MMQB - Falcons 44, Seahawks 41

Josh Brown, ferocious tackler! (AP)

In what amounted to a "preseason for the postseason game" for the Seahawks, the team walked away without any major injuries and valuable snaps for the second string on offense and defense. Sure a win would have been nice, but the team showed enough on both sides of the ball for the game to be considered a positive experience.

Atlanta Falcons 44, Seattle Seahawks 41
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA

Play Of The Day:  With eight minutes remaining in the game, Seneca Wallace hit Nate Burleson on a short pass near the right hashmark.  Burleson proceeded to juke DB Chris Houston out his shoes and outran the rest of the Atlanta secondary to the end zone to cut the Falcons lead to 7.

Handouts to the StandoutsJosh Brown enjoyed his finest game of the season booting two 50+ yard field goals, getting all but one of his kickoffs to the two yard line or deeper and making two touchdown saving tackles on kick coverage, the second of which featuring him tacking the correct angle and running down Falcons return man Adam Jennings from the other side of the field. 

Maurice Morris, Shaun Alexander and Leonard Weaver all had success on the ground, finishing the game with a combined 156 yards and two touchdowns.  Special credit goes the the offensive line for actually opening holes for the backs to run through.  Better late than never! 

Nate Burleson caught two touchdown passes including the aforementioned "Play of the Day" and had over 100 yards receiving in his best day as wideout for the Seahawks.

Things That Made Me Go "Blech":  Lofa Tatupu's total failure to wrap up Alge Crumpler allowed the big TE to careen off of Tatupu's failed tackle right past Brian Russell and rumble 55 yards for a touchdown. 

Seneca Wallace's two consecutive turnovers on two consecutive touches gave the ball to the Falcons twice inside the Seattle 20 yard line.  On the first turnover, Wallace went to scramble from the pocket holding the football like the proverbial loaf of bread and was, predictably, relieved of possession of the ball.  As a guy who has played more wide receiver than quarterback this season, Seneca should know better. 

The Seattle kickoff coverage team was poor to begin with, but without Niko Koutouvides, they were frighteningly bad.  It's a miracle (and thanks to Josh Brown!) that the Falcons didn't return a kickoff for a score or two during the game. 

Matt Hasselbeck ran backwards thirty yards before attempting to throw the ball away and failed to get the ball anywhere near the line of scrimmage resulting in an intentional grounding penalty.  On the ensuing 3rd and 40, he was stripped of the ball and the Falcons recovered deep in Seattle territory.

Offense:  Matt Hasselbeck played a solid first half of football finishing the afternoon 15-25 for 147 yards, a touchdown, a fumble and no interceptions.  Most of Hasselbeck's incompletes were throwaways, which demonstrates good decision-making by a veteran who has been known to push the ball into coverages at times.  Seneca Wallace enjoyed a feast or famine type game in relief of Matt in the second half, completing 17 of 22 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, but also being responsible for turning the ball over deep in Seahawks territory twice that led directly to 14 points for the Falcons.

The offensive line did a better job run blocking then they have in the pass despite having Walter Jones on the bench for the game.  On the other hand, the pass blocking left much to be desired with Hasselbeck forced from the pocket with alarming regularity.

The running backs all enjoyed solid outings with Shaun Alexander showing more burst to the outside than he's shown all season.  Maurice Morris turned in a solid performance rushing for 91 yards and a score, and Leonard Weaver had a breakout game, rushing for 34 yards on 8 carries, including making all of his third and short runs.  Weaver also caught 6 passes for 34 yards and did a great job at picking up blitzes in the backfield. 

Nine Seahawks caught passes in the game led by Nate Burleson who snagged 7 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns.  Bobby Engram continued his best season as a pro, snagging another four passes for 65 yards and a touchdown. In the "Sight For Sore Eyes" category, D.J. Hackett contributed four catches while matched up against DeAngelo Hall for most of his snaps.  Both Will Heller and Marcus Pollard contributed important catches from the tight end position, including a key fourth down conversion by Pollard.

Defense:  The first team defense played well with the major exception of Craig Terril who demonstrated why Rocky Bernard may just be the most underrated piece of the Seahawks defensive puzzle.  Terril was swallowed up at the point of attack all game long allowing the Falcons to exploit the middle of the line all day long.  The front seven managed to generate solid pressure off of the edges for most the game despite only registering two sacks on the day.

Despite Tatupu's one missed tackle, the linebackers played well and Leroy Hill in particular had a banner day racking up five tackles including several key run stuffs, not the least of which was tackle for a loss on a 4th and one in the second quarter.

Special Teams:  On one hand there was the solid kicking game of Josh Brown, and on the other was the atrocious kick coverage game of his 10 teammates.  Seattle gave up massive chunks of yards on every kickoff.  Punter Ryan Plackemeier continues to be below average on his distance, although his placement has improved.  Nate Burleson and Josh Wilson did a very good job in handing the return duties although Burleson will have to answer for his bonehead offsides penalty on what would have been a successful onsides kick at the end of the game.

The Golden Microphone Award:  Chris Meyers and Jason Sehorn were the booth crew for the game and despite a fine job done by Meyers, Jason Sehorn couldn't keep his foot out of his mouth long enough to make the broadcast enjoyable.  Between calling players by the wrong names ("Matt" Morris??) and missing calls (crediting the Seahawks receivers for good downfield blocking during a replay that showed nary a block to be found), Sehorn has a long way to go before he's ready for prime time as an analyst. 

Still, even he was upstaged by the horribly inept direction from the truck.  No fewer than three snaps were missed due to either not getting back from commercials in time or because we were being treated to a FOX Promo.  Several important plays were not shown on replays and to cap it all off, the game was not shown in HD.  So for the second time this season, the FOX technical crew has earned a Golden Microphone Award.  Maybe next year we could hire some people who actually enjoy football to work the games?

Random Notes:  WR Courtney Taylor caught only two passes on Sunday, but on each reception he fought hard for extra yards, showing the kind of tenacity that will keep Taylor on the team despite having 4 starting caliber guys in front of him on the depth chart. 

During the Falcons first possession, Kelly Jennings had absolutely perfect coverage on Joe Horn on a 2nd and 12 playJennings was running down the sideline with Horn stride for stride and easily knocked the ball away from Horn.  The Falcons would be unable to convert the third and long that followed and would have to punt.

Kudos to Mike Holmgren for not getting fancy on the 3rd and short plays and running directly at the Falcons defense ... and converting them all.

SummaryIn what amounted to a "preseason for the postseason game" for the Seahawks, the team walked away without any major injuries and valuable snaps for the second string on offense and defense.  Sure a win would have been nice, but the team showed enough on both sides of the ball for the game to be considered a positive experience. 

Next Week:  The January Postseason in Seattle tradition continues, as the red-hot Redskins come to town. .

Dylan is a die-hard Seahawks fan trapped in Eagles Country and 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.

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