MMQB: Seahawks 42, Cardinals 21

"The Seahawks clinched their fourth consecutive NFC West title, which cements their status as one of the NFC's elite teams since the turn of the milleniom. The fact that they managed to do so with a great performance on both sides of the ball against a team that has been the pundit's favorite "sleeper" for the past few seasons made the victory that much sweeter."

Seattle Seahawks 42, Arizona Cardinals 21
Sunday December 9, 2007
Quest Field, Seattle, WA

Play Of The Day:  On the first Seattle possession of the second quarter, the Seahawks have driven down to the Arizona 15 yard line.  On first and ten, Matt Hasselbeck throws a dart towards the feet of Bobby Engram who is crossing the middle of the endzone.  Engram makes a great catch and an even more spectacular mid-air twist to make sure the ball doesn't touch the turf.  The touchdown would give Seattle a 17-0 lead, and would establish the tone of the day for Hasselbeck and Seahawk offense who were flat out stellar all afternoon.

Handouts to the Standouts:  Matt Hasselbeck has his best day of 2007, going 22-33 for 272 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.  Hasselbeck threw the ball away when under pressure rather than trying to force a throw into coverage and completed passes to 7 different receivers, including 4 touchdown strikes -- one each to Nate Burleson, Bobby Engram, Deion Branch and Marcus Pollard.  Matt displayed the poise and leadership that is crucial to the West Coast Offense, and will be vital for any kind of post-season Seahawks run.

Patrick Kerney, fresh off of being named November's Defensive Player of the Month, was demon on the line, sacking Kurt Warner 3 times, bringing his season total to an NFL-high 12 1/2.

Marcus Trufant made Warner pay for his erratic passes on Sunday, picking off a team record 3 interceptions, tying teammate Lofa Tatupu who nabbed three himself just last week against the Philadelphia Eagles.  The second of Trufant's three picks featured some nifty sideline running and a few juke moves that enabled Tru to return the interception 84 yards for a touchdown.

Things That Made Me Go "Blech":  If Ryan Plackemeier has a job on Monday, I'll be shocked.  His punting has been horrific over the last few weeks and I'm pretty sure there's a guy stocking shelves in Tacoma that could do a better job.  Perhaps the only thing that might keep Plackemeier in Seahawk Blue is the fact that it's so late in the season and the long snapping has been so poor.

Which brings us to Boone Stutz, the long-snapper.  We've been hearing rumblings from the special-teamers that Stutz's snaps have left a lot to be desired and could be a contributing factor to the kicking game's woes, and this week he gave concrete proof by blowing a snap on an extra point.  Can we entice Jean-Paul Darche back to Seattle for a playoff run?

Chris Gray had a rough day at guard, getting flagged for a false start and generally having a tough time blocking anybody.

I have no idea why Jerheme Urban was constantly wide open (and I do mean WIDE open) for a large majority of the game, but whatever the coverage was that was called on him should never ever be called again.

Offense:  The Seahawks offense looked a heckuva lot more like the 2005 team than they have in a long time, led by Matt Hasselbeck's four touchdown zero interception performance.  Nate Burleson led the team with 5 catches for 50 yards and a touchdown.  On his touchdown, Burleson ran a picture perfect route which has been Holmgren's knock on Burleson for quite some time now.  Certainly Nate's ability to break big plays in the open field is a huge threat in an already strong WR unit.  Deion Branch made several nice catches on the day, not the least of which was a 31 yard sideline grab that set up Bobby Engram's touchdown catch one play later.  Branch added his own touchdown grab later in the game.  Ben Obomanu made a catch on a crossing route and shed two tackles to stretch a short gain into a first down.

The running game was there when it needed to be, with Shaun Alexander busting a big run on fourth and short, that helped set up the Seahawks first touchdown of the day.  Leonard Weaver was only given the ball once, but he converted a short first down so he made the most of it.  Weaver did a solid job picking up blitzes and had a phenomenal 46-yard screen pass catch and run that adds yet another threat to the already formidable Seahawk passing game.

The offensive line did a fair job in pass protection, only yielding one sack and generally giving Hasselbeck time in the pocket.  Again, the line seemed to struggle in the running game, although they seemed to fare a bit better against the Cardinals defensive line then they did in the first meeting.  Still, only managing 80 yards rushing as a team when you were protecting a lead for the entire second half of the game has to be an area for concern.

Defense:  Once again, the Seattle defense didn't over-blitz and the result was a convincing win.  The defensive line held Edgerrin James to a mere 46 yards and racked up 5 sacks.  Patrick Kerney got at least two of his sacks while Seattle only rushed four, and both Rocky Bernard and Brandon Mebane's sacks were due in large part to great coverage downfield.

The Seahawks secondary played great all afternoon, intercepting Kurt Warner 5 times, and all but one of them were at key moments in the game.  Marcus Trufant not only returned one interception for a pick six, but also swung momentum back in Seattle's favor immediately after Arizona successfully recovered a surprise onsides kick.  Deon Grant's interception put an end to what looked to be a promising game opening drive for the Cardinals and Grant nearly had another later in the first half. 

Surprisingly, the outstanding linebacker corps had a quiet game, with Lofa Tatupu, Julian Peterson and Leroy Hill combining for just 7 tackles.  Of course, this may have more to do with the solid game play of the defensive line than with any sort of dropoff in effort by the linebackers.  It's not surprising that Kurt Warner avoided throwing the ball anywhere near Tatupu all game long.

Special Teams:  Kudos to Josh Brown for getting back off of the schnied by nailing both his field goal attempts on day.  His kickoffs still aren't getting as deep as they were earlier in the season, but they were improved over last week's.  Then again, he kicked one horribly out of bounds, so we still can't call his performance anything better than fair.  The kickoff coverage was still pretty poor, although Niko Koutouvides managed to help keep the average starting position down with a few shoestring tackles.  Ryan Plackemeier and Boone Stutz were dealt with in the "Blech" section and the less said a bout them the better.  Overall, the special teams still appears to be a glaring weak spot as the season winds down.  I'm not sure what can be done to repair the unit this late into the season, but here's hoping that some sort of help can be found.  One bad special teams play can cost the team a victory. 

The Golden Microphone Award:  I don't know what circle of Hell you'd have to be in to be stuck with Sam Rosen and Tim Ryan announcing all of your football games for, and I hope to never find out.  Between the malpropisms, calling Matt Hasselbeck "Tim", and talking about what a great quarterback Kurt Warner is after he threw his fourth interception of the game I was wishing I wasn't writing this section of the article so I could mute the broadcast.  The FOX booth crew was at it again, not showing us a review until after the referee made the call to uphold the call on the field.  Then there was the time the referee was explaining a call on the field and Ryan just continued blabbing right over top of him.  I really hope that we don't get stuck with this booth crew again this year.  Blech.

Random Notes:  Marcus Trufant joins Lofa Tatupu, Eugene Robinson and Darryl Williams in the Seahawks record book for most interceptions in a single game (3).

On Alexander's 25 yard fourth down run, Ben Obomanu was downfield throwing blocks that helped Alexander gain some extra yards.  Great hustle.

The Seattle Seahawks have given up the fewest 2nd half points in the NFL, yielding just 85 points in 13 games.

Kevin Bentley called a fair catch on a short Arizona kickoff in the second quarter and immediately fell on the ball and covered it up.  That's heads-up special teams play.

On the Ben Obomanu pass, Matt Hasselbeck had time to throw because of a beautiful block on a blitzing defender by Shaun Alexander.  Yes, you read that right.

Darnell Dockett is one of the fastest guys off of the snap that I've seen all year.  It's like he knew the Seahawks snap count on every play.  Of course, he was flagged for offsides and unnecessary roughness during the game, which kind of offset his speed on the snap.

Summary:  The Seahawks clinched their fourth consecutive NFC West title and fifth consecutive playoff appearance, which cements their status as one of the NFC's elite teams since the turn of the milleniom.  The fact that they managed to do so with a great performance on both sides of the ball against a team that has been the pundit's favorite "sleeper" for the past few seasons made the victory that much sweeter.

Next Week:  Early Morning Carolina Throwdown.

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