About five minutes after the game at Qwest Field last Sunday, I’m sure another catchy billboard slogan could come to mind to a number of fans streaming out of the stadium. If there was ever a bandwagon overload leading up to this game, I’m sure that there will be plenty of seats for the next home game.
That’s too bad, really. The stadium set attendance records last Sunday. More fans were in that stadium than ever – just to watch such a colossal collapse.
It’s been an interesting couple of days, listening to the fans, coaches, and players’ reactions to the game. There has been much gnashing of teeth, topped off by such gems as “If you play to keep a lead, you’ll play to lose” or “No killer instinct” or “Fire Holmgren!” (a favorite of some very fair weather fans).
So, let’s take a look at the 3rd quarter, shall we, and dispel some of these myths.
In the Seahawks’ first series in the 3rd quarter, there was one initial run by Alexander that was just gangbusters. Alexander gained 41 yards to get us out of the shade of our goalposts to the Ram’s side of the field in one run. Then another run for -1. Then a dropped pass by Morris. Then a short gain pass to Jackson of six yards when we needed eleven. Punt.
Second series (still third quarter). Dropped pass by Stevens. Dropped pass by Robinson. Tried to fake the Ram’s defenders by handing off to Mack Strong – for four yards.
Third series (now the forth quarter). Alexander dropped for a loss of three yards. Dump off pass to Strong (after spending an eternity in the pocket looking for someone to get open) for another loss of three yards. On third and sixteen, Hasselbeck scrambles for 14 yards.
Now it’s forth and two yards to go. They go for it, and convert, on a pass play to Jackson for nine yards. They try and stab Alexander twice more, and failed on a pass to gain sufficient yardage for a first down. Field Goal.
These three series displays one glaring fact – we were NOT playing conservatively. Going for it on forth and two? If it wasn’t for the dropped passes by practically everyone except for Jackson, this game would’ve been so far out of reach Mike Martz would’ve needed a fire truck ladder to get back in the game.
Now, the real fun begins.
Our offense gets the ball back after a blooming miracle catch/touchdown by the Rams’ Brandon Manumaleuna with a little over five and a half minutes left in the game. This is the ONLY time Mike Holmgren tried to burn some clock on purpose. Any coach in the NFL – up by ten points at this stage of the game – would do the same thing.
Unfortunately, Alexander was held just inches away from a first down. Still, we burned off two full minutes from the clock in a three-and-out. Who knew our defensive secondary would be caught flat-footed the very next play, when Bulger completes one pass for 41 yards and a touchdown, bringing the Rams to within three points? Our defense had been shutting down the Ram’s offense all game, why would anyone suspect anything different?
But that one play, that one touchdown catch, that one lightning strike, changed everything.
Our team panicked.
Our offense tried its’ best. It converted on one first down with a pass to Robinson, but Hasselbeck missed a wide open Engram for another. A run by Alexander for five yards got us to a third and medium – certainly not a bad position to be in.
Then came the blitz.
Leonard Little was a non-factor pretty much the entire game. He had recorded no sacks, but because stunting by other defensive backs in the middle of the line caused our line to tighten up, Little on the right side simply blew by everyone and sacked Hasselbeck for a loss of nine.
Then it was time for our defense to completely forget how to cover receivers. Completions of 27 and 16 yards got the Rams in position to tie.
Overtime. Coin Toss. Collapse so bad it was embarrassing.
Our offensive scheme didn’t lose this game. Mike Holmgren, the offensive guru, didn’t lose this game. The blame lays squarely on the shoulders of our wide receivers for dropping so many balls on critical third downs. It’s also draped across our offensive line that had been a textbook of protection the entire game, only to fall apart at the worst possible moment. It’s also smothering our entire defense which seemed to be celebrating a bit too much the second half of the game. And lastly, it has buried defensive coach Ray Rhodes, who gambled (and lost) by blitzing everyone and his brother and leaving Terreal Bierria all alone to cover man to man a speedy wide receiver.
And give some credit to
the Rams – they didn’t give up.
Glenn Geiss writes the Fan Noise column for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel free to send him feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.