August 21, 2004
Qwest Field – Seattle, Washington
"This might be the best thing that ever could have happened to us. These players have had a lot of smoke blown their way, and then all of a sudden you realize that nothing in this league comes easily." – Mike Holmgren
The Seattle Seahawks have been living in the gleam of great expectations ever since Al Harris took Matt Hasselbeck to the house in the wild-card “what-if” game in Green Bay. Picked by most to be the 2004 NFC West Champions and seen by many as a team destined to make a very deep playoff run, the Seahawks are darlings for the first time in decades…maybe for the first time ever.
Now, while there’s little doubt that this team, if healthy and playing together at its best can certainly make those dreams come true, it’s also a basic fact that what happens between the lines supercedes any prediction. When Chris Berman says, “That’s why they play the games!”, he’s not kidding. And with nothing but training camp and an impressive preseason victory in Green Bay to mark their new season, the team had nothing set against it to expose any weakness or to disprove any positive prognostications.
Until last night.
While it’s sometimes true that the bear just eats you no matter how well you play, the Seahawks dropped a whopper on the local populace as the Denver Broncos came into town and just dissected them with a 19-3 spanking. The score was actually a slightly merciful representation of the overall performance…having attended this game, I’m not really sure how the Broncos only scored 19 points. Whether first, second or third team, the Seahawks haven’t looked this bad since they were summarily dismantled 34-7 by the Vikings, in Week 14 of the 2003 season, in Minnesota.
Does this beatdown have mitigating factors? Certainly:
1. Point of fact – the Broncos came into this game with an 0-2 preseason record. They were hungry, probably somewhat desperate for a win, and they played quite a few of their starters longer than the Seahawks did. There are reasons that third-string guys are where they are.
2. Seneca Wallace continued a very impressive 2004. Once projected as the “on the bubble” QB when the Seahawks acquired Brock Huard to ostensibly back up Matt Hasselbeck and Trent Dilfer, Wallace is looking to change the pecking order. So far, so good. With a newbie offensive line in front of him and collapsing pockets and angry Bronco defenders all around him, Wallace showed impressive poise and resolve for a second-year quarterback.
Wallace went 12 for 26 for 156 yards in 2 ½ quarters of football, including his first pass, a 45-yard bomb to Koren Robinson. Robinson dove to take the ball in despite having Bronco CB Champ Bailey draped all over him. Unfortunately, Wallace was also the primary victim of said offensive line, taking two sacks in a row in the later rounds and four total.
3. The first-team defense looked decent, if not dominant. Linebackers Anthony Simmons and Chad Brown provided some impressive stuffs of Bronco RB Quentin Griffin, and CB Ken Lucas continued the process of what some believe will be a career year.
4. Ummm…if what we saw last night was any indication, Seahawk fans won’t have FB Heath Evans to kick around for much longer. Two more dropped passes (to go along with his drop last week) and some iffy blocking…Heath may be looking over his shoulder for The Turk when the cuts come.
And in the “Yes, but…” department, a 19-3 loss will provide more than its share of lowlights:
1. The offensive line, handicapped by the absence of Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson AND Chris Terry, was bound to look less than stellar. "Less than stellar" would have been a distinct improvement for the unit that took the field last night. Although rookie guard Sean Locklear looked impressive at times, this OL was simply outmanned and outplayed by Denver’s zone blitzes and constant pressure.
2. Missed tackles and poor defensive execution (especially later in the game as the scrubs took over) sealed the Seahawks’ fate. Broncos RB Mike Anderson rushed for 120 yards on 21 carries (most of it in the second half against the backups), and a Denver passing game led by Jake Plummer and Danny Kannell was able to move the ball in a way that Seattle’s aerial attack was not. When your quarterbacks aren't running for their lives, that tends to happen.
3. The Seahawks weren't able to get any manner of running game going - they were outgained on the ground 206-49, the main reason that Denver had the ball almost two-thirds of the game (38:50 to 21:10).
In truth, this was a contest in which the Seahawks were insufficiently prepared (as teams at this stage of the preseason often are…the Bengals whacked the Patriots 31-3 last night), while the Broncos were stepping it up and looking to prove a great deal to themselves about where they are. While the Seahawks seemed to see this game as a warmup for later action, Denver was clearly aiming higher. Seattle’s first real proving ground will come this Friday in San Diego, as they look to recover and perhaps engage in an act of redemption.
Expect some harsh film sessions, some extra reps the last few days in Cheney (the team breaks camp on Wednesday) and a far different Seahawks team to take the field for their third preseason game.
Reality starts now.
Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief
of Seahawks.NET. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO GALLERY - 8/21/04