up the field. By that time, the Panthers were on him and crushed him at the 4-yard line.

I turned to my buddy next to me and said, “Did you bring your Dremel tool with you?”

He looked at me and said, “No, why?”

“Because I may need to remove a tattoo.”

It was the worst of halves and then the best of halves. Carolina dominated the first half, racking up 15 first downs compared to Seattle’s paltry 2. The yardage totals were just as lopsided with Lacey, Washington native Jonathon Stewart rushing for 83 yards and rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen cranking out 150 yards compared to a Seattle total of 24 yards. Yes, 24 total yards.

If I had gone to divorce court at that point, I could have gotten a great settlement. I would have missed the incredible turnaround from halftime on though, and that half was exactly the kind of free hit that keeps the addict coming back.

In the second half, Stewart only managed another 9 yards and Carolina only managed 2 first downs. Seattle went on a tear and racked up 23 more first downs. I don’t know what changed at halftime, if Seattle changed their Gatorade or what, but whatever it was, it worked and they need to start doing it at the beginning of the game instead of at halftime.

Play of the Game:

Lofa Tatupu has been playing hurt the last few weeks and it’s shown in his game. I was all set to rip him a little because of it. I’ve delayed it because he’s my favorite current player, but by halftime it was clear I needed to stop protecting him from the Bad and Ugly sections.

All that went out the window with Carolina’s first possession in the third quarter. Jimmy Clausen threw a short pass to the right flat for running back Tony Fiammetta at the Panthers 26.

Tatupu was covering the back out of the backfield and was already moving in that direction when he saw Clausen stare down his receiver. Tatupu hit the accelerator and intercepted the pass at full speed. No one was close to catching Tatupu as he raced into the end zone and gave Seattle its first lead of the game, 17-14.

The Good:

1. Second Half – The second half was as good a half as I’ve seen Seattle play in a while. The running game came together and everything that hadn’t worked before was suddenly working.

2. Marshawn Lynch – The Beast was back, scoring three touchdowns and rushing for 83 yards on 21 carries. Lynch became the first Seahawks rusher to get three touchdowns since Shaun Alexander did it in 2005.

3. Walter Jones – Big Walt had his number retired at the two minute warning in the first half. I don’t know exactly why they picked that moment to do it since the halftime show was a punt, pass and kick competition. Seems like retiring a number would be a better usage of the time but whatever the timing, there isn’t a Seahawks player more deserving that Walter.

Accompanied by his family on the red carpet, Jones looked solid and sounded like the silent warrior he was, stumbling over the speech that you know he spent ages rehearsing. It just made the crowd cheer all the more for him.

The Bad:

1. First Half – As good as the second half was, the first half was worse. There’s not much more I can say about that, really.

2. Mike Williams – BMW got injured early in the game while blocking on a running play. It sucked because the ankle that got tweaked is on the same side as the foot that is injured. Williams was out last week and had only gotten back on the field for a short time before the new injury.

3. Ben Obomanu – Big Ben has gotten better and more involved in the offense each week this season, so it was very hard watching him come out of the game injured after coming down with a 27-yard pass to midfield. Obomanu was hit as he came down and injured his hand. Reports so far say nothing is broken and that he expects to play next week.

The Ugly:

1. Rush Defense – After halftime, the defense clamped down on the Panthers but in that first half, whew, that was like trying to make out with Pepe LePew. Not only couldn’t the Seahawks tackle, they couldn’t seem to find someone to tackle.

2. Adjustments – Yes, the Seahawks made some adjustments, and they worked. But did we really have to wait until halftime to make them? Against Carolina, or any other bad team, that didn’t kill the game, but against a good team like the Giants or Falcons? The score would be so lopsided by halftime that there would be no chance at a comeback.

3. Leon Washington – Just watch the video here. You’ll thank me later.

This game highlights a pattern for Seattle this season, at least recently, anyway. They get off to a very slow start and can’t do a thing offensively while the defense can’t tackle a wet paper bag. Halftime rolls around and it’s like a switch went off, and the team explodes back into the game.

Against Kansas City last week, it was way too little and way too late. Carolina is a bad enough team that Seattle was able to make that comeback.

When you start thinking about playoffs though, if Seattle does win the NFC West, there isn’t going to be a team that will allow Seattle to come back on them. Even the worst playoff team can hold onto a lead.

Seattle has to figure out how to come out from the opening bell instead of trying to flip the switch at halftime. How Pete Carroll and the Seahawks adjust, that remains to be seen. I’m interested in watching it though.

Interested enough that I’ll be keeping the tattoo, for now.

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About Russ Evenhuis

I'm a writer with a mid-life crisis. I'm into sports of all kind, a Seattle fan to my bones. A retired rugby player, now I punish myself with triathlons when I'm not hanging out with the family, drinking Guinness and playing PlayStation.