As expected, Matt Hasselbeck was rusty in his first game in nearly 6 weeks. Hasselbeck's completion percentage (58.6%) was his second-highest of the season, but he threw three interceptions, including one that thwarted a possible comeback attempt in the game's final two minutes. Hasselbeck appeared to make the right reads, but was late delivering the ball. He also demonstrated a willingness to make plays with his legs, and his 7-yard scramble was the team's longest gain on the ground. Hasselbeck also scrambled for 5 yards to pick a 1st down on a 4th-and-3 play that would set-up T.J. Duckett's second touchdown run.
Running backs: D+
The Seahawks running backs accounted for all of Seattle's touchdowns on Sunday, but 18 carries, 26 yards, zero runs of more than 6 yards in length and a very costly fumble keep this grade near failing level. Maurice Morris had a nice day as a receiver, and it was cool to see Owen Schmitt pound his forehead with his helmet during the pre-game introductions. Fullback Leonard Weaver (ribs) was inactive.
Wide receivers/Tight Ends: C-
Deion Branch played his first full game of the season, leading the ‘Hawks with 4 receptions and 54 yards. Rookie tight end John Carlson had 3 catches for 39 yards, but once again dropped an easy pass near the Cardinals end zone. The rest of the Seahawks receivers (Bobby Engram, Koren Robinson, and Courtney Taylor) combined for 5 receptions and 48 yards. Aside from gains of 33 and 25 yards by Branch and Carlson, respectively, big plays by the Seahawks' receiving corps were largely absent.
Offensive Line: D+
Seattle's running game never got going, producing just 43 yards on 22 carries. In the passing game, Hasselbeck took far too many hits from untouched Cardinals blitzers on Sunday. Adding injury to insult, in the 2nd quarter, left guard Mike Wahle suffered an injury to a shoulder he had surgery on in 2006.
Defensive Line: C
Seattle's run defense played pretty well in the first half, limited Arizona to 19 yards on 8 carries. However, without Patrick Kerney, the Seahawks struggled to put pressure on Kurt Warner, resulting in Warner having plenty of time to dissect the Seahawks' secondary. Brandon Mebane and Darryl Tapp recorded sacks, Mebane forced a fumble on his which Tapp recovered, but for most of the day, Warner was free to make this throws. Defensive tackle Craig Terrill and defensive ends Lawrence Jackson and Baraka Atkins played, though the NFL's stat sheet begs to differ.
Lofa Tatupu finished with 9 tackles and put a pair of hits on Warner. Tatupu did allow a 44-yard pass to Anquan Boldin in the 3rd quarter, but then again, how many middle linebackers can cover a receiver like Boldin with zero safety help? Leroy Hill and Julian Peterson made a few nice plays, but Hill was removed for a 5th or 6th defensive back when Arizona went with 4-wides and finished with just four tackles and one pass defensed. Peterson played mostly at defensive end, and had 3 tackles.
Defensive Backs: D
Josh Wilson led the team with 10 tackles and had an interception, and Kelly Jennings had a team-high three passes defended, but this unit still allowed nearly 400 yards passing, and 337 of which went to Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. It didn't matter if the Seahawks were in zone or man coverage, Boldin and Fitzgerald were simply too much for whoever was covering them. Marcus Trufant was rarely thrown at before leaving the game in the 3rd quarter with a concussion. Starting safeties Deon Grant and Brian Russell were non-factors. Wilson's interception and 58-yard return keeps this unit from a failing grade.
Special Teams: B
Olindo Mare consistently put the ball into the end zone on kickoffs, but his one returnable kick of the day came at an inopportune time. After Seattle scored to make it a 13-7 game, Cardinals kick returner Steve Breaston returned Mare's short kickoff 25 yards, setting up the Cardinals with excellent field position in the final minute of the 1st half. The Cardinals would end the half with a 54-yard field goal by Neil Rackers that gave them a 9-point lead at the break. Punter Jon Ryan averaged 39.8 yards on his 4 punts, three of which pinned the Cardinals inside their own 20-yard line. Underused punt returner Justin Forsett and kick returner Josh Wilson had another stellar game, with Wilson averaging 28 yards per kick return, including a 56-yard return towards the end of the 3rd quarter, which was diminished somewhat by Lance Laury's unnecessary roughness penalty. Forsett's lone punt return went for 20 yards.
In the game's first 25 minutes, the Arizona Cardinals had built up a 13-0 lead after scoring drives of 60, 89 and 65 yards and had run 30 plays in 15 minutes and 45 seconds. They faced 3rd down just 4 times on those three drives, including zero 3rd downs during the 89-yard touchdown drive. Without Patrick Kerney, the Seahawks couldn't find an imaginative way to pressure or confuse Kurt Warner. There was no "outside the box" thinking like putting athletic linebackers like Julian Peterson and Leroy Hill on Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald and making it impossible for them to get a clean break off the line of scrimmage. The defense stepped up in the 4th quarter, when the Cardinals were playing it safe, but the hole had already been dug.
Offensively, Mike Holmgren called a decent game. But between Matt Hasselbeck's rust, the team's lack of playmakers on offense, four turnovers, one third-down conversion in the entire game resulting in the Seahawks possessing the football for less than 26 minutes, Seattle's offense was powerless to generate anything on Sunday.
Brian McIntyre lives in the Boston area. In addition to writing for Seahawks.Net, Brian maintains his own blog (www.macsfootballblog.com) and charts games for Football Outsiders. If you'd like to e-mail Brian, you may do so here.