Up until last year, the Seahawks were known for great offense and very mediocre defense. With one of the offensive geniuses in the league as their head coach, it stood to reason that this would be the case. However, last year things began to change and entering the 2006 regular season Mike Holmgren felt his defense could be pretty good.
Well, after their first game, a hard-fought 9-6 defensive win over Detroit on the road, Holmgren appears to have his answer. The defense is going to be a good one this year.
Seattle came out of the blocks quickly taking the opening kickoff and driving 44 yards on five plays down to the Detroit 23 yard line.
New Seahawks WR Nate Burleson had a big catch during the drive – a 36-yarder – to the Lions 24, but the drive faltered and they prepared for K Josh Brown to get them out to an early three point lead. However, Detroit DT Shaun Rogers had a different plan.
The 6-4, 357 pound Rogers knifed through a gap in Seattle’s kick protection and blocked Brown’s attempt and the crowd was now into the game.
Detroit took over on their own 27 and on the legs of RB Kevin Jones and behind the arm of QB Jon Kitna, they went 47 yards in 10 plays, aided by a defensive holding penalty on Seahawks DE Grant Wistrom and ended up taking the early lead on a Jason Hanson 44-yard field goal.
Brown also had his second attempt blocker, a 53-yard attempt, when DE James Hall got a piece of the kick.
Seattle’s offense, which led the league in scoring last season, was out-of-sync all day as well.
The offensive line was porous all day, allowing QB Matt Hasselbeck to be hit on numerous occasions and lacking any kind of consistency in the running game, but they did manage two field goals from Brown, one coming on the last play of the first half, and they headed into the locker room with a 6-3.
After halftime it still appeared both offenses still hadn’t gotten the message that this is the regular season as they traded punts on six straight possessions before Hanson attempted a 52-yarder that he left a bit short allowing Seattle to hold onto its precarious three point lead.
With great starting field position – their own 42 – Seattle could only must 13 yards and one first down, having to allow P Ryan Plackemeier an attempt to pin the Lions deep in their own end. The rookie from Wake Forest, who had an excellent day punting, hit the ball into the endzone allowing Kitna and the offense some room as they started at their own 20.
Plakemeier finished the day with a 52.6 yard average on five punts and generally kept the Lions pinned deep in their own end. Also helping the cause was an excellent effort by the coverage units especially RB Josh Scobey who blasted Lions PR Eddie Drummond as the punt arrived on a questionable play.
Scobey appeard to hit Drummond early and a flag was thrown, but after a short discussion the referees determined he was pushed in the back by a blocker. However, the replay showed differently.
With the ball on their own 20, Kitna and the Lions embarked on an 11 play, 61 yard drive all the way to Seattle’s 19 – their deepest penetration of the day – and settled for a ame-tying 37-yard field goal from Hanson.
But Seattle has been in these situations before and they seemed to come alive with 3:13 remaining on the clock and the ball on their own 20 yard line. Hasselbeck handed off the RB Shaun Alexander – who finished the day with 51 yards on 19 rushes – and the 2005 MVP burst up the middle for a big 14-yard gain.
Hasselbeck then hit WR Darrell Jackson on the right side on 2nd and 8 and the seventh year wideout reversed his field, got some blocking from his entire team and ended up running out of bounds on the left side of the field at the Detroit 49 for another Seattle first down.
After Alexander was thrown for a four-yard loss on 1st and 10, Hasselbeck hit WR D.J. Hackett with a big completion for another first down and then the play of the day was turned in by an unlikely hero.
RB Maurice Morris, who had subbed in for Alexander, took a handoff to the right side, patiently waited for a hole to open and then exploded through the line for a 17-yard gain to the Detroit 24 setting up Brown for the game-winning 42-yard field goal giving Seattle a rare opening week victory over the pesky Lions, 9-6.
The Seahawks’ defense only surrendered 251 yards of total offense – including a meager 38 on the ground – and allowed Detroit to only convert on 5 of 14 third down attempts.
Seattle now heads home to face off against division rival Arizona on Sunday at Qwest Field.