Tag Archives: Cincinnati Bengals

Review: Bengals 27, Seahawks 24 (OT)

11 Oct
Photo Credit: Bengals.com

Photo Credit: Bengals.com

One thing is for certain, the dominant Seahawks defense of 2013 is absolutely gone. After a long 69-yard touchdown run by Thomas Rawls and a fumble recovery and touchdown from Bobby Wagner, the Seahawks could not protect a 17 point 4th quarter lead. The Cincinnati Bengals offense scored 17 unanswered 4th quarter points to tie the game and in overtime, Mike Nugent deflected a 42-yard field goal off the left upright to give the Bengals a 27-24 overtime win. The Seahawks fall to 2-3 and are now two games out of first place in the NFC West. The Bengals win improves them to 5-0 on the year. Like our loss in St. Louis back in week one, you can go in several different directions to try to place the blame on this loss. Here are the goods and the very bads from this excruciatingly upsetting loss.

Rawls Has the Game of His Life: After failing to make a significant impact in place of Marshawn Lynch a week ago, rookie running back Thomas Rawls made a lot of noise in Cincinnati. Rawls averaged 7.3 yards per carry on his way to the most successful day rushing for a Seahawks running back since Shaun Alexander in 2006. Rawls finished with 169 yards and one touchdown; the aforementioned 69-yard touchdown run coming in the 3rd quarter. After this game I have become very optimistic that we may have found the eventual heir apparent to Lynch. Rawls ran with a purpose and did not go down easily. Given the result however it makes you wonder if Lynch would have had even greater success running on the Bengals defense. If Lynch misses his third straight game next Sunday, Rawls will have a very big role in our offense game plan against Carolina.

#FireBevell: If you read my posts consistently you know by now that I am not a fan of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, yet here I am writing after another heartbreaking loss ready to unload my criticism of Bevell’s terrible play calling. Although I don’t believe he should be completely at blame for this loss, his fourth quarter and overtime play calling had me fuming mad. Bevell’s play-calling was extra conservative in the fourth quarter and the offense was forced into six punts to end the game. In the three Seahawks offensive possessions before the Bengals final three scoring drives in regulation, we were only able to take a combined 5:31 off the clock including two 3 and outs. In our final 5 drives we faced six 3rd down opportunities. Instead of trying to chew clock by running the ball, Bevell dialed up 4 passes (including a short screen pass in overtime to Fred Jackson on a 3rd and long) and Russell Wilson was sacked twice. To make things even more frustrating, Thomas Rawls was nowhere to be found late in the game when we needed him most. Why in the world would Bevell choose Jackson over Rawls in the most crucial situations when it was clear Cincinnati could not stop Rawls on the ground?! The long and short of it is this. It is as if we jump out to a 3 possession lead, the offense takes the rest of the game off, and Bevell has confidence in our defense, not his own unit, to be able to hold the lead. My opinion of Darrell Bevell stays the same, the Seahawks need to part ways with him. The sooner the better.

Offensive Line Thoughts: If football was a three quarter game, my overall thoughts on the play of our offensive line would be different. After doing a much better job protecting Russell Wilson for the first three quarters, including flawless protection of Wilson on his first quarter touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse, the offensive line crashed and burned late in the game when we could not maintain a drive. Wilson was sacked 4 times on the day. Although the group showed growth and improvement it may be time to think about making changes. I mean think about it; our right three linemen consist of two defensive line converts (Drew Nowak, J.R. Sweezy) and a former college tight end (Garry Gilliam). Bengals defensive linemen Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap had their way with our line, combining for 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks. If I had the power to rebuild the line, this is what I would do. I would move Justin Britt back to right tackle, start the disgruntled Alvin Bailey at left guard, and replace Nowak with Patrick Lewis at center.

Defensive Collapse: How much time do you have? I’ll try to keep this segment as to the point as possible. Our defense played a terrible game. Kam Chancellor was beat by Cincinnati tight end Tyler Eifert on two touchdown passes and quarterback Andy Dalton kept throwing in the direction of Cary Williams, who had a difficult time with not only A.J. Green, but the entire Bengals receiving corps. Williams was also flagged for an obvious pass interference penalty on Cincinnati’s game-tying drive at the end of regulation. Once again we could not stop the Bengals on third down, as they converted 40 percent of their third down chances. What was also frustrating was how we attacked Dalton late in the game. After extending our lead to 17-7, it was clear Dalton was cracking under pressure and on the verge of a total meltdown which is something that he has been prone of over the years when facing a deficit. For a while it looked like we were doing a good job putting pressure on the Bengals offense but we were only blitzing three or four guys late in the game. That plus the excellent blocking by Cincinnati’s offensive line gave Dalton a good clean pocket to work with. It is clear our defensive has regressed, especially on the road. We have blown 4th quarter leads in each of our 3 losses, twice holding a lead of 10 points or more.

Thoughts on Cincinnati: The talent the Bengals have is as good as advertised. Andy Dalton is blossoming into a borderline-elite quarterback and the weapons they have on offense only help his case. Their defense may be one of the best units in all of football and they will continue to win games so as the unit stays healthy. This team is a lot better than I thought they would be before the season started. The common commentary however has been “making these wins happen in January instead of in the regular season.” The way I look at it after 5 weeks, this is the only team that can challenge the New England Patriots for the AFC championship.

Random Thoughts: It was awesome to have the guys over again this week. Too bad one of them made it over when we had a 24-7 lead. You’re definitely a jinx Jake. At least I didn’t guarantee victory like against the Rams… I hate when FOX cuts to the skycam for live plays. I think it is great technology to have for replays but the perception really changes live. There was one play in particular, an Andy Dalton bubble screen, where the camera had to move at a 90 degree angle to show it and by the time the camera whipped around the play was pretty much over… See what I mean about Andy Dalton’s hair???… This loss reaffirms my opinion that I would rather be blown out than lose a close game. I predicted we would lose but at the same time we had a 17 point lead, so because we put up a better effort than I thought we would does that mean I should feel better? This loss hurts way worse than if we had lost badly because in my eyes we had this game won and we just gave it away… Just once I want to have my fantasy team win and the Seahawks win in the same week. I started my fantasy football season 2-0 and the Seahawks went 0-2 in that span. Then I lost my next two fantasy matchups and the Seahawks won two straight games in those weeks. This week it looks like it will be the same old story. I win, Seahawks lose. I’m cursed.

What’s Next: The #6 game in my #10for10 series will be published on Thursday. Also, check back next Saturday when I preview our week 6 game against the Carolina Panthers.

Seahawks/Bengals Preview

10 Oct
Photo Credit: nwsportsbeat.com

Photo Credit: nwsportsbeat.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Cincinnati Bengals

Site: Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Kickoff: 10:00am

The onslaught of tough defensive lines continues for the Seahawks this week. The Seahawks head to the Queen City for the first time in 12 years on Sunday as they take on the AFC North leading Cincinnati Bengals. After winning last Monday the Seahawks are 2-2, tied for second place in the NFC West. The Bengals are 4-0 and they off to their best start since 2005. Cincinnati leads the all-time series with Seattle 10-9. In their last meeting back in 2011, the Seahawks started Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback but his dismal performance early in the game caused head coach Pete Carroll to substitute in an injured Tarvaris Jackson to finish it. The Seahawks never got going and the Bengals won easily by a score of 34-12. This will be the very first time Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom get to go against the Bengals, but Cincinnati poses difficult matchup problems with the talent they possess especially on defense. This will be an extremely tough challenge for the Seahawks. This is what to watch for.

After the struggles on offense a week ago, a lot must change in both the passing game and running game in Cincinnati. It would be in our best interest to exclusively run a package of quick passes and roll-outs. Given the shaky play of our offensive line recently, the Seahawks will run the risk of putting quarterback Russell Wilson in harm’s way if he stays in the pocket and tries to go through his progressions. Do not be surprised if Jimmy Graham has another lackluster outing on Sunday. Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin should be Wilson’s go-to guys if we stick to short passes. I believed that we could beat Detroit without running back Marshawn Lynch. Although we won with Thomas Rawls carrying the load, this week we will be in deeper trouble offensively with Lynch once again inactive and Rawls getting the start. A successful day on the ground should be a minimum of 70 yards rushing yards out of Rawls.

The Cincinnati Bengals have one of the most explosive offenses in the league. Gone are the days of Carson Palmer throwing to Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Now it is Andy Dalton, Cincinnati’s 5th year quarterback, who has led the Bengals to the playoffs in each of his first 4 seasons. The Bengals have a plethora of talent at the skill positions but the interesting thing will be to see how well the Seahawks defense matches up against these players. Number one wide receiver A.J. Green has averaged 104 receiving yards per game over his first 4 games and he will garner the attention of Richard Sherman. Seattle cornerback Cary Williams will line up across from Marvin Jones. Expect Dalton to throw in the direction of tight end Tyler Eifert a lot, especially in red zone opportunities. Eifert has averaged just over 5 targets per game but co-leads all Bengals receivers in touchdowns with three. The Bengals also sport a two-headed monster in the backfield with running backs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. Hill and Bernard combined have averaged 115 rushing yards per game but they will be facing the best front seven they have seen all season long.

If there is one stat to note about the Bengals offense it is this. Dalton likes to take shots down the field at any given time so be on the lookout for him to test the Legion of Boom, especially in the first quarter. Cincinnati has outscored its opponents 35-6 in the first quarter so far this season. An early lead has been the norm so if the Seahawks can hold the Bengals to less than a touchdown in the first quarter it will bode well for the rest of the game.

Given the horrible play of the Seahawks offensive line recently, this is the kind of matchup that probably makes the mouths of the Bengals defensive linemen drool. Cincinnati is tied for 6th in the NFL in sacks and they sport two of the game’s better defensive players along their line. Geno Atkins is a sack master who does a great job penetrating the interior line of scrimmage. So far this season he already has 3 sacks. My main focus however is the man that will likely go up across from Seahawks right tackle Garry Gilliam. My X-Factor Player to Watch for Cincinnati this week is defensive end Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap leads all Bengals defenders in sacks with 3.5. He has recorded at least one sack in 3 of their first 4 games but has yet to face an offensive front as weak as Seattle’s. His tackle numbers are not high and after watching film, Dunlap plays his best on passing downs. If the defense does a good job forcing the Seahawks into third downs, Dunlap’s presence on the field will definitely be felt. It will be up to the Seahawks to keep the tempo up and move the ball successfully in early down situations in order to make Dunlap’s impact minimal or obsolete.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks announced on Friday they will wear white jerseys and College Navy pants. Cincinnati wore their orange alternate jerseys last week so chances are very good they will wear black jerseys and white pants this week… This week FOX has the Sunday single-header, and Seahawks/Bengals is the most attractive matchup on their lineup, so Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will have the call… This week’s referee is John Parry… This next point I feel obligated to discuss. Andy Dalton is the only redheaded starting quarterback in the league. Watching him speak in his press conferences this week I cannot help but be jealous of how his hair looks. My red hair looks good short but once it starts to curl it gets disproportionate and all over the place. Dalton has wonderful-looking straight red hair. I would trade my red hair for his red hair 11 times out of 10… This is the last Seahawks game I’ll watch at home until we play the Minnesota Vikings in week 13. Crazy.

Prediction: Any road game is tough especially at 10am pacific time, but I think this will be a very long day for the Seahawks on offense. Russell Wilson will be sacked 5 times and will throw two interceptions on tipped balls. Marvin Jones will catch one touchdown from Andy Dalton and Jeremy Hill will run for two more. The Seahawks will head home 2-3 and will be pressured to make offensive personnel changes before we take on Carolina in week 6.

Bengals 24, Seahawks 16

Rant: Seahawks 13, Lions 10

6 Oct
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

A win is a win, right? It is true but why do I feel so frustrated and disappointed? The Seahawks survived a late charge by the Detroit Lions offense and thanks to Kam Chancellor forcing a fumble and K.J. Wright batting the ball (illegally) out of the endzone, the Seahawks survived to win 13-10. The victory gets the Seahawks to 2-2 and one game behind the Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West. The Lions fall to 0-4. There was one consistent negative in this game and it has my full attention in this week’s postgame review. The Seahawks offense line has struggled throughout the season but tonight I feel the line hit rock bottom. Things must change so the Seahawks can maximize the full potential of the offense. Instead of a traditional review, here is a rant dedicated solely to the Seahawks woeful offensive line.

Wilson Feels the Heat and Rawls Struggles: Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked five times on Monday night and turned the ball over twice after fumbling. He was consistently flushed out of the pocket and the majority of his throws came on the run. Out of the shotgun there were multiple snaps that were low or to the side of him that he struggled to corral. The last straw came in the final minutes of the first half. After moving the ball inside the 10-yard line, Wilson was sacked twice which moved our goal-to-go opportunity back to the 33-yard line. Instead of a touchdown, we were forced to kick a long field goal. It is going to be incredibly difficult to keep Wilson healthy long-term if he continues to take the beating he has been subjected to so far this season. The saddest part is that there has been little or no improvement along the offensive line this season. I understand that in 3 of our first 4 games we have faced top-tier defensive lines but on a week to week basis there has been nothing to show me that we are going to get better any time soon. This line is a long way off from completely gelling. As far as the running game goes…

Photo Credit: The News Tribune

Photo Credit: The News Tribune

This picture sure says a lot doesn’t it? After rushing for over 100 yards last week running back Thomas Rawls did not produce nearly as well against the Lions. Rawls averaged a meager 2.8 yards per carry and his longest run of the night was only 10 yards. Rawls struggled because our offensive line could not provide adequate running lanes. I have heard a lot of talk about how our offensive line scheme is a “system blocking” style, meaning it does not necessarily matter who our personnel is along the line, you can plug in players at will as long as each lineman does their individual assignment within the zone-blocking scheme. If you can put 5 successful blocks together in unison you will have either excellent pass protection or solid run blocking. At some point it must matter who we have along the line because I am sick of seeing Justin Britt and Drew Nowak specifically getting blown up or struggling to block. It may soon be for the Seahawks and offensive line coach Tom Cable to consider personnel changes up front. In short and in closing, I just wish we still had Max Unger.

Controversy in Relation to the Offensive Line: The Seahawks dodged a massive bullet late in the game when safety Kam Chancellor knocked the football out of Calvin Johnson’s hands one yard short of the goal line. The ball bounced to the back of the endzone and linebacker K.J. Wright batted the ball out of the endzone for a touchback. The only problem is that Wright’s clutch play is illegal but fortunately it was not called. If a penalty had been enforced on Wright, Detroit would have maintained possession at the one-yard line. I believe the Lions would have successfully scored a touchdown and the Seahawks would have faced a 17-13 deficit with less than two minutes left. The Seahawks would have had to go the length of the field and score a touchdown in order to win the game. The way we blocked for Russell Wilson up to that point I would have had no confidence in our ability to drive down the field to take the lead. That potential situation would have taken away our running dimension, which would have allowed the Lions defense to stack the box and put immense pressure on Wilson, pressure that our horrible offensive line would definitely had not been able to handle. If it wasn’t for that non-call on the batted ball out of the endzone, there is no question in my mind the Seahawks would have lost and fallen to 1-3 on the season.

Random Thoughts: None.

What’s Next: Look out for my preview of our week 5 game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday morning.

Rams/Seahawks Preview

27 Dec
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

It is a case of déjà vu for the Seahawks this week. Once again we end our regular season at home against the St. Louis Rams and once again a Seahawks win will clinch the NFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Seahawks are 11-4, winners of their last 5 games. The Rams are 6-9, last place in the NFC West, and are looking to avoid their first double-digit loss season since 2011. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Rams 20-13. St. Louis’s win over the Seahawks back in October is the only divisional blemish on the Seahawks record. This week the Seahawks and the 12th Man want to ensure the road to Super Bowl XLIX goes through CenturyLink Field. This is what must happen for the Seahawks to avoid an epic upset that could cost us the #1 seed.

Overall, I believe both the Seahawks offense and defense ae plenty capable of getting the job done this week. The only way I see Seattle losing is if we beat ourselves which is a big reason as to why we lost to the Rams earlier this season. There are three things we need to avoid doing in order to come away victorious. The first thing the Seahawks must do is not to commit penalties in excessive fashion. Last week penalties were a huge problem especially in the first half. The Seahawks are averaging 8.5 penalties per game and there have only been two games this season where Seattle’s opponent commits more penalties than the Seahawks themselves. If the Seahawks can hold their number of penalties to under their season average we will be in tremendous shape. Specifically, the Seahawks must show they have fixed their problem with procedure penalties. Seattle committed two false starts and two offsides penalties last week. Zero is my target number this week. Anything greater than zero is a failure in my eyes.

The second thing the Seahawks must do is not commit turnovers; something they have done an excellent job controlling the past few weeks. During our five game winning streak the Seahawks have turned the ball over only three times. The Seahawks have also averaged only one turnover per game at home this season. Ball security has been a huge strength of this team down the stretch and the Seahawks will absolutely secure a victory if they can continue to not turn the ball over.

The third thing, which is the broadest yet the most important thing that must happen, is to avoid major injuries. With the playoffs coming up, the worst thing that can happen is for the Seahawks to lose important pieces of the starting lineup especially on defense. The Seahawks have played as complete of football since the return of middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and the re-emergence of strong safety Kam Chancellor. We are ready to make an impact in January. The only thing that could threaten our hopes of making a deep playoff push is injuries.

After watching the St. Louis Rams drop back-to-back games the previous two weeks I am reminded of our matchup against the Arizona Cardinals last week. I say that because of the temporary leader of the Rams offense, quarterback Shaun Hill. After a lackluster game against Arizona two weeks ago, Hill bounced back with a 75% completion percentage and threw for 290 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and an interception in a losing effort last week against the New York Giants. This tells me one thing; Hill is a very inconsistent quarterback where even his best effort is not enough to win. Like Arizona last week, if the Rams have any chance at winning this game it will have to come at the hands of their defense and special teams. The Rams sport a very talented defense with recognizable names at all three levels but my focus this week is on a player who does not get constant recognition. My X-Factor player to watch for the Rams this week is safety T.J. McDonald. Not many Rams defenders do multiple things really well but McDonald does a very good job getting to the ball carrier to make tackles and also does a good job tracking the ball in the passing game. McDonald ranks third among all Rams in tackles with 98 on the season. McDonald also gets to the quarterback when safety blitzes are dialed up, recording two sacks this season. In the secondary McDonald has seven passes defensed and one interception. I do not expect the Seahawks to air the ball out consistently this week so I expect McDonald’s biggest impact to be getting to the ball carrier. If McDonald can force a Seattle turnover it is possible that St. Louis can keep this game close.

Random Thoughts: Seahawks in all blue, Rams most likely in all white this week… Gus Johnson and Charles Davis have the call for FOX this week. This is the first and only NFL game Johnson and Davis call this season, as they normally are FOX’s number one broadcasting crew for college football. For those of you unfamiliar with Gus Johnson’s broadcast style you are either going to be wildly entertained or wildly annoyed. His nickname is “screamin’ Gus” for a reason. Just type his name in on YouTube and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. I would love to hear a Gus Johnson call of a long Marshawn Lynch touchdown this week… We have played the Rams at home in week 17 four out of the past five seasons. Hey NFL, how about we switch the schedule up next year… Going to switch it up before the game. Pyramid Alehouse for lunch and perhaps a beer at Safeco Field before heading into the stadium. Looking forward to Pyramid’s fish and chips… The Seahawks are giving away “We Are 12” t-shirts at the gates this week. I hope they look cool. We’ll see if the Seahawks encourage the fans to wear the shirts or to use the shirts to wave like towels… The postseason schedule will likely be announced at halftime of Sunday Night Football between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. As excited as I am for the Seahawks game, I am almost more excited to see when and at what time the Seahawks will play their first playoff game. I am hoping we get to play on the Sunday of divisional weekend instead of Saturday like last year… Barring an epic collapse my hope is to be down at the Seahawks Pro Shop after the game getting my Seahawks 2014 NFC West champions gear just like last year!

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: A Seahawks win gives us the NFC West title and virtually guarantees we clinch the #1 seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The only way the Seahawks do not earn the #1 seed with a win is if the Lions/Packers game ends in a tie. If the Seahawks lose and the Cardinals lose, the Seahawks will still win the NFC West but could earn the #1, #2, or #3 seed depending on what Detroit, Green Bay, and Dallas do on Sunday. A Seahawks loss and a Cardinals win would give Arizona the NFC West title and the Seahawks will be the #5 seed. Here are Sunday’s games with NFC playoff implications. Teams to note are bolded.

Dallas (11-4) at Washington (4-11)

Arizona (11-4) at San Francisco (7-8)

Detroit (11-4) at Green Bay (11-4): The winner of DET/GB wins the NFC North and clinches the #2 seed in the NFC. The loser clinches the #6 seed in the NFC.

Carolina (6-8-1) at Atlanta (6-9): The winner of CAR/ATL wins the NFC South and clinches the #4 seed in the NFC

Prediction: The Seahawks know what is at stake and they will not let anything prevent them from winning this game. Marshawn Lynch will score a pair of touchdowns and Russell Wilson will also throw for a pair of touchdowns. For the second straight week the Seahawks will not allow a touchdown and the Seahawks will coast into the playoffs as the 2014 NFC West champions. Seattle will wrap up the #1 seed in the NFC and will take a week off before getting ready to play either Atlanta, Arizona, or Detroit in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.

Seahawks 31, Rams 6

Check back late Sunday night as I review our regular season finale against the Rams. I will also take a first look ahead to the NFL Playoffs and who I believe the Seahawks will face in their first playoff game. Enjoy the game and Go Seahawks!

Review: Seahawks 23, Bears 17 (OT)

3 Dec

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The Seahawks were able to bounce back from their loss in Miami and defeat the Chicago Bears 23-17 in overtime on Sunday. This game was a nail-biter and it turned out to be what I would consider to be an instant classic. The Seahawks are now 7-5, in full control of the final NFC wild-card spot while the Bears fall to 8-4 and have the 5th seed in the NFC. There was a good mix of great things and bad things that happened to the Seahawks in this game. This is what I saw.

Déjà Vu: The Seahawks had a 10-7 lead at halftime but the feel of the first half felt eerily similar to the first half of the Miami game. The Seahawks went the first 27 minutes of the first half without scoring. They did put up 219 yards of offense in the first half; about 70 yards more than in Miami. The nicest thing I saw in the first half was that the offense was able to move the ball. The Seahawks only had one first half drive of less than 10 yards. Scoring 10 points in the first half on the road against a superlative Chicago defense is decent but I was hoping for more in order for us to remain competitive throughout the entire game. It was good to see us correct mistakes that doomed us in Miami and carried those adjustments into the rest of this week’s game.

52:27 Of Russell Wilson Dominance: This may seem a bit repetitive because this section reflects some stats that occurred in the first half, but you will be impressed with these numbers. From the end of the first quarter on, the Seahawks had 404 yards of offense, 22 first downs, and all 23 points against the Bears on the road. Russell Wilson had his most impressive performance of the season hands down. Wilson ended the day 23/37 for 293 yards passing and two touchdowns. Wilson also added 71 rushing yards on 9 carries. Wilson showed tremendous poise and seemed comfortable in the pocket all day long. For the most part the Seahawks offensive line did a great job protecting Wilson. Two of Wilson’s throws in particular caught my attention, both to Sidney Rice. One was in the first half down the sideline which was one of Trent Dilfer’s “dimes” on Sportscenter Sunday night. The second pass, Rice laid out on 2nd down and 11 to convert for a first down. The drive ultimately ended in points. With a favorable schedule on the horizon and only one more regular season road game, Wilson is headed for a terrific finish and strong consideration for offensive rookie of the year.

Defense Sputters When They Absolutely Can’t: The Seahawks defense played well enough to hold on for the win. Having said this, we continue to give up big plays at the worst times. I will get to the Brandon Marshall catch with 18 seconds left in regulation in a moment but let’s first talk about our third down defense, our pass rush, and our unfortunate penalties.

Once again the Seahawks did a terrible job of stopping the Bears on third down, especially in the first half. Chicago was able to convert half of their third downs on Sunday. The biggest reason why the Bears could move the ball is our constant lack of quarterback pressure on the road. The Seahawks only recorded one sack which was primarily because Bears quarterback Jay Cutler fumbled a handoff to Matt Forte and had to run back and recover it. The Seahawks would have had this game under control for the majority of the time if they had been able to put consistent pressure on Cutler. We had been successful doing this over the past couple years. I do not see how we were so ineffective this time around.

There were also a couple of big penalties that cost the Seahawks in the Bears second touchdown drive. The Bears came up one yard short of a first down at the beginning of their first third quarter drive on 3rd and 8 but because of an illegal hands to the face penalty on Bruce Irvin, it gave the Bears a first down. Later on in the drive, Alan Branch was called for roughing the passer when he tried to tackle Cutler as he was sliding. The Bears of course ended the drive with a touchdown to Matt Forte to give the Bears a 14-10 lead.

Perhaps the most talked about play of the day was the 56-yard reception by Bears receiver Brandon Marshall with 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks had an entire breakdown in coverage on this play. The Seahawks played prevent-man defense and they were able to let Marshall get free on one-on-one coverage. Instead of going for an interception or even a tackle, cornerback Richard Sherman instead decided to go for the interception. Because of this, Marshall was able to break free for an additional 20+ yards. This play set up Robbie Gould’s 46-yard game-tying field goal at the end of regulation. This play “never should have happened in the first place” according to Coach Carroll and there is no doubt he is right. Our defense must continue to improve and it will be nice for them to get back home next weekend after 4 weeks away from CenturyLink Field.

He’s A Beast: There is no other way to describe Brandon Marshall. In my preview, I predicted Marshall would have ten catches and ultimately torch the Seahawks. Marshall did have ten catches for 165 yards. It does not matter who is covering him, Marshall is big enough to grab any ball thrown in his direction, much like Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. The Cutler-Marshall combination is deadly and will be the biggest offensive factor in determining how long the Bears stick around in the playoffs.

Chicago’s Defense Still Good, But Aging: Here is a warning to any team or fan of a team who could be looking at a matchup with the Chicago Bears later on this season: they are still dominant but they get dramatically tired. In the Seahawks final two offensive drives of the game, Russell Wilson was shredding Chicago’s defense apart and you could visibly tell they were getting tired. Most notably the linebackers seemed the most gassed. Lance Briggs got banged up late in the game and Brian Urlacher had to leave the Seahawks overtime drive. He may have been hurt but to me watching on television he just looked exhausted. If the Bears are going to contend for a super bowl, this has to be the year. This group will not stick together much longer. They can play well against almost every team but they get worn down, which ultimately cost them against the Seahawks on Sunday.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks debuted the white jersey/white pants uniform combination on Sunday. It looked really good. Hopefully the white pants stick around… My dad came over to my house for this game and I really enjoyed his company. It always makes it better when we win… My roommate had the time of his life being in attendance at Soldier Field on Sunday. I am super jealous he got to see the Seahawks win and I saw them lose twice on the road. I told him he is our good luck charm within the house and maybe we should look into going to Toronto in two weeks for the Bills game (that won’t happen, but it’s a nice little idea isn’t it?)… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan called a good game on the FOX broadcast this week. Much better than in past weeks… The Bears have an annoying fight song… With our win and San Francisco’s loss I am starting to get excited about the possibility of holding on to win the NFC West. Still a lot of football to be played but we have a chance… I am also starting to get excited about the possibility that the NFL and NBC will flex the Seahawks week 16 game against the San Francisco 49ers into Sunday Night Football. That would be so amazing.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: The Seahawks are now 7-5 and have a full game lead for the 6th seed in the NFC. The Seahawks are also 1 ½ games behind San Francisco for the NFC West lead. It is very possible we could catch them in the coming weeks. Still in the hunt behind the Seahawks are the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Next week’s games to be keeping an eye on with potential playoff implications:

Arizona (4-8) at Seattle (7-5)

Miami (5-7) at San Francisco (8-3-1)

Dallas (6-6) at Cincinnati (7-5)

Chicago (8-4) at Minnesota (6-6)

Philadelphia (3-9) at Tampa Bay (6-6)

The Seahawks now have four games left; three of which are at home in front of the 12th Man. It all starts next week against the Arizona Cardinals. Check back on Saturday afternoon for my preview of next week’s game. It’s really time to start believing everybody. Go Seahawks!

Raiders/Seahawks Preview

30 Aug

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Matchup: Oakland Raiders vs. Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 7:00pm

The Seahawks conclude the 2012 preseason Thursday night when the Oakland Raiders come to town to battle the Seahawks. This is the seventh straight year the Seahawks finish the preseason against the Raiders. The Seahawks have gone 5-1 against Oakland during this stretch. The final preseason game is meant for the backups fighting for a roster spot to show the coaching staff that they deserve to make the cut. This storyline is not the focus this year for the Seahawks however, as Russell Wilson has been named our starting quarterback and will start Thursday night. It is not known how much playing time he will see but I don’t expect it to be more than three drives. Here is what I will be focusing on Thursday night.

Russell Wilson will make his first start since being named the Seahawks starting quarterback. I do not expect him to play for long but I expect the offense to move the ball and be able to score points with Wilson leading the way. The Seahawks scored on each of their first six possessions last week against Kansas City. At home, the Seahawks should not have a big problem being able to move the ball. Oakland however has a very fast and talented defense. I want to see Wilson scramble and see what happens when that fast Oakland defense chases after him. In terms of the other quarterbacks, Matt Flynn will most likely play the bulk of the game. Some may not think it is such a big deal, but I am interested in seeing what kind of effort Flynn puts into his performance. He obviously cannot be happy that he will be backing up Wilson, so a lack of effort would have me concerned, especially if Flynn has to step in at some point during the regular season. Josh Portis will also see a little bit of playing time. For Portis, I want to see him throw more even if the situation doesn’t warrant it. Coach Carroll should give the 12th Man a taste of Portis’ arm.

Eight undrafted rookies remain on the Seahawks roster. The final preseason game is their chance to show the coaching staff that they deserve a spot on the roster, along with everybody else that is currently on the team. Of the eight undrafted rookies that remain, I believe the player in the best position to make the team is defensive end Cordarro Law. Law had a solid training camp has been involved in some big plays during the preseason. I’m not saying he is a lock by any means, but if there is only one spot open and it is going to go to an undrafted rookie, I believe that spot should go to Law.

With final roster cuts occurring 18 hours between the end of Thursday’s game and the deadline, the players who get a good amount of playing time need to show they can contribute. Last season for example, Golden Tate was considered a bubble player who needed to prove to the coaching staff he belonged on the team. In last year’s Oakland game he caught 5 passes for 79 yards and kept his roster spot. I’ll keep the focus on wide receivers for this section. In my eyes the only locks to make the roster are Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, and Golden Tate. Three or four spots are up for grabs and there are eight players fighting for them. Passes will come at a premium on Thursday night and the receivers must take advantage because if they don’t they will most likely find themselves on the waiver wire come Friday.

The Oakland Raiders enter 2012 much different than in past years. The 2012 campaign will be the first full season without the presence of longtime owner Al Davis, who passed away last October. The Raiders have also hired Dennis Allen to be their head coach. Allen, previously the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos, is the first defensive minded head coach in Oakland in easily four decades, as Davis was the primary signal caller on defense previously. The Oakland defense is led by lineman Richard Seymour. Along with lineman Lamarr Houston, linebacker Rolando McClain, and safety Tyvon Branch, the Raiders have the talent on the defensive side of the ball to make stops and win games.

I would expect a lot of Raiders fans to be excited about the offense. The Raiders are quarterbacked by former first round draft pick Carson Palmer, who was traded to Oakland from Cincinnati last season. Palmer is arguably the most talented and consistent quarterback the Raiders have had since Rich Gannon a decade ago. Along with Palmer, the Raiders line up Darren McFadden in the backfield. McFadden is an excellent running back who can be explosive but has been sidelined in prior seasons due to injury (I’ll touch on that next). Also on offense are wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore, among others.

The primary concern I see for the Raiders this season is health. If Carson Palmer and Darren McFadden can stay healthy there is no reason not to expect the Raiders to make a run at the AFC West especially since the rest of their division is pretty even. No team stands out more than another. If not, the Raiders will struggle. I do not see the Raiders making a huge jump but they will be significantly better on the field and I am predicting they will have a slightly better record in 2012.

Random Thoughts: The defense was introduced before the first preseason game; therefore the offense will most likely be introduced on Thursday night. I cannot wait to hear the ovation for Russell Wilson… I need to get my visor filled with a couple more autographs. It is a bit uneven still. Hopefully I’ll take care of that on Thursday… The Raiders game is always fun because it is tradition I take my friend Josh who is a huge Raiders fan. We always make a small friendly wager on the game and I have not lost a bet yet. Hopefully that continues this season… The guy who sits in front of me may or may not be in attendance Thursday night. Hopefully he is because I want to discuss fantasy football among other topics before the regular season starts… I want to be free of annoying people in the vicinity of my seats. The last thing I need is a headache on gameday… Looks like the Hawks Nest will be the prefunking spot again this week, but it will be brief as Josh is taking a half day off of work and we want to get into the stadium early for autographs… I like to make fun of Raiders fans. The best part? They are in OUR house; therefore they do not do anything.

Prediction: Russell Wilson leads two scoring drives; Matt Flynn takes over and leads the Seahawks to more points. I will win my annual wager with Josh and the Seahawks will head into the regular season coming off an undefeated preseason.

Seahawks 24, Raiders 7

I hope to have my review post up by Friday afternoon but bear with me because I will be packing for the majority of the day. I’m moving back to Seattle starting Saturday morning! Also I hope to post about our final roster cuts and which players I am surprised made or did not make the team. Thanks for reading!