MMQB: Seahawks 33, Rams 6

"The Seahawks proved they're not as bad as the woeful Rams but, frankly, that's not saying much. With both the Cardinals and 49ers losing earlier on Sunday, Seattle took advantage and will head into their bye week up one game in the meek ‘n' mild NFC West."

Seattle Seahawks 33, St. Louis Rams 6
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Qwest Field, Seattle, Washington

Play Of The DayNate Burleson took the opening kickoff of the second half 91 yards to the house in what was the proverbial dagger in the heart of the Rams' hopes for a victory.

Handouts to the Standouts: Daryl Tapp enjoyed a monster game despite injuring a finger towards the end of the first half.  Tapp finished the game with 4 sacks, a forced fumble and what was credited as a defended pass but was really a dropped interception.

Julian Peterson continues to impress.  One play in particular that stands out was a short dump off to RB Travis Minor where Peterson was in full-bore pass rush mode, turned 180 degrees and ran down Minor from behind.  It's these kinds of plays that don't make the SportsCenter highlights that separate J.P. from the rest of the pack.

Leroy Hill was, as usual, a monster against the run, but Hill also contributed in the pass department with a sack, a forced fumble and a beautifully defended pass late in the game.

TE Will Heller caught just three passes today, but two of them were for scores – the only two touchdowns the Seattle offense would score on the day.  Both passes were on the goal line, and both cases Heller executed the classic "block and release" that has become de rigueur for NFL tight ends.

Things That Made Me Go "Blech"Seattle had the ball fourth and an inch and the play call was a run to the outside???  For real???  There are times for trickeration, and there are times for hard-nosed, ram-it-down-their-throats football.  Fourth and an inch would be the latter. 

This leads me to our next entry on the "Blech" parade – the running game.  Time and time again, Seattle running backs are hitting a wall at the line of scrimmage.  I wish I could point to one culprit, but there are problems all across the line when it comes to opening lanes for the backs, which is made all the more frustrating by the line's dominance against the pass rush.  I'll leave the Xs and Os to the experts, but it is abundantly clear that no one is going to rush for over 100 yards with the state of run blocking as it is now.

The offense still is not in synch, although at least the first 15 scripted plays went well.  On several occasions Hasselbeck threw the ball to receivers who weren't looking for the ball, and on several others Hasselbeck threw the ball into double coverage.  Matt was particularly poor late in the second quarter, although he was nursing sore ribs at the time so perhaps he earned a pass on those series.  Still, there was way too much confusion between Matt and his receivers for my taste.

Offense: The Seahawks offense looked like NFC Championship offense on the first drive of the game.  The drive began with two quick passes followed to by two solid runs from Alexander.  Another pass, this one to FB Leonard Weaver was followed with three consecutive running plays.  On second-and-6, Hasselbeck checked down to Bobby Engram setting up a third-and-1.  Both Walter Jones and Weaver threw nice blocks on the outside to spring Maurice Morris for the first down, which set up a first and goal play action pass to TE Will Heller, the first of his two touchdown catches on the day.

After that, things seemed to get progressively worse for the offense.  They finished the half with two three-and-outs, one four play drive, a drive cut short by an interception and a field goal.  All of this despite being given consistently good field position by the defense.

In the second half the offense got back on track, scoring on four of their seven possessions, albeit only one ending in a touchdown. 

The box score wasn't very pretty:  4-14 on third downs, 0-1 on fourth down, 5 tackles for losses on running plays, and barely over 50% completion percentage.  That might be good enough against a team that has yet to win a game, but if the Seahawks want to make a serious run at the postseason, they need to tighten up the ship on offense, and they need to do it quickly. 

Defense: The Seahawks defense was rock solid in all facets of the game on Sunday.  The team amassed 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions and kept the Rams out of the end zone all game long despite St. Louis making it to the red zone twice.  The front four were especially effective in getting to Marc Bulger, led by Daryl Tapp who racked up four of the teams 7 sacks and Rocky Bernard who recovered a Marc Bulger fumble and who was a constant disruptive force in the middle of the field against both the run and the pass. 

Outside linebackers Leroy Hill (1 sack, 1 FF) and Julian Peterson (1 sack, 1 INT) were major factors in the game, as the Rams elected to avoid the middle of the field and Pro-Bowl MLB Lofa Tatupu for most of the game. The secondary played well against the aging Rams wideouts in the first half, and conceded ground in the second half as the lead began to widen.  Marcus Trufant did a great job of keeping his feet in bounds while nabbing his third interception of the season midway through the second quarter.

Special Teams:Nate Burleson was the special teams star of the day, returning the opening kickoff the second half 91 yards for a touchdown and racking up an additional 79 yards on his other kick and punt returns.  I have to admit, I hold my breath every time he fields a punt off of a hop but so far he's held onto the ball so I guess I can't complain.

Josh Brown was money from the field, converting each of his four field goal attempts from 38, 48, 45 and 43 yards in addition to his three extra points. Ryan Plackemeier averaged almost 42 yards a punt, which is impressive considering that he placed three of his five kicks inside the 20.

Additional Notes: Ex-Seahawk Donnie Jones boomed an 80 yard punt, and also shanked one 39 yards, demonstrating the kind of inconsistency that lead to his departure from Seattle. Kudos to Tom Ashworth for fair catching a short kickoff rather than attempting to run with the ball.  The last thing anyone wants is guard trying to run back a kick.

The Golden Microphone Award: The FOX booth crew of Matt Devlin and J.C. Pearson did a decent job calling the game in the first half (despite an unnecessary pre-packaged tribute to Minnesota Vikings HB Adrian Peterson) but completely fell off the mark in the second half spending time picking their top 5 BCS teams instead of calling the action on the field, calling the wrong names (e.g. Kelly Jennings plays for the Seahawks, Kelly Jenkins is girl I went to high school with), and generally losing focus. 

This was compounded by the total incompetence of the director who missed no fewer than three snaps while showing us meaningless prepackaged crap (does anyone care that Donnie Jones and Nate Burleson shook hands before the game?) and at one point, missing the recovery of a fumble.

Summary: The Seahawks proved they're not as bad as the woeful Rams but, frankly, that's not saying much.  With both the Cardinals and 49ers losing earlier on Sunday, Seattle took advantage and will head into their bye week up one game in the meek ‘n' mild NFC West.  One would hope that the team would take the time off to fine tune the passing game and try to discover where their running game has gone.

Next Week:  Bye.

Dylan is a die-hard Seahawks fan trapped in Eagles Country and 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