Grading the NFC West: Week 13

The Seahawks were spectacular in the Monday night national spotlight, and earn they earn the highest grades among the 49ers' divisional rivals from last week's games.


PASSING OFFENSE: B -- The numbers were hardly impressive because Seattle jumped to a huge lead early, allowing QB Matt Hasselbeck to sit out in the second half. The passing game worked well when it had to early in the game. Hasselbeck converted multiple third-down plays during a 16-play, eight-minute touchdown drive to open the game. He showed trust in WR Bobby Engram by throwing back across the field for a touchdown pass on third-and-goal from the 11. Hasselbeck also hooked up with WR D.J. Hackett for another long completion. A week after finding Hackett for a key 38-yard gain in overtime, Hasselbeck found him for a 42-yarder to set up a touchdown right before halftime. The play helped Seattle take a 35-0 lead into halftime.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- FB Mack Strong played his worst game in memory, missing blocks and getting away with a blatant hold on RB Shaun Alexander's second touchdown run. The ground game never really got going, but neither was it needed.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- Seattle finished the game with four sacks, 15 passes defensed and two interception returns for touchdowns. The Eagles ran a simplified offense because they were without starting QB Donovan McNabb. That allowed CB Andre Dyson (72-yard return) and MLB Lofa Tatupu (38-yard return) to jump on routes. DE Joe Tafoya started on the left side in place of a banged-up Bryce Fisher. Tafoya had a fumble-forcing sack, showing again that Seattle can get solid contributions from unexpected places. Seattle finished with four interceptions on the night.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Seahawks were all over Eagles RB Brian Westbrook, and they forced backup RB Ryan Moats to fumble on the first play of the third quarter. Dyson picked up the fumble and ran 25 yards for a touchdown that gave Seattle its 42-0 lead. DT Marcus Tubbs effectively clogged the middle in his first game back from a calf injury.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- The punt-return game continued to struggle and K Josh Brown missed a meaningless field-goal try that would have stretched the lead to 45-0. RB Josh Scobey remained fearless on kick returns and on the kick-cover team. P Tom Rouen was effective in pinning the Eagles deep, resulting in favorable field position.

COACHING: A -- Coach Mike Holmgren challenged his defense after Seattle allowed 490 yards to the Giants last week. He was hard on them in practice and implored them to start getting some turnovers. The results suggest the message got through. Holmgren has succeeded in using the no-respect angle to keep a chip on his players' shoulders throughout this eight-game winning streak. Holmgren showed class in the second half by removing his starters from the game when he could have added another three or four touchdowns without much trouble.


PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Kurt Warner passed for 300 yards for the fifth time this year, but for the first time in a winning effort. The club should have scored more than one touchdown, however.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- The run game still is not very productive, but the Cardinals prefer to throw the ball anyway.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- The Cardinals let 49ers quarterback Alex Smith get off to a fast start, but they intercepted him three times in the second half.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Cardinals did a nice job of staying in their gaps and not missing tackles. The 49ers gained just 51 yards on 20 carries.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- New kicker Nick Novak made all three field-goal attempts, although his kickoffs were short. A blocked punt led to three points by San Francisco.

COACHING: A -- The team is still playing hard, which is a credit to coach Dennis Green. The offensive game plan was creative, and the defense blitzed enough to rattle San Francisco's rookie quarterback.


PASSING OFFENSE: D -- Rookie QB Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for just 163 yards, with the longest play of the game 19 yards to Torry Holt. Fitzpatrick struggled with passes to the sideline, and he was sacked three times. He did produce the only touchdown of the game for the Rams on a scramble.

RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- Holes were scarce for RB Steven Jackson, and when there were holes, they closed quickly. Jackson's long run was 9 yards, and four of his 11 carries were for losses (minus-9).

PASS DEFENSE: C -- QB Mark Brunell passed for only 156 yards, but he hit some big plays, thanks to poor coverage and bad tackling. TE Robert Royal gained 29 yards when S Jerome Carter whiffed on an attempted tackle. Brunell hit Santana Moss for a key 30-yard play when Carter failed to find the ball in double coverage. Nine of Brunell's completions for 98 yards went to Royal and H-back Chris Cooley.

RUSH DEFENSE: D -- The Rams made Rock Cartwright look like an All Pro, allowing him 118 yards on just nine carries. Clinton Portis gained 136 yards on 27 attempts. Enough said.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Coverage was solid; the return game was typically pedestrian. P Bryan Barker had an excellent day, averaging 46.6 yards per punt, with a 41.9-yard net.

COACHING: C -- The coaches seem powerless to get the defense to stop the bleeding by tackling better and taking better angles to the ball. The safety play is poor, but it's more ability than coaching. Offensively, the running game is abandoned quickly, but the blocking is inconsistent and creates problems establishing any rhythm.

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