In a battle of defensive wills, the Seahawks
prevailed on Sunday over the Detroit Lions
on a last-second field goal from kicker Josh Brown. Neither offense could seize momentum or get into a rhythm, with most drives stalling out at or around midfield.
On defense, both teams seemed to get good penetration into the gaps, causing the offenses to throw before they would have liked and not allowing receivers to break free. On special teams, the Lions
were hungry and ready to play, blocking two field goals to stay within striking distance. The Seahawks had a mediocre day on special teams except for new kick returner Willie Ponder, who looked explosive, and rookie punter Ryan Plackemeier.
The Lions defense played with passion and vigor, holding the NFL
's top-ranked offense from a year ago to a paltry nine points. The key was great defensive line play, which should become a hallmark for a team whose head coach made his name coaching great defensive lines. The front seven got a good push and closed off cut-back lanes, giving last year's MVP, Shaun Alexander, no room to run. The secondary didn't have an exceptional day, but played well enough and kept the Seattle receivers in front of them.
On offense, the growing pains of installing the new Mike Martz offense were visible. Running back Kevin Jones showed flashes of brilliance on his minimal number of touches. The passing game was at times out of sync and repeatedly failed in Seahawks territory. Roy Williams had a poor day and was for the most part shut down by Seahawks corner Marcus Trufant. All in all, though, coach Rod Marinelli had his team well prepared, and the Lions played very hard for their rookie head coach.
Then there are the Seahawks, who should be disappointed by their effort but happy to come away with the win. On offense, the line was manhandled by the Lions both in pass- and run-block situations. Floyd Womack looked ooverwhelmed by Shawn Rodgers, who spent most of the day in the backfield. When Hasselbeck had time in the pocket, he was very accurate and completed passes down the field. The ineffective run game put the 'Hawks in many second-and-long and third-and-long situations, which certainly contributed to the unit's general futility.
On defense, the news was slightly better. The Seahawks bent but never broke, tightening up whenever the Lions ventured across the fifty yard line. They did on occasion have problems bringing down running back Kevin Jones as he gashed threw the front seven. Punter Plackemeier proved that he could get the job done in the regular season, and his big leg helped the Seahawks maintain what proved to be a decisive advantage in the battle for field position.
What I saw in this game was a young, fired-up Lions team playing disciplined football for a new head coach, and a veteran Seahawks team pulling out a win without hitting on all cylinders. Both of these squads should have fine years and will likely go a long way towards achieving their preseason goals. The Lions showed a lot and look like they're finally headed in the right direction. The Seahawks, on the other hand, can ill afford to roll out another clunker like this one. That said, Mike Holmgren's team did show that it knows how to win in the clutch—on a field that played host to the most significant loss in the history of the franchise. That's got to count for something.