Seattle Seahawks 23,
St. Louis Rams 20
Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, MO
December 14th, 2008
Play of the Game: Sure, WR Deion Branchs 45-yard catch, courtesy of an excellent Seneca Wallace toss, was a huge turning point. But, as fellow Seahawk fans, youll forgive me if I consider K Olindo Mares 27-yard game-winner the play of the game, because in this train-wreck of a season, nothing is guaranteed.
Bringing Their A Game: WR Deion Branch had another solid performance, catching 5 passes for 76 yards TE John Carlson, also catching 5 passes for 76 yards, and serving as the only offensive weapon in the 1st half RB Maurice Morris, who got stronger as the game went on and pieced together 86 yards on 15 carries despite no blocking up front QB Seneca Wallace had a decent game despite being pressured all game, making several big plays and avoiding several sacks K Olindo Mare was excellent, as he has been most of the season CB Marcus Trufant had another great game, finally slowing longtime nemesis Torry Holt DT Rocky Bernard actually outplayed Brandon Mebane against the Rams, notching 6 tackles, a sack, and disrupting the backfield well.
Things That Made Me Go Blech!: The offensive line was terrible, struggling to block whether the play was run or pass There were quite a few missed tackles, though against Steven Jackson that is not surprising at all The inability for blitzing Seahawks to wrap up the quarterback is annoying, and it does seem like Seattle struggles at it more than other teams The offensive game-plan had absolutely no idea how to stop nickelback Jason Craft from creating havoc in the backfield... Overall, a solid game with only a few flaws.
Referee Report Card: Richie Incognito certainly wont grade the refs too highly, but overall this crew was fair, if not very good. I find it a little depressing that I felt an incompetent officiating crew actually rates as fairly standard, and at least I feel confident this crew wasnt corrupt. C-, just because there were bad calls for both sides.
Offense: Head Coach Mike Holmgren, youve been coaching for a long time. Youve seen so many defensive looks. So, why oh why were you so befuddled by the Rams leaving their nickel back in for the whole game? Has no defense ever done this to your offense? Is there some reason why Jason Craft had free reign in the backfield? It is embarrassing how a nickelback of marginal talent so completely ruined the Seahawks offense in the first half.
As recently as halftime this week, I read comments by Seahawk fans complaining about Seneca Wallace. That amazes me. Wallace has thrown 8 touchdowns and only 1 interception, good for an 88 quarterback rating. Considering that his supporting cast is arguably the single worst in the NFL, Wallace has put forth an amazing performance given the circumstances. Is he a pro-bowl quarterback? No. But hes a quarterback who can win games, if hes surrounded by even average talent. There are myriad problems with the Seahawks offense, but Seneca Wallace is not one of them.
Its really promising, given how tenuous Matt Hasselbecks back could be, that John Carlson and Seneca Wallace are establishing a rapport with each other. When Seneca Wallace began starting for the Seahawks, John Carlson was the forgotten man. It seemed like all of the plays in the offense for Carlson were thrown out the window when Hasselbeck was hurt. When Hasselbeck returned, Carlsons production increased. But, surprisingly, even with Matt gone the past two weeks, Carlson has still been a frequent target in the passing game. Given that Matt Hasselbecks back is no sure thing, it is a real positive to see Carlson establishing chemistry with another quarterback.
Defense: The first time I noticed it happening this year, it wasnt a big deal. The second time? Sample size, definitely. Third time? Okay, well maybe were just remembering the bad and not the good. But its gone on so many times this year I have to mention it: Does nobody on this team have the change-of-direction skills to actually tackle the Quarterback on a blitz? It seems like, when Seattle blitzes, the first player to reach the Quarterback is far more likely to run right past the quarterback than to actually make the sack. This is an example of either stiff hips, or just really poor coaching. It wouldnt surprise me one bit of the Seahawks defense are, excuse my pun, a bunch of stiffs But it would surprise me even less if they havent been well coached.
The past two weeks Ive noticed something very concerning Brandon Mebane is no longer penetrating into the backfield. Earlier in the season, even when double teamed Mebane could often split the double team and make it into the backfield, and most assuredly he wouldnt lose ground. But against New England, he had some trouble even when blocked by just one player I assumed it was a bad game. But against the Rams I noticed he was having trouble getting off blocks and barely event warranted a double team in the running game. I cant think of a good reason for this change in play, except maybe he is hurt or being worn down (the Seahawks have been on the field more than any other team in the league). Either way, this is a little concerning for the Seahawks as Mebane is the cog that makes the run defense go.
Im repeating myself, but we should be very happy with the signing of Marcus Trufant. He definitely got off to a rough start to the year, possibly due to his injury, but who was the last WR to have a good game against him? You have to go back to the Miami Dolphins game to watch Trufant beaten soundly, and even then one can make the case that with decent safety support the flea-flicker TD pass to Ted Ginn doesnt happen. Trufant has been playing at a very high level, and if he had kept this up all year he would be very deserving of a pro-bowl spot, damaged wrist and all.
Special Teams: I asked earlier if Mebane was wearing down, but I wonder if the same could be true of Josh Wilson. Hes spent a lot less time on the field, but it seems like his kickoffs have declined in recent weeks. It could be the atmosphere of losing has descended on the Seahawks, and that is hampering everyones play. Well, everyone except Olindo Mare, who was again excellent... Hard to believe that he was the worst kicker in the NFL last year, isnt it?
Conclusion: Im a draft guy first and foremost. So its a little hard for me to look at where we are projected now, compared to where we would have been projected if we had lost the game. The talent decline looks steep. I cant rationally say that this win helped the team, but I can say that it was far more enjoyable to watch than the blowout losses we have suffered to the NFC East. And, despite knowing that a win next week will do more damage to our draft position, I cant help but hope Holmgren wins his last game in Seattle so, despite the futility of it beat the J-E-T-S!