Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rookie Baldwin has big day in Seahawks stunning 36-25 upset win over Giants

By Kshell

The Seattle Seahawks(2-3) stunned the New York Giants(3-2) in the medowlands 36-25. Seahawks defense recorded a safety, a pick six while forcing five turnovers during the game. Seahawks no huddle offense continued to work this week as the Giants were on their heels entire first half. Marshawn Lynch had his best game of the season rushing for 98 yards with a touchdown. Tarvaris Jackson started the game off red hot then was injured as his backup Charlie Whitehurst threw the game winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks will now have a quarterback controversy. While the main star in this game was rookie wide receiver Doug Baldwin who had eight receptions for 136 yards with the game winning touchdown. For the Seahawks season to matter this was a must win. Now the Seahawks will head into their bye week at 2-3 and kicking themselves for losing last week 30-28 at home. The Seahawks won a game on the road which nobody expected them to do. This was the first win in the Eastern time zone for the Seahawks since 2007. This was an all around great team win for Pete Carroll and his Seahawks. The Seahawks the last six quarters actually look like a playoff football team.

The Seahawks did something against the Giants they hadn't done the previous four games which is score in the first quarter. In fact the Seahawks continued their no huddle attack which worked so well in the second half against the Falcons. The Seahawks began their drive from their 20 yard line which they let Tarvaris Jackson come out throwing. Jackson began the game with a completion to Ben Obomanu for a gain of nine yards. Jackson hit Lynch for a gain of 17 yards. Jackson hit Obomanu again for a gain of 11 yards to the Giants 43 yard line. After a four yard run by Justin Forsett to the Giants 39 yard line Jackson completed yet another pass to Sidney Rice for a gain of 16 yards. The Giants committed a 12 yard penalty helmet to helmet giving the Seahawks the ball on the 11 yard line. After an incomplete pass Jackson finished off the drive with an 11 yard touchdown pass to Obomanu to give the Seahawks an early 7-0 lead. For the Seahawks that was the first time all season long they had scored in the first quarter as the no huddle confused the Giants defense. Jackson was five for six passing on the drive for 64 yards including the touchdown.

The Giants were led by their quarterback Eli Manning who would respond to the Seahawks score with a score of his own. The drive began with a short run by Manning then a 13 yard run by Ahmad Bradshaw which he followed up with a five yard run. Manning hit Mario Manningham for a gain of 17 yards to the Seahawks 43 yard line. Manning hit Jake Ballard for a big gain of 28 yards to the Seahawks 15 yard line. After a short three yard run by Victor Cruz, Manning finally finished off the drive with a 12 yard strike to his tight end Ballard to tie up the game at 7-7. For the drive Manning was three for three passing for 57 yards with a touchdown. The Giants made that drive look pretty easy on the Seahawks secondary as it appeared Manning was poise to have a big day. He would have a big day yardage wise but far as being productive not as much as many expected.

What would happen next was a crazy swing of momentum trading places for both teams. After a Seahawks punt the Giants had the ball on their own 14 yard line. Facing a third and seven from the 17 yard line Manning was sacked by Chris Clemons which Manning fumbled. The ball was recovered by Earl Thomas on the Giants 11 yard line. After an incomplete pass the Seahawks gave the ball to Marshawn Lynch who fumbled the ball right back to the Giants. The Seahawks defense would three and out the Giants after the missed opportunity to take over on the Giants 48 line. Lynch would make up for his mistake as he busted his longest run of the season. Lynch ran for 47 yards down to the Giants one yard line showing a rare burst of speed. Lynch rushed for his second touchdown of the season with a one yard plunge to give the Seahawks a 14-7 lead on the road.

The Seahawks defense continued to dominate the Giants forcing them to punt on the following possession. The Seahawks took over from their own 13 yard line up 14-7 in the second quarter. Facing a third and seven from the 16 yard line Jackson hit Doug Baldwin for a gain of 21 yards. Jackson hit Baldwin again for a gain of 25 yards to the Giants 38 yard line. Lynch followed that up with a run of 13 yards to the Giants 25 yard line. Lynch then had a six yard rush to the 19 and after a first down run by Forsett was called back due to holding. Second and 14 Jackson hit Obomanu for a gain of six to set up third and eight from the Giants 23 yard line. Jackson hit Obomanu again for a gain of seven yards to set up fourth and one from the 16. Carroll decided to go for it as Jackson ran for two yards on a quarterback keeper to the 14 yard line. Jackson hit Obomanu again for seven yards to the seven yard line. On second and three fullback Michael Robinson ran for two yards to the Giants five yard line. Facing a third and one Robinson ran again for a gain of three yards to the two yard line. Robinson who had one carry all season would receive another carry going for a yard but fumbled on the two yard line so the Seahawks came up empty. Later in the game Earl Thomas intercepted Manning to the 50 yard line but the Seahawks offfense couldn't take advantage of the mistake.

The Seahawks would have the ball at midfield with under two minutes left in the half up 14-7. Jackson hit Leon Washington for a gain of six yards but after getting sacked was facing a crucial third and five. Jackson instead of throwing the ball away lobbed the ball down the sidelines to be picked off. Giants had the ball on their own 41 yard line 51 seconds left in the half. Manning would begin the drive hitting Hakeem Nicks for a gain of 12 yards. With 29 seconds left he hit Manningham for a gain of 10 yards to the Seahawks 37 yard line. Manning then hit Nicks for a gain of 18 yards to the Seahawks 19 yard line. Manning finished off the drive hitting Nicks on a fade pass burning Walter Thurmond who is filling in for Marcus Trufant. Despite dominating the first half the Giants had tied the game up at 14-14 heading into the second half.

The third quarter began with both teams trading off punts. The Seahawks took over on their own 29 yard line which saw Tarvaris Jackson rush for a gain of 11 yards to their own 40 yard line. In the process Jackson was injured and had to leave the game. Jackson wouldn't return and was replaced by Charlie Whitehurst. After a short run and a penalty Whitehurst hit Baldwin for a gain of seven yards to set up a third and eight. Then the Seahawks had another false start setting up a third and 13 which Whitehurst hit Baldwin for a gain of 10 yards. Punting from their own 47 yard line John Ryan pinned the Giants on their own five yard line. The Giants from their five yard line tried a stretch play to backup runningback Ware which was blown up by Anthony Hargrove. Hargrove tackled him in the endzone for a safety to give the Seahawks a 16-14 lead.

With 2:13 left in the third quarter the Seahawks took over with the ball on their own 34 yard line. On second down Whitehurst hit Rice for a gain of nine yards setting up a huge third and one from the 43 yard line. Whitehurst hit Rice over the middle with a bullet for a gain of 11 to the Giants 46 yard line. After an incomplete pass the Seahawks then turned to Lynch who busted an 18 yard run to the Giants 28 yard line. After back to back runs by Lynch set up third and five from the 23 yard line. Whitehurst was then sacked by former Seahawks safety Deon Grant pushing the Seahawks all the way back to the Giants 33 yard line. That set up a 51 yard attempt by Steve Hauschka who missed the game winning kick last week badly. This week Hauschka drilled the 51 yarder with ease. In fact he made it look so easy that looking back maybe Carroll knew what he was doing by asking Hauschka to attempt the game winning kick from 61 yards out. In the fourth quarter with now their backup quarterback on the road the Seahawks were leading 19-14 over the Giants. The fourth quarter would be a wild quarter with plenty of momentum changing plays for both sides. What happened next for the Giants is the type of play that normally would have broke the Seahawks spirits instead they kept playing through it.

What happened next to the Seahawks was a rather unfortunate play that at the time looked like turned the game for the worse. Facing a second and 18 from their own 27 yard line Manning hit Victor Cruz for a gain of five yards setting up a big third and 13 from the 32 yard line. Manning would roll to his right then throw the ball up for grabs. Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor tipped the ball in mid air while cornerback Richard Sherman went for the ball. Cruz caught the ball with one hand then rumbled for a 68 yard touchdown score to give the Giants 20-19 lead. Since the Giants were up by just one point they decided to go for two. Manning saw the Seahawks defense was weak up the middle so he audibled to a running play to Bradshaw up the middle. The Giants led 22-19 with 11 minutes left in the game.

After the Giants defense stuffed the Seahawks offense their offense took over up three points. The Giants then looked like the Giants of old which has hurt them in the past with a costly turnover. Facing a third and seven Manning would hit the hero Cruz for a gain of five yards only for Cruz to fumble the ball. Chancellor recovered the ball on the Giants 25 yard line to give the Seahawks new life. Whitehurst couldn't take advantage of the great field possession as the Seahawks didn't even advance the ball a single yard. Hauschka would tie the game up with a 43 yard field goal at 22-22 with 10:15 left in the game. The Giants would go on a long five and a half minute drive starting from their own 20 yard line. Bradshaw began the drive with two runs of 12 yards to their own 32 yard line. Manning would then hit a 17 yard pass to the 49 yard line. Manning hit tight end Ballard for a gain of 32 yards as he was dragging defenders down to the Seahawks 19 yard line. After a Bradshaw run of nine yards then a short rush the Giants had first and goal from the seven yard line. That is when the Seahawks defense would get tough and hold the Giants to a field goal. The Seahawks were trailing 25-22 with less than five mintues to go for Whitehurst needed a field goal for the tie and a touchdown for the win.

Whitehurst would create a quarterback controversy with this drive starting on his own 20 yard line. Whitehurst began the drive hitting Baldwin for a gain of 22 yards to their own 42 yard line. After an incomplete pass and a short three yard run by Washington the Seahawks were facing a huge third and seven from their own 45 yard line with 4:03 left in the game. Whitehurst hit Baldwin for a gain of eight yards for the first down. Whitehurst then hit Anthony McCoy down the middle for a gain of 20 yards to the Giants 27 yard line with a little over three minutes left. After a rush of no gain for Lynch is when Whitehurst would hit his biggest pass of his career. Whitehurst had a hard count which caused the Giants to jump offsides. Thinking the play was over most of the Giants defenders quit on the  play which Whitehurst saw a wide open Baldwin to his left. Whitehurst hit Baldwin for the go ahead touchdown to give the Seahawks a 29-25 lead with 2:37 left in the game. On the drive Whitehurst was four for five passing for 77 yards with the go ahead score. Whitehurst who to that point hadn't played very well will create a controversy for sure. More importantly for the Seahawks they had to stop Manning who was shredding their secondary with 2:37 left in the game up just four points.

Manning had one last drive left in him to scare Seahawks fans. Manning began the drive hitting Bradshaw for what should have been a two yard gain but Aaron Curry missed the tackle. Bradshaw would turn that into a gain of 15 yards to their own 35 yard line. Right before the two minute warning Manning would hit Cruz again for another huge play which went for 41 yards to the Seahawks 24 yard line. The Giants had to score a touchdown but time was no longer a problem for them. Manning then hit Cruz for a gain of 19 yards to the Seahawks five yard line with 1:27 left in the game. After a five yard penalty the Giants had the ball on the Seahawks 10 yard line. Manning hit Cruz who originally slipped on his route, then attempted another one handed catch. As he was going to the ground the ball slipped off his one hand as Brandon Browner snatched the ball. Browner then made his way up the right sidelines for a 94 yard interception touchdown return to give the Seahawks a commanding 36-25 lead with a little over a minute left in the game. That return was the longest interception return in Seahawks franchise history. The game would end as Manning was driving the Giants then would thrown another interception to Chancellor at the Seahawks 42 yard line. The Seahawks pulled off by far the biggest upset of the weekend winning their first road game on the east coast since 2007.

The Seahawks won this game on the road despite allowing a career high 420 yards passing to Eli Manning. Manning finished the game 24-39(61.5%) for 420 yards(10.8 YPA) with three touchdown passes but three interceptions with a fumble too. Victor Cruz had eight receptions for 161 yards with a touchdown but a costly fumble. The Seahawks defense caused five turnovers and a safety. The Seahawks had two quarterbacks play well today. First starter Tarvaris Jackson was 15-22(68.2%) for 166 yards(7.5 YPA) with a touchdown and an interception. Charlie Whitehurst off the bench was 11-19(57.9%) for 149 yards(7.8 YPA) with the game winning touchdown. Both quarterbacks benefitted from a breakout game by Baldwin who had eight receptions for 136 yards with a touchdown. Ben Obomanu also had six receptions for 51 yards with a touchdown. Rice had four receptions for 38 yards. The Seahawks also saw Marshawn Lynch have his best game of the year. Lynch rushed for 98 yards(8.2 YPC) on 12 carries with a touchdown. Lynch also caught four passes for 33 yards which proved to be his best all around game. The Seahawks safety play was great as well with Thomas and Chancellor each recovering a fumble then also intercepting a pass.

All in all, the Seahawks needed this win very badly as they improve to 2-3. The Seahawks have officially ended all "Suck for Luck" talk which will make some fans happy while other fans will be upset. The Seahawks offense actually played pretty well due to the no-huddle offense as both quarterbacks played pretty well while Lynch had his second best game as a Seahawk. The receivers made some plays which was nice to see that if Rice doesn't make any plays then nobody can. The defense despite giving up so many passing yards caused turnovers which is what defenses are all about in today's game. Overall, this was a huge win for the Seahawks this season as they are trying to defend their NFC west championship. Carroll showed with that win plus the Saints win last year he can beat his opponent despite not having as much talent as the other team. Carroll showed he is a top tier coach and hopefully the wins will start following him.


- We have a quarterback controversy in Seattle due to Whitehurst hitting the game winning pass. Like last year with the win over the Rams I'm going to stick with the starter. I felt Jackson out played him and dating back to last week Jackson has played well in the no huddle offense Jackson threw for 166 yards completing 68.2% of his passes in the process. While Whitehurst threw for 149 yards while completing 57.9% of his passes in the process.

I think I'll trust Carroll's player evaluation over mine. Carroll has seen these guys in practice every day plus in the film room. Jackson started off slow but is looking pretty decent especially in the no huddle offense. Whitehurst looked a lot better than he did during anytime last season. Are either of these quarterbacks going to take the Seahawks to the promise land? No. I do like the fact that the quarterbacks both of them when asked performed well. I do like how both seem to have improved quite a bit over last season.

- Doug Baldwin has been a terrific pick up for the Seahawks. Baldwin was an undrafted receiver out of Stanford who made the team. For the season Baldwin has had 20 receptions for 330 yards(16.5 YPC) with two touchdowns already. That puts Baldwin on pace to catch 64 passes for 1,065 yards with 6.5 touchdowns. Those are great rookie numbers let alone a guy who was undrafted coming out of college. Considering second round pick Golden Tate still is taking forever to adjust to this offense that is impressive.

Baldwin had a breakout game with eight receptions for 136 yards with a touchdown. He caught the winning touchdown pass and was constantly catching big passes. This is the third week out of five games Baldwin has led the team in receiving yards for that particular game. The Seahawks might have found a gem in Baldwin like they did last season with Mike Williams.

- Marshawn Lynch finally had the type of game Seahawks fans have been waiting for. Lynch ran for 98 yards on just 12 carries with a touchdown. Lynch also caught four passes out of the backfield. Lynch did have a costly redzone fumble but he rebounded nicely with a long 47 yard run. Lynch actually showed a burst of speed for once which I haven't seen him do all season long. This was easily Lynch's best game of the season given the amount of yards he had, the yards per carry, the amount of receptions and even the touchdown. Going forward this is what the Seahawks need from Lynch if they have any chance of being a playoff team this year. Lynch needs to factor into the passing game more often in my opinion so when he does get shut down he is still a productive member to the team.

- This was an impressive win for Carroll and his group. He saw his best corner Marcus Trufant miss this game and second best receiver Mike Williams miss the game. His starting quarterback(Tarvaris Jackson) went down in the middle of the game as well. This was a team who gave the Seahawks their most embarassing loss of the season last year when the Seahawks lost 41-7 at home to the Giants. For Carroll to have his team rebound from that tough home loss to Falcons and win on the east coast was very impressive. I don't know if Carroll is the best president in the NFL but I do know the man can coach up talent as well as anyone in the NFL. Carroll didn't buy into the top 10 draft talk like he didn't last year. Carroll is trying his best to win this year because in the NFL you can't afford to tank a season or you could be out of a job very quickly.

In conclusion, this was a must win for the Seahawks and they responded well. Carroll has this team believing even though their fanbase(me) isn't quite yet believing. The Seahawks will now head into the bye week at 2-3 then take on the Cleveland Browns whose team president is Mike Holmgren. The Seahawks had a great game from their offense, defense and special teams. This was a total team effort and they had several opportunities to get down on themselves which they didn't. The Seahawks defeated a good team on the road and maybe as the season goes on this young team can play better together. The Seahawks showed sunday they are far from being dead in this NFC West playoff picture which Carroll has his team believing they can repeat as division champions.

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