Rock's Chalk - 11/30/05

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 Monday Night Football contest between Seattle and Philadelphia.

On Fire

5. Jay Feely (NY Giants kicker) – Thank you, Mr. Feely. That pretty much sums it up.

4. Shaun Alexander He was contained brilliantly by the Giants through most of the game, and his final numbers were good (110 yards on 31 carries and a TD), but the most impressive part of his game was the 4th and 1 play on the Giants 4-yard line. Alexander told head coach Mike Holmgren that he would get him the 1st down, and his 2nd and third effort on the run got that and the touchdown.

3. Hawks get unexpected win – Call it luck, destiny, or anything else, but a win is a win and we’ll take it. Now I’d just like those 5 years of my life back that the drama ripped from my heart.

2. Joe Jurevicius In another important game, Joe Jurevicius got the call to be the #1 guy in Holmgren’s passing attack and he didn’t disappoint, posting an impressive 137 yards receiving and two touchdowns on 8 catches. Jurevicius’ most important plat might have been his late-game breakup of a badly thrown deep pass from QB Matt Hasselback that was in the arms of a Giant DB for a potentially game-breaking interception.

1. 12th Man! – I was there. I was yelling from the seats I’ve had since Qwest opened, right below the rabid Hawks Nest. I’m proud that I finally had a hand in helping my team win a game. There are not too many chances for us to make that big of a difference. Great job, Seahawk fans.

* Honorable mentions to Lofa Tatupu (13 tackles) and Rocky Bernard (1 sack giving him 8.5 on the year)

Ice Cold

5. Holmgren’s Game plan – 7 rushes including 1 in the 2nd quarter for the league’s leading rusher isn’t going to cut it, even against a good defense. Throw on top of that no catches by the tight ends, and the defense can pin their ears back on the offense just as we saw them do.

4. Officials – An NFL fan complaining about the officiating isn’t new, so let’s just say that some of the calls, including not overturning on the reviews, are questionable at best.

3. Third-down offense and defense – The NFL’s top offense was stymied on 3rd down all game, only converting 6 of 19 attempts. On defense, the Giants converted 8 of 19 attempts including several key 3rd and longs in the final touchdown drive of regulation.

2. Seahawks Offensive Line – The Hawks offensive line has been on the positive side of the Hot & Cold list all year, but they were physically outmanned by a fast and furious Giants front 4 who shut down the leagues’ top RB for most of the game and pressured QB Matt Hasselback on almost every series.

1. Defensive backfield – The Hawks’ corners and safeties made 2nd year Giants QB Eli Manning look like an old pro with 344 yards passing, a lot coming late in the game when the defense went to a prevent style. Giants TE Jeremy Shockey was seemingly open on every play (10 receptions for 127 yards) as the Hawks seemed to have no answer to his physical play.

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.

NSport.NET Analysis - Seattle @ Philadelphia - Monday Night Football
**Readers: Please try to read the following paragraph in the voice of the great Howard Cosell**


Two magnificent teams square off tonight. Their stories are compelling and filled with tales of warriors that astound you. For the reigning NFC champion Eagles, they have persevered though troubled times with standout wide receiver Terrell Owens and nagging injuries to their field general, Donovan McNabb. Seattle, the incumbent NFC West champion, has had a tumultuous season, dealing with last second victories; injuries to several key players, including a freakish event could have torn this team apart with the near-death experience of their Pro-Bowl safety Ken Hamlin.

At the start of the season, this could have been a very remarkable match up - It would have been billed as "Seattle wanting to earn respect in a poor conference by knocking off the defending NFC champions". Instead, it is just another game on the schedule, albeit on Monday Night Football.

Philadelphia Offense - Wow, head coach Andy Reid must have gotten a nasty memo because the Eagles have made an obvious effort to run the ball the last two weeks. What did it earn them? A close victory and a much more efficient passing game. With Mike McMahon running the offense, they force defenses to stay home - especially considering the fact that he can scramble very well. Still, the offense has struggled under McMahon and should continue to struggle this week. The Seahawks will be able to tee-off on the run, blitzing often. They will occasionally get burned with a screen pass or a blitz to the wrong side, but the defense should be consistently effective against the Eagles. The only standout players on the offense are Brian Westbrook and Reggie Brown, but with an average McMahon, look for the Eagles to play it safe and let their defense control the game.

Seattle Offense - The Seahawks have been able to win close games, but they certainly have not been impressive. On the same token, they have been in every game, including their two losses. As I mentioned before, this is a sign that their maturity has grown immensely this year, and it is translating to W's on the field. At 9-2, their motivation is to continue to win so they can lock up home field and host a couple games in the playoffs. The key for them is not to overlook the fact that even though Philadelphia has lost 4 of 5 games, they are thinking that they could win out and sneak into the playoffs - they are only two games back. All that said, the Seahawks need to be wary of a fired up defense. As I mentioned, the Eagles D will certainly be thinking it is their responsibility to win this game on Monday. Factor in Matt Hasselbeck’s propensity to turn the ball over late in games on the road, and all of the sudden, this doesn't look too rosy. Good defenses from the NFC East have handled Shaun Alexander and beaten up our inexperienced wide receivers. For the Seahawk offense, their only hope again is to hang around and try to out-execute the Eagles offense. Bottom line, for the Seahawks: Win or lose, they will probably not earn any credibility in this game - it will be ugly.

Vegas Line (Seattle -4, 42.5)
Seattle .........3 3 7 6 - 19
Philadelphia ..0 7 3 3 - 13

Game Log: Weather, jitters, and a strong Philadelphia defense are responsible for the pace of this game. The Seahawks have a horrific record against the spread over many years when traveling East, but the drought ends today. In the first half, the Eagles should not score on offense, missing a field goal opportunity, while Josh Brown connects on two of his own. The Eagle D returns a Shaun Alexander fumble for a touchdown to give the Hawks a first half deficit. The third quarter should open with a drive by the Seahawks, but in typical Mike Holmgren fashion, conservative play calling gives us nothing but two more field goal opportunities. A 2-minute drive comes up short for the Eagles this week, as McMahon is unable to find Reggie Brown in the end zone on a fourth down play.

Fantasy Alert: Bench all players except Josh Brown in this game. This one is going to be UGLY

Rock’s Final Thought

This win was a fun to watch as any game I’ve seen from a football standpoint, but it also showed the world several of the issues that this Seahawks team continues to struggle with. Though the Seahawks won the game on Sunday, it could be argued that the Giants played a more solid football game, giving them the opportunity to win the game 3 times. The Seahawks defense, especially when they are put in the soft “prevent” zone coverage, were picked apart again, there was surprisingly little pressure on QB Eli Manning, even during blitz packages, and the offense was stalled by a strong and fast front 4. This says to me that the Seahawks need to work on these deficiencies well before they expect to take the field in the playoffs. But it feels so good to be in the driver’s seat for home field advantage, doesn’t it?


- 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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