MMQB: Seahawks 24, Bengals 21

"The Seahawks prevailed when the chips were down. The offense executed a solid come from behind victory and the defense didn't panic, stuck to their game plan and pulled out an important home win against a high-powered offense. With the rest of the NFC West coming up short this weekend, Seattle proved to their fans and the pundits that the road to the Playoffs still comes through Qwest Field."

Seattle Seahawks 24, Cincinnati Bengals 21
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Qwest Field, Seattle, Washington

Play Of The Day:  On 1st and 10 from the Cincinnati 22 and with 1:06 left on the clock, Matt Hasselbeck hit a streaking Nate Burleson with a precision pass to score the game-winning touchdown.  On the play, Burleson found the seam between CB #22 and S Madieu Williams and Hasselbeck hit him in stride for the game winner.

Handouts To The Standouts:  Backup LB Lance Laury smacked into KR Glenn Holt on the ensuing kickoff and jarred the ball loose and SS Deon Grant fell on it, effectively putting an end to any thoughts of a Bengals comeback.  Grant also made a great sideline interception earlier in the game, dragging both feet to stay in bounds and made an impact in the run game with several big stops on outside runs.

LB Leroy Hill was a one-man wrecking crew after returning from missing one game with an injury.  Hill stripped WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh early in the second quarter, and he made several big hits for a loss in the backfield on runs.  There can be no question that Hill is every bit as important as his Pro-Bowl teammates Lofa Tatupu and Julian Peterson.

FS Brian Russell made back to back huge stops in run support halting the Bengals on a drive immediately after Hassebeck's first INT.  Russell would later make a wonderful over-the-shoulder pick of a Carson Palmer rainbow that kept the Seahawks alive in the second half.

Things That Made Me Go, "Blech!":  Drops, drops, drops.  From TE Marcus Pollard's stone hands leading to an interception to Burleson's inability to hold on a touchdown pass, the team is still dropping way too many passes.  Matt Hasselbeck isn't helping them out by firing in bullets when a touch pass will do, case in point his pass to a wide-open and one-handed Shaun Alexander that could have gone for big yards if Hasselbeck had taken a bit off of his throw.

The Seahawks defense did not handle the hurry-up offense very well in the first half, allowing the Bengals to march right down the field on short passes that led to their first score.  This is kind of thing that needs to get fixed sooner rather than later because it's exactly the kind of thing that jumps off of the screen on game films.

The second kickoff to the Seahawks came up short and nobody on the return team seemed to want the ball and it was very nearly recovered by the Bengals.  I have to imagine that squib kicks are practiced by the special teams so the apparent confusion was disturbing.  Somebody grab the ball, guys!

The boo birds coming out on every run in which Shaun Alexander didn't get positive yards.  I don't know what kind of tool boos his MVP running back that's playing hurt … actually, I live near Philadelphia so I do … but I thought the Seahawks Nation was better than that.  The fact there were enough people booing so that the folks at home could hear was shameful. 

Offense:  Matt Hasselbeck distributed the ball well amongst his wideouts, throwing one touchdown each to Bobby Engram, Deion Branch and Nate Burleson, while both of his interceptions were ricochets.  The first one right off of the hands of TE Marcus Pollard; the other was a bizarre bounce off of Burleson, who was fighting CB Jonathan Joseph for possession of the ball, that fell right into the waiting arms of CB Leon Hall.  Matt finished the game 24-37 for 248 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. 

The running game was non-existent in the first half, but Shaun Alexander came back with a strong second half, including a huge 20 yard dash with under a minute to go that gave the Seahawks the ability to kneel on the ball for the win, and gave Alexander exactly 100 yards on the ground for the game. 

The offensive line looked solid in pass protection for a majority of the game, although perennial All-Pro Walter Jones gave up a sack in the first half.  Runs up the middle were largely unsuccessful but running plays to the outside worked very well.  I noticed G Chris Gray leading the way on two of Alexander's successful tries to the outside.

In general the offense seemed to be running at about 80% on Sunday with a few near misses on long passes and not nearly enough running room up the middle. But clearly everyone was on the same page and the plays that didn't work helped set up the ones that did.  Take, for instance, Hasselbeck's second touchdown pass of the game - a beautiful play action pass right down the middle of the field to Deion Branch that was set up by several short Alexander runs.  The offense may not yet be firing on all cylinders, but they had enough in the tank to earn the win.

Defense:  The Seahawks seemed determined not to give up the long ball and as a result gave up quite a few yards underneath the zone.  In true bend-but-don't-break fashion, they stiffened up near the goal line and put some big hits on receivers after catches across the middle.  The safeties played well in both in run support and against the deep ball and both Marcus Trufant and Kelly Jennings did a fine job keeping up with Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh when manned up against them. 

Carson Palmer was under pressure for about half of his throws, although the Seahawks only managed to sack him twice in the game.  Seattle appeared to have most of it's success rushing the passer with linebacker blitzes.

The return of Leroy Hill had a huge impact on the Seahawks' success against the run, as Seattle stuffed RB Rudi Johnson for 9 yards on 17 carries before he left the game with a sore hamstring.  Hill met Johnson in the backfield several times in the first half, and in the second half, the Bengals began to run away from his side and enjoyed a smidgeon more success, although success here would be defined merely be getting positive yardage.

The run defense faltered on the Bengals last drive allowing runs of 7, 1, 14 and 8 yards on consecutive plays that gave Cincinnati a late lead, but finally appeared to have learned their lesson by snuffing out the 2 point conversion in the backfield.

Although it was evidently by design, it was still disconcerting to see so many passes completed in front off the zone defense and the Seahawks are going to have to do a better job at playing against the no-huddle than they did against the Bengals or they're going to start seeing it on a more consistent basis.  Still, the defense held the Bengals to their fewest points scored of the season and managed to force three turnovers which was enough to squeak out a win.

Special Teams:  The Seattle special teams contributed big time on Sunday, from Josh Wilson returning the opening kickoff 72 yards to setup the first score of the game, to the aforementioned forced fumble on the last kickoff of the game to seal the victory.  Ryan Plackemeier continued his stellar play at punter with booming kicks and precision short kicks that kept a long field in front of Carson Palmer and the Bengals offense for a vast majority of the game.  Punt and kick coverage was also strong.  K Josh Brown appeared to have his sole FG attempt of the game partially blocked, but as it was a chip shot, it still made it through the uprights.

Additional NotesMarvin Lewis made some comments in the press before the game about how the crowd noise wasn't going to be a factor, and his team was hit with three false starts and looked lost on several audibles due to the volume of the 12th man.    Methinks Coach Lewis now understands that Qwest Field is the volume king of the NFL.

Several of Bengal PK Shane Graham's kickoffs were short line drives making me wonder if he didn't get injured during the course of the game. 

DT Rocky Bernard applied the pressure to QB Carson Palmer that led to S Deon Grant's interception.

Early in the third quarter, LB Lemar Marshall ran untouched into the backfield and sacked Matt Hasselbeck for a safety.  On the replay, Alexander had a man blocked, as did RT Sean Locklear, so it would appear that it was incumbent upon Hasselbeck to get rid of the ball.  Personally, I'm glad he took the sack and safety rather than panic and chuck the ball up for grabs deep in his own end zone. 

The Golden Microphone Award:  Only a few gaffes by the announcing crew of Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker, although I don't understand why so many announcers make the mistake of calling the Seahawks jerseys green.  The Golden Microphone this week goes to the booth crew for CBS who were constantly just missing the snap of the ball when coming back from graphics or commercial breaks, the pinnacle of which was completely missing the Seahawks final extra point of the game so that we could see the umpteenth replay of Burleson's touchdown catch.  Good job, guys!  

Summary:  The Seahawks prevailed when the chips were down.  The offense executed a solid come from behind victory and the defense didn't panic, stuck to their game plan and pulled out an important home win against a high-powered offense.  With the rest of the NFC West coming up short this weekend, Seattle proved to their fans and the pundits that the road to the Playoffs still comes through Qwest Field.

Dylan is a die-hard Seahawks fan trapped in Eagles Country who firmly believes that "Live At Leeds" is the single greatest live performance since a deaf Ludwig Van debuted his final symphony in Vienna in 1824.  You can e-mail Dylan at Top Stories