Yes, the Seattle Seahawks
beat the New York Giants 42-30, but was anyone else thinking that this game
resembled the home loss against the Rams in 2004? After an extremely dominating
first quarter, Seattle steadily chipped away at the Giants over the next two
quarters before a 4th quarter meltdown that put 27 points on the board for New
York. A win is a win, and beating the New York Giants by 12 points is nothing
to be ashamed of, but the coaches will have plenty to work on before the Seahawks
play against the Bears - in Chicago - on Sunday Night Football.
Seattle Seahawks 42,
New York Giants 30
Qwest Field, Seattle, Washington
September 24th, 2006
Play of the Game:
The Seahawks won this game because of their first-quarter play, so it's only
fitting that this goes to FS Ken Hamlin - the first quarter hero - for his first
of two interceptions. With 13:13 remaining in the game, QB Eli Manning tries
to fit a throw between CB Marcus Trufant and Hamlin. Bad idea. Hamlin steps
right in front of the pass and takes it to the Giants' 15-yard-line, two plays
later Alexander barrels into the end zone to make it 7-0. Honorable mention
to Mack Strong's 4th quarter 3rd-and-eight run for 17 yards, allowing the Seahawks
to slowly work the clock.
Bringing Their "A" Game: FS Ken Hamlin, for intercepting Manning twice in the first quarter - setting up scores both times... CB Marcus Trufant, for a solid overall performance, which he capped by stripping the ball from WR Plaxico Burress... DE Darryl Tapp, for getting Seattle's lone sack on Manning - this Tapp kid is special... WR Darrell Jackson, for seven catches, 57 yards, and two touchdowns... LT Walter Jones, for holding Giants DE Osi Umienyiora to 2 tackles, with one of those tackles being on WR Deion Branch's reverse... Deion Branch, for an overall solid performance that included a well-executed eight-yard reverse... QB Matt Hasselbeck, for five touchdowns, a career high... FB Mack Strong, for 5 carries that tallied 33 yards, including the aforementioned 17-yard backbreaker on 3rd and eight.
The bad and the ugly: The prevent defense's Seahawk debut - giving up 27 points in the 4th quarter... Watching RB Maurice Morris run for 18 yards on 15 carries, despite an overall gutsy performance... Kelly Jennings getting burnt all game long, though luckily he was getting burnt by players who can't hold onto the ball... The inability of the offensive line to open up holes consistently... Matt Hasselbeck's third interception of the day, a pass right to CB R.W. McQuarters, which was returned for a touchdown.
Offense: Seahawk fans, you wanted the offense to look like it's old self - well, here you go. While the running game remains stuck somewhere between "non-existent" and "missing in action", Matt Hasselbeck threw for 5 touchdown passes despite having to play clock-management in the second half of the game. And, despite the lack of gaudy stats, touchdowns, or even reliability, the running game did enough to wind down the clock, though when your best performance is from your blocking fullback, clearly there are issues.
First offensive play of the game, Matt Hasselbeck throws a pass to Darrell Jackson, being covered by CB Corey Webster. As both jump for the ball, it appears like Jackson and Webster simultaneously catch the ball as they come down. Calling it a simultaneous catch would have resulted in the pass being credited to Jackson, but the officials give Webster the interception. Three plays later, Hamlin intercepts Manning and gives Hasselbeck the ball at the 15-yard-line, where he hits Jackson for 13 yards before Alexander runs the ball in for a touchdown and a 7-0 Seahawks lead.
After a short rest, the Seahawks received the ball at the Giants' 47 and proceeded to run the sort of balanced offensive attack that Seattle expects. Alexander looked like his MVP self, running for sixteen yards on three carries. Hasselbeck completed a short pass to Engram, Deion Branch caught his first Seahawk pass (for eight yards), and it was capped off by Nate Burleson's leaping touchdown reception. 14-0, Seahawks.
Seattle scored again when Hamlin picked off Eli Manning for the second time, bringing the ball to New York's 27. Bobby Engram made the one type of catch he's not supposed to make - the jump ball thrown right behind him. An incredibly effort - Engram brought the ball in using his fingertips before cradling it on top of him - netted Seattle 22 yards and set up the third Seahawks' touchdown: a four yard pass to Darrell Jackson where the Giants decided that he shouldn't be covered, at all. 21-0, Seahawks.
Again, the balanced offense that has been so successful for Seattle teased Seahawk fans by making a brief appearance before disappearing entirely from the game. After working their way to the Giants' 10 yard line, Giants CB R.W. McQuarters was beat by Heller on a little slant route with 5:27 remaining. Now, everyone knew that the Giants' had a suspect secondary, but your nickel corner should never, ever get beaten by a 3rd string blocking tight end. 28-0, Seahawks.
Matt Hasselbeck almost willed the Seahawks to their fifth touchdown, moving the ball 70 yards (with only seven coming from the running game) on a series of short passes before capping it off with a humorous touchdown pass to Engram. Engram ran a typical post route, finding the hole in the zone coverage and catching a perfect ball from Hasselbeck before falling down at about the New York 4. Amazingly, he somehow got underneath both Giant defenders, so he rolled in untouched for a touchdown. (Instant replay showed that he was in fact touched, though on review the refs didn't notice it). 35-3, Seahawks.
Seattle's sixth and final touchdown was perhaps the most important of the game. A 17-play, 70-yard masterpiece killed almost ten minutes of clock time. In classic WCO style, the longest play was a twelve yard touchdown pass to Darrell Jackson. And it was a risky twelve yard pass too, an inch or two from being broken up, it took great concentration for Jackson to hold onto the ball and bring it in. A perfect drive for what appeared to be, at this point, a perfect game. 42-3, Seahawks. Hasselbeck followed this great drive by throwing an interception to DT Frank Robbins (after DE Michael Strahan deflected the ball). And, as if to give a little bit of hope to the Giants, Hasselbeck's next pass flew right into the hands of R.W. McQuarters, who streaked down the field for six points. A great overall offensive performance was overshadowed by that last interception, the sort of throw Hasselbeck knows not to make but was forced to try after LB Antonio Pierce flew into the backfield almost unblocked.
Defense: What a dominating first quarter. Ken Hamlin walks right in front of Manning's 2nd pass of the game and picks it off. On the next drive, Seattle forces a three-and-out where the Giant's offense moved back seven yards before punting the ball to Seattle. On the Giant's third drive, Manning looks for WR Amani Toomer deep but throws right into the leaping form of... Ken Hamlin. On their next possession, the Giants move back six yards before punting it again. Thankfully for New York, the quarter ends before they can find any other way to do nothing offensively.
Not that the second quarter was much better for New York. Their first possession ends with a punt after finally gaining a first down (their first of the game). Their second possession ends abruptly when a pass intended for WR Plaxico Burress bounces off of Burress' hands, and ends up in SS Michael Boulware's possession after a diving catch. While it is great fun to tease Eli Manning, there is really nothing he could have done to stop that - it was a perfect pass on a perfect read, just a poor play by his number-one receiver. Thanks to a great kickoff return by KR Chad Morton, the Giants were able to convert a long field goal - a small shock to those of us who remember last year's match up against the Giants.
The third quarter was dominated by Seattle's ten minute touchdown drive, leaving New York with the ball for only 2 series - another 3-and-out where the Giants lost four yards (thanks to a great play by Wistrom to knife through the line and catch Barber near his RT. The other series would stretch into the 4th quarter, where things really got ugly. Amani Toomer made it a 42-10 game when he jumped up and caught a touchdown over Kelly Herndon's head. After a tipped Hasselbeck pass resulted in an interception and a spot on the Seahawks 25, Manning hooked up with WR Tim Carter - who had dropped a possible touchdown pass earlier - for a 25 yard touchdown pass. This one lies squarely on CB Kelly Jennings, who big on the play fake and didn't recover anywhere near in time to stop the touchdown.
That made the score 42-17 and it'd be 42-24 after R.W. McQuarters picked off Hasselbeck and ran it into the end zone for a touchdown. To make the game even closer, Manning lead the Giants on a fast-tempo drive where he completed passes left and right, leading to yet another touchdown, this time a nine-yard pass to WR David Tyree where Tyree found a hole right between two Seahawk defenders. A failed two point conversion left the score at 42-30 with 2:42 remaining, where Seattle's offense burned enough of the clock to pull away with the victory.
Special Teams: It wasn't bad. It wasn't particularly good either, but no blocked field goals! Ryan Plackemeier redeemed himself after a rough outing against Arizona, booming punts with great distance and decent hang time. It was interesting to see how different Feagles and Plackemeier are - Feagles is a directional guy who looks like a punter, Plackemeier is a distance punter who looks like a linebacker. K Josh Brown made a good play on KR Chad Morton's big return in the 2nd quarter, forcing Morton to cut inside instead of outside - whenever the KR cuts inside they'll be hit and usually tackled. The return units were unspectacular but got the job done.
Summary: There are two possible concerns with this team. The defense looked vulnerable in the 4th quarter. It looked like the defense just gave up on the game, maybe they started celebrating a little too early. But, who thinks that is really a trend? It isn't like these Seahawks to blow leads late, that shouldn't worry Seahawk fans. What should worry Seahawk fans is that the running game is still nowhere to be found. Shaun Alexander's foot is clearly hurting. It was evident that if Shaun gets the holes, he can still burst through, it was also evident that he can't cutback as well as last year (whether that is the foot or not remains to be seen). When there was a hole, Shaun hit it. When there wasn't really a hole, Shaun just couldn't go anywhere.
Kyle Rota is our fine MMQB writer and is also known as "Rotak" on our message boards. You can e-mail him here.