Seattle Seahawks 20, Tampa Bay
Sunday September 9, 2007
Qwest Field, Seattle, Washington
Play Of The Day: RB Maurice Morris went in motion
on 3rd and 5 with 8:41 left in the fourth quarter and smoked over-the-hill
LB Derrick Brooks for a 34 yard touchdown pass from Matt Hasselbeck that put
Seattle up 20-6 and put the game out of reach..
Walter Jones, Rob Sims, Chris Spencer, Chris Gray and Sean Locklear. Heading
into the season, the Seattle offensive line was a major question mark and
the front five answered the call by consistently blowing the Tampa defense
off of the line and by not just giving Matt Hasselbeck time in the pocket,
but by opening the front of the Tampa defensive line for him to scramble through
when the going got tough in the backfield. LB Lofa Tatupu finished the day
as the teams leading tackler and made big hits all day long - from when he
broadsided RB Carnell “Cadillac” Williams and knocked him out of the game
with a rib injury, to his second forced fumble of the game after a completion
to Earnest Graham with three minutes and change left on the clock to ice the
Things That Made Me Go, “Blech”: Poor punt and kick coverage that
gave the Buccaneers better starting field possession then they should have
had all day long, combined with poor decision making on behalf of Josh Wilson
and Nate Burleson (although Burleson earns a pass thanks to his 58-yard punt
return in the second quarter). …Two roughing the passer penalties by the defense
on third and long plays that extended drives, one by Leroy Hill and one by
Rocky Bernard. Both hits were late and deserving of the 15 yards awarded
to the Bucs…In an attempt not to be a prototypical Seahawks fan, I’ll merely
steal a comment from former New Orleans Saints GM Jim Finks who once opined
that “I’m not allowed to comment on lousy officiating”…I’m eagerly awaiting
Mike Pereira’s explanation of how a shin is actually a knee and how a whistle from
the crowd that only the punter hears should result in an elementary school
Offense: The aforementioned offensive line
played a rock-solid game, giving Alexander room to cutback and keeping the
heat off of Matt Hasselbeck for a majority of the snaps. Hasselbeck, for
his part, finished the day 17-22 with 222 yards and a TD pass, showing solid
decision-making in the pocket. Shaun Alexander answered the call rushing
for over 100 yards and a touchdown, but, perhaps more importantly, he was
particularly hard-nosed when it mattered most, rushing for 30 yards on six
carries that ate up three and a half valuable minutes at the end of the game.
Tight End Marcus Pollard led the team with 5 grabs and has easily justified
the front office’s decision in signing him during this past offseason.
Bobby Engram once again
proved himself invaluable as Matt’s safety valve grabbing three key receptions
that kept drives alive (and one that led directly to the Seahawks first points
of the game). Maurice Morris did well on his few carries and hauled in the
play of the game by streaking down the sidelines and nabbing a Hasselbeck
rainbow for the game’s final score.
On the downside, D.J. Hackett
left the field after his first and only reception with a sprained ankle and
Deion Branch only made the offensive stat sheet by dropping a pass, which
does make him an effective replacement for the departed Darrell Jackson.
Mike Holmgren called a few head-scratchers during the course of the game, including a failed
flea-flicker and one of his patented third and long draw plays to Mack Strong
that quickly brought out the boo-birds at Qwest Field, but by the second quarter
Holmgren returned to what he does best: straight up West Coast Football and
all’s well that ends well.
Defense: The front seven finished the game
with six sacks, three forced fumbles and knocked both Jeff Garcia and Cadillac
Williams out of the game. Leroy Hill had an up and down game with an early
bonehead roughing the passer call on third and long that would ultimately
allow Tampa to kick a chip shot field goal offset by a bone crushing hit on
Garcia in the third quarter that forced the him from the game. Julian Peterson
and Patrick Kearny earned their big paychecks by getting up in Garcia’s grill
all day long contributing 2 sacks each. Chuck Darby and Darryl Tapp both
played strong games from the interior of the line contributing to the sack
total, stuffing runs and, in the case of Tapp, swatting down a few passes.
The Seattle secondary was victimized early by Garcia and Joey Galloway,
but a quick double-team adjustment on Galloway effectively shut down the Tampa
offense for the rest of the game. The run defense was very stout, keeping
the entire Buccaneer team from gaining more than 100 yards on the ground.
Admittedly, the Tampa Offense ranked 30th in the NFL last year
in Football Outsider’s DVOA (for an explanation of what that means click here), but it was
refreshing to see that the Seattle
could put away a team when they were expected to.
Special Teams: Nate Burleson's fantastic 58 yard
punt return aside, the Seahawks' special teams was considerably less-than-stellar.
Burleson and rookie Josh Wilson seemed lost on most of the returns, and by
lost I mean that they seemed blissfully unaware that the point of football
is to matriculate the ball downfield. The duo spent the lion’s share of their
returns running towards the sidelines or towards their own end zone rather
than towards the opponent’s goal line.
On the other side of the
ball, Ryan Plackemeier and Josh Brown saw booming kicks offset by the coverage
teams’ complete inability to get downfield in a timely manner which lead to
returns when there shouldn’t ought to have been any.
Against the Tampa Bucs, this didn’t lead to disaster, but against a better
team, this could have been the difference between victory and defeat. That
said, both Plackemeier and Brown nailed all of the
various kicks they were asked to make, be it a long field goal or a short
pooch punt, with the strength and accuracy that has made them the strongest
kicking due in the league.
Additional Notes: Perennial trouble-maker and ex-Seahawk
Jerramy Stevens made one catch late in the game and promptly coughed it up
after contact with NFC Playoff hero Jordan Babineaux. The play would be negated
by a Rocky Bernard roughing the passer penalty, but the play was not lost
on the home crowd in Seattle.
Marcus Pollard ran over
Tampa Bay LB Quincy Black on the first play from scrimmage of the second half.
The play only went for six yards, but I’m betting that Quincy
won’t be happy in the film room tomorrow.
Another Buc who won’t be happy in the film room will be rookie DB
Tenard Jackson who was juked out
of his shoes by Shaun Alexander on 16 yard dash early in the second quarter.
When Lofa Tatupu blasted
Cadillac Williams on the first play of the Buccaneers second drive in the
third quarter, the Rookie of the Year 2005 met the Reach of the 2005 Draft.
The Reach won … bigtime.
The Golden Microphone Award: One must wonder what the Seahawks
did to deserve the “A Team” of Dick Stockton and Brian Baldinger
as the announcing team for the season opener.
Between Stockton calling
second downs as third downs, announcing Marcus Pollard receptions as catches
for Mack Strong and “Baldy” noting how the Seattle crowd wasn’t in the game
right before Tampa got called for their first false start deep in the Hawks'
Nest end zone or spending the vast majority of the first half gushing over
elderly Derrick Brooks (who proceeded to get smoked for the game-changing
play only after a costly face mask penalty and missing several key tackles
against Shaun Alexander), I had a hard time choosing which of the pair was
more deserving of the Golden Microphone.
Ultimately I went with Stockton,
because Baldinger has the Chuck Bednarik
pinky on his hand, proving that he at least played the game.
Summary: The Seahawks won a game they were
supposed to but not without showing a bit of early season rust. The offense
and defense were sluggish out of the gate but managed to dial it back in by
the second quarter and put away the Bucs for good before the halfway mark
of the fourth quarter.
Both of the units that were
questionable heading into the season, namely the offensive line and the defensive
secondary, had solid outings against an inferior opponent, but the struggles
of the special teams unit is a concern, especially seeing as how Philadelphia
lost a game against the lowly Packers due to poor special teams play earlier
in the day. Still, the Seahawks gave the fans at Qwest Field a solid outing
and early jump on the rest of the division with an opening day victory.
Dylan is a die-hard Seahawks fan trapped
in Eagles Country. He firmly believes that “Live At Leeds” is the single greatest
live performance since a deaf Ludwig Van debuted his final symphony in Vienna
in 1824. You can e-mail Dylan at NJSeahawksFan@gmail.com.