Grading the NFC West: Week 15

Once again, the Seattle Seahawks are the only NFC West team to pass the grade after winning their team-record 10th consecutive game.


- QB Matt Hasselbeck set a career high with a 147.7 rating. He threw three TD passes, giving him seven in the last two games. Hasselbeck completed 21 of 27 passes (77.8 percent) against the Titans after hitting 21 of 25 attempts (84 percent) against the 49ers last week. He made the right decisions when Seattle was able to get favorable matchups against linebackers and safeties. That was the case when he found TE Jerramy Stevens for a 22-yard TD pass in the first quarter. Stevens was matched up against Titans LB Peter Sirmon.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A - RB Shaun Alexander carried 26 times for 172 yards and his 24th TD of the season. He showed patience while allowing his blockers the time they needed to clear defenders out of his way, particularly during a 52-yard run in the first quarter. The offensive line dominated for most of the game. Alexander also benefited from outstanding downfield blocking by the Seattle receivers.

PASS DEFENSE: F - The Seahawks hadn't played a competent quarterback in several weeks. Titans QB Steve McNair had plenty of time to throw as Seattle went without a sack for the first time this season. CB Jordan Babineaux seemed to have trouble staying on his feet. SS Michael Boulware appeared late getting over to help on some plays. Titans TE Ben Troupe was often wide open, and Seattle had trouble tackling him once he caught the ball.

RUSH DEFENSE: B - Seattle allowed a rushing TD for only the fourth time all season, but the defense did manage to stop Tennessee on a crucial fourth-down running play late in the game. MLB Lofa Tatupu did not provide the impact plays that have made him a Rookie of the Year candidate. Boulware failed to wrap up McNair on a fourth-and-1 sneak, allowing the Titans to convert.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F - The Seahawks had a field goal blocked, turning the momentum in Tennessee's favor. Seattle also committed its 20th special-teams penalty of the season. P Tom Rouen dropped one punt inside the 5-yard line, but the coverage team clumsily pushed the ball into the end zone for a touchback.

COACHING: C - The offensive plan was effective early and late. The Titans won the first round of adjustments, but Seattle's counter-adjustments helped the Seahawks score the final 14 points of the game. The defensive plan failed to confuse McNair or force him into errors. Much of the blame rests with the players, but the coaches didn't have the right answers, either. Special teams coach Bob Casullo has been unable to stem the penalty problems that have afflicted his units all season.


PASS OFFENSE: D - Rookie QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was efficient in the first half, completing 9 of 14 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. However, in the second half, he was 1-for-10 for 6 yards with an interception and was replaced for the last two possessions by Jamie Martin. For the game, Fitzpatrick and Martin completed 18 passes for 127 yards, an average of just 7.1 yards per catch. The long gain was 14 yards.

RUSH OFFENSE: B-plus - Steven Jackson (82) and Marshall Faulk (87) combined for 169 yards, but the running game struggled in the second half. There were 18 attempts for just 56 yards in the second half, compared to 18 for 122 in the first half. The hip pointer suffered by Jackson hampered the running game in a stretch when the Rams had four consecutive three-and-outs.

PASS DEFENSE: B-plus - Eagles QB Mike McMahon had a passer rating of 33.5, a long gain of 17, was sacked four times and intercepted three times. McMahon's 15 completions gained a total of 97 yards.

RUSH DEFENSE: B - After a 59-yard touchdown run by Ryan Moats on the Eagles' third play of the game, the run defense tightened. Moats had just 19 yards on 11 carries for the rest of the game, and the Eagles totaled 66 yards on 27 attempts after the score. Seventeen of those yards came on McMahon scrambles.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-plus - The Rams' return game had its usual mediocre day, while the coverage units allowed a 53-yard kickoff return and 16-yard punt return. Punter Bryan Barker had two kicks downed inside the 20 and a net average of 34.9, while PK Jeff Wilkins made all three of his field-goal attempts, including one of 53 yards.

COACHING: Incomplete - This has become difficult to grade. Interim coach Joe Vitt talks a good game about mistakes being unacceptable, but they continue. The offense takes no advantage of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's movement skills. The defense has been more aggressive the last two games, but that has been against average offenses.


PASS OFFENSE: C - All three quarterbacks played and combined for 301 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

RUSH OFFENSE: D - The backs had some room early but the Cardinals fell behind and had to abandon the run.

PASS DEFENSE: C - The Cardinals gave up just 150 yards and no touchdowns, but they didn't make any big plays against Texans QB David Carr. And for the first half, the Cardinals had trouble pressuring him.

RUSH DEFENSE: D - Sloppy tackling and poor gap discipline gave the Texans some big plays on the ground. The Cardinals thought they had improved those areas.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D - Kicker Neil Rackers made both field goal attempts, but the Cardinals committed four penalties on special teams and fumbled away a kick return.

COACHING: C - The Texans' no-huddle offense threw the Cardinals off, limiting some of their defensive packages. The offense was playing well until Warner went out.

Niners Digest Top Stories