Note: I haven’t been commenting much on the Seattle Seahawks so far this season. With the year ending injuries to key defensive stars Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, plus the problems with the offensive line and the running game, I have been, more or less, in “wait and see” mode as regards this […]Read the Rest →
It is a sports maxim that the team that makes the fewest mistakes in a game, regardless of the sport, generally wins. Across Weeks 2 and 3 of this 2015 NFL season, a 27-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers and a 26-0 blanking of the Chicago Bears, our beloved Seahawks have demonstrated the truth of that statement. In the loss to the Packers, which took place exactly two weeks ago at Lambeau Field in front of a national Sunday Night Football audience, they simply made too many mistakes to win; and last week, against a crippled Bears team, they simply made fewer than Chicago.
Starting with Green Bay, if you want to be optimistic, in this game there was plenty to be optimistic about. The Hawks had overcome an error filled first half and a 13-3 halftime deficit to take a 17-16 lead heading into the 4th quarter. Seattle had put together two long scoring drives in the 3rd quarter and Russell Wilson was torching the Packers defense with darting runs and sharp passing. At that point the game was completely winnable. A Packers score and 2 point conversion gave Aaron Rodgers and Co. a 24-17 lead a few minutes into the 4th quarter, but the Seahawks had taken the subsequent kickoff and once again were driving.
Then came the critical mistake: With a 1st and 10 at the Hawks 42 yard line Wilson took the snap from the shotgun and retreated a step or two to let enough time go by to set up a screen pass in the middle of the field to Marshawn Lynch. Anticipating the play was Packers defensive lineman Jaron Elliott, who was partially obscured by the man blocking him. Not seeing Elliott, Wilson lobbed the pass to Lynch a few yards in front of him. All Elliott had to do was stick out a big mitt and corral the ball, which he did for the interception. Though Elliott fumbled the ball as he was taken to the ground, and though Seattle’s Justin Britt ultimately wound up with it at the bottom of the pile, the officials inexplicably ruled it Packers ball. From there Aaron Rodgers used up most of the rest of the clock driving Green Bay to a final field goal to make the final 27-17 score.
In the first half of this game Seattle committed a litany of errors that were equally devastating. Using the “hard count”, in the first two quarters Rodgers got Hawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett to jump off sides not once; not twice; but THREE times! The worst of these occurred with time running out in the 2nd quarter. With just over 1 minute left in the quarter Hawks linebacker Bruce Irvin sacked Rodgers for 7 yard loss leaving the Packers with 2nd down and 17 yards to go at their own 12 yard line, with no time outs. On the next snap, using the hard count Rodgers got Bennett to jump, thus giving the Packers QB a free play. Knowing there was no liability, after scrambling around a bit Rodgers lofted a deep pass to wide receiver Ty Montgomery on All Pro Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman’s side of the field; something Rodgers is ordinarily loathe to do.
On seeing Rodgers scramble, Sherman momentarily left Montgomery and moved up field, leaving the receiver alone. As Rodgers released the deep throw Sherman, seeing he was about to get burned, tried desperately to get back to Montgomery, but was way out of position. As a result he ran into the Packers receiver before the ball got there and was flagged for interference, giving Green Bay the ball at Seattle’s 35 yard line. From there, though the Seahawks mounted a brilliant goal line stand, Green Bay got a field goal to make the score 13-3 at the half.
Earlier in the 2nd quarter Seattle linebacker KJ Wright made an absolutely brilliant play when he tackled Packers running back James Starks at the sideline after a short gain, stripping him of the ball as he did, and then recovering it. The turnover gave the Hawks the ball at the Packers 47 yard line and, trailing at the time 10-3, was just what Seattle needed. Two Lynch runs gave Seattle a 1st down at the Packers 37 yard line, and the few “twelves” at Lambeau Field and the myriad watching on TV were anticipating a game tying score. Instead, on the next play, which was another Lynch run, after the meaningful part of the play was over Seattle lineman JR Sweezy decided it was time to pile onto a Packers player who was already on the ground. The inevitable personal foul penalty of 15 yards knocked the Hawks out of field goal range and resulted in a Seattle punt.
I could go on about the Seattle mistakes in this game, but I won’t. There’s no point. The Seahawks are clearly good enough and talented enough to play with any team in this league, Green Bay and the Patriots included, but they MUST stop shooting themselves in the foot!
The Bears game last weekend was another case in point, only in this instance the Bears were so bad it didn’t matter and the Hawks won easily, despite their mistakes. Whether through poor line play, Russell Wilson holding the ball too long, or whatever, Chicago was able to sack Wilson FOUR times. Going into this game the Bears had registered a grand total of ZERO sacks in their first two games. (You heard me right…ZERO!)
One type of mistake Seattle hasn’t made much this season so far is dropped passes. Well…at least until the Chicago game. In the first quarter, following a beautifully deceptive punt return by Richard Sherman, (a play in which Tyler Lockett faked receiving the kick on the left side of the field while Sherman actually fielded it on the right side and then returned it some 60 yards deep into Bears territory—watch the replay on the internet if you haven’t seen it) Seattle had the ball with 1st and 10 at the Bears 20 yard line. On the next play Wilson took the snap, rolled to his right and threw a pass to a wide open Ricardo Lockette 10 yards down field—who promptly dropped it. A catch would have given the Hawks a 1st and goal inside the 10 yard line and a great shot at a touchdown. Instead they came away with another field goal.
At another point in the first half rookie running back Thomas Rawls dropped a swing pass in the right flat. This was one of those plays where the receiver, Rawls, was so wide open you couldn’t even see anyone in the TV screen with him; just what looked to be acres of green grass! (I know, I know…with his 104 yards on 16 carries Rawls otherwise had a great game, but he has got to make that catch!)
There is much more I could say, but I think I have made my point. There were some good things in this Bears game; Jimmy Graham’s 30 yard scoring catch from Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett’s 105 yd kickoff return for a touchdown come to mind. But, the NFC West this year, based on the early returns, will be tough to win. In today’s games the Rams defeated the Arizona Cardinals, who had looked unbeatable through the season’s first three weeks. Those two teams are for real, and the Packers and the Patriots both look great. Tomorrow the 0-3 Detroit Lions come to town with Calvin “Megatron” Johnson and Golden Tate (99 catches and 1300 yards last season) catching passes and the gifted quarterback Mathew Stafford running the offense. They will come into “The Clink” with nothing to lose and will give it all they’ve got—you can bank on that. As I said at the outset, the team that makes the fewest mistakes usually wins. Kam Chancellor is back and we are in Week 4 of the season—there are no more excuses. To stay in this race the Seahawks absolutely must get better and start playing error free football, starting with this Detroit game on Monday night!
I am thinking they will, but I want to see it on the field.
Copyright © 2015
By Mark Arnold
All Rights Reserved