When you look at the schedule before the season begins, there are some games you just know are going to be a win and some that are certain to be a loss. It doesn’t always work out that way because of injuries, luck or suckitude.
So of course I looked at a road game against the defending NFL champs as a mark in the loss column. I marked it in pen. Despite being proved right by the final score, I’m actually impressed with how Seattle played in New Orleans. I think it helped that the game started late, making it a 1 p.m. game for Seattle.
Why would I be happy with a 34-19 loss? Because Seattle moved the ball well, looked strong and confident, didn’t give up a sack, and for the second week in a row, looked like a team on the way up. Compare that with the two games against Oakland and the NY Giants and you’ll see what I mean. Seattle was in this game and only a few mistakes away from making it a lot closer. I’m not saying they would have won; that would never happen when you trade field goals for touchdowns and turn the ball over.
New Orleans had the number one rated defense against the pass coming in. Matt Hasselbeck broke two bones in his left hand against Arizona last week and was playing with a cast and glove on it. Those two things made me cringe because you all know how I feel about Charlie Whitehurst already.
Hasselbeck came out and played lights out for the second straight week. Of course it’s not all the quarterback; the receivers got open and caught the ball, the play calling adapted and adjusted well, and for the second week in a row, the offensive line didn’t give up a sack. Think about that for a moment. The defensive coordinator for New Orleans is Gregg Williams, a man that dials up blitzes like a telemarketer.
Play Of The Game:
For this honor, I think I’m going to go with one of the many big pass plays that Seattle hit. The Seahawks saw how the Saints corners were playing tight and jumping routes early, so with nine minutes left in the first quarter, Matt Hasslebeck hit Mike Williams along the right sideline deep for a 68-yard strike. That play, and the ones after it, helped loosen up the Saints defensive backfield. It also made me sit up on the couch and think, “Holy shit, that was a great play!”
1. Matt Hasselbeck – Hasselbeck threw for 366 yards against a Saints defense that was ranked at the top of the league against the pass. His statistics ended up better than those of Drew Brees in all categories except for one: Hasselbeck threw one touchdown, while Brees threw four. Given the protection, Hasselbeck has shown that he is the best quarterback on the roster and better than average in the league.
2. Chris Ivory – I don’t usually compliment the other team’s players too often, but Ivory was impressive. Watch the highlight of his devastating stiff arm on Jordan Babineaux. Ivory finished with 99 yards on 23 carries and a lot of those yards came after getting smacked at the line of scrimmage. The Seahawks did adjust and his yardage per carry went down dramatically as the game progressed, but Ivory left me impressed.
3. Wide Receivers – Mike Williams led all Seattle receivers with six catches for 109 yards but Ben Obomanu (five catches for 87 yards) and Brandon Stokely (six catches for 76 yards) came up big too. Deon Butler, Justin Forsett, Marshawn Lynch and John Carlson all contributed with productive receptions. After seeing so many dropped passes against Oakland, it was a great day seeing so many catches.
1. Defense – If it wasn’t Drew Brees hitting open receivers 12 yards down the field, it was Chris Ivory bouncing off of would be tacklers and running for another eight yards after contact. Seattle’s defense is missing Colin Cole and Red Bryant but there is no excuse for the poor tackling, lack of pressure on Brees and soft coverage that the Seahawks showed. Yes, the Saints are still very potent on offense but when they run off five straight drives for touchdowns, it’s time to try some different things. I’m not suggesting changing coaches or players, but I think the Seahawks are on the right path. What I’m saying is to adjust faster and better to what the opposition’s offense is doing to you.
2. Run Blocking – For all the success in the passing game, the run game flat out sucked for Seattle. At halftime the Seahawks had one yard rushing total. Yes, one yard total. I’d give credit to the Saints defense but I can’t really since the Seahawks running game has been stagnant all season so far. Watching the offensive line try and block on a running play is painful. All you see are the big butts being pushed backwards. Even if the lineman keeps his man blocked, he’s not getting any kind of push, not opening any holes for the running back.
3. Mistakes – Yes, that roughing the passer/leading with the helmet call at the end of the first half on Raheem Brock was complete bullshit. The only thing that made it worse was that it came on a third down incompletion that kept a Saints drive alive. I’m only complaining a little because for the most part, the refs were reasonable. What killed Seattle were the mistakes at the crucial times: holding calls, dropped passes, poor tackling, loss of focus, and fumbles. You name a mistake and the Seahawks made it.
1. Marshawn Lynch – Lynch had a horrible game this time out. I’m not talking about his stats totals or the lack of running room. Where Lynch fell down was in dropping passes and fumbling twice. I still like him as a running back in Seattle’s future but against New Orleans, Lynch looked bad.
2. Red Zone Offense – Seattle got in the red zone five times against New Orleans. They came away with four field goals. Part of the problem is the lack of a running game to get the one or two yards needed. Another part appears to be an inability to get creative and find a way around that lack of a running game.
3. Injuries – Marcus Trufant left the game early with a concussion after trying to tackle Chris Ivory. The pass defense definitely suffered from his absence. Mike Williams sprained his foot on the big 68-yard reception but returned to the game for awhile before finally ending the game on the bench. Both players are important to the Seahawks, because an extended absence by either or both would be a very bad thing. On a good injury note, Russell Okung came back and not only played the whole game, he played well with all things considered.
Overall, Seattle didn’t have anyone picking an upset in the Big Easy and for good reason. New Orleans is looking better after stumbling against the Cardinals. Seattle is leading the NFC West but let’s face it, it’s the NFC West.
Things don’t get much easier next week. Kansas City is coming to Seattle for another old time AFC West matchup. The Chiefs started out hot and have cooled a bit lately but are still potent enough to make me worry about this game. The 12th Man will need to be in full voice and go full throttle.
Still, I like this team and I like the direction it’s headed. I feel like everything is correctable, players are buying into the system and playing hard. With a few tweaks, those field goals will turn into touchdowns and people will be a lot less likely to pick an upset next time.