The next time someone asks me what it’s like to be a Seahawks fan, I now have a great example to show him or her. I’ll queue up video of the game between the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears from yesterday, December 18, 2011.
The Seahawks started out well. Marshawn Lynch ran in an early touchdown, giving him 10 straight games with a rushing touchdown. Both defenses were looking strong and the game promised to be a war of attrition.
Then the rollercoaster went down for the Seahawks. It looked like losing three out of five offensive line starters finally caught up with Seattle.
Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson dropped back into his own end zone and had the ball stripped by Chicago’s Julius Peppers before he could get rid of it. Defensive lineman Israel Idonije recovered the ball for a touchdown for the Bears that tied the score 7-7.
Because the offense couldn’t find a light switch in a room full of lamps at that point, Seattle spent almost 10 minutes of the second quarter on defense, watching Chicago quarterback Caleb Hanie keep a long drive alive by breaking out of the pocket and either running for the first down or finding an open receiver.
Hanie finally hit pay dirt on another play where he broke outside the pocket and bought enough time for back Kahlil Bell to cross the field uncovered for a 25-yard touchdown.
Going into halftime, Seattle found itself down 14-7. The announcers, Tim Ryan and Chris Meyers, were all about talking up the Bears, practically wetting themselves thinking they possibly had another Tebow on their hands.
After some halftime adjustments, Seattle came out throwing deep and in the middle of the field. Jackson found Golden Tate over the middle for 33 yards and then Ben Obomanu for 43 yards before Lynch carried in another touchdown.
Less than two minutes after the half, the Seahawks had leveled the score (14-14) and took the wind out of the Chicago sails.
Play Of The Game:
The halftime adjustments weren’t just on the offensive side of the ball. After Seattle’s quick score, Chicago started on its own 20-yard line.
After a short run, Hanie faked the hand off and rolled to his right, something the Bears had feasted on in the second quarter. This time he turned to find Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright waiting for him.
Hanie panicked and threw the ball wildly. The ball went directly to huge defensive end Red Bryant. Normally, a DE will drop the ball, but Bryant caught it like a tight end and high stepped his way into the end zone.
From that point on, the game turned into a rout as Seattle ran off 17 more points, seven of which came via another pick 6 interception, this time by cornerback Brandon Browner.
1. Halftime: It came at exactly the right time, and the adjustments Seattle made worked out perfectly. The defense feasted on the Bears; the offense started clicking too, as Jackson went 15-for-19 and threw for 176 yards as Seattle outscored Chicago 31-0 in the second half.
2. K.J. Wright: Wright is a rookie, drafted in the fourth round out of Mississippi State, but has played so well that Seattle felt very safe trading Aaron Curry to the Raiders. Wright was all over the field against Chicago, leading the team with eight tackles.
3. Golden Tate: Tate continues to improve, catching four passes for 61 yards.
4. Max Unger: The center of Seattle’s offensive line continues to be a rock that o-line coach Tom Cable can set the foundation on for the future of the Seahawks offense.
5. Brandon Browner: Browner’s interception return for a touchdown made him the franchise interception return yards leader, passing original Seahawk Dave Brown. Not too shabby for an undrafted CFL player from Oregon State.
1. First half: Maybe it was the 10:00 a.m. PST Seattle start time again, or maybe it was the cold weather, but Seattle went a long way in the first half towards making Caleb Hanie look like an all-star.
2. Mike Williams: Big Mike Williams has struggled this season after being a comeback player of the year candidate last season. He had two catches for 31 yards but suffered a broken ankle during the tackle on his second catch.
3. Run Game: Lynch gained 42 yards on 20 carries to get his third career 1000 yard season, first as a Seahawk and the first for Seattle since Shaun Alexander in 2005.
The reason this is a bad is that they were hard yards to get, which leads me back to wondering if all the injuries on the offensive line are finally catching up with the Seahawks. When you consider that Seattle has lost 3/5 of the starters for the season, and two of those were rookies, it’s amazing that the Seahawks are 7-7 now instead of 2-12.
1. Jackson’s fumble: I don’t know what the play was but to set up in the end zone, with Chicago’s defense threatening a full blitz, how can you call a pass play that required Jackson to set up, hold the ball, and scan the field while a patchwork offensive line tried to keep up? It was the wrong play call.
Maybe Jackson was supposed to get the ball out immediately, or maybe he should have thrown it away, I don’t know. All I know is that Julius Peppers beat left tackle Paul McQuinstan around the corner, chopped the ball out of Jackson’s hand and tied the score.
2. Sherman’s penalty: After Hanie started getting his rhythm in the second quarter, he tried to hit the deep ball down the middle to his tight end Kellen Davis. Seattle safety Kam Chancellor tipped the ball into the air. It came down into safety Earl Thomas’ hands for the interception (one of four thrown on the day by Chicago). Thomas was in his own end zone but decided to bring it out. He made it down to the 20 but cornerback Richard Sherman was flagged for an illegal block, pulling the ball back to the 1-yard line.
That’s not the kind of hole Seattle’s offense needed to find itself in at that point in the game. Sherman should have done a better job on his block.
3. Johnny Knox: On Hanie’s first completion of the game in the first quarter, Bears WR Johnny Knox had the ball knocked out of his grasp by Chancellor. Thomas eventually recovered the fumble for Seattle, but as Knox tried to get the ball back, he was bent into a backwards U with a hit by defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove.
After an extended injury timeout, Knox was carted off the field but was moving his fingers and toes, thankfully. It was an ugly collision and unintentional. Hopefully, he will be up and moving very soon.
Five wins in a row, leveling the season at 7 wins with 7 losses, has a lot of Seahawks fans talking playoffs. It’s a long way from the Suck for Luck campaign that started the season.
I’m not so worried about the playoffs yet though. Seattle has a visiting 49ers team to deal with on Christmas Eve first before I start figuring out all the possible scenarios that have to happen for the Seahawks to return to the playoffs.
Besides, if I start thinking about it now, I’ll start getting more pissed off about losing to Cleveland and Washington, two winnable games Seattle let get away.
Photo Credits: Charles Rex Arbogast (AP Photo), and Nam Y. Huh (AP Photo)