Rock's Chalk

Seahawks .NET writer Mark "Rockhawk" Olsen takes a look at what's hot and what's not in the land of Seahawks football. Then, guest columnist Nick Shelly gives his take on the upcoming Seattle-St. Louis contest.

On Fire

5. Ken Hamlin Through the first 4 games, Safety Ken Hamlin has 15 tackles, but it’s the intimidation, the hits, and the fire that has returned from his rookie campaign that makes him #5 on the list.

4. Offensive Line – The tandem of OT Walter Jones and G Steve Hutchinson have proven that they are still the best left side in football, and OT Sean Locklear has filled in admirably for the injured Floyd Womack who is suffering from a triceps injury.

3. Shaun AlexanderAll he does is score touchdowns and gain yards, unless the coaching staff forgets about him.

2. Seahawks Offense – Though it took them over a half to do it, the Seahawk offense, lead by Matt Hasselbeck, moved the ball on one of the best defenses in the league (Washington Redskins), including a brilliant 14 play, 91 yard drive near the end of the 4th quarter to tie the game. Standouts included Bobby Engram’s 106 yards and Jerramy Steven’s 36 yards, both with very painful injuries.

1. LOFA! – Rookie linebacker Lofa Tatupu has been nothing but special in his first weeks as a Seahawk, leading the team in tackles (18), assists (6), and also picking up 2 impressive sacks. His natural instincts, football knowledge, and leadership seem to be molding into a future pro bowler for the Hawks.

Ice Cold

5. Coaching Staff – On offense, the decision to run only 2 offensive plays before trying a 47 yard field goal was puzzling, but the inability by the defensive unit to stop the Redskins on 3rd down (13 of 18 converted) was inexcusable.

4. Injuries – The Seahawks have enjoyed a relatively injury-free season through three weeks, aside from OT Floyd Womack (Triceps), but this was not the case in week 4. Wide Receivers Bobby Engram (Ribs) and Darrel Jackson (knee) are both banged up and could miss games, TE Jerramy Stevens (finger) left the game but came back.

3. Referees – Holmgren and the Seahawks received another apology from the NFL officiating office for a blown call in the Redskin game where Safety Michael Boulware was called for pass interference while going for the ball on a crucial 3rd down play. Replays showed a good play and no interference by Boulware. The Redskins scored a touchdown 2 plays later.

2. Seahawks Pass Defense – The Washington Redskins, one of the worst offenses in the league, racked up 226 yards passing and 2 touchdowns and converted almost every key 3rd and long with the intermediate pass.

1. Josh BrownThe reliable kicker missed two 47 yard field goal attempts, including the game winner with no time left in the 4th. The Redskins won the ensuing overtime coin toss and won the game with a 39 yard field goal of their own just a few minutes later.

Next on the List
Professional sports handicapper Nick Shelly (nick@nsport.net) breaks down the Seahawk’s next game and gives his pick for the winner.

St. Louis: The offense is just not clicking for the Rams, averaging only 85 yards on the ground and predictably passing because of game situations. The running game has been wildly inconsistent as Rams Head Coach Mike Martz tries to find RB Steven Jackson's identity in the Ram offense. Week 5 could be Martz's magic elixir when he faces Seattle as Jackson is averaging 7 yards per carry vs. the Seahawks.

The passing game is not spectacular, they are no longer the "greatest show on turf" but still put up some good numbers. They are averaging nearly 300 yards per game, but this is deceptive because they can't run the ball and are often behind in games forcing the pass (SF, NYG). Teams know they have to pass and force QB Marc Bulger into an 8 TD to 6 INT ratio - not impressive.

Offensively, I look to Martz to focus on getting Jackson involved and going vertical in unpredictable situations. Expect at least one 4th down try and one special teams surprise by the Rams. On defense, they are nothing short of awful. I expect them to play better this week since they will have confidence beating the Seahawks the last three times, but the Hawks have always moved the ball well against St. Louis, so I don't see the defense playing any significant role in this game.

Seattle: Heartbreaking loss by the Seahawks – who, by all rights, should be sitting at 3-1 and ready to steal this division after this weekend. Here's my problem with the Seahawks on the road: They play to one possession and don't leave room for mistakes... and invariably, they make a mistake in a critical situation that ends up costing them the game. In both road games this year, they have had the ball with a chance to go ahead in the fourth quarter. This is the sign of a coaching staff who is managing in a conservative manner.

I see the Seahawks driving home the point that they should have won against the Redskins and making certain they have the lead in the fourth quarter instead of chasing one. On offense, I expect a far less conservative home-game style game plan that features the standard 75/25 script of pass to run to start the game, scoring early and often and settling into a heavy dose of Shaun Alexander. In the third quarter, the conservative "burn the clock" mentality will allow the Rams to get closer, but the Seahawks should get aggressive again and put away their nemesis. This is a huge game for both teams, but the Seahawks need it worse.

Vegas line: Seattle +3
Prediction: Seattle 27, St. Louis 13

Seahawks 10 .7 .0 10 - 27
Rams .........3 .3 .7 ..0 - 13

Rock’s Final Thought

Over the last several years, the Seahawks have been widely criticized for their inability to win on the road against a quality opponent, but they played a good enough game against the Redskins to have a real shot at winning at the end. If Brown’s kick would have been 6 inches to the right, the entire team would have been praised for getting that monkey off their backs. Fifty-one of fifty-two players did what they needed to do for a win. Unfortunately, the fifty-second was the kicker.

- Mark Olsen writes frequently for Seahawks.NET. Feel free to send him feedback at seahawk94@comcast.net.

- Nick Shelly has been a professional sports analyst and handicapper for over 10 years. You can contact Nick at nick@nsport.net.


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