Quick Hits - Arizona 23, Seattle 20

Sooo … how much IS a timeout worth on the open market? Ask Mike Holmgren, whose refusal to stop the clock as the Cardinals drove down the field late in the game will be very difficult to explain.

Quick Hits - Seahawks vs. Cardinals, 9/16/07

After the Seahawks fumbled a Matt Hasselbeck-to-Shaun Alexander exchange with less than two minutes left in the game, Arizona simply ran the ball down Seattle's throats, got in field goal range, and  Neil Rackers' winning field goal with mere seconds remaining left no time for the Seahawks to mount another comeback.

So, in this week's "Quick Hits", we'll start with Seattle's esteemed coach.

  1. Holmgren Hears a "Huh???" - From the very first drive, when he called running plays on first-and-20 and second-and-18, Mike Holmgren seemed outmatched. He wasn't helped by the performance of his offense, but there seemed to be a disturbing tendency on Holmgren's part to … well I won't say, "give up", but I will wonder about certain strategic decisions.

Certainly, his refusal to give his offense more time as the clock ran down seemed to be a statement to his offense - "I don't think you can tie this thing up again". With that offense firing and misfiring as it was, there was still the matter of Josh Brown on the sidelines. We'll never know what this team could have done with an extra 30 seconds, and that's the frustration.

  1. Branch's Arrival - Since my questions about the value of Deion Branch's contract has generally been met by the .NET faithful with the same sort of disdain one would expect to be saved for puppy-kickers, you'll all be happy to know that I was impressed by Branch's 7-catch, 122-yard performance.

He was shut out early and dropped a crucial pass, but he eventually got on track with Hasselbeck, and his ability to gain yards after the catch was impressive. If this is what we can expect from Branch the rest of the season, I'll gladly put forth an admission of "Muy Incorrecto!" For now, I'll just say, "Good game".

  1. Line Stunts - Both Seattle lines had problems. One week after harassing Tampa Bay's quarterbacks ceaselessly, the Seahawks' defense was only able to sack Matt Leinart once, though pressure was fairly consistent and Leinart did sail several throws as a result. The offensive line was atrocious in the first half, as Alexander could only gain 10 yards on eight carries, and Hasselbeck was frequently flushed from the pocket.

In the second half, the run-blocking seemed to improve, especially on Alexander's touchdown, when left guard Rob Sims pulled left and established a perfect seal with Walter Jones taking the inside.

  1. Losing the Special Teams Game - Though Nate Burleson got off a couple of good returns, Josh Wilson was shut out on kickoffs, as Neil Rackers planted four touchbacks on five boots. The Seahawks were wise enough to keep the ball away from returner Steve Breaston, but it was Rackers who decided the game.
  1. Secondary Concern - Lofa Tatupu's amazing interception aside, this simply isn't a ball-hawking defense. The Seahawks have made their bed and they're intent on lying in it - the market hadn't been there for shutdown corners, with the exception of Nate Clements and his Gross National Product of France contract with the 49ers.

So, Tim Ruskell beefed up the pass rush as much as possible, and gave Ed Reed money to Deon Grant, and hoped against all hope that the liabilities in the defensive backfield would be mitigated by pressure from the front four. When that happens, as it did against the Buccaneers, it's a feasible plan. But it's a tremendous amount of pressure to put on one part of a defense as the expense of another. As such, it won't always work.

This 23-20 loss in the Valley of the Sun was an indicator of things that this team must fix, not an aberration for a Super Bowl contender. Mike Holmgren must set things right before next Sunday.

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