Monday, January 17, 2011

Bears end Seahawks season 35-24

By Kshell

The Chicago Bears ended the Seattle Seahawks season 35-24 behind four touchdowns from quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler making his first career postseason start since High School played one of his best games of his career. The Seahawks couldn't run the ball or catch the ball which led to plenty of punts. The Bears defense unlike last game actually put pressure on Matt Hasselbeck. Unlike the last meeting the Bears were actually able to convert key third downs. In snowy Chicago the Bears will be moving on to host the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers. As for the Seahawks they'll be making the flight home disappointed.

The game couldn't have started any better for the Bears. The Seahawks on their first play of the game did a nice trick play to Leon Washington who ran for a gain of nine yards. Then following a Marshawn Lynch loss of two yards the Seahawks faced a key third and three. Matt Hasselbeck hit Brandon Stokley who was losing his footing and dropped the ball. The Seahawks had to punt to the Bears and to Jay Cutler making his first career start in the postseason since High School. In the previous meeting the Bears were 0-12 on third down conversations. The Bears facing a third and two from their own 42 yard line asked Cutler to throw his first postseason pass of his career, facing a blitz Cutler threw it downfield to a wide open Greg Olsen who got behind Lawyer Milloy for a 58 yard touchdown pass to give the Bears a 7-0 lead.

Just when the Seahawks thought things couldn't get any worse they did. After Hasselbeck hit tight end John Carlson for a gain of 14, Carlson went down with a concussion. He would have to be carried off in a stretcher. Later in the drive Hasselbeck would hit Carlson's backup Cameron Morrah for what should have been a gain of 20, instead Morrah dropped the pass. Facing a fourth and one from the Bears 40 yard line Pete Carroll decided to punt the ball. After both teams traded punts the Seahawks Jon Ryan punted the ball to Devin Hester who returned the punt 26 yards to midfield which gave Cutler great field position.

The Bears would take advantage of the good field position. Cutler would hit Olsen once again in the flat which Olsen would bust for a 33 yard gain to the Bears 12 yard line. After a gain of nine, the Bears had the ball on the Seahawks three yard line facing a second and one. Cutler would throw a pass right to Seahawks defender Jordan Babineaux who dropped the easy interception. That would be Babineaux's second dropped interception of the game early. Instead of a possible interception that was ran back for a touchdown the Seahawks had to wonder what if. Facing a fourth and one, Cutler on a quarterback sneak ran it for two yards. Then Chester Taylor ran from one yard out to give the Bears a commanding 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The Seahawks offense would continue to do nothing. With no running game at all from Marshawn Lynch who had just four carries for two yards and with receivers dropping passes made for a frustrating day for Matt Hasselbeck who actually played well. The Seahawks also missed some chances to make it a game in the first half with the two dropped interceptions. Then Raheem Brock sacked Cutler and forced a fumble but of course the Seahawks couldn't recover the fumble. When trying to pull an upset you can't make that many mistakes and expect to win.

The Bears had the Seahawks down and didn't let up one bit. The Bears had the ball on their own 37 yard line when Cutler would once again hit Olsen for a gain of 22 yards. Taylor would rush for 11 yards on his next two carries giving the Bears the ball on the Seahawks 30 yard line. After a Cutler completion to the 11 yard line and a Matt Forte run to the Seahawks six the Bears offense slowed down. Facing a third and five from the Seahawks six yard line the Bears called a designed quarterback draw which saw Cutler break tackles from Babineaux and rookie safety Earl Thomas for the six yard rushing touchdown. At this point the Bears led 21-0 which they would take into halftime.

The Bears on their second possession of the second half would eat up some clock. The Bears would go 70 yards in 14 plays taking up over eight minutes of clock. On that drive the Bears would convert all four third down conversations a far cry from going 0-12 back in October. Facing a third and two from their own 38, Cutler after having all day to throw finally took off for eight yards to get the first down. Facing a third and five from the Seahawks 39 yard line, Cutler then hit Johnny Knox for 15 yards. Facing a third and one from the Seahawks 15 yard line, Forte would get the necessary two yards to extend the drive. Then facing a third and six from the Seahawks nine yard, Mike Martz would call for a QB sweep which saw Cutler get around the corner and rush for a nine yard touchdown to give the Bears a commanding 28-0 lead.

The Seahawks would finally get some life when Leon Washington would take the kickoff 62 yards to the Bears 30 yard line. Hasselbeck would hit the only receiver to have a good game Stokley for a gain of 10 to the Bears 20 yard line. After getting to the 12 yard line the Seahawks couldn't do anything more. Facing a fourth and nine from the 12 yard line in a sign that Carroll was playing for pride instead of the win decided to kick the field goal. Olindo Mare who had a good season made the 30 yard field goal to prevent the shutout. The Seahawks still trailed 28-3 heading into the fourth quarter.

Someone must have forgot to tell Mike Martz his team had a 28-3 lead. Typically when up 28-3 you run the ball and try to stall the clock instead Martz was trying to pile on the whole fourth quarter. The Seahawks still couldn't stop Cutler from rushing which made fans wonder if Michael Vick was playing for the Bears. Cutler facing a third and eight from his own 22 yard line would rush up the middle for 21 yards to the Bears 43. Then trying to get cute the Bears had Matt Forte attempt a halfback pass out of a direct snap, instead he threw the ball right to Aaron Curry who returned the ball 23 yards to the Bears 33 yard line.

Matt Hasselbeck wasn't willing to quit that easily. He once again would hit Stokley for a gain of nine yards to set up third and one. On fourth and one Hasselbeck would throw an interception but the Bears were called for defensive holding which gave the Seahawks new life. Facing a third and four from the Bears 13 yard line Hasselbeck would hit Stokley once again for a gain of 11 yards. Then on third and goal from the Bears two yard line, Hasselbeck would hit Mike Williams for a two yard touchdown to pull within 28-10.

The Seahawks would onside kick the ball and despite what seemed to be nothing but white jersey's around the ball the Bears somehow recovered the onside kick. After trading punts the Bears would have the ball on the Seahawks 48 yard line. Facing a third and one with under five minutes to go up 18 points the Bears showed no mercy. The Bears called a play action bomb which Cutler hit Kellen Davis for a 39 yard touchdown pass. On the play Earl Thomas just barely missed getting an interception. That play summed up the game, this time the Bears were converting on third downs(10-18), the Seahawks couldn't come up with the big play and Cutler brought his "A" game. On that touchdown pass Cutler became just the second quarterback in NFL playoff history to throw for two touchdowns and rush for two touchdowns. The other was Otto Graham. The Bears led 35-10 at that point which set off chants of "Packers suck" rest of the game.

The Seahawks wouldn't give up as Hasselbeck wouldn't let his team fold. Hasselbeck would hit Williams for a two yard touchdown pass which hit off of Charles "Peanut" Tillman to cut the lead to 35-17. Then after the Bears went for it on fourth down and passed the ball as Martz kept trying to pile on the Bears were stuff. Hasselbeck would hit Ben Obomanu for a gain of 46 yards. On the next play Hasselbeck would hit Stokley for a nine yard touchdown pass to pull within 35-24. The Bears would then recover the onside kick and take a knee which would finally end the Seahawks season.

For the Seahawks the season comes to an end. I think all would agree the Seahawks went further than anyone could have predicted. You can read here and here just how little faith I had in the team heading into the year. As you can see on the predictions very few people had faith in this year Seattle Seahawks. This year still had plenty of problems as the Seahawks ultimately went 8-10 with all 10 losses being by double digits.

For the game Matt Hasselbeck showed Seahawks fans and the rest of the NFL he still has game. Hasselbeck finished 26 of 46 for 258 yards passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Hasselbeck mainly hit Stokley who finished with eight receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown. His main receiver Mike Williams didn't have a good game at all only catching four passes for 15 yards but did have two touchdowns. The Seahawks had nothing that resembled a rushing game a far cry from the last two weeks. Marshawn Lynch had just four carries for two yards, Justin Forsett had four carries for nine yards. Golden Tate was your leading rusher when he took a reverse 13 yards. Leon Washington had the longest run amongst running backs when he had a gain of nine on the games first play.

As for the Bears well this is why they traded all those draft picks to acquire Jay Cutler. Cutler finished 15 of 28 for 274 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Cutler also added 43 yards rushing and two touchdowns. His main target was tight end Greg Olsen who had three catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. Matt Forte had a good solid game rushing for 80 yards and having 54 yards receiving on the game. All in all the Bears played well offensively and the defense just pressured Hasselbeck all game long. Tommie Harris had two sacks and several hurries on Hasselbeck.

All in all, the Seahawks season is now over which has people immediately thinking about the offseason. Before we think about the offseason stop and appreciate this playoff run. Remember from 1988-1999 we didn't have playoff football in Seattle so you never know when you will get back here. Hopefully this wasn't Hasselbeck's last playoff game as a Seahawks quarterback. If this was Hasselbecks last performance well he went out on top in my opinion. The Seahawks simply lost to a better team but they accomplished a lot this year. They won the 2010 NFC Western Division Championship and shocked the nation by ending the defending Super Bowl champs season. Be proud of your Seahawks Seattle fans, even in today's game they fought to the bitter end.

- Pete Carroll accomplished a lot in his first season. Just like Chuck Knox and Mike Holmgren he led the Seahawks to the playoffs in his first season. Unlike Holmgren who had to wait until his seventh season in Seattle to win his first playoff game, Carroll took care of that this year. Unlike Knox who had to wait until his sixth season to win the division title, Carroll took care of that in his first year.

Carroll came in and blew up the roster while getting rid of all the bad attitudes(T.J.Houshmandzadeh). Carroll got the players to not only believe in him but themselves as well. There is a reason why when the Seahawks beat the Saints they weren't shocked. Same reason why the Seahawks didn't accept losing to the Bears because they believed they could win. Carroll has the players believing which is half the battle, now he must get some better players at key positions(Offensive Line and Secondary).

- Hopefully this wasn't Matt Hasselbeck's last game as Seahawks quarterback. I personally think he will be resigned as Carroll realized his mistake in Charlie Whitehurst. Hasselbeck despite being 35 yards old(same age as Peyton Manning I might add) played his best playoff football of his career.

Hasselbeck this playoffs was 48 of 81 passing for 530 yards passing with seven touchdowns and just one interception. His quarterback rating for this year's postseason was 102.4. For his career Hasselbeck had 18 touchdowns to nine interceptions in the playoffs and has thrown a touchdown pass in 10 straight games(He has played 11 games, the one game he didn't he threw for over 300 yards). You would never know he was a playoff warrior since idiots just think of him unfairly as a choke artist because of the "I want the ball and we are going to score".

Hasselbeck for the third straight regular season had a bad year nobody can deny that. Hasselbeck has no weapons at all, most of his receivers are cast offs which has been the way his whole career. His offensive line once again are cast offs so he has no running game at all. Hasselbeck has had average to crappy defensives so if he doesn't put up a ton of points the team typically loses and yet he gets blamed. Fans were sure quick to run Dave Krieg out of town for Kelly Stouffer remember that? How did that turn out? Oh yea that's right 11 years until we made the playoffs. If you chanted "Charlie" at the Falcons game do all the true fans a favor and don't ever show up to a game again please.

Regardless of my financial situation or where I'm living the day Hasselbeck is inducted into the ring of honor I'll make sure to be there. He is a class act and I'm glad he had a great postseason. The Seahawks need to resign him and surround him with better players.

- That picture says it all for Marshawn Lynch. He had just two yards rushing on four carries a week after rushing for 131 yards on 19 carries. Lynch every time he ran the ball was met in the backfield. I do believe Lynch is the answer at running back but hard to run against a good defense with second rate offensive lineman.

I can't think of a single playoff team who can win when their starting running back has just two yards rushing. Lynch was taken out of the game early because Bates realized the team couldn't run at all. Bates also had no choice as the game got out of hand quickly. Bates knew the only way back in the game was passing the ball but once again against the Bears that is tough.

Don't give up on Lynch he showed that he is a good running back. Give Lynch the offensive line that Shaun Alexander had and he may have put up better numbers. Lynch runs hard and you can tell truly cares. He doesn't ever go down by the first defender. He had a rough game but that wasn't his fault.

Well the season is finally over. This playoff run sure beats out picking in the top 15 I must say. The Seahawks gave the city hope which in sports lately we haven't had much of. The Mariners have been terrible, the Sonics left, Huskies football before this year was horrible, Cougars football still is terrible. So to the Seahawks I say thank you for giving me a great three week ride which I won't take for granted. The Seahawks have plenty of work to do in the offseason but this division championship plus the Saints win I'll probably watch about 50 times this offseason at the very least. Great job Seahawks and I can't wait til September when the NFL is starting back up again!

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