This was one of the craziest games I’ve been to in a while. There were six combined turnovers, two kickoffs returned for touchdowns, and an interception to preserve the win in the last seconds. If it could happen, it did happen. And if this game doesn’t make one of the NFL Network games of the week, then I don’t understand how the network makes those decisions.
Play of the Game: So many to choose from, so many highlights and lowlights. I could go with Leon Washington’s two and almost three (if he hadn’t tripped) kickoff returns for touchdowns. I’m tempted by safety Earl Thomas’s two interceptions. Deion Branch fumbling the ball right before he crossed the goal line was a definite possibility because the ball rolled out the back of the end zone, giving San Diego possession on the 20. In a game that has never been fuller, I’m giving my honors to Leon Washington for his returns of 101 and 99 yards. When the offense struggled the whole second half, Washington and the Seahawks’ special teams kept Seattle ahead.
1. Leon Washington – There is talk that he’s still not 100% yet. Think about that for a second because right now, he is scary fast and tough as hell. I can’t wait for him to get more involved in the offensive scheme too. With the Jets, some of his best plays came off of screen passes. Seattle didn’t run a single screen pass all day. That could be because the offensive line is still not working right together, or for other reasons. But when Washington gets back to starter status, the coaches need to find a way to use him in the ways that he is the most dangerous.
2. Earl Thomas – The rookie lost some Madden points by trying to run back the last interception. Dude, fall down. There are only 10 seconds left, but no one can blame him for wanting to try and score himself. In a secondary that got torched the whole second half, Thomas showed why the Seahawks took him over Taylor Mays. He is the real deal at safety and gives the Seahawks a weapon that has been missing the last few years back there. Paired with Lawyer Milloy, the safeties are a highpoint for the Seahawks.
3. Golden Tate – Tate almost had a punt return for a touchdown too. The rookie continues to impress and makes me wonder more and more if he was the reason Jimmy Clausen was rated so highly in the draft.
4. Deion Branch – The fumble was bad, yes, but Branch has looked better and better so far. I have to give him some love because it’s been a while since he caught 5 balls for 60 yards without injuring something.
5. John Carlson – in the battle of the tight ends, no one is going to be Antonio Gates, but Carlson had flashes that helped remind me of how good he really can be. Carlson caught 5 passes for 61 yards and a touchdown and could have had much more.
6. Roy Lewis – When Marcus Trufant left the game, Lewis and Walter Thurmond had to step up and try and hold on. While San Diego went off in the second half, the rookies did as good a job as could be imagined in very tough circumstances. Thurmond led Seattle tacklers with 7 tackles. Lewis had excellent coverage, especially in the end zones.
1. Matt Hasselbeck – 19-for-32 for 220 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. These are not horrible numbers, but Hasselbeck, especially in the second half, did not play well. Part of the problem seems to be that he is forcing plays, trying to get big plays when they aren’t there instead of taking what the defense is giving. Part of it might be play calling because you have to wonder why the Seahawks were running a fade route with (midget) Deon Butler when you have Mike Williams (6’5”) in your receiving corp.
2. John Carlson – Part of the problem for Carlson is that he and Hasselbeck just can’t seem to get on the same page. There was one play where Hasselbeck was rolling right, looking for anybody open. Carlson’s man stopped covering him and Carlson took off down the sideline. Hasselbeck saw it and tried to lead Carlson but didn’t get near enough air under the ball. The ball fell at least five yards past Carlson. If Hasselbeck hits Carlson, that’s another touchdown, easily. That play was indicative of how the offense has been struggling. It’s frustrating because the offense is so close to clicking, while the defense is actually playing well.
3. Running Game – One week after running well against Denver, Seattle’s run game did nothing against the Chargers. And that stopped a couple of touchdown opportunities, not to mention killing a few drives.
4. Second Half Offense – Seattle led in every category of the statistics battle going into halftime. If you look at the final stats though, it looks like San Diego dominated all over the field. The Seahawks second half offense, in a disturbing trend, does not appear to be able to make adjustments on the fly. Maybe that’s what is leading to Hasselbeck forcing the ball. Or maybe it’s a combination, but whatever it is, it needs to stop.
5. Chris Spencer – How do you get false start penalties if you’re the center? Stupid!!
1. Two-point conversion – San Diego scored to get within two points. They went for the two point conversion for the tie. The receiver who caught the conversion went out of bounds before coming back on the field to catch the pass. What does it say about your running game and Seattle’s run defense when you throw for the conversion? Anyway, after the penalty, San Diego got another chance at the conversion. My question is why? I’m sure the ruling was made correctly, as even the refs get some calls right. But it does not make sense that the offense would commit a penalty and then get another opportunity at the conversion.
Conversions are not normal game situations; there is no loss of down or yards. With a PAT, if the kicking team makes the kick but commits holding, do they get to kick again? I’m just not sure about how that rule works because it certainly does not make sense. I can understand if the defense commits a penalty, then yes, that should be a do-over.
2. Pass defense – In the second half, the defense seemed to be either a sack or a 20-yard completion, a boom or bust. Seattle’s defense, aided by a nonexistent offense in the second half, never seemed to get a normal three-and-out on San Diego after halftime. Seattle’s pass defense ended up giving up 455 yards through the air, a franchise record.
3. Antonio Gates – His game wasn’t ugly, as he had an excellent game with 7 catches for 109 yards and 1 touchdown. What was ugly was that he had that good a game and Seattle did absolutely no adjusting to stop him. The whole second half Gates lined up in the slot, and all the Seahawks did was roll a corner or safety over to his side but 10-15 yards off of him. Gates would run an out or a slow drag route across the middle, and if the pressure hadn’t gotten to Rivers, Gates would’ve made the catch. It was agonizing to watch because everyone knew where it was going and Seattle never seemed to make any changes to stop it.
The Wrap Up
Thanks to the special teams play and some serious karma from the Seahawks 12th man, which was loud and proud once again, Seattle came away with what could become a huge victory for the season.
Sitting at 2-1, tied with a struggling Arizona Cardinals team atop the division, heading on the road to play a 1-2 St Louis team this week, and looking way down on a 0-3 San Francisco 49ers team that is rumored to be firing their offensive coordinator, I like Seattle’s chances in the NFC West.
Yes, they have issues, but they are all fixable issues, unlike the last couple of years. Seattle has a spark, an energy and enthusiasm–I hate the word swagger–and it just feels like things are getting better. It’s still a long season, but it’s always better to start well, and the Seahawks have done just that.
St Louis has has been the source of most of the Seahawks road wins in recent seasons. Hopefully that will be a trend that doesn’t change.