Breda Report: Upon Further Review…
WHAT I EXPECTED…
First of all, a win. Why? Because my perfect 4-0 record of predicting the Seahawks games so far this season demanded as much! Okay, so you want the real truth, eh?
I expected the Seahawks to play a close game only to lose it in the final quarter. The Voodoo of St. Louis would once again prove the final punch in this match up of the NFC West's top two teams.
My prediction was based on a preliminary absence of early-week butterflies and the need to believe that this team COULD finally take that monkey off of their backs and kick it off a cliff for good.
Thanks to some surprising turns, I can now proudly proclaim my 5-0 record on the year.
(This is the part where some fans throw tomatoes at me for ever picking against the Seahawks in the first place).
WHAT I DIDN'T EXPECT…
After the opening kickoff returned by the Rams for a touchdown, I was fairly certain myself and my honored guests attending my modest party were in for a very, very long day.
The Seahawks were for the most part, focused and unrelenting. Sure there were miscues and misfires. Hasselbeck started the game looking like a deer on opening day of hunting season, and the defense seemed to bend and break a bit more than our collective blood pressure prefers.
Yet, what surprised me the most was the absence of the team letting any positive Rams play to deflate their mood let alone game plan. Late in the game, the whistle had blown on a play when a Ram defensive player kept coming after Hasselbeck. Matt could have walked away but instead he went after the player (who must have had 80 pounds advantage at least) in disgust and contempt.
In that moment I think the Seahawks sideline smiled in unison and a tear might have lightly drained from my eye.
WHAT SURPRISED ME…
The lethargy that had gripped the entire St. Louis dome from the beginning. Even the commentators couldn't help mentioning how the Rams fans never seemed to get into the game. Camera shots into the stands confirmed the analysis…Everyone appeared hung over…Or something.
Ahhhh, that's too bad, huh?
Whenever the Rams scored a touchdown or made a good play, you would have thought the fans were "snapping instead of clapping" (fans of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy might get that reference).
WHAT DIDN'T SURPRISE ME…
Matt Hasselbeck. I personally own a Hasselbeck home jersey that I bought this year because I really like this guy. He's a great leader and a pretty darn good quarterback to boot. He has grandiloquence, bravado…He's an accurate passer who just so happened to pass Dave Krieg for the team record in most games with 300 passing yards or more.
Something else that didn't surprise me was the effectiveness of our "backup" receivers, ala Jurevicius and Hackett. Several people asked me this past week, "What are you guy's going to do without your top two receivers?"
I merely shrugged and told them it wouldn't be much of a factor. Call it intuition, call it foresight, but what it really was had to do with the fact that I recognized that it was likely the Rams who would underestimate our backups and that's exactly what happened.
Give credit where it's due in an outstanding performance by Joe Jurevicius who had a career day in receptions and yards. The fact that he dedicated the game to his son Michael who passed away in infancy at a hospital in St. Louis in 2003 says all that needs to be said.
The Seahawks went after it from the start. DJ Hackett was involved early and often as was Jurevicius. Hasselbeck was the maestro, expertly spreading the ball around to various receivers on the day. Alexander balanced the offense and rewarded Holmgren placing the ball in his hands 25 times in the form of 100+ yards and two TDs on the day.
The defense showed a certain amount of bend and break but they made key plays when they needed to. Lofa Tatupu collected his first interception of his NFL career (a key stop that resulted ultimately in a Seahawks score) and the defense sacked Rams QB Marc Bulger 4 times. Most impressively however was the fact that the team lost starters Michael Boulware and Andre Dyson during the game. A portion of understanding the value of the Tim Ruskell Era is in the realization that he is putting this team in the position to win despite of injuries thanks to his acute awareness of team need.
Depth at key positions come to mind. So far, oh so good.
WHAT NEEDS WORK…
The pass rush. Grant Wistrom and Bryce Fisher are both very serviceable players. Both exude a certain level of high energy and will on each play. Unfortunately that doesn't always translate towards a clear path to the quarterback.
A consistent pass rush has been a problem with the Seahawks since Michael Sinclair retired. Holmgren has toyed with various lineups and schemes but for the most part, this area of the team has been the most disappointing for years.
Until the Seahawks acquire a dominating defensive end, it will never matter how good our corners are. When quarterbacks have 7 seconds to pass, nearly any receiver can get open.
This was clearly a must win for this team. Winning this game has so many implications on so many levels it would require a chapter or two in words to convey the depth of this victory.
The Rams have become a formidable nemesis for the Seahawks that you could never fully overestimate the profound psychological edge they have held since early last season. Beating the Rams for the first time in their house since 1997 is huge alone. Doing it with a handful of starters on the sideline is an extraordinary feat the team and fans should all be proud of.
I said it last week and I will say it again.
This game, win or loss, will prove to be the catalyst for the rest of the season.
Thankfully it was a win, and a great one at that.
Todd Breda is the Owner and Creative Director of Seahawks.Net. If you would like to e-mail Todd, send any and all love letters, hate mail, whimsical musings or your personal dealings with little green men to: email@example.com.
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