Should Seneca Start vs. Eagles?
Gettty/Otto Greule Jr.

Posted Nov 27, 2007


Should Seattle rest quarterback Matt Hasselbeck this week against Philadelphia in order to get him completely healthy for the Dec. 9 division showdown against Arizona that could secure the Seahawks' fourth straight division title?

After all, Hasselbeck is playing with sore ribs that he suffered in a win over Chicago two games ago, and the injury clearly affected him in Sunday's win over St. Louis. After the game, Hasselbeck was in the bathroom retching multiple times. He only practiced one day last week.

Also, backup Seneca Wallace has looked extremely sharp in practice recently, especially the week that he stood in for Hasselbeck while the starter was resting and rehabbing his injury.

And with Arizona booting away that game to San Francisco, the Seahawks now hold a two-game lead in the division, with the Cardinals forced to play the surprising Cleveland Browns on Sunday in Phoenix.
In Philadelphia, there is some question whether Donovan McNabb is healthy enough to play, and certainly that team will be distracted by a quarterback controversy this week after A.J. Feeley nearly led the Eagles to an upset of New England on Sunday night.

But regardless of what happens in Philadelphia and in Phoenix on Sunday, the Seahawks will have a chance to extend their lead back to at least two games if they beat the Cardinals at Qwest Field, where the Seahawks are 5-1. With three games left after that, it would be very difficult at that point to lose the division and the automatic playoff berth that comes with it.

So it may make sense for Hasselbeck to be completely healthy for that game and for the stretch run as they head into the playoffs, rather than Sunday's game against a tough NFC East opponent that likes to blitz, as it did successfully against New England.

However, coach Mike Holmgren said he is not going to consider that possibility as long as Hasselbeck is able to play, even if he is restricted in practice this week.

"We have not won anything yet," Holmgren said, adding that once the team clinches the division title he may consider resting Hasselbeck, but not until then.

NOTES, QUOTES

--For the second consecutive week, DE Patrick Kerney had three sacks, and for the third consecutive week, he forced a fumble. Kerney, the team's biggest offseason acquisition, also had an interception. Kerney had only 4.5 sacks through the first nine weeks, but now he leads the team with 10.5 sacks, doing his best to earn his $39.5 million contract. Oddly, he accomplished all this after straining his oblique. "I'm just able to reap the benefits of everybody else's hard work; sacks are a team thing and lately I've just been the beneficiary," Kerney said. "It's been a great job by our coverage and by the defensive line pinning the guy in for me."

--Defensive coordinator John Marshall installed a new goal-line defense last week that was more focused on man-to-man coverage and gap control. It was that defense that Marshall called on Seattle's final play of its victory over St. Louis on Sunday. Rams QB Gus Frerotte fumbled the snap, which made the running play for Steven Jackson fall apart before it ever got started. But the Seahawks felt they would have stopped the play anyway because they knew where the ball was going and they were set up properly. "It never got tested," Brian Russell said, "but we were in the position to stuff the play. I'm confident of that."

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--It is not yet certain if RB Shaun Alexander will practice this week after suffering a sprained knee that has kept him out for two straight games. If he practices Wednesday, he has a chance to play Sunday against Philadelphia.
--WR D.J. Hackett re-injured a high-ankle sprain he suffered in Week 1 and is out at least two weeks.
--LB Lofa Tatupu has sore ribs rather than the oblique injury that the Seahawks originally thought. Tatupu should be ready to play Sunday.
--QB Matt Hasselbeck has sore ribs and may be limited in practice this week. He is expected to play Sunday against Philadelphia.
--RB Maurice Morris injured his neck when he was face-masked in Sunday's game but is expected to play this week in Philadelphia.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

REPORT CARD VS. RAMS

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- This portion of Seattle's offense never seemed to get in a rhythm primarily because St. Louis sent just about everybody on the field to pressure Matt Hasselbeck, who was sacked five times and hurried nine. Hasselbeck was 21-for-38 for 249 yards, a touchdown and an interception. His receivers, including Deion Branch and Nate Burleson, also dropped a few passes.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- The Seahawks totaled just 87 yards, 46 of which came on one draw play -- though, admittedly, that play was hugely important because it loosened up St. Louis' defense. The other positive was that the Seahawks rushed for a touchdown for the third consecutive week, this one coming by fullback Leonard Weaver after Maurice Morris went to the sideline after being face-masked.

PASS DEFENSE: B-plus -- Though it gave up a touchdown pass from Gus Frerotte to Isaac Bruce, it generally held Frerotte in check; Marcus Trufant picked him off once. The pass rush knocked Marc Bulger from the game early and was able to record four sacks, three by Patrick Kerney, who also forced a fumble.

RUSH OFFENSE: A-minus -- It gave up a 53-yard touchdown run to Steven Jackson, though that in large part came about because the defense was blitzing. More important, it had two goal-line stands in which it did not give up a touchdown, including the final set of downs, when the Rams had first-and-goal from the 4.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Josh Wilson gets an A for his 89-yard kickoff return in the first quarter that kept Seattle in the game when it was trailing 9-0. But Josh Brown gets an F for two missed field-goal attempts, including one with less than three minutes to go that would have sealed at least a tie if St. Louis scored.

COACHING: B -- Mike Holmgren made some nice halftime adjustments to keep the pressure off Hasselbeck, including pulling out the hurry-up offense, going to the draw play -- including the 46-yarder by Morris -- and calling plays for Hasselbeck to roll out. Defensive coordinator John Marshall's unit held the Rams scoreless in the second half.



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