MMQB: Bills 34, Seahawks 10

This was the first opportunity for Seattle to show that they're ready to be more than just a team capable of winning the weak NFC West and a home playoff game, and the Seahawks failed miserably.

Buffalo Bills 34, Seattle Seahawks 10
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, New York

Play Of The Day: Down 14-0 and facing a 3rd and 10 from the Buffalo 20-yard line, Matt Hasselbeck and Nate Burleson connected on a beautiful touchdown pass down the left sideline. Jabari Greer had blanket coverage on the play, but Burleson displayed his athleticism by going up and making the circus catch.

Handouts to the Standouts: Walter Jones. The All-Pro left tackle was his usual dominant self, keeping Bills Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Schobel off the stat sheet for the entire game.

Serving as Seattle's #1 wide receiver with Bobby Engram and Deion Branch, Nate Burleson led all Seahawks receivers with 5 receptions for 60 yards and Seattle's lone touchdown. Burleson would add 54 yards on three punt returns, as well.

Seahawks rookie tight end John Carlson grabbed four passes for 52 yards in his NFL debut and showed flashes of being the athletic, pass-catching tight end Seattle's passing offense has needed this decade. He did, however, commit a false start penalty that contributed to a stalled drive that appeared headed towards putting points in Seattle's favor on the scoreboard.

After a shaky preseason, Seahawks Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Trufant only allowed 2 passes for 11 yards, defended two passes and was his usual solid self in run support.

Things That Made Me Go "Blech": The "new" running game looked an awful lot like the old running game. Seattle's offensive line was overpowered, their running backs tentative, and the ground game often went either nowhere or backwards. Bills defensive linemen Marcus Stroud and Chris Kelsay spent more time in the Seahawks backfield than T.J. Duckett did.

With all the dropped passes, Matt Hasselbeck had to be wondering if he traveled back to the 2003 or 2004 season. Courtney Taylor dropped a few passes. Jeb Putzier dropped a few passes. Even Burleson, the lone wide receiver to show up today, dropped a wide open touchdown pass.

Where's the pass rush? Seattle sacked Trent Edwards on the Bills' fourth offensive play. For the next 57 plays, the Seahawks could hardly get near Edwards.

Kelly Jennings was picked on repeatedly, which is a problem. If Lee Evans is lighting you up, how are you going to handle the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Torry Holt, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Jerricho Cotchery, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Plaxico Burress and Terrell Owens this season? Jennings has the talent, but he wasn't at his best today.

The broadcast angle made it impossible to determine, but either Mike Holmgren was slow to throw the challenge flag or referee Walt Coleman simply didn't see the red flag on the turf. Either way, a 32-yard pass play from Trent Edwards-to-Lee Evans likely would've been overturned had the play been reviewed. Evans was bobbling the ball and didn't appear to get his second foot down before going out of bounds. Three plays later, Marshawn Lynch would scamper 21 yards for the game's first touchdown.

Offense: What offense? Eight of Seattle's nine 1st half possessions ended in a punt, including 5 three-and-outs. Six drives went for zero or negative yardage. Seattle's longest drive of the game last 5 minutes and 17 seconds and even that drive resulted in a punt.

Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was under siege from the outset. Buffalo stunted and blitzed the Seahawks offensive line, which had few answers for what the Bills defense was doing to them. Hasselbeck was sacked 5 times (for a loss of 23 yards), threw one interception and finished with a dismal 53.9 passer rating. Hasselbeck wasn't getting much help from his receivers. Courtney Taylor and Jeb Putzier dropped multiple passes each, and Burleson dropped a wide open touchdown pass. After showing a lot of promise during the preseason, Jordan Kent looked very much like a player appearing in his 1st NFL game.

Seattle's new-look ground game never got going. Seattle's offensive line was overmatched physically and 12 of the Seahawks' 21 rushing attempts went for 2 yards or less. The ground game was improved in the 2nd half (11 carries, 74 yards), but nearly a third of that production came on a draw play to Julius Jones in the 4th quarter. Seattle's already stagnant rushing attack may have suffered a setback when Maurice Morris left with a knee injury after a 13-yard run in the 3rd quarter.

Defense: Just like in 2007, Seattle's defense went on the road and looked positively ordinary. Throughout the day, the Seahawks were a step behind a Buffalo Bills offense that ranked 30th in the NFL a season ago.

With the Bills playing without Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, Seattle was unable to get much pressure on Trent Edwards, who would complete 19 of 30 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown pass. Buffalo's decision to throw away from Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Trufant paid off, as third-year cornerback Kelly Jennings allowed pass plays of 32, 24, 41 and 30 yards, with those plays leading to 24 points for the Bills.

Bills running backs Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson combined for 28 carries and 107 yards, with nearly half of that yardage coming on three Lynch runs, including a 21-yard touchdown run on a draw play that caught Seattle in a blitz on a 3rd-and-11 play late in the 1st quarter.

Special Teams: To say the Seahawks special teams units were as embarrassment today would be an understatement. Yes, Ryan Plackemeier was forced to punt a career-high 11 times, which speaks to the inability of the offense to move the football. However, those 11 punts resulted in a net average of just 30.0 yards. When Plackemeier's punts weren't going out of bounds after 22 yards, the punt coverage unit was allowing Roscoe Parrish to pinball his way for 120 yards on six returns, including a 63-yard touchdown that gave the Bills a 14-0 lead in the 2nd quarter. Earlier, a tackle by John Carlson at midfield saved what may have been another long touchdown return by Parrish.

Seahawks kick returner Josh Wilson had a nice 39-yard return that set up Seattle's only touchdown, but he'd return the favor by fumbling a return in the 3rd quarter that set up the touchdown that would serve as the final nail in the coffin. Seattle's special teams did block a field goal, but only after falling asleep at the wheel and allowing a 19-yard touchdown pass on a fake field goal.

The lone bright spots on special teams were Olindo Mare, who delivered on a 45-yard field goal that was tipped at the line and sailed two of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. Burleson added 54 yards on punt returns, as well. Logan Payne made a nice play downing a Plackemeier punt at the Bills' 2-yard line.

The Golden Microphone Award: FOX's Tony Boselli isn't shy about discussing his admiration for the way Walter Jones plays left tackle. Multiple times throughout the broadcast Boselli, a former All-Pro left tackle himself, would gush about Jones' technique and footwork.

Memo to FOX: More Charissa Thompson, please.

Random Notes: Morris and Burleson would leave the game in the 3rd quarter with knee injuries. Neither would return…Craig Terrill now has 4 blocked field goals in his career…Patrick Kerney notched Seattle's lone sack of the game, which came with 12:05 remaining in the 1st quarter…Seattle fell to 3-4 in road openers under Mike Holmgren…Overall, Seattle is now 11-22 in season openers, 7-12 in road openers…Seattle still leads the all-time series over Buffalo, 6-5.

Summary: This was an opportunity for Seattle to show that they're more than just a team capable of winning the weak NFC West and a home playoff game, and the Seahawks failed miserably. Losing 34-10 to a Buffalo Bills team that hasn't made the playoffs in nearly a decade is not the way Mike Holmgren wanted to begin his 10th and final season as the Seahawks head coach. It's a good thing Seahawks owner Paul Allen spared no expense on the beautiful Virginia Mason Athletic Center, because it's obvious that the coaching staff will be spending a lot of time there this week.

Next Week: Seattle begins their NFC West schedule against the San Francisco 49ers (0-1).

Brian McIntyre writes about the Seahawks and blogs about the NFL. You can reach him here.

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