Like I said on Facebook after this game, I might be dead by the end of the season because of all these close calls, panics, and heart attacks. After a sluggish first half the resilient Seahawks completed the largest comeback in franchise history, defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-24 in overtime. The Seahawks are now 8-1 and have a 1 ½ game lead on San Francisco for the NFC West lead. The Buccaneers free-fall continues as they go to 0-8 on the season. There are a lot of similarities between this game and week 8 against the St. Louis Rams. Here is what I saw.
Offensive Line Epicenter of Offense’s Struggles: It may be old news but after another mediocre performance, it is clear that we must get Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini back on the field to fix our offensive line. Michael Bowie struggled again against a surprisingly good Buccaneers pass rush on Sunday. Although the offensive line did not allow a sack of Russell Wilson, Wilson had to rely heavily on screen passes and quick throws due to the consistent collapse of the pocket. Marshawn Lynch had a great game on the ground rushing 21 times for 125 yards but it was the passing game that really had trouble gaining momentum. If a team becomes one-dimensional it becomes much easier to gameplan how to stop them. Without Okung and Giacomini the Seahawks ideally would be trying to frontload the offense with rush attempts but we continually are trying to figure out how to move the ball through the air. The problem however is that we haven’t done a very good job figuring out how to fix that diagnosis. Pete Carroll hopes to have Okung and Giacomini back at practice this week and if Giacomini can play next week in Atlanta we may have a good chance of fixing this problem and being more efficient in the passing game.
Run Defense Baffles Me: The Seahawks defense has played healthy the past two weeks, meaning that no backups have had to start in place of injured starters. In their last two games the Seahawks have allowed 405 rushing yards; an average of 202.5 per game. These numbers are beyond unacceptable and they make me scratch my head. Mike James had his way on the ground this week running 28 times for 158 yards. The Tampa Bay offensive line helped a lot due in large part to their blocking scheme. I believe that our problem stopping the run is a combination of the offense blocking well and that our defense is on the field longer due to our own offensive struggles. It is a chain reaction. If our offense can drive the ball our defense will stay rested and not get as worn down and tired as they currently seem to be. It is becoming very frustrating to see opponent’s offenses moving the ball so easily on the ground. Next week will be a big challenge for the Seahawks run defense with Steven Jackson, who is very tough to stop and tackle.
Thomas Makes Play of the Game: Earl Thomas drew a lot of ire from me today for his attempts to jar the ball loose rather than wrap-up and fundamentally tackle the ball carrier but I believe one play he did make changed the outcome of the game. On their final drive of regulation, the Buccaneers faced a 3rd and 7 at their own 46-yard line. They were roughly 15 to 20 yards away from field goal range. Quarterback Mike Glennon scrambled to the left trying to find an open receiver and he decided to tuck the ball and run. As soon as he tucked the ball, I saw Earl Thomas fly from the middle of the field to the far sideline to help make the tackle, bringing up 4th down and a Tampa Bay punt. Believe me, when I say fly I mean FLY. I have not seen Thomas run that fast so far this season and he has come in fast to make a couple big tackles this season. Without that effort Glennon may have picked up the first down, extended the drive, and the way their offense was moving the ball they would have probably lined up for a game-winning field goal attempt. The tackle by Thomas ended the drive, gave the Seahawks the ball back, and we wound up winning the game in overtime. There is no doubt in my mind that this was the play of the game and was the difference between an 8-1 record and a 7-2 record.
Don’t Panic: The Seahawks trailed the Buccaneers 21-0 at one point and were down 21-7 at halftime; a 14 point deficit. We trailed the Washington Redskins by 14 at halftime last season, came back, and won. We trailed the Atlanta Falcons 20-0 at halftime the week after, came back, and nearly won. We trailed the Houston Texans 20-3 at halftime back in September, came back, and won. Although the game was not going our way in the first half, myself and everyone sitting around me were thinking the same things: we are at home, we were playing the winless Buccaneers, and we have done this many times before. Never once did I seriously worry about the possibility of losing this game. Russell Wilson said following today’s game that “if there’s any time on the clock, we have a chance” and he is exactly right. Our defense held Tampa Bay to 3 second half points and once our offense started to get going the belief was that we would make a comeback. The resiliency of this Seahawks team is cannot be overstated. No matter what the deficit is the Seahawks have proved time and time again that they can comeback. Never count us out of any game, regardless of how many points we are down by.
Thoughts on Tampa Bay: If it is true that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a broken locker room and that the players have a broken relationship with head coach Greg Schiano they sure do not play like it. The Buccaneers have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball and the way Mike Glennon came into our hostile environment and dominated us in the first half, Tampa Bay just might have their quarterback of the future. I was really impressed with Glennon’s poise which is reflected in the fact that the Buccaneers did not commit any turnovers on Sunday. If it comes down to the two remaining winless teams, it will be the Jacksonville Jaguars who will pick first in next year’s draft. Things may be looking up for the Buccaneers in the coming weeks if they play like they did today. Greg Schiano may not be around for much longer but the next head coach of the Buccaneers is inheriting a very good group of players.
Random Thoughts: Steven Hauschka is becoming the new Josh Brown; Mr. Clutch… Blue Jerseys and blue pants once again this week… Mike Carey’s crew made a few very questionable calls this week. It really seems like he’s had it out for us in the games he’s officiated over the past few years… The 1983 Seahawks reunion and ceremony was really cool. I really enjoyed all of the highlights they showed from that season throughout the game. It was too bad that the 14-point halftime deficit kind of put a damper on the halftime ceremony though… Steve Largent raised the 12th Man flag representing his 1983 Seahawks teammates… Sunday’s sideline celebrity was Rainn Wilson of “The Office” fame… Security was beefed up in our section this week. It was pretty abnormal. I think it may have been because of the Skittles shower that was complained about at the last home game. Good thing I’m not bringing Skittles anymore… It took longer than usually for The Hawks Nest bar to fill up during the morning games. Good thing we were able to get a table… Fall days when it is sunny throughout the game are arguably the best kind of settings… Oh boy if we can get past Atlanta next week I say playoff fever starts early!
As always thanks for reading everybody. Check back for my preview of next week’s playoff rematch against the Atlanta Falcons next Saturday. Go Hawks!