SMQB: Seahawks 23, Chiefs 17

The Seahawks' offensive line raises unexpected questions, Darby and Tubbs prove their value, Lofa Tatupu learns about the next level, and the starters get some serious reps in Seattle's 23-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Seattle Seahawks 23, Kansas City Chiefs 17
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City. Missouri

The hype surrounding this game, the third of the preseason, was that with the starters playing at least through the first half, it would matter almost as much as a regular-season game. An interesting, but fallacious opinion – in the grand scheme of things, this contest meant about as much as a training camp scrimmage, or Madden Bowl 2006. It was nice to see the first-teamers in there for so long, but things don’t get real for the Seahawks until first cuts on August 30 and the final preseason game on Friday against the Vikings, when careers are at stake and the desperation to remedy previous errors or build on surprise performances takes hold.

Play Of The Day: With 5:32 left in the third quarter, Seneca Wallace took the snap at his own 30 on 2nd and 10, eluded two defenders at the line, backtracked to his left, started to run back to the line, and dumped a little shovel pass to FB Leonard Weaver. The play was neglible from a yardage standpoint (the Seahawks gained five yards on the subsequent offsides penalty against Kansas City), but it was compelling evidence once again of Wallace’s athleticism.

For Kansas City, it would be Larry Johnson’s 97-yard TD run…but we’ll get to that later.

Handouts To The Standouts: Matt Hasselbeck, for putting up some very impressive numbers despite an occasionally faulty GPS…Hass’ understudy, Seneca Wallace, for his continued improvement as a QB and his terrifying speed and elusiveness as a runner…Darrell Jackson, for looking like the #1 receiver we all would like to think he can be…Marcus Tubbs and Chuck Darby, for showing what they can do as a unit (not to mention what happens when they’re not in the game!)…Jerheme Urban, for suddenly making the position battle at wideout a hair more interesting…Joe Jurevicius, for pretty much locking up a spot that was most likely already his…Kevin Bentley, for racking up six tackles (tied for the Seattle game lead with Tubbs) and showing nice pursuit on special teams…Craig Terrill, for bringing his lunchpail and a very impressive motor…and the team as a whole, for showing a resiliency during Kansas City's final drive that we might not have seen from last year’s team.

Things That Made Me Go, “Blech!”: Lofa Tatupu’s return to earth…the surprising number of times Michael Boulware was caught out of position…special teams as a whole, but especially Josh Brown’s performance…the way the entire defense appeared to undergo a lobotomy on Johnson’s long run…the running game (especially in the first half)…the starting offensive line (!) for showing a disturbing ability to bend to pressure at times for the second week in a row…and the injuries to Pork Chop Womack (tricep), Kerry Carter (ankle) and D.J. Hackett (MCL sprain). At publication time, the extent of those injuries was not known.

Offense: Looking at his stats alone, you might think that Matt Hasselbeck blew through this game with minimal concern. 22 completions in 33 attempts for 254 yards, 2 TDs and no picks in 2 ½ quarters of football would lead to that assumption. And Hasselbeck did, for the most part, look like the field general the Seahawks need him to be. On the downside, there were some really errant throws – some predicated on the unusually porous line, and a few inexplicable gaffes from #8 himself. However, this isn’t a game of perfection. The best quarterbacks put up the numbers and lead their teams to victory even when the compass is a bit off. In that regard, Hasselbeck had what could be termed an encouraging outing.

Seneca Wallace also put forth a fine effort, completing 8 of 12 passes for 104 yards. Wallace’s maturation as a quarterback has been very impressive, and he showed the ability to bounce back after last week’s sub-par effort against the Cowboys.

Where the iffy line play really showed was in the running game. At the half, Kansas City had outgained Seattle 162 yards to 7 on the ground, and the Seahawks rushed for only 69 yards on the night. This was partially due to the Chiefs’ targeting Alexander with repeated run blitzes, but the line Seattle has put together should be able to counter that better than they did. Mike Holmgren and offensive line coach Bill Laveroni should have a ball on film day.

Another guy who will dread film day is Kansas City cornerback Patrick Surtain. The former Dolphin, who was once the subject of rumors about possibly making Seattle his home, was toasted like a bagel by Darrell Jackson. Catching 7 balls for 99 yards and a touchdown, Jackson showed every bit of the ability he has to move off the line, grab the ball on the run and pick up the tough yards after the catch. Most encouraging, of course, was Jackson’s ability to hold on to the ball and avoid those exasperating drops – without the epidemic of butterfingers that has plagued this team in the past, it’s obviously easier to see how this offense is supposed to work. When Hasselbeck was threading the needle on the short throws, the Seahawks showed admirable efficiency.

Bobby Engram and Joe Jurevicius, Seattle’s possession receivers (and how nice it is to have more than one guy who lives up to that term!) each caught three passes as well. The surprise performance had to come from Jerheme Urban. Hyped back in minicamps as a sure bet to make the roster, Urban’s stock had plummeted after a dismal training camp and preseason. However, he enjoyed a determined effort on the night with 4 catches for 66 yards. If it’s too late for Urban to make this team (and as a two-time practice squad player, he’d be out of Seattle’s control if he was cut), it’s safe to say that he bagged a shot with another team with this performance. D.J. Hackett, the man who has replaced Urban on the depth charts of most, brought in two nice catches before his injury.

Defense: Last season, it was, in part, Grant Wistrom’s injuries that sealed the demise of Seattle’s defense, And while the team desperately needs Wistrom to stay healthy this season as well, the new DT rotation of Marcus Tubbs and Chuck Darby has proven, at least in the preseason, to be every bit as indispensable. With Tubbs and Darby plugging up the middle, running stunts and throwing KC’s offense out of whack, the Seahawks’ defense looked like the unit they’ll need to have to make any sort of postseason noise. When the two starters were removed in favor of Craig Terrill and Rocky Bernard…well, you had second-string running backs torching the D for 97-yard runs. Eek. Terrill has an intriguing knack with the pass rush (three sacks so far in the preseason, including the takedown which stymied KC’s final desperate drive), but the line can’t take any personnel hits this season. That of course, is a risky proposition.

Johnson’s 97-yard second-quarter scamper was especially disturbing, as it came right after the only notable special teams play of the game – Omare Lowe’s hyper-athletic aerial work in downing a Leo Araguz punt at the Kansas City three-yard line. On the play itself, both Terrill and Bernard were waylaid by the Chiefs’ excellent offensive line, Lofa Tatupu was devoured in the middle, safety Michael Boulware was late with help, and Johnson was off to the races.

Kansas City gained 215 yards on the ground, as opposed to only 211 through the air. The Chiefs were able to run with impunity to a disturbing extent, and aside from a few impressive early stops by Jamie Sharper in the first quarter, the linebackers really didn’t do a great deal to help the issue. Tatupu, renowned for his intelligence and near-psychic ability to read plays and take proper angles at the college level, is now learning that the NFL is a Whole. New. Ballgame. He looked every bit the rookie, appearing to have real issues with positioning, and struggling to shed blocks. Tatupu is a very smart player and a true gym rat…I have no doubt that the game will come to him in time. Safe to say that the predictions which had him blowing out the NFL from day one were premature, as they are with just about any player.

The efforts of Tubbs and Darby also helped the Seahawks’ new starting cornerback in the first quarter, when interior pressure caused Trent Green’s errant throw into the hands of Andre Dyson. Kelly Herndon also had a nice deflection on a pass intended for Samie Parker.

Special Teams: So…we were talking about guys who will be dreading film day? Josh Brown won’t enjoy the plane ride home much, either. When you boot two kickoffs out of bounds (giving your opponent lovely field position at their own 40-yard line), you’re asking for a few barbs aimed in your direction. Could it possibly be that Brown, long known to have issues getting his kickoffs in the opposing end zone, was attempting different technique or tying to put too much “English” on the ball? Possibly. Mike Holmgren was roasting new special teams coach Bob Casullo on the sidelines, and we all know what runs downhill.

New acquisition Josh Scobey returned three kickoffs for 70 yards, a 23.3 yard-per-return average.

Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET. Feel free to contact him at doug@seahawks.net.

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