How does a rebuilding team that has made a habit of being blown out on the road manage to pull off a visiting win? Just play one of the worst 4-1 teams in NFL history.
The Hawks still struggled to move the ball in the second half, and the defense gave up a bunch more big passing plays. But the Hawks did not allow the Bears to convert a single third down (0 for 12), they sacked Jay “Crybaby” Cutler six times (once for a safety), and the offense played relatively mistake free—no sacks or turnovers—as the Seahawks improved to 3-2 for the first time since 2007.
The Hawks’ new-look offense showed signs of what it can become. With Marshawn Lynch starting, a healthy Russell Okung playing the entire game for the first time, Deon Butler starting for the departed Deion Branch and Mike Williams finally playing like he did in the preseason, the Seahawks showed some promise in the first half.
The Seahawks actually scored on their first drive for the first time this year. Lynch’s first carry went for nine yards, Williams caught two passes for 40 yards, and Butler scored on a 22-yard reception.
Although he finished with only 44 yards on 17 carries, Lynch ran hard and saved the Hawks from several lost plays. He broke two tackles on his 1-yard touchdown run at the start of the fourth quarter.
“Frankly, Marshawn Lynch makes a difference to us and our mentality,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters. “He was a factor in the game.”
Williams had his best day as a pro, with 10 catches for 123 yards. Eight of his catches went for first downs, four coming on third downs.
With Branch traded to New England, Butler caught four balls for 47 yards and the touchdown.
Okung more than held his own against Julius Peppers, who had his quietest game of the season. Okung also made a great block on Brian Urlacher on Forsett’s 9-yard touchdown run, pushing the linebacker all the way back to the end zone as Forsett ran right behind him.
Like the rest of the line, Okung made his share of mistakes, like letting Matt Toledo get inside him on third and 16 in the first quarter and pressuring Hasselbeck into an incompletion. But, all in all, it was a nice first full game for the first-round pick.
The Hawks moved the ball fairly well in the first half, netting over 200 yards and scoring two touchdowns. But they shut down after that, going three-and-out on six of their eight second-half possessions; outside of a 92-yard touchdown drive, they gained only 32 yards on seven other possessions.
The Hawks also had only three plays of 20 yards or more, and the longest was only 24 yards. They need to find ways to improve that.
The defense had its issues, too, giving up completions of 67, 36 and 34 yards, plus six more of at least 13 yards as Cutler threw for 290 – the fourth straight game the Hawks have allowed a quarterback to throw for at least 289 (that’s what Sam Bradford had).
But the defense took advantage of Chicago’s porous offensive line, hassling Cutler for most of the game. Jordan Babineaux was in on two of the six sacks, including one on which he blasted Cutler back into the end zone for a safety in the third quarter. Lawyer Milloy blitzed frequently, getting one sack and harassing Cutler a few other times. Chris Clemons, Raheem Brock, Aaron Curry and Roy Lewis also got to Cutler for sacks.
The Bears averaged 4.4 yards per rush against a Seattle defense that did not have tackle Brandon Mebane, but Mike Martz chose to run the ball only 14 times.
Field position was a big factor: The Bears started inside their 40 on all but one of their 13 possessions. They started inside the 10 on six possessions, including all three in the fourth quarter.
Jon Ryan averaged only 39.7 yards on 10 punts, but that’s because seven of them went inside the 20. He had five punts of less than 40 yards, but three of them were inside the 11 -- a 33-yarder to the 5, a 30-yarder to the 8, a 33-yarder to the 10. He also booted a 54-yarder to the 8 and a 56-yarder to the 1.
He tried to kick away from Devin Hester, which led to a 40-yarder out of bounds at the 26 and a 28-yarder out of bounds at the 36 (the Bears ended up punting on both of those).
Hester fair-caught three punts and returned another four yards before finally breaking one for an 89-yard touchdown on Ryan’s final punt. It was a double whammy for Ryan, who got clocked while trying to cut Hester.
**Roy Lewis had a very eventful game. He is perhaps the most aggressive player in Seattle’s secondary, a trait that sometimes helps and sometimes hurts the team. On Chicago’s first drive, it hurt as he grabbed Hester on a deep pass, netting 58 yards on the interference. The Bears scored three plays later.
Lewis made up for it with his play the rest of the way. He sacked Cutler later in the first quarter, hurried Cutler on another pass, generally played tight coverage and downed a punt at the Chicago 1 in the fourth quarter.
**Confirmed: Forsett’s best role is as a changeup back. While Lynch was held to 2.6 yards per rush, Forsett gained 67 yards on 10 attempts. While Lynch punished the Bears, Forsett made them miss.
**John Carlson’s missed practice time seemed to show. He had a false start in the first quarter and dropped an easy pass in third.
**The Seahawks might have won a challenge in the fourth quarter after Marcus Trufant's acrobatic interception was ruled no catch because his feet came down out of bounds. He actually landed on his torso before his feet came down out of bounds. Considering Carroll's loose use of the challenge system, it wouldn't have been surprising to see him challenge that one. And he might have won.
It looks like the trade of Branch was good for both the Hawks and Patriots.
You never saw Branch play as hard for the Hawks as he seemed to for the Patriots today. He caught nine balls for 98 yards—his best yardage game in three years and his most receptions since 2004, in his first stint with the Patriots.
He seemed to fight harder to get open than he ever did as a Seahawk.
Meanwhile, is it a coincidence that the Seahawks won a road game for just the fourth time in 21 games away from Qwest Field?
**Julius Jones, released after Lynch was acquired, carried nine times for 32 yards in his first game with New Orleans. It will be interesting to see whether the Saints decide to keep him once Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are healthy. One-time Cougar Chris Ivory ran for 158 yards on 15 carries for the Saints.
**Nate Burleson caught six balls for 50 yards and a touchdown in Detroit’s 24th straight road loss. It was his second straight game with a touchdown after he missed Weeks 3 and 4 with an injury.
**Meanwhile, Josh Wilson was not active for the Ravens. Repeat: That was a bad trade.
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