"Try to name a team that is better than Seattle right now in the NFC. I don't think there is one."
- ESPN commentator Paul McGuire towards the end of the Seahawks/Texans game.
A few years ago, I found a chat room on MSN for NFL fans. I popped in there to represent my Seahawks. At the time, I remember the Seahawks were doing well. We had won our last two games I believe while leading our division. I waited for a few minutes to gauge the dialogue and once I figured they seemed to be intelligent fans I said hello and asked them what they thought of the Seahawks.
"Who, you mean the Seachickens?" was one response.
"What about them? I don't give them much thought. In fact I don't think any team gives them much thought." was another.
Feeling just like a little boy whose brand new remote control race car was just flattened by a passing car, I slithered out of the chat room and sulked.
"One day, the Seahawks will force their respect." I thought to myself.
Three years later, that day's morning sun is finally rising.
When the NFL's worst team the Houston Texans strolled into Qwest Field Sunday night, the table was set for a potential upset. You can look at a 0-4 team two ways. Either that is the kind of team you hope for in your schedule, or it is the last team you hope for on your schedule. Winless teams have nothing to lose. They can take chances and risks most teams wouldn't dream of.
Like a bruised and beaten animal backed into a corner, they will come out fighting to preserve their last chance at life.
For the most part, the Texans did just that. Their defense played aggressively, sacking quarterback Matt Hasselbeck 3 times getting much better pressure than I expected. The Texans offense ended up with 14 first downs, which is about 10 more than I expected.
Still, this was ESPN Sunday Night Football. The ultimate Trump Card.
Texans, meet Shaun Alexander.
Houston, you have a problem.
The game started off with a Keystone Cops vibe. Flags were flying in the first three minutes more frequently than Memorial Day. DE Bryce Fisher was called off sides 3 times in the first quarter which prompted coach Mike Holmgren to take an early time out to push the defense' reset button.
I could understand. The defense was as giddy to get after Texans quarterback David Carr as a hungry cheetah barreling downhill towards a three-legged gazelle. Yet this wasn't your normal off sides. This was Bryce Fisher lined up in the neutral zone 3 times!
Scooby Doo say "Hmmrrhph??!?!"
Once things got settled down the game dynamic would begin to unfold. The Seahawks showcased the NFL's number one offense in premium fashion. Two drives in the first quarter both eating up the majority of the field, both ending up with Shaun Alexander scores.
Seahawks 14, Texans 0.
"(The Seahawks have) ripped off more 20 plus yard runs then I have ever seen in a ballgame against a defense in...In I don't know how many years."
- ESPN commentator Joe Theismann
"I Was Wrong About You, My Bad" Award
Never one to consider myself anywhere near the "Hater" camp, but I have been very vocal the past few years concerning Shaun Alexander's running style. This year, he's answered nearly every critic and critique with authority and explosiveness. He's not just finding the end zone or displaying fancy footwork. He's always done that.
He's now doing it while stiff-arming his defenders and putting his head down as if he's actually seeking out impact. It's as if the spirit of Ricky Watters has taken over Shaun's body control without interfering with Shaun's natural talents.
The Perfect Storm.
Shaun has stated time and time again that he loves Seattle and wants to stay here. When you have a talent as prolific and record-shattering as Shaun that makes up nearly 45 percent of your league-leading offense's points, it's time to take out the checkbook.
Paul? Tim? Do the right thing.
"Am I Seeing Things?" Award
Kicker Josh Brown didn't have just one, but two kickoffs that reached the end zone for a touch back. For Brown, that's serious progress and I hope it's just the start for an otherwise solid kicker. Field position is crucial in the NFL and on kickoffs, that lands squarely on Josh's foot.
"Showing Promise, But Not There Yet" Award
Our "no name" defense is slowly making names for themselves with nice speed, pursuit, and enthusiasm but they have a long way to go before they are a dominate force in the NFL. There is talent ranging from serviceable (Fisher) to great promise (Tatupu) to just plain great (Trufant, Hamlin and Boulware). The element of youth gives us all hope for a very strong defense in the coming years. The building blocks are there but tweaks to the machine will still need to be made.
An ongoing frustration is the lack of a formidable pass rush. The Seahawks could only muster 1 sack on David Carr (who came in leading the league as the most sacked QB in the game by a land slide) until they came up with 2 more in the final minutes of the game.
This includes a patch-work offensive line that had the Texans switching positions the week leading up to the game like musical chairs. In these situations, it's not a stretch to expect a dominate pass rush to take advantage of profound opponent weaknesses.
Grant Wistrom registered his first sack of the year (finally!) which was nice to see. Wistrom has a terrific motor and will never give up on a play. He can be disruptive against the run and he's a good leader on defense. If the NFL awarded sacks to players who come within inches but just miss, Bryce Fisher would lead the league with 14.
The truth is, this team is in dire need of a premiere pass rush specialist. Nobody has come close to being a dominant force at DE since Michael Sinclair in the late 90's.
This defense has a ways to go but they have youth, talent and a great sense of "team over individual" that will be the building blocks for future success.
"Not NOW, Stupid!" Award
Oh we used to be such smart fans.
When your team has to actually put up a huge, shining animated sign in each end zone on the billboard that says, "Shhhhhhh! We're on offense" that pretty much says it all.
Now it seems I'm going to have to put a request into team headquarters for a few others:
"Do the Wave when we are on DEFENSE! NOT OFFENSE, STUPID!"
And how about…
"Hey YOU. Yeah, YOU. How about waiting until the play is OVER before coming back to your seats!"
"Stepping Up On Primetime" Award
The King of the night was clearly Shaun Alexander but backup Maurice Morris thrilled with over 100 yards rushing. On one play with 8 minutes left in the game, Morris dashed for a 49-yard run making a cut on Texans CC Brown so nasty I think Brown's still looking for his ankles at Qwest Field.
-- Backup Fullback Leonard "The Hydrant" Weaver for showcasing why he will be Mack Strong's imminent replacement. Paving the way for Shaun Alexander a few times, displaying the ability to get tough yards and the best stiff-arm I've seen since John L. Williams!
-- CB Kelly Herndon played extremely well stepping in for starter Andre Dyson who is nursing a sore hamstring. Herndon was making plays and showing great pursuit all game long.
-- The offensive line. Several of Shaun's runs (including TD's) came on the right side of the line which includes newbie Sean Locklear. Everyone knows all about the left side so it was refreshing to see so many successful running plays from the right side. Anytime your team breaks a franchise record for most rushing yards in a game (321) that speaks volumes of the OL's strength.
"Stepping Down On Primetime" Award
Returner Josh Scobey fumbles late in the game. Luckily the Seahawks got the ball back. Not so lucky is Scobey who now has 2 fumbles this year on returns.
"Mr. Scobey to Coach Holmgren's office… Mr. Scobey to Coach Holmgren's office…"
Someone asked in the forum if this shows that the Seahawks have "It". The simple answer is, no, not yet. What this game did show is that they are making further progress towards getting there. The first step was the victory in St. Louis. The second is beating a bad team to a pulp like you should, instead of letting them hang around or worse, beat you in an upset.
The third step will come this Sunday when two of the NFC's top teams face each other. The Cowboys (4-2) have beaten the Seahawks (4-2) twice at home (both on Monday Night Football), so that is the latest monkey to get off our backs.
If the Seahawks can take care of business this Sunday then the road trip to having "It" has just become a lot shorter. Momentum is building. Confidence is soaring. The Seahawks are doing exactly what they are supposed to do and that is the best sign of all.
Great teams win despite of injuries, not lose because of them.
Right now, the Seattle Seahawks are a great team.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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