Seattle Seahawks 14, Kansas City Chiefs 10
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
Play of the Day: QB Matt Hasselbeck’s 18-yard flip to WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh that kept Seattle’s first touchdown drive at the end of the first half alive. Facing third-and-two from the Chiefs’ 34, Hasselbeck pulled away from center too quickly, causing the snap to go through his hands. As he bobbled it, he gained control and ran to his left. Noticing Houshmandzadeh standing their, he performed a nice “chest pass” to the veteran wideout who took the ball, broke a tackle and carried the ball for 17 yards before he was brought down. While the drive ended with K Olindo Mare missing a short 27-yard field goal, it seemed to put a spark into the team and Seattle was able to milk the Hasselbeck-Houshmandzadeh connection enough in the final drive of the first half, ending when Hasselbeck hit his new security blanket with an eight-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 7-7.
Handouts to the Standouts: Hasselbeck had a big night, completing 19 of 25 pass attempts for 216 yards, two touchdowns and one interception en route to a 111.4 QB rating. Hasselbeck bounced back nicely from his first pass, which was picked off by Kansas City CB Brandon Flowers and returned 28 yards for a touchdown.
Both Houshmandzadeh (five receptions for 60 yards and one touchdown) and TE John Carlson (five for 68 and one touchdown) continued to show why they will be valuable targets for the Seahawks QBs this season. Hasslebeck seemed to really find a groove with Houshmandzadeh as the night went along and Carlson made several big catches and was wide open on his eight-yard touchdown reception.
RB Julius Jones was solid. His final stat sheet didn’t show big stats, but he averaged over four yards per carry until the end of the first half when he was stuffed twice. He ran hard and was decisive. He also dished out some punishment on unsuspecting DBs who came up in run support.
The entire defense gets the nod here because they held Kansas City to 260 yards, only 14 first downs and allowed the Chiefs to convert just one of 10 third down chances. They also had four sacks and caused two turnovers, one the game-decider when LB Will Herring stepped into the path of a Matt Gutierrez pass in the final minute to clinch the game.
Things That Made Me Go “Blech”: Early on the pass-protection was nauseating at best. The Chiefs were able to generate consistent pressure using three and four pass-rushers while Seattle held in blockers to help protect Hasselbeck. They did rebound and managed to push the KC defense around to the tune of 406 yards of offense, but it wasn’t pretty and they definitely need to sharpen things up.
Mare and Brandon Coutu, as well as Kansas City K Ryan Succop, were awful tonight. Mare hooked a 51 yard attempt wide right and then did the same thing on a 27-yarder as well. Coutu missed his only attempt, a 50 yarder, wide left. Both also struggled with their kickoffs, but due to good special teams coverage efforts, this fact didn’t hurt the team in the long run.
Offense: The combination of Hasselbeck’s passing and the tag team running triple-threat of Jones, Justin Forsett and Devin Moore led the way to a big night on offense. Hasselbeck looked in mid-season form, hitting on 76% of his passes and when Seneca Wallace took over in the fourth quarter he picked up right where Hasselbeck left off, going 8 of 11 for 84 more yards.
As mentioned above, Jones had a solid evening and Forsett was just as solid, posting 12 rushes for 45 yards while hauling in four receptions for 23 yards as Seattle continues to show a dynamic screen passing game.
Carlson and Houshmandzadeh were the big receivers on the night combining for 10 receptions, 128 yards and two touchdowns, but all of the receivers seemed to have big receptions that netted first downs at different points in the game. While he only hauled in one reception for nine yards, WR Ben Obomanu showed excellent field awareness getting a key first down and extending a drive that ate up more clock.
Defense: Seattle’s defense continues to do an excellent job of getting turnovers and stopping teams after they get inside Seattle’s 40 yard line. The Seahawks netted four sacks and numerous pressures as well as two key interceptions late in the game.
Nick Reed had another sack, he has 3.5 in three games, and got enough pressure on Gutierrez forcing his bad throw that was intercepted by Herring to seal the win.
Brandon Mebane and Colin Cole were tough inside early on, getting pressure on QB Matt Cassel while forcing him to leave with a leg injury only three plays into the game.
Early on the defense gave up some big runs to Chiefs RBs Larry Johnson and Jamal Charles, but they stiffened when they needed to, allowing only three points on the night.
CBs Kelly Jennings, Josh Wilson and Ken Lucas weren’t spectacular, but they got the job done. Wilson looked especially good matching up against former Seahawks WR Bobby Engram when the elder statesmen lined up in the slot.
Jennings out-dueled Dwayne Bowe, a receiver who has seven inches and about 50 pounds on the diminutive Seahawks corner, in the back of the endzone late in the first half almost coming down with an interception on the play.
Special Teams: It’s a good thing the Seahawks didn’t lose, because they would have been kicking themselves, literally, after the performance of their kickers. As mentioned earlier, Mare and Coutu combined for three misses while rarely driving the ball deeper than the opponents’ 10 yard line. During the game it was stated that the grass being played on was very wet and the holder (P John Ryan) struggled to get the ball placed right, but when you play in a city where rain is about regular as a politician blaming someone else for their mistakes, you had better get that situation rectified.
While he struggled holding the ball, Ryan had another solid night punting it, dropping two punts inside the 20, while averaging 43.4 yards on five punts including a long of 59 yards.
The coverage units were also solid, holding the Chiefs to only 22 yards on three kick returns while the Seahawks managed to gain 24.7 yards per kick return and 11 yards per punt return, one a 17 yarder by Forsett that help position the ball perfectly for Seattle’s final drive of the first half.
Random Note: Seattle has a plus-six turnover ratio in three games, notching eight takeways and only two turnovers of their own.
Summary: It was nice to see Seattle rebound after starting the game so poorly, but Kansas City is one of the most talent-depleted teams in the NFL. There’s a reason they were drafting third this past April and why they probably will again in eight months.
Seahawks fans have to be happy with what they saw of the first team offense, especially the passing game, but their running game still continues to be inconsistent and their pass-protection still needs a lot of work. Will Walter Jones’ return help? Absolutely, but it goes deeper than that.
Defensively, the Seahawks need to shore up their tackling and they seemed to really struggle with the short passing game of the Chiefs early on, but the staff appeared to make several adjustments after the first quarter and the stop unit was able to provide a glimmer of hope.
Next Week: Seattle (3-0) completes the AFC West preseason reunion when they take on the Oakland Raiders (1-2) who lost at home to the New Orleans Saints 45-7. While the Raiders have been the laughing stock of the league the past five seasons or so, they still have plenty of talented players including CB Nnamdi Asomugha and RB Darren McFadden to contend with.