Credit: Jim O
There was no messing around in this game. They wanted to make sure that their message was received loud and clear, a message meant to show that Seattle is the best team in the NFL. They played with the same bravado that they have all season but this one felt like they didn’t want to leave any doubt on the field, no doubt that they were on a mission to wrap up the division and a first round bye. They did their part, but San Francisco didn’t cooperate. Did you really expect them to?
You may be tempted to call me Nostradamus, but please don’t, I avoid astrology as a means of predictions. But I was right about the game on Sunday. My prediction going in was that Seattle’s secondary would have a banner day against a struggling Eli Manning. 5 interceptions later, I almost felt bad for Manning out there, he looked confused. No really, he looked confused. It was as if he had no idea how to move the ball against this offense. I guess this is validated by the fact that the Giants didn’t get across the 50 yard line until mid-way through the fourth quarter.
With the pressure we generated up front it forced Eli to toss the ball up for grabs as he got antsy in the pocket. Many of those passes were so off the mark that they looked intended for our cornerbacks. Maxwell and Sherman defended their guys against the sidelines leaving no place for the ball to go but into their hands. The fact that Sherman was a receiver at one point in his career and is tall for a corner doesn’t hurt his chances either. And when Sherman wasn’t taking the ball away he was getting others in on the act, e.g. Earl Thomas. I absolutely loved Sherman’s defense of the pass into Thomas’ hands in the end zone. Way to share the wealth guys!
Our rushing defense came up huge against a Giants team that really doesn’t have a rushing identity right now. We gave up a total of 25 rushing yards. They had a total of 14 rushing attempts against a front line that just didn’t leave many gaps to run through.When you are averaging 1.8 yards/run you quickly abandon that game plan in favor of something else. Unfortunately the ‘something else’ option was no better.
I must hand it to the Giant’s defense, they played hard, nothing-to-lose, kind of football. Their pass rush was formidable and kept Russell Wilson on his toes all afternoon. However, New York’s rush wasn’t sustained on every play, which allowed Wilson a lot of time to pass the ball or run on several occasions. Lynch and Baldwin were the biggest benefactors of this situation. Okay, stop right there…Lynch was our leading receiver…Lynch! Wait, wait…Wilson was our leading rusher…Wilson! I found myself asking the absurd, but serious question…’how do you stop this team’? When you have role-mixing (i.e. rushers leading in receiving, quarterback leading in rushing) your defensive scheme goes out the window. There is no predictability, no framework for laying out a solid plan neutralizing what Seattle will throw (or run) at you. Now, if they would throw in an occasional trick-play you would have complete and utter pandemonium on the field.
Thank Goodness Wilson ran during this game. I still didn’t see the standard read-option that I like to see every once in a while but I did see Wilson keep the ball when plays broke down. I think we are so much better when Wilson has the green light to run once in a while. I do cringe when he runs but he is so smart that he is down on the turf or out-of-bounds before defenders can get to him. I understand that Wilson wasn’t perfect in this game, he did miss his intended targets a few times in situations that he normally makes. Let’s just chalk it up to cold weather.
Here is the beauty of our passing game. Wilson doesn’t have to be perfect in his throws. We don’t have the largest receivers in the NFL but I would put our overall receiver corp up against any other team in terms of aggressive, I-am-going-to-beat-you-to-the-ball, type of plays. How many times have we seen the ball coming down thinking that it was going to be intercepted only to watch Tate jump in front, toward the ball, and pluck it out of the air? When your QB has confidence in his receivers he will take a few chances. The only time that didn’t happen in the game was when the ball was lofted for Ricardo Lockette and he got out-muscled and out-positioned by the Giants CBs. Lockette had better take a few pointers from the other Seahawk receivers or he will see his playing time diminish from an already small number of opportunities.
Unfortunately I must re-open a couple of old wounds…penalties and 3rd down inefficiency. We now have amassed 112 total penalties so far this season with two games still to play. We are second to Houston in total net yards lost to penalties and second in total penalty yards. It hurts our team and hinders our ability to get into a rhythm. It hurts my ability to ‘enjoy’ each outstanding play that we make, because my first thought always is ‘…yeah but let’s see if there was a flag thrown on the play.’ This has to be cleaned up going forward, starting with offsides, encroachment, or neutral zone infractions…items that are more easily controlled. The fact that we were only 3-13 on 3rd down conversions hearkens back to conversion rates earlier in the season. I can give the Giants credit for playing hard against Seattle and therefore creating some of our troubles on third down, but some of it has to be placed on our offense. Maybe the solution is to never get to a third down. Yep, that sounds like the right answer.
We continue to dominate in time of possession against our opponents. The fact that we have the ball more than half the game speaks volumes to the fact that our defense is dominant and we like to run the ball. Two staples of what personifies the Seahawks. Throw in our special teams play, which is on a record-setting pace this year. Thanks go to Jeremy Lane, one of our multi-dimensional players, who acts as a ‘gunner’ on punt coverage. He is one of the crazies…one of the many on this team…willing to sacrifice life and limb to bring down the opposing player. 19 total punt return yards this season? Just incredible.
Well boys, how did your visit to New York treat you? Felt pretty comfortable did it? Kind of like you belong there, you say? There are still many games to play against some very admirable opponents. But keep your nose to the grindstone, stay healthy, execute your game-plan and ‘leave no doubt’ that you will be back in February 2014. Go Hawks!