Monday, December 6, 2010

Seahawks overcome slow start in 31-14 win over Panthers

By Kshell

The Seattle Seahawks(6-6) overcame a slow start in defeating the Carolina Panthers(1-11) 31-14 at Qwest Field. This was the first game in Seattle for the Panthers since the NFC Championship game which was played in January of 2006. The Seahawks who lost Mike Williams early in the game counted on the running game for once. The Seahawks ran for 161 yards on 31 carries for a 5.2 YPC on the game. Behind the three rushing touchdowns of Marshawn Lynch and a defense that shut the Panthers out in the second half Pete Carroll saw his team respond. The Seahawks after falling behind early 14-0 scored 31 unanswered points and did what they had to do which was win the game to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The underdog Panthers came out and silent the Seahawks crowd quickly. The Panthers on their opening possession of the game drove 61 yards on 10 plays which ended on a Mike Goodson six yard touchdown run. The Panthers in the second quarter would go on another long drive which saw the Panthers go 79 yards on 10 plays which saw Jonathan Stewart rush for a three yard touchdown to give the Panthers a 14-0 lead.

The Seahawks crowd was booing the Seahawks who couldn't stop the Panthers or move the ball on offense either. The Seahawks offense had just 28 yards in 12 plays in the first quarter. The Seahawks were finally moving the ball in the second quarter until Matt Hasselbeck was intercepted. The boo birds were out as the fans were in disgust with how terrible the Seahawks looked against the worst team in the NFL. Then an ex-Seahawk may have inspired the current Seahawks.

At the two minute warning the Seahawks retired future hall of fame left tackle Walter Jones jersey. Jones played for the Seahawks from 1997-2009, he gave a speech in which the big man started to choke up. I'll talk more in depth on Jones later after that though the Seahawks drove down the field and got some points when Olindo Mare would kick the short field goal from 24 yards out. The Seahawks would go into halftime down 14-3. Now I don't know what Carroll said to the Seahawks or what but they were a different team in the third quarter.

The Seahawks began the second half with former pro bowl kick returner Leon Washington fumbled the ball and being down on the Seattle one yard line. The Seahawks would respond though and drive 99 yards on nine plays. The key plays in the drive was when Hasselbeck hit tight end Cameron Morrah for a 26 yard gain. Then Justin Forsett would rush for 31 yards and be horse collared which gave the Seahawks the ball on the Panthers nine yard line. After Hasselbeck hit Golden Tate where he broke a defender tackle to the Panthers on. On third and goal the Seahawks ran the ball to Marshawn Lynch for his third rushing touchdown of the season. The Seahawks had cut the lead to 14-10 and Qwest Field was starting to get loud once again.

The Seahawks if they hadn't already would snatch momentum on defense. Facing a third and one rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen tried to check the ball down but Lofa Tatupu intercepted the pass and ran it back for a 26 yard touchdown. The Seahawks then led 17-14 and for Tatupu that was the big play which saw him reach the pro bowl his first three years in the NFL including first team All-Pro in 2007. The Seahawks would force another stop which had the Panthers punt the ball to dangerous Leon Washington. Washington made a move and it appeared was gone but he slowed up just a bit to point to the crowd as he was tripped up by the Panthers punter down at the Panthers two yard line. That was an 84 yard punt return by Washington who has been terrific for the Seahawks this season on special teams.

The Seahawks wouldn't waste much time as Lynch would rush for another touchdown. Lynch would rush for his second touchdown of the game. The Seahawks would finish the third quarter up 24-14 while scoring 21 points in the quarter. The Panthers ran 14 plays for just 22 yards in the third quarter. The Seahawks defense came out fired up and shut down the Panthers while the offense set the tone with the 99 yard drive then scored touchdowns not field goals on their short yardage opportunity.

In the fourth quarter the Seahawks would continue to feature Lynch. Lynch would carry the ball six times in the fourth while rushing for 37 yards and caught a 17 yard pass. The Seahawks would put the game away with under five minutes to go when Forsett would rush for 19 yards to pick up a second and 17. Then Lynch would rush for a 22 yard touchdown to put the game out of reach 31-14. For Lynch he would finish with 21 carries for 83 yards with three touchdowns and one catch for 17 yards. Forsett would add 60 yards on six carries. When the Seahawks acquired Lynch they had visioned games like today with Lynch providing the power and Forsett the speed like they did at California.

The Seahawks had to feature the run since Matt Hasselbeck was missing Mike Williams for the second straight game. Hasselbeck finished 17 of 30 for 229 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns. Not one of Matt's better days that is for sure but he didn't play bad either. Hasselbeck is trying to get this inexperienced team to the playoffs. Carroll is counting on Hasselbeck for this month as the Seahawks are tied for first place in the division with just four games left in the season. The Seahawks took care of business because of the defense and run game. The Seahawks now travel to San Francisco next week for a critical NFC West game. The Seahawks will need Hasselbeck next week and for the rest of the month if they wish to be raising up another division championship banner.


- Walter Jones was the anchor on the left side of the offensive line for so many years. He made the Pro Bowl a franchise record nine times(1999,2001-08) while also being named first team all-pro four times(2001,2004,2005,2007). Some may argue he is the greatest Seahawks player ever as he was more dominant as a Left Tackle than Steve Largent was as a receiver. He joins Largent as only the second player ever in franchise history to have his jersey retired.

I'm glad I got to see it on T.V. and hearing him getting all emotional was a touching moment. That could be the reason for having doing the ceremony at the two minute warning. That just seems weird to me to do it right then, why not before the game or at halftime like every other franchise does. In baseball you don't see them do that at the seventh inning stretch or in the NBA do that at a timeout. If this was Jones idea or if this was so the fans can see it at home then I accept that. Just wish it was handled differently but at the end of the day doesn't matter what I think or you think matters only to big Walt who was the greatest offensive lineman of his era.

- Leon Washington was a great draft day trade with the Jets. He won the Chargers game and gives the Seahawks great field position every game. Although he'll be made fun of for being caught from behind by a punter he did set up a crucial touchdown to put the Seahawks up 24-14. Washington has done it on kick off returns and now that he is returning punts is leading the league in punt return average. Washington's 84 yard punt return was huge. The Seahawks are mixing him in on offense today as well which is good. You saw Washington attempt a half back pass which didn't work, run twice for five yards. I'm just glad to see them featuring Washington a little bit in the offense.

- Marshawn Lynch easily enjoyed his best game as a Seattle Seahawks running back. Lynch carried the ball 21 times for 83 yards, scored three touchdowns and even caught a pass for 17 yards. Lynch was getting those tough yards. The Seahawks also finally gave him some carries today and let him do his thing. They didn't get cute in the goaline and with Russell Okung back the Seahawks should be able to run the ball better. Mix in Justin Forsett who had 60 yards on six carries the Seahawks have the pieces at running back to be a good running team. They just need to get better play from their offensive line. This was good progress by Lynch which was nice to see.

- The Seahawks receivers are becoming a mash unit with Mike Williams hurt. Ben Obomanu got hurt early one(2 catches for 40 yards) so somebody has to step up. Brandon Stokley is the new Bobby Engram third down specialist with four receptions for 47 yards on the day. The Seahawks need Deon Butler(4 catches for 43 yards) and Golden Tate(2 catches for 13 yards) step up or else Hasselbeck is going to keep struggling.

- Chris Clemons recorded his ninth sack of the year today. Clemons has been a great acquisition from the Philadelphia Eagles. Pete Carroll and John Scheinder made a ton of underated moves that nobody talked about at the time which have put the Seahawks in a position to win a division title. Clemons had just 20 career sacks heading into this year but did have eight sacks for the Oakland Raiders back in 2007. Clemons was asked to play every down and he has done a great job at rushing the quarterback. He currently ranks tied for third with seven guys in the NFC with nine sacks on the year.

The Seahawks led by the rushing attack and defense found a way to win this year. Now the Seahawks have four games left with two on the road and two at home. The Seahawks have two games against divisional opponents including last game of the year against the St.Louis Rams at home. The Seahawks with the win today improve to 4-2 at home which equals last seasons home win total. The Seahawks took care of business and regardless of what people may say just get in the playoffs and go from there. The Arizona Cardinals didn't exactly impress anyone in 2008 but they reached the playoffs at 9-7 and were one miracle catch away from winning the Super Bowl. The Seahawks at least this year have given the fans meaningful December games. Just remember the Seahawks wouldn't be here without some nice under the radar moves in the offseason.

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