Hawk LogoI just have to say that I hope none of you Hawks fans out there bet the grocery money on Seattle to cover the point spread in tonight’s game against the St. Louis Rams. If you did it’s slim pickins for you and yours for the next couple weeks. That the Seahawks won this game at all indicates that some sort of Halloween trickery was at work, for statistically they had no business winning. The Rams defense manhandled the Seahawks offensive line, which for this season is becoming common place. They harassed and hit Russell Wilson all night and sacked him seven times. Rams defensive linemen Robert Quinn and Chris Long (the son of famed Oakland Raiders Hall of Fame defensive end and current TV football analyst Howie Long) were Wilson’s own personal goblins, sacking him three and two times respectively. Once again the Hawks linemen did not pick up stunts and blitzes well and had no answer for the speed rushes of Quinn. For the Hawks’ offensive line this Monday night was truly “fright night” in St. Louis. Had Russell Wilson the time he would have been running like a scared kid on Halloween night but, alas, he couldn’t even do that.

Rams speed rusher Robert Quinn

Rams speed rusher Robert Quinn

So, given the above, just how did the Seahawks pull this game out? How could they win a game in which they were on the short end of the following statistics?

First Downs—Rams 23 and Hawks 7

Total Yards—Rams 358 and Hawks 183

Time of Possession—Rams 38 minutes and Hawks 22 minutes

Passing Yards—Rams 158 and Hawks 139

Rushing Yards—Rams 200 and Hawks 44

Based on both team’s stats going into the game, particularly the rushing stats, you would think these two teams, through some sort of Halloween magic, had switched identities. It is the Seahawks that are supposed to pile up rushing yards like that and it is supposed to be the Rams who cannot stop the run.

Part of the answer of how the Seahawks won this game lies in the fact that they picked off Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens twice; the first on a great play by Bruce Irvin and the second when Clemens overthrew a wide open receiver, the ball going right to Richard Sherman who returned it 40 yards to the Rams 25 yard line. After the turnover Wilson took the Hawks in for a score, hitting Golden Tate with a 2 yard touchdown throw. In contrast to the Rams, though their offense sputtered all night, Seattle avoided the catastrophic mistake and had no turnovers. For as badly as they played, that one fact was huge.

Rams QB Kellen Clemens

Rams QB Kellen Clemens

Another part of the answer of this unusual win was the one big offensive play Seattle had on this scary night, a Russell Wilson 80 yard TD strike to Golden Tate in the third quarter that gave Seattle a 14-6 lead at the time and which, as it turned out, was the difference in the game. Tate had beaten his man on a deep “go route” and was open but Wilson slightly under threw the ball forcing Tate to come back for it. As the defensive back was about to make the pick Tate jumped right in front of him, made the catch and then raced to the end zone while waving good-bye to Rams safety Rodney McLeod Jr. as he went. Tate was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct but it did not affect the TD, the penalty being enforced on the kick-off.

As big as these things were in this game, there was another reason the Seahawks won, and that was the play of free safety Earl Thomas. Thomas had ten unassisted tackles for the game but none were bigger than the stops he made on two plays, one at the end of the third quarter and one on the second to last play of the game. With time running out in the third quarter and the ball on the Seahawks 41 yard line, the Rams went for the trick play calling a reverse. Rams wide receiver Chris Givens was lined up on the left side and on the snap of the ball circled back to the right, took the hand-off from Clemens and then swept on around the right end of the line. The play was well blocked and, though a couple of Seahawks defenders stayed home, Givens got past them and sprinted downfield toward the end zone. From his safety position twenty yards behind the line of scrimmage Thomas read the play and reacted beautifully, heading Givens off and making a textbook open field tackle on the right sideline. The play went for 16 yards but Thomas saved a touchdown with that stop.

Golden Tate makes his big catch

Golden Tate makes his big catch

And then there was the second to last play of the game, and Earl Thomas stood tall again. In an unwonted display of bad defense against a Rams offense that can only be described as average at best, the Hawks allowed Kellen Clemens to drive his team the length of the field, starting from the shadow of their own goal posts and ultimately arriving with a third and goal at the Seahawks 1 yard line. With 27 seconds left in regulation, the Hawks were clinging to a 5 point lead; surrender a touchdown now and they lose. The Rams had been gashing the Seahawks with runs all night and on this 3rd and goal play they called another one, with Clemens handing the ball off to running back Darryl Richardson right up the gut.  Little used Hawk linebacker Heath Farwell shot the gap untouched and hit Richardson in the backfield. As Richardson was spinning to escape, Farwell failed to wrap him up and slipped to the ground. Just then a blur of speed came slashing in from the right side into the backfield and hit Richardson mid spin. The blur was Earl Thomas. With Kam Chancellor hitting from the other side and Farwell below, down went Richardson. The play lost a yard giving the Rams a 4th and goal at the 2.  The following pass play was incomplete and the Hawks escaped with their victory.

Truly, but for whatever Halloween voodoo that prevailed in this game, the Seahawks should have lost. Thanks to the points I mentioned above, and especially due to the superlative play of Earl Thomas, they didn’t.

But this cannot continue. Every week I have been saying that the Seahawks need to address their offensive line issues. They better hurry up and do it or we will be facing more “fright nights” like this.

If they don’t, the Super Bowl dreams of Seahawk fans will end up becoming Super Bowl nightmares.

OK Hawks fans…I have said my piece.

Go Hawks!

Please!

 

Copyright © 2012

By Mark Arnold

All Rights Reserved

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6 Responses to Seahawks Survive “Fright Night” in St. Louis–by Mark Arnold

  1. Heather Newby says:

    I only got to watch the 3rd quarter, but every offensive play the hawks made (or attempted, rather) left me wincing for Wilson. We are not doing enough to protect him and I’m afraid he’s going to get his clock cleaned one of these nights.
    That 80 yard catch by Tate was inspired. The man is like a magnet for pigskin. But I think we can all agree that when you got it, rubbing it in is classless and unnecessary.

    • Mark Arnold says:

      Correct all around Heather. Seattle MUST protect Wilson better and, while Tate’s catch and TD was brilliant, his conduct running the ball in was selfish and idiotic. The Hawks were lucky to come away with a win. MA

  2. Steve Rodriguez says:

    Flip side… we found a way to win,,, Earl had an MVP performance, it’s as if he took it upon himself to do whatever it took to foil the Rams on fright night.. On any given Sunday a superior team can lose to an inferior opponent. While it is a sign of a winning team to yet win while playing lousy, the Hawks still must handle the O line problem if they want to have a shot at winning the big one.

    • Mark Arnold says:

      You are right Steve. But there were so many things poorly played about this game it is hard to know where to start. It goes all the way up to the coaching and game planning as I see it. Despite the win, not a good effort from the Hawks. One and all need to do better. MA

  3. Denise says:

    This was the most depressing win ever! I watched the first half then could not stand it anymore but did see the last drive.
    It is very good they won as it was such an important game and I agree Earl Thomas was totally awesome.
    But I dont know if I have ever seen a team so manhandled.
    Dont understand why they did not make adjustments and let guys come free/unblocked time after time. Tight End would head off to some route and leave a guy unblocked who would them come and sack Russell —

    • Mark Arnold says:

      Thanks Denise! The key question to me is your last one. I saw the same plays you did and saw the tight end or running back vacate protection and go out on routes while Wilson got killed. Made no sense. As fans we can only hope that the coaches see this too and correct it. But I have been commenting on it for weeks now and it still has not happened. Frustrating. MA

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