MMQB: Seahawks 13 - Jets 3

Those fans who braved the winter weather (many of whom will still be driving home by the time this article is published) were treated to a great win and an emotional sendoff for HC Mike Holmgren. Seattle had a tough match-up against a good Jets team but the team played an exceptional game and make Holmgren's last game in Seattle a good one.

Seattle Seahawks 13, New York Jets 3
Qwest Field, Seattle, Washington
December 21st, 2008

Play of the Day: Jets Quarterback Brett Favre is down 13-3, with 1:23 remaining, and gunning down the field. There’s rationally not enough time to be too concerned, but I know I was worried as Favre tossed a pass down the right side of the field. Luckily for the Seahawks, CB Josh Wilson looked like the intended receiver for the pass and plucked it for his second interception of the game. Game Over.

Handouts to the Standouts: RB Maurice Morris played a great game, to the tune of 29 carries and 116 yards… The offensive line, likely benefiting from the snow (about the only break to go in favor of the offensive line), played great football against a tough Jets defensive front… QB Seneca Wallace turned in another fine performance today, playing better than his statistics indicate… The Seahawks defensive line did not seem hindered by the snow, fighting through blocks to pressure Favre all day long, and notching three sacks… CBs Marcus Trufant and Josh Wilson played excellent football, with Trufant shutting down his side of the field, and Wilson picking two interceptions and notching a sack… Special Teams played excellent for Seattle, holding pro-bowl return man Leon Washington to 17.2 yards on kickoffs and 4 yards on punt returns…

Things That Made Me Go “Blech!”: FB Leonard Weaver did not have a good game with the ball in his hands, losing a fumble and making no big plays… TE Will Heller also lost a fumble, after a nice reception, and for both players one has to wonder if the snow played a role in their fumble problems… Really, this was a well-executed game aside from the fumbles...

Referee Report Card: Chalk up another game as “incompetent”. The ball-spot on a Brett Favre shovel pass was terrible, Seattle’s punter was hit late without a flag, Seattle got away with a pass interference by Trufant… Overall, a terrible game from an officiating perspective. At least the officiating was bad for both sides, though I’d say Seattle actually got the better results from the bad calls. D.

Offense: This game looked like it would be a brutal game for Seattle’s offensive line. The Jets came into Sunday’s game with 40 sacks, and left Sunday’s game with 40 sacks despite facing an offensive line consisting entirely of backups. The offensive line also blocked very well for Maurice Morris, who had a great game running through holes in the middle and had open space on his off-tackle runs. Seattle’s biggest weakness was going up against one of the strengths of the Jets, but held through, at least partially thanks to the weather. The snow made sure footing harder to come by, hindering the ability of the front-7 to get a quick first step – even Seattle’s defense benefited from good coverage on three of their four sacks. That difference could well have been the single most important factor in Seattle’s win.

I know there are a few Seahawk fans wondering where Julius Jones was in this game. He was completely absent, but really this shouldn’t be surprising. Our offense’s biggest weakness looked to be interior play (amazingly, Seattle’s interior line did a great job), making off-tackle runs hugely important. Morris is faster than Jones, and Jones cutback skills were expected to be rendered useless. Plus, Morris has earned the starting job at this point, consistently outperforming Jones against common opponents. Much like Kerry Collins vs Vince Young, it should Morris’ job until he fails to be productive, and so far Morris has been very productive for Seattle.

An interesting note about how the weather affected the game: Bobby Engram and Will Heller had more yards than Deion Branch, Koren Robinson, Courtney Taylor, and Leonard Weaver, four targets open operating near the sidelines. Seneca Wallace made the smart decisions to limit the distance on his throws in this terrible weather.

Defense: Seattle came into the game with 30 sacks on defense, New York with 40. That’s why it was so surprising that Seattle finished the game with 4 sacks and New York ended up with none. I mentioned that the Seattle offensive line/M.A.S.H. unit benefited mightily from the weather, but New York’s excellent line should have had the same benefits. Ironically, this is when Seattle’s high-effort line pays off. Three sacks by the defensive line, and all came from the defense working harder than the offense. Team President Tim Ruskell takes a lot of flack when he misses out on a character-risk who pans out, but it’s specifically the high-motor high-character linesmen that notched those sacks.

It seems like this column has become almost a weekly praise dispenser for Josh Wilson, but this time I can do it in the defense section instead of the special teams section. Nothing really insightful, just heaps of praise for a spectacular game by an improving cornerback. Both of Wilson’s interceptions were good plays – on the first interception, he knew he had safety help so he was able to play in front of the WR, and on his second interception he made the catch like he was the intended target of Brett Favre. Wilson makes big plays every week, and looks like a very solid cornerback opposite of Marcus Trufant (who also played spectacularly).

Lawrence Jackson has had a rough year. He looks amazingly unpolished for a 4-year starter from USC, and his play this year has been disappointing. But, even though the stats don’t show it, Jackson played very well today. He seemed to be the only defender able to get a quick jump off the snap (why this is, I have no idea), and his pressure helped force Brett Favre into awkward situations.

Special Teams: Sorry, Bruce DeHaven. Too little, too late. But, for your credit, maybe you can show this tape to future employers, because the coverage units played dynamite. It looks like the snow played a role (Josh Wilson didn’t look exceptional either on returns), but the coverage units tackled well, which has been their biggest problem this year. Special Teams is the unit that rides most on emotion, and it felt like the emotion of today was evident in their excellent play.

Conclusion: This was a nice win, against a quality opponent. It was just fun. Next week’s game against the Cardinals has no real implications for either team – the Cardinals and Seahawks both have pride, but there was more riding on this game. And, of course, it was Mike Holmgren’s last game in Seattle, which added a whole new element to the game. Sometimes, Mike Holmgren drove us crazy. But it is hard not to admit the way Holmgren changed the culture of this franchise, and I know I had to work to control my emotions during his last press conference from Qwest Field. It was great to send him off with a win, no matter the cost to draft position.

 


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