Seattle Seahawks 41, Jacksonville Jaguars 0
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Play of the Day: After completing a 15-yard dart to Nate Burleson on 3rd-and-11, Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck hit wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh for a 34-yard touchdown pass on a beautiful pump-and-go that gave the Seahawks a 13-0 lead, putting the Jaguars in their rear-view mirror.
Handouts to the Standouts
Have to start this list with Hasselbeck, who completed 18-of-30 passes for 241 yards and 4 touchdowns for a passer rating of 125.1. He also showed a willingness to scramble, even if nobody in Qwest Field wanted to see it.
Houshmandzadeh (6 rec., 77 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Burleson (5 rec., 98 yards, 2 touchdowns) were frequent and reliable targets for Hasselbeck. Burleson's 44-yard catch-and-run, where he pie-faced two tacklers, was a runner-up to the Play of the Day from above.
Defensive end Darryl Tapp set the tone early, getting consistent pressure on Jaguars quarterback David Garrard. Tapp's persistence was rewarded with a quarterback sack and Tapp had four tackles and an amazing four hits on Garrard, including his sack.
First-round linebacker Aaron Curry was a beast, making plays all over the field. He led the ‘Hawks with 9 tackles, had a strip-sack which Corey Redding recovered to set-up Houshmandzadeh's second touchdown. Curry also dislodged the football from Torry Holt on a pass play and made a tackle while covering a punt.
The entire Seahawks defense, which held the Jaguars' 10th-ranked offense to less than 200 yards of total offense, 0 points, and limited Maurice Jones-Drew to 34 yards rushing. It doesn't matter who you're playing, shutting a team out in the NFL is rare and it's accomplishment a defense can be very proud of. Players who deserve additional praise: Lawrence Jackson (2 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble), Lofa Tatupu (8 tackles, 1 pass defended), Josh Wilson (4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass defended), Nick Reed (3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 79-yard fumble return for a touchdown), and Brandon Mebane, who clogged the middle and got a few hits on Garrard to force incompletions.
Things That Made Me Go "Blech!"
Fullback Owen Schmitt banging his helmet into his forehead and sending blood pouring all over his face was uniform during the pre-game introductions was pretty gross…and silly. With Justin Griffith inactive, a concussed Schmitt would've put the Seahawks offense in a bind. Fortunately, his skull appears to be made of a substance that crash-landed on Earth back in the late 40s, so it wasn't a problem.
And quite frankly, it was kinda cool.
After Jay Cutler and Peyton Manning lit them up for a 76% completion percentage, 600 yards, 5 touchdowns and a 114.8 passer rating over the last two weeks, the Seahawks should be well aware of the difference a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback makes.
Clearly not at 100%, Hasselbeck's presence appeared to give the ‘Hawks a much-needed lift, and Seattle ran a lot of no-huddle offense today, something Greg Knapp was unlikely to have done with Seneca Wallace at quarterback.
Hasselbeck erased any doubts about whether he should've played by completing his first two passes and overthrowing Houshmandzadeh on the first drive, then taking off for 9 yards on Seattle's second offensive series. Hasselbeck was decisive in his reads, on target with his throws, and the closest he came to turning the ball over was an overthrow of John Carlson, which was negated by an illegal contact penalty on Russell Allen.
Of the 29 pass attempts, more than half (15) went to Houshmandzadeh and Burleson, who combined for 11 catches, 175 yards and four scores. Deion Branch chipped in with two receptions for 23 yards, and should've had a third, which he dropped right before Burleson's second touchdown.
Carlson wasn't much a factor, but did catch two balls for 31 yards, including a nice grab off a deflected pass for a key first down. James, Schmitt, and Jones had one reception apiece.
Seattle lost left tackle Brandon Frye to a neck/shoulder injury on the 9th play from scrimmage, pressing Kyle Williams into action at left tackle, and left guard Mansfield Wrotto to an ankle in the 2nd quarter, forcing Steve Vallos into the game.
Behind a patchwork offensive line that was using two band-aids, Hasselbeck took a few shots, getting sacked once for a loss of 5 yards. Another aspect of the reshuffled line was a running game that struggled mightily.
In the first half, Seattle had 69 yards rushing, but just 48 of those yards came from the running backs. Edgerrin James (16 carries, 46 yards) finished as the team's leading rusher, with Justin Forsett (6 carries, 43 yards), Julius Jones (12 carries, 34 yards), and Hasselbeck (3 carries, 23 yards) contributing to a 143-yard effort (3.6 ypc) from the ground game.
And while the ground game struggled, it's noteworthy that James, Forsett, and the offensive line chewed up the final 11 minutes and 53 seconds of game-clock, all on the ground.
Playing without arguably it's best players (Kerney, Hill, Trufant) at each level, the defense held a Top 10 offense to under 200 yards and off the scoreboard completely.
The turning point for the defense was a goal-line stand late in the 1st quarter. Curry, Kelly Jennings, and Jordan Babineaux kept Jones-Drew from getting a first down and Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio opted to go for it on 4th-and-1 from the Seahawks' 2-yard line. Seattle's defense rose to the occasion, with Tatupu pressuring Garrard into throwing the ball away and keeping the Jaguars off the scoreboard in what was a 3-0 game.
On the nine Jaguar offensive possessions after that goal-line stand, Seattle forced two turnovers, one of which resulted in six points for the Seahawks, and seven three-and-outs, including five straight in a second quarter where the ‘Hawks racked up 17 points and essentially put the game out of reach.
Seattle took up residence in the Jaguars' backfield on Sunday, making six tackles for loss and putting 13 hits on Jaguars quarterbacks Garrard and Luke McCown, including five sacks, which forced both of Jacksonville's turnovers.
Olindo Mare hit both of his field goal attempts, but had a slow start to the kickoff department. Six of his 8 kickoffs reached the end zone, but only one went for a touchback, as Jaguars return men Brian Witherspoon and Mike Thomas brazenly tested the Seahawks coverage unit seven times for 169 yards.
Witherspoon had the longest return, gaining 42 yards on one return late in the second quarter. For the most part, though, the Seahawks covered the kicks very well today, despite losing C.J. Wallace to a hamstring injury in the 1st half. Special teams captain Lance Laury and Ben Obomanu combined for 5 special teams tackles.
Jon Ryan appeared to be in for a busy day, punting after three of Seattle's first four possessions, but aside from holding for Mare, his day was done with 14 minutes remaining in the second quarter. Ryan had an outstanding game, finishing with a 44.7 yard net average and pinning the Jaguars inside their own 20-yard line on two of three punts.
Obomanu's 25-yard return on the opening kick was the only time that unit got any work, and Burleson and Forsett combined for 7 yards on six returns in the punt return game. Forsett made like a ping-pong ball, unwilling to go down and drawing a 15-yard facemask penalty that gave the Seahawks excellent field position for their final offensive touchdown of the day.
The NFL is a funny place.
A team can be humiliated one week—which the Seahawks were in Week 4—to completely dominating an opponent the next, which the Seahawks did on Sunday.
So let's be honest about it: The 2009 Seattle Seahawks are not this good.
The odds of them beating a playoff-caliber team the way they beat the Jaguars on Sunday are slim and none, regardless of the venue, but that's no reason why the Seahawks and their fans can't enjoy it just the same. For two-thirds of the year, there are no games to celebrate, so when you beat a team, any team, the way the ‘Hawks beat the Jaguars on Sunday, a day or two should be set aside to actually enjoy it.
Ultimately, all today's win means is that getting to 3-3 at the bye week remains a possibility. At some point (for the team, it's tomorrow; for the rest of us, it's anytime up until next Sunday), the reality will set in that today's win is meaningless unless it's followed up with another win next Sunday against Arizona. If the Seahawks can do that, the much-talked about panacea of the returns to health for Leroy Hill, Sean Locklear, Marcus Trufant, and Walter Jones might actually mean something.
41-0 is pretty sweet, though.
In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog and writes for FalconInsider.com on the Scout network. If you'd like to e-mail Brian, you may do so by clicking here.