Sunday, December 19, 2010

Seahawks lose at home 34-18 to Falcons; possible quarterback controversy

By Kshell

The Seattle Seahawks(6-8) drop a tough game at home to the NFC leading Atlanta Falcons(12-2) 34-18 at Qwest Field. The bigger story in the game could be the possible benching of franchise quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck after turning the ball over on three straight possessions in the third quarter found himself benched in favor of Charlie Whitehurst. Pete Carroll must face his toughest challenge next week at Tampa Bay. He has a struggling team who has now lost six out of eight games and with just two games remaining has a quarterback controversy.

When the game began nobody could see into the future that Hasselbeck would be benched. The Seahawks started the game off running the ball to Marshawn Lynch while Hasselbeck was completing passes. The Seahawks went on a 12 play 80 yard drive which ended with a Lynch one yard touchdown run to give the Seahawks a 7-0 lead. Lynch on the drive carried the ball four times for 30 yards while catching a pass for 17 yards. Hasselbeck was five for five passing for 44 yards passing hitting four different receivers on the drive. The Seahawks made the drive look easy as they faced only one third down the whole drive.

The Atlanta Falcons would respond with a long drive of their own which extended into the second quarter. The Falcons who started at midfield went on a 15 play 51 yard drive which saw two close fourth down spots go their way. Facing a fourth and literally an inch from the Seahawks 18 yard line the Falcons decided to go for it and had Matt Ryan on a quarterback sneak. Ryan was blown up on the play and appeared that he didn't make the first down but the lines judge gave him the first barely. The Seahawks challenged and lost the challenge. Then the Falcons faced a fourth and one from the Seahawks eight yard line and once again appeared Turner was stopped short. The line judge however once again spotted the Falcons a first down. Facing a third and goal from the three Ryan threw a touchdown pass to Jason Snelling to tie up the score at 7-7.

After the Seahawks went three and out the Falcons would have to settle for a field goal from Matt Bryant from 27 yards out to give the Falcons a 10-7 lead. The Falcons had recovered their own fumble twice on that scoring drive. The Seahawks after going three and out again would catch a break finally. The Seahawks Jordan Babineaux would pick off Ryan and run it back 17 yards to set the Seahawks up with good field possession. Babineaux brother plays for the Falcons so his mom was there wearing both of their jerseys. The Seahawks once again couldn't get a first down would settle for an Olindo Mare 38 field goal to tie the score up at 10-10.

The Falcons on their own 20 yard line with 2:05 remaining in the half would proceed to execute the two minute drill to perfection. The Falcons picked up four third down conversations on the drive. Ryan hit Roddy White twice on third down for gains of seven and then for 15 yards on third and 10. On third and six from the Seahawks 24 yard line Ryan hit Michael Jenkins for a 24 yard touchdown pass to give the Falcons a 17-10 lead at halftime.

In the second half is when Hasselbeck fell apart. After the Seahawks forced a Falcons punt for the first time in the game the Falcons Michael Koenen from Western Washington University pinned the Seahawks on their own three yard line. The Seahawks called for a play action pass, Hasselbeck who was outside the pocket saw nobody opened then hung onto the ball in his own endzone. The result was a sack by Jamaal Anderson who forced a Hasselbeck fumble which was recovered by Jonathan Babineaux for the touchdown to give the Falcons a commanding 24-10 lead. Hasselbeck would throw an interception on the next series which resulted in a Bryant 25 yard field goal to give the Falcons a 27-10 lead.

On the next possession Hasselbeck threw another interception which had the crowd booing as Hasselbeck last week turned the ball over five times. The falcons took advantage as Ryan drove down the field and eventually hit White for a five yard touchdown pass to give the Falcons a commanding 34-10 lead. At that point Charlie Whitehurst started to warm up as Hasselbeck was benched for the first time.

Whitehurst looked pretty good on the Seahawks scoring drive. Whitehurst would hit Mike Williams for a gain of 17 yards then he would hit John Carlson for a gain of 31 yards to the Falcons 13 yard line. Facing a fourth and four from the Falcons seven yard line, Whitehurst ran up the middle for a gain of six to get the first down. Then Whitehurst ran in the touchdown from one yard out. On the two point conversation Whitehurst would hit Ben Obomanu on the fade pass to cut the lead to 34-18.

The Seahawks couldn't get any closer unfortunately losing to the Falcons at home. The Falcons after the opening possesion dominated the Seahawks. Matt Ryan ended up 20 of 35 for 174 yards with three touchdowns to just one interception. While Matt Hasselbeck for the third straight game struggled completing 10 of 17 passes for just 71 yards with two interceptions and a fumble. His backup Charlie Whitehurst wasn't much better throwing 8 for 16 for just 83 yards. Now Pete Carroll has a tough decision to make far as what to do with Matt Hasselbeck.

The Seahawks are in a weird situation with two games left to be played. Typically when an old aging quarterback is struggling who is set to be a free agent at the end of the year he is benched. When the team gives up a third round pick, trades 20 spots down in the second round to acquire his backup and the team sits at 6-8 that is a no brain decision Whitehurst plays. Since the NFC West is so terrible the Seahawks at 6-8 are tied for first place in the division. So it's not simply about playing for the future as the Seahawks have a division title to win. Sad to say I think Whitehurst gives the team the best chance at winning at this rate.


- Matt Hasselbeck is struggling right now which happened last year. Last season in the last four games last year Hasselbeck threw just four touchdown passes to ten interceptions. This year in the last three games Hasselbeck has thrown just two touchdown passes but eight interceptions and two fumbles. Hasselbeck on the season has thrown 12 touchdown passes to 17 interceptions. The Seahawks were a team who had a shot at winning the division because they featured the "best" quarterback who had the most experience. Instead with the season on the line he might be on the bench.

Since 2008 Hasselbeck has thrown 34 touchdowns but has 42 interceptions in 33 games. That doesn't include him losing seven fumbles and fumbling 17 times in the last two seasons. Hasselbeck is a free agent at the end of the year and sad to say we might have seen his last game as a Seahawks quarterback at Qwest Field.

His backup Charlie Whitehurst hasn't taken the job from Hasselbeck is the problem. Carroll might end up sticking with Hasselbeck because Whitehurst is so inconsistent. Whoever Carroll decides is the starting quarterback he must hang on to the football to give this team a chance.

- Whoever the quarterback is having Mike Williams back is a nice welcome. Williams return today catching eight passes for 66 yards. Williams didn't play in the NFL for two years is the Seahawks best receiver. On the year Williams has 60 receptions for 720 yards. Williams is a big target and the Seahawks need him to stay healthy if they have any chance at the playoffs.

- Marshawn Lynch had a solid game for the Seahawks today rushing for 60 yards on 12 carries(5.0 YPC) with a touchdown while catching a pass for 17 yards. On the first drive Lynch was featured while after that the Seahawks went away from Lynch which was puzzling to me. Lynch didn't receive a rushing attempt the next two series after scoring the touchdown on the opening drive. I felt the Seahawks should have featured Lynch more especially coming off Hasselbeck's disasterous game last week.

- World Series champion and two time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum raised the 12th man flag. Lincecum who was national pitcher of the year while at the University of Washington is from Renton, Washington. As we all know the Seattle Mariners had a chance to draft Lincecum but chose to go a different route. Lincecum has left plenty of Mariners fans asking what if?

Well this week should be interesting who Pete Carroll picks as the starting quarterback. I feel like the quarterback play is excusing a ton of poor play lately. The defense isn't getting enough stops on third downs which is putting the offense behind almost every game. The Seahawks offensive line still isn't protecting the quarterback or giving the running game enough holes to make for big runs. The Seahawks are tied for first place and have a game with the St.Louis Rams in two weeks. The solution to the playoffs is pretty simple for the Seahawks just win and you are in the playoffs. They play at Tampa Bay next week who just lost at home to Detroit today then play the Rams at home who haven't won at Qwest Field since 2004. The Seahawks have two winnable games and must find a way to take care of the ball. Remember who ever Carroll decides is the starting quarterback the other players need to step their game up as well or it won't matter who the quarterback is.

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