Touchdowns! More than I expected. The Seahawks O had arguably their best (non-Jaguar) game of the season, scoring four touchdowns and kicking two field goals (one of which was a time-constrained kick at the end of the half). One of the TDs was a present from Brandon Browner, who inexplicably fell down inside the 10-yard line and then rolled to the one before being downed, on a should-have-been pick six, but still, the offense had to at least punch it in. And they did. The ‘Hawks also went 7-13 on third and fourth downs, their best mark of the season, by far.
Russell Wilson, not surprisingly, was the main driver in keeping Steven Hauschka and Jon Ryan on the sidelines. Against a really good defense that harried and hurried him all night, he made several only-a-handful-of-other-QBs-in-NFL-history-could-have-made-that-play plays. In particular, his touchdown bomb to Sidney Rice traveled nearly 50 yards in the air, right on the money, and he threw it while rolling out and then stepping back to avoid a defender. It was like watching a basketball player put up a running fade-away, from five feet behind the three-point arc, with a hand in his face, and swishing it. And it wasn’t even his most impressive play of the night. That would be his six-yard pass to Zach Miller (huge game, by the way, if he starts to become a legit weapon, look out folks) on 3rd and 3, during which Seahawks fans, if they are like me, thought to themselves, “Shoot, his knee was do- … [replay] … Holy shit! No it wasn’t!”
As spectacular as these plays were, Wilson actually didn’t have great game overall. When you gift wrap 10 points (14 if the Cards have a non-abysmal offense) for your opponent through fumbles that are largely your fault, you get downgraded substantially. In this case, Wilson goes from absolutely masterful to merely pretty good.
But speaking of masterful. How about that D? Yeah, it was the Cardinals, but 3.3 yards-per-play (a laughably good 1.7 on the ground) is outstanding against any NFL team, especially considering that that average would be even lower if not for a fair amount of dink-and-dunk, we’ll-give-you-the-short-stuff-in-bounds, garbage-time yardage. Plus the ‘Hawks D sacked Carson Palmer seven times and picked him off twice. It was just an excellent performance. (Game ball to Malcolm Smith who played very well filling in for the injured Bobby Wagner.) And it was an excellent time to have an excellent performance. Now ‘Hawks fans can crack a cold one on Sunday and watch the rest of the NFL games anxiety-free. It’s the simple pleasures in life.
A few “Did you notice…” before I go:
- Did you notice Richard Sherman accidentally returned a punt? At first I thought to myself, “Why is Richard Sherman on punt coverage?” Then I thought, “Why not?” It makes sense to put some of your better players on special teams. The yardage gained/lost on punts and kicks counts the same as that on offense or defense, after all. I always thought, before the NFL moved the kickoff spot back to the 35-yard line, that teams should put their best runner at kick returner, even if he’s a “starter”. A kickoff used to be a play where you could get the ball in the hands of a guy with a 15-yard cushion on the defense. Why wouldn’t you want to give that opportunity to, say, Jamaal Charles or Adrian Peterson? If potential injury / wear-and-tear is the reason, take away a few offensive snaps. It’d be worth it for the big play potential of the kick return. Unfortunately, it’s a moot point, since kickoffs are mostly boring touchbacks now.
- Did you notice that old guy who used to be on the Colts sideline is now an old guy on the Cardinals sideline?
- Did you notice how much time Carson Palmer took on the Cards drive when they got the ball back with 3:54 in the game, down 12, with no timeouts? It took him 3:30 to get to the Seahawks’ 26-yard line before turning it over on downs. So needing two scores, he used 94% of the remaining time to almost make it to the red zone once. This is awful, awful, awful tactical decision-making. Granted, at that point, the Cardinals almost certainly were going to lose no matter what, but they can at least try, can’t they? In that situation, at some point, you have to take shots down field. It probably won’t work, but nothing you do is likely to work. It’s all about giving yourself a few percentage points toward victory, instead of zero. Even if you just throw Hail Marys until you score or turn the ball over, that’s better than a succession of clock-killing, five-yard check downs in the middle of the field. Extending the game is not the same thing as trying to win it. NFL players and coaches don’t seem to really understand this.
- Did you notice Jermaine Kearse nearly block a punt again? He’s like Doug Baldwin two years ago — a nice, undrafted, Pac-10 surprise.
- Did you notice how easily Kellen Davis dunked the ball over the crossbar after his touchdown? It was reminiscent of Tony Gonzalez. Too bad you can’t say the same thing about his overall game.