Remember the old Tecmo Bowl video game? If so, do you remember how you could just hammer the A-button to shake tacklers? Because throughout much of the first half in the Seahawks matchup with the Saints, Seattle defenders merely seemed to bounce off in every direction when attempting to make a tackle.
The New Orleans offense physically outmatched the Seahawks defense as they put up 27 points in the first half. Yet, Seattle’s offense hung in there while missing a lot of opportunities to get back into the game in the second half. Despite having the same number of scoring drives as the Saints, the Seahawks matched most of the New Orleans touchdowns with field goals as they clearly illustrated the importance of finishing drives.
The first drive of the game was a prime example. The Seahawks were first to score on a drive where Mike Williams sold a great fake and picked up 68 yards. After being brought down at the 10-yard line, a pass to John Carlson stopped Seattle just short of the end zone before Olindo Mare came out to boot a short field goal that is becoming much too common. That was the only time in the game Seattle would lead.
After the Mare field goal, the Saints responded with a touchdown on the back of some big runs by Chris Ivory. On the following drive, the Seahawks went back to the air and were able to convert on another deep pass to Ben Obomanu for 42 yards. Again the Saints kept the Hawks out of the end zone and forced another field goal, this one for 43 yards.
I'm not sure if that concussion to Matt Hasselbeck a few weeks back got him thinking more about the deep ball, or if Pete Carroll has unleashed the passing game, but up until last week Seattle hadn't had a pass go for more than 60 yards.
Yet, it's something Matt has been able to do in just the last two weeks. At the very least it means Hasselbeck is getting better pass protection, which Seattle was severely lacking in the early part of the year.
Offensively, Seattle seemed to be holding their own against the Saints defense. But with a red zone offense that ranked 31 of 32 coming into this game, it simply couldn't manage to get the ball into the end zone. The only exception was a two-yard touchdown catch by Obomanu that brought the score within eight, 21-13.
It’s become obvious that Mare is really good at doing two things: kicking field goals and getting touch backs. Those are both great things if you have a defense that’s not going up against Drew Brees, a guy who has no problem driving the length of the field. Three of the Saints five touchdowns were 80-yard drives after a touchback, the other two were 75 and 42 yards.
Their shortest drive of the game came after Roy Lewis was called for interfering with a fair catch on a play where Lance Moore called for a fair catch and moved laterally about eight to 10 yards before actually catching it. Technically interference, I guess, but certainly we can give Roy a pass on that one.
There were clearly more objectionable calls by the officials during the game. One that stood out in particular was a roughing the passer call on Raheem Brock. Brock commented on Twitter after the game, “I guess I don't know how to tackle a quarterback anymore! How bad was that call when I'm trying to stop the qb's arm from goin fwd!”
Shortly after, Brock issued an apology. “I just want to apologize to the No. 12s on that call I got! First thing tomorrow I will go to work and memorize the 'Tackling Zone' for QBs,” he said
After the game, Coach Carroll pointed to the defense's lack of getting the Saints off of the field on third down. Of 15 third down plays, Seattle came up with stops only four times. Another point he recognized was despite a lot of adversity, his team never showed signs of throwing in the towel. Even though they were only able to put up three points in the second half,
Even as the team is reaching the latter part of the season, Hasselbeck seemed to concede that the Seahawks are still getting used to all of the offseason changes and looking forward to the team firing on all cylinders.
“I think we feel good about the improvement, but we’re definitely not there and we have a lot of work to continue to do,” Hasselbeck said. “Hopefully we’ll get going...and we’ll get in a rhythm.”
With only six games remaining, Seattle certainly needs to start winning some big games if it expects to be playing and preparing for playoff teams. Three of the final six games are against potential playoff teams: Kansas City, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay.
Even with the horrific stats in the red zone, the Seahawks may still find a way to make the playoffs, but they won’t survive the first round if Mare continues to be their leading scorer. I love Olindo and all, but I’m getting really sick of seeing that guy on the field when he’s not coming out to kick off or kick PATs.
Another concern for the Seahawks is the status of Mike Williams. He was injured during his 68-yard reception and returned to the game to finish with six catches for 109 yards. In a press conference the day after the game, Carroll said that the injury to Williams’ foot is something that team doctors had never seen before.
Even though Carroll admitted it wasn’t as serious as they originally thought, on time frame was given for his possible return. Instead the team will “wait and see” how his foot responds.
Despite falling back to .500, Seattle is still in control of the NFC West as every team in the division lost this week. The 49ers were shut out at home 21-0 by Tampa Bay, the Cardinals lost in Kansas City, and the Rams fell at home to the Falcons.
Things don’t get much easier for St. Louis as the Rams start a three-game road stretch where they face the Broncos, Cardinals and Saints. San Francisco has its next two games on the road in Arizona and Green Bay before their home rematch against the Seahawks.
With three upcoming home games, the Cardinals may have a chance to turn things around against two NFC West rivals before the Broncos come to town. It’s either a great opportunity to turn around a five-game losing streak or fall farther behind the rest of the division.
Considering the way things are going in the NFC West, a two-game lead over the defending division champs should be enough to hold them off. Depending on how the Rams play over their three-game road stretch, they may still be the team Seattle needs to look out for.
Brandan Schulze is a Navy veteran and member of the military chapter of the Sea Hawkers, the official booster club for the Seattle Seahawks. For more information on the chapter, visit www.militaryseahawkers.ning.com. Membership is free for all military service members and veterans.