Die-Hard Observations: Hawks Branch Out

The first half seemed to mirror the Soldier Field-debacle continuing the Seahawk fan's collective headache but in the second half, the Seahawks seemed to snap out of their funk and find their mojo, beating the first-place Rams to regain sole possession of first place in the NFC West.

What Worked

After all but giving up on the running game in Chicago, Holmgren didn't abandon the run in St. Louis even when things got rough. Maurice Morris ran for 74 yards on 23 attempts, a stat that proves a more balanced offense will keep the defense playing more honest and take pressure off of Matt Hasselbeck exponentially.

Hasselbeck wasn't without happy feet as the offensive line (especially Chris Spencer) displayed poor blocking and collapsing pockets in the first half but he was able to keep his composure throwing for 3 TDs and most importantly, no interceptions. This was absolutely a tale of two halves with the Seahawks coming out the aggressors in the second half, able to survive a turnover and ridiculously amazing 67-yard Holt TD late in the game.

What Didn't Work

The defense came out looking lethargic in the opening drive which seemed to set the tone for the first half ineptitude displayed by the Seahawks. This is a troublesome habit that has plagued this team on and off for years. What's unclear is why there seems to be a lack of collective mental toughness and inconsistency by a team who should know by now that they have what it takes to win every single game.

Injuries are a fact of life in the NFL and quite frankly, you would expect a more passionate response from the players on both sides of the ball regardless of circumstance or opponent coming off their first Super Bowl in franchise history.

Rams QB Marc Bulger (26/39 360 yards, 3 TDs 1 INT) terrorized our secondary which was a smart move on his part. Several times the Seahawks looked out of place and unable to defend the deep ball. A disturbing trend appears to involve the DBs lack of turning around and looking for the ball when it is in the air, instead, seemingly content to run with the defender and waiting until it's too late to attempt a deflection or interception.

However, it's not fair to simply point at the secondary without mentioning the lack of pressure the DL is putting on the opposing QBs. Without pressure, the secondary's job has become infinitely more difficult.

What Surprised

The Shotgun formation. Fans had to do a double take the first time Matt Hasselbeck stepped into the shotgun formation, but seeing it twice? One would have thought they inadvertently walked into some parallel universe. Mike Holmgren using the shotgun formation? What's next? A fake field goal attempt?

Many fans have been pleading with the coach to utilize this formation in times where protection break downs become a pattern. Stubbornly, he's simply refused. Today was a pleasantly surprising reappearance of a formation that can clearly be of advantage not only in moving the chains but keeping Hasselbeck's ribs intact.

What Didn't Surprise

Josh Brown's game-winning 54-yard field goal. There are a lot of kickers in the NFL who would not have been able to make that kick but Josh Brown is not one of them. As long as rookie punter and place-kick holder Ryan Plackemeier is able to get the ball down and laces away (ahem), I like our chances to win. In field goals 50 yards or more, Brown is scary good.

Keep this up and fans will stop confusing the kicker with Matt Hasselbeck when seeking an autograph.

Seahawk Stud

In his first start of the year for the Seahawks, new WR Deion Branch showed why he was worth the team's 2007 first round draft pick. Branch caught 6 passes for 72 yards and 2 TDs. But more importantly, he displayed excellent hands and adjustment for the ball and gives the Seahawks a major new offensive weapon opposing defenses will have to game plan around.

Seahawk Dud

CB Marcus Trufant. He had 3 tackles but simply gets beat on plays you need him to appear the most. He defines the troubling attribute of the secondary's lack of turning and looking for the ball when it's in the air. By now, most fans have expected more out of the former first-round draft pick. Although he is nowhere near an ineffective corner, he's also nowhere near as good as we expected he would be by now.

Summary

The first half for the Seahawks picked right up where they left off in Chicago. Seahawk Nation was undoubtedly beginning to wonder if the wheels were indeed flying off fast in 2006. However, half-time adjustments were made and executed in the second half in a way that should give fans hope that the heart of the NFC Champions is still beating strong. They were able to stave off a Rams team who gave the Seahawks everything they had and turn the tables and regain that collective bravado that champions may misplace from time-to-time, but never complete lose.

Like last year, this game should serve as a catalyst for the rest of the season. It's victories like these against divisional opponents in order to regain sole-posession of first place that can carry teams well into the post season and quite possibly back to the promised land.


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