You don’t have to be a football geek to know the Seattle Seahawks don’t travel well. The last time the Seahawks won a game in New York (or New Jersey) was in December of 1983.
So when my wife, a New York Giants fan, suggested opening my house to a few friends to watch yesterday’s Seahawks-Giants game, I knew it was likely to be a humbling beat down for my beloved Seahawks and me. Naturally, the pregame was filled with amusing banter about how bad Tarvaris Jackson is, and how Pete Carroll couldn’t win a game when he was a coach in New York.
Now, I am a die-hard 12th man Seahawks fan, but I don’t have blinders on. I knew Seattle’s chances of winning ranged from slim to none (with “NONE” being bolded and in capital letters). Every angle I took showed me chances to win, but nowhere did I see a definite advantage to Seattle. And everything came back to a 10 a.m. Pacific Coast start time, the Bermuda Triangle of suckitude for the Seahawks.
I mean, c’mon, really. Seattle people are barely on their second latte by 10 in the morning; it’s impossible to think we can function like humans, much less football players at that ungodly time. Seriously, can I get a ruling here?
Still, the game posed an interesting problem. As I foretold in my preseason preview, the Seahawks were likely to suck hard at the start of the season but get better as the season progressed.
We’ve already seen improved play from Jackson as well as the offensive line. The defense has stayed solid against the run, while the corners and safeties have improved.
So imagine my surprise and elation, as well as the Giants’ fans amazement, as the Seahawks took the opening drive down the field and scored like a hot knife through butter.
Seattle looked strong and aggressive, nickel and diming their way down the field while NY’s defense was on its heels scrambling to recover. It was early but I haven’t seen a Seahawks team open a game on the East Coast in a long time this way.
While things calmed down, Seattle still played the better football through the first half. Only two red zone fumbles kept it from becoming a Seahawks blowout. Seattle lived to regret those missed opportunities, because NYG quarterback Eli Manning delivered a quick strike right before halftime to tie the score 14-14 heading into the locker room.
This game was sloppy, and while Seattle led statistically, it felt like another opportunity was slipping away due to mistakes. Both teams traded punts in the third quarter, and that’s when Jackson got injured. So Charlie Whitehurst came into the game to replace him.
You know I’m not a Whitehurst fan. I feel like Seattle gave up way too much for him. He’s late on every throw and can’t find a receiver while he’s scrambling. Having said that, I feel like he got a raw deal when Seattle signed Jackson and anointed him the starter without having to earn it.
I feel like Whitehurst has shown that he’s pissed about it too, not in words but in his play. He’s got forcefulness and determination when he comes in, and that shows me maybe he’s ready to take that next step.
His initial play didn’t show it though. The household consensus was that a special teams touchdown would determine the winner.
That’s when Manning took the snap at the NY five more than halfway through the third quarter and handed off the ball to Danny Ware in the end zone. Ware was then promptlyblasted by Anthony Hargrove for a safety, thereby giving the ‘Hawks a 16-14 lead over the Giants.
Although it was still early, I had a good feeling, a glimmer here that this could be something special.
That glimmer got doused early in the fourth quarter when Manning threw up a wobbler deep into double coverage. Safety Kam Chancellor got a hand on it, but Victor Cruz one-handed the ricochet to go 68 yards for a touchdown for NY.
Yeah, that stomach drop feels so familiar now. The Giants fans at my house felt it too, relaxing a bit as they felt order was restored to the universe. I made a few Yankees jokes but that was just to get the first jabs in.
On to the field strode Charlie Whitehurst. Facing 80 yards to take the lead, it looked almost impossible. Whitehurst didn’t panic though; he threw the ball away when he needed to and took what he could from the defense. Finally, the Giants made a mistake. Their end jumped offside and at least some of the defense relaxed as the Seahawks continued the play.
Whitehurst hit a wide open Doug Baldwin in the slot for a 27-yard touchdown to put the Seahawks on top. The drive was a thing of beauty, 7 plays for 80 yards in 2:12, well worthy of a NFL caliber quarterback.
With the score 29-25 now, New York needed a touchdown. With 2:37 on the clock, Manning took the ball at the NY 20 and led the Giants nimbly down the field.
At the Seattle 10 yard line, my Play Of The Game occurred as Manning tried to hit Cruz over the middle. The ball was ahead of a falling Cruz, who got a hand on it and bobbled it up in the air. Seahawks safety Chancellor had the ball hit him and ricochet into corner Brandon Browner’s hands.Browner claimed the ball and took it to the house for the clinching pick six to drive the final nail in the Giants’ coffin.
1. Road Warriors – It’s no secret. Seattle sucks in the Eastern Time Zone. To see them come out swinging was a thing of beauty.
2. O-line – Although both tackles got beat for a couple of quick sacks, this line has gotten better each week. Jackson and Whitehurst both had time to find receivers, and the running game got rolling as Marshawn Lynch got 98 yards on 12 carries.
3. QB – Jackson started hot and looked pretty solid before leaving the game with a pectoral strain. Whitehurst came in and delivered in a much better performance than I expected out of him.
4. Defense – It was an all-around good game from the defense. Everything from forcing 5 turnovers, holding the Giants to 1 for 12 on third down, and the running backs to 2.8 yards per carry. Not to mention that sweet Safety!
How many bads can you find when this game turned out so well? Let’s see…
1. McCoy – Anthony McCoy had a bad game, dropping passes or not coming down in bounds on several occasions. The tight end position for the Seahawks has become a weak spot as John Carlson is out for the season and Zach Miller had to leave early with a concussion. McCoy has to deliver, and he hasn’t yet.
2. Injuries – Along with Miller and Jackson, linebackers Leroy Hill (hamstring) and Jameson Konz (knee) had to leave the game early.
3. Turnovers – Seattle turned the ball over four times, had 3 fumbles and an interception. Usually that’s enough to doom a team, but luckily, the Giants were even worse with five turnovers.
1. QB Controversy – I’ve already said it. I think Whitehurst got screwed over when Jackson was named the starter without any competition. I think both players did well in New York but did Whitehurst do enough to unseat Jackson? Jackson was 15 for 22, threw for 166 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Whitehurst went 11 for 19, passed for 149 yards and had a touchdown. Seems pretty even to me.
2. Tight End – If Miller can’t come back from the concussion, Seattle is going to need another tight end badly.
3. Victor Cruz – Okay, so he actually had a good game apart from the Play of the Game. And that wasn’t his fault either. He’s got amazing hands and yes, I’m only putting him here because he’s a Giant.
The Seahawks are off next weekend on their bye week before traveling to Cleveland to face the Browns.
Photo Credits: Seth Wenig/AP, Julio Cortez/AP, Bill Kostroun/AP, and Mike Stobe/AP