I’ve taken a lot of flak over the years for being a Seahawks fan. Every year would start out with high hopes and me claiming that finally the Seahawks would get over the hump and finally win a playoff game. 1999, Holmgren’s first season in Seattle, ended with a loss to Miami. In 2004 in a game against Green Bay Hasselbeck threw an interception that was returned for a TD. Last year the usually sure handed Bobby Engram dropped a TD in the end zone to lose for the 3rd time that year to NFC West rival St. Louis Rams, again in the first round.
This year it seems the football gods have been appeased as the Seahawks have been released from football purgatory–soon there will only be 6 teams in the NFL that haven’t been to the Superbowl. No doubt the drought was brought on by the idiocy of the Ken Behring era (he’s the guy who tried to move the ‘Hawks to SoCal). It’s a stretch, but today I met Ken Behring’s grandson’s best friend (his claim). I wondered about the coincidence and then wondered if the ‘Hawks would be able to shake off the stench brought on by his bumbling ownership. I had to bite my tongue when I found out about the association and simply said that “I’m glad he doesn’t own them anymore.” Boy am I.
A few game observations.
My score prediction was almost dead on. I only failed to account for one more field goal by Josh Brown. Like the rest of the country, I didn’t think the Panthers were going to be that bad. But seriously, they were horrible. And it started with Jake Delhomme.
Leading up to the game it seemed like everyone thought he was the better of the two QBs. I watched the Panthers play the Bears and thought that he made lots of mistakes in that game but that the Bears failed to capitalize. Matt Hasselbeck solidified his position as one of the elite QBs in the game. As one friend noted during the game, the only shame is that he isn’t given more credit in Madden 2006. Time and again (well, at least in the 1st half when Caroline still thought they could win) he evaded the rush to complete the throw or run for the first down.
Everyone talked up the Carolina defense. One roommate agreed with the assessment that Carolina had one of the best front four in football. After stopping one rush series on Seattle’s first possession they got blown up for the rest of the game. Hasselbeck’s ability to avoid the pass rush actually made Peppers look foolish. One writer called him (Peppers) maybe the “best athlete in the game” and another said he had “feakish talent.” How then was a 6th round draft pick out of Boston College able to avoid him the entire game? Carolina sacked Hasselbeck twice–one of those came because he held onto the ball for what seemed like half an hour. Those were the only two times they came even remotely close to Hasselbeck. Panthers defense? Seriously overrated. How else do you explain the fact that Seattle’s backup QB was able to catch a 28 yard fade from Hasselbeck in the 1st quarter against one-time Seahawk Ken Lucas? Good decision to leave Seattle Mr. Lucas. We needed someone with less talk and more play–and for a heck of a lot less money.
Best WR in the NFL?
Every article I read told me it was Steve Smith. Too bad the Chicago defense and coaching staff were too proud to come up with a scheme to shut him down, if they had we might have blown them out this week instead of the Panthers. Smith had 33 yards receiving and lost a fumble. Our backup QB nearly equalled that total and secured the football. Had Darrell Jackson not missed 8 games this season I promise he would have challenged Smith for the title of best WR in the NFC. Oh, and that punt return for a TD? Give me a break. The officials shouldn’t have picked up the flag for that block in the back. They could have thrown it for 2 other illegal blocks besides the one committed by #50. That was just one of a few bad calls. Other than a sloppy TD late in the game it was the only time Carolina came close to sniffing the end zone–mostly thanks to Jake Delhomme.
The Seattle Defense
I’m not going to say they’re better than the Chicago defense, but they sure played a heck of a lot better than Chicago did. The Bears looked like they thought they could walk on the field and Carolina would automatically assume a fetal position. Seattle has had to work for everything they’ve gotten this year and they did so again this week. It is a shame they couldn’t have a re-vote for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year because I’ve no doubt Lofa Tatupu would win. Few players have done more for their teams–certainly few rookies. He is a leader. He calls the plays and makes sure players are in position and know their assignments. He makes big tackles and had a sweet interception in the 1st half. This guy does it all. That Shawne “my team didn’t even make the playoffs” Merriman won the award is a travishamockery.
I read the same numbers as everyone else. Seattle’s run defense was one of the best in the league but their pass defense was one of the worst. What far too many experts ignored was the fact that they were missing two of their top corners, their starting FS and another safety for much of the year. Kelly Herndon and Andre Dyson come back and, what’s this, they shut Mighty Mouse out of the game and made Jake Delhomme wish he were back in Louisiana hunting something or watching Nascar. What Seattle’s defense did to the Panthers is called complete domination. How’s this for poetic? Nick Goings lays a hit on Lofa Tatupu but he is the one who has to come out of the game because he was knocked silly. As one friend noted, Tatupu was the difference between SC losing to the Texas T-bones and winning their 3rd National Championship in a row. Think I’m wrong? All Tatupu did last year for SC was lead the team in tackles–the same thing he did this year for the Seahawks.
I know I’m starting to sound like TO, but how is it that Shaun Alexander gets no respect? All anyone could say was how he had been so bad in the playoffs. Apparently getting a concussion doesn’t give him a pass for last week’s game against Washington. So this week he goes out and rips off a cool 132 yards with 2 TDs on 34 carries–Seahawk playoff records. Yes, I know that’s a very short history with very few games, but what other back did better than Alexander this week? He is so much fun to watch.
Many writers picked Seattle to win the game by slim margins but only after trying to talk themselves into picking Carolina. Marc from South Carolina speculated that this was because they all picked them at the beginning of the year and didn’t want to look dumb. Either way, Seattle showed that they were the best team on both sides of the ball. Their offense and defense controlled the game. Oh, and Rocky Bernard should have been credited with a 3rd sack. His one-armed take down of Delhomme as he was leaving the pocket was beautiful and made him look like a wimp. Hasselbeck, by comparison, shrugged off several arm tackles to complete passes and rush for extra yardage.
Sunday’s win is sweet redemption and as I discussed with Marc, credit really should go to the coaches. Sure, John Fox is the “blue collar” coach of a team described by the same adjective. But couldn’t they come up with something new? Linebacker Leroy Hill saw their little bubble screen coming a mile away and blew it up so fast the ball hit him in the back of the head. Seattle coaches put both the offense and defense in position to make plays and the players responded. On defense they shut down the run, contained and abused Steve Smith and drove Jake Delhomme crazy–an admittedly short trip. On offense they picked up all but one blitz, and spread the ball around to 8 different WRs. Oh, and they rushed for 190 yards against the #3 rush defense in the NFL. Did I mention that Seattle completely dominated Carolina?
Let me finish up with a request. The Seahawks have never been to the Superbowl and neither have I. If any of you have any type of connection or just “know a guy” and can get a ticket or four, please let me know. Talk about a dream come true. Joining the 12th Man Seattle fans in Detroit as the ‘Hawks take on the Steelers would be positively paradisiacal. Email me at email@example.com. Thanks.