Tag Archives: Houston Texans

Review: Seahawks 26, Broncos 20 (OT)

21 Sep
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

If we have any more games like Sunday’s game I am sure to have a full head of gray hair by the end of the season. In a game I felt the Seahawks needed to win, they displayed shades of many different games over the past couple of years en route to a wild 26-20 overtime win over the Denver Broncos. With the win the Seahawks improve to 2-1 on the season and currently hold sole possession of 2nd place in the NFC West. The Broncos now also sit at 2-1 and are tied with the San Diego Chargers for first place in the AFC West. As even as this game may have been on the stat sheet and even though the Seahawks won, they struggled in some areas which could definitely be improved before we play our next game in two weeks. Here are my takeaways from Sunday.

Thoughts on Russell Wilson: There were parts of Russell Wilson’s game I liked and other parts that I thought were not very normal. I said in my Broncos preview that Wilson was going to face two different Denver cornerbacks from what he saw in the Super Bowl and he took advantage of the new matchups. Specifically, Wilson hit wide receiver Ricardo Lockette for a 39-yard touchdown with 3:05 left in the second quarter over cornerback Aqib Talib. Wilson also showed a side of his game that had not been seen before as he caught a 17-yard pass from Jermaine Kearse after Wilson lateraled to Kearse. Opening the playbook up like that shows a versatile side of Wilson’s game that I think the Seahawks could use to their advantage in select situations throughout the rest of the season. There was one facet of Wilson’s game that I did not particularly like. Wilson has been labeled a “game manager” in the past by several members of the media and today was the first time I felt like he played to that title. Until overtime, Wilson seemed to stay inside the pocket to try to wait for his receivers to open up rather than scramble for positive yardage if a play is blown. In addition, on the final two Seahawks drives of regulation with the Seahawks holding a 17-12 lead it felt as though the tempo and the play calling set the Seahawks up to chew as much clock as possible rather than trying to score more points for insurance. It may have been by design but I hope that Wilson gets back to what I consider to be his “normal self” because Wilson’s game did not seem that normal to me on Sunday.

First Half Defense: The Seahawks defense held Peyton Manning and the Denver offense to only 3 points in the first half. A lot of the credit goes to the run defense. The Seahawks run defense which has struggled at times so far this season held Broncos running back Montee Ball to 19 yards on 10 carries in the first half, including a fumble recovered by K.J. Wright on the Broncos first offensive play from scrimmage. In the passing game the Seahawks and the Legion of Boom held Manning to 87 first half yards through the air as he completed 11 of his 17 first half throws. More importantly the defense was able to get off the field and rest as the Broncos were only able to convert 3 of their 7 third down chances. This is the kind of defense that the Seahawks should have been able to play consistently throughout the game and it is a shame that the end of the game overshadowed the dominant performance of the Seattle defense through the first 30 minutes of play.

Manning’s Game Management Questionable: If Peyton Manning had been able to move the Broncos offense in the first three quarters as well as he did on Denver’s two fourth quarter touchdown drives, we would be talking about a totally different outcome. In those two touchdown drives the Broncos sped down the field in a combined 2:23, running 11 plays for 99 total yards. In these situations Manning used no huddle which is something I speculated about before the game. I thought it may have been a good idea for Denver to use a no-huddle offense sporadically throughout the game to try to take the 12th Man out of the game. Instead Manning managed the game similar to how Russell Wilson managed the game and it may have ultimately cost Denver the game.

Shades of Atlanta: After Steven Hauschka kicked a field goal to give the Seahawks a 20-12 lead the Broncos had only 0:59 to go the length of the field to score a touchdown and convert a two-point conversion to tie the game. They did just that and from my seat in section 340 it screamed a reminder of the Seahawks collapse in the 2012 playoffs to the Atlanta Falcons. After being held to only one touchdown the Broncos offense seemed to simply flip a switch and suddenly they could go through even the toughest defense like a hot knife through butter. That Denver drive to tie the game this week combined with the ineffectiveness to stop San Diego on third down last week scares me into believing that perhaps this 2014 Seahawks team may play more like the 11-5 Seahawks of 2012 rather than the Super Bowl champion Seahawks of 2013.

Shades of Chicago and Houston: As disappointing as it was to see the Seahawks defense let Denver tie the game at the end of regulation, the resiliency of the Seattle offense in overtime had me breathing a heavy sigh of relief. The ability of Russell Wilson to lead an 80-yard drive in overtime to win the game had me thinking back to past overtime wins over the Chicago Bears in 2012 and the Houston Texans in 2013. In both of those games Wilson was forced to use his arm and his legs to move the ball into scoring position and that is exactly what he did again on Sunday. After playing rather conservative for the first four quarters Wilson was more willing to take the game into his own hands in overtime. He proved this by rushing 4 times for 22 yards. The final drive of the game showed a perfect combination of run and pass as Wilson added 4 completions for 35 passing yards. Under Russell Wilson the Seahawks now have a 4-0 record in overtime games.

Thoughts on Denver: It is tough to come into a hostile environment and play good consistent football. Although the Broncos struggled at times they are still a strong contender to challenge for another AFC Championship. Although the Broncos are not scoring points at the record-setting pace that they did last season, they need to be more effective finishing drives. All three of their games have been decided by one score, something that is uncommon especially when compared to their average win margin of 16 points a season ago. The Broncos defense has shown dramatic improvement and I believe they are very close to being categorized in the same level as some of the dominant defenses in the NFC.

Random Thoughts: It was a hot one today. Off the top of my head I cannot remember a past game where it has been that warm throughout the entire game. Good thing is by the time our next home game rolls around in 3 weeks it should be in the high 50’s or low 60’s or as I like to call it, comfortable… All blue uniforms for the Seahawks and all white uniforms for Broncos this week just as I predicted… Nate Robinson raised the 12th Man flag this week. I always like it when the Seahawks bring in a celebrity with ties to the opposing team to raise the flag. I am sure Denver Nuggets fans were thrilled to see their point guard representing his hometown team… At halftime the Seahawks introduced an updated look of our mascot, Blitz, as well as Blitz’s new sidekick/friend named Boom. Personally I don’t understand the concept of changing the look of a mascot but the new Blitz looks more like our logo which I guess is cool… Here is a funny story that had me thinking “true Broncos fan from Denver.” I was enjoying a Bud Light at the Brougham Beer Hall before heading up to my seat and a Broncos fan wearing an orange Peyton Manning jersey went up to the bartender and asked if they had Coors Light (for the small handful of people who somehow do not know, Coors is a Colorado brew). When the bartender said no and all they had as far as light beer goes was Bud Light, he politely declined and walked away. I thought that was pretty funny…. To my surprise there was not nearly as much “we won the Super Bowl” banter hurled toward the Broncos fans in attendance… That was really cool to see that DeShawn Shead proposed to his girlfriend following the game. Congrats 35!… Happy Birthday to Doug Baldwin as well! As early as our bye week comes this year, I think it comes at a really good time. Let’s rest up, reload, and get ready for a big primetime road game in two weeks.

With the bye week coming up my next game preview will come in about a week and a half before we take on the Washington Redskins in week 5. I am traveling to Washington D.C. for the game and I have not decided whether or not to take my computer with me. If I do, look for my preview the day before the game. If not, my preview will be published a few days early. Be on the lookout.

If any big news breaks from now until then I will hop back on to give my take. Thanks for reading and go Seahawks!

Review: 49ers 19, Seahawks 17

9 Dec
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Although the NFC West championship and home field advantage is still all but certain, if for any reason we completely fall apart and miss out on either of these two scenarios this is the game the Seahawks and their fans will look back on as the turning point in the season. The Seahawks 7 game losing streak has come to an end and our quest for the division title must wait at least one more week as the Seahawks fell to the San Francisco 49ers 19-17 on Sunday. The Seahawks fall to 11-2 and now lead the 9-4 49ers by 2 games in the NFC West. There are a lot of frustrating moments that may have ultimately changed the outcome of the game. This is what I saw.

2nd Half Defense Does its Part: Over the past couple of seasons the Seahawks have been one of the best teams in the league when it comes to halftime adjustments and improvements. The defense stepped up and shut down the 49ers offense in the second half, holding them to only 3 points (for the sake of this section, forget those points were the ultimate difference in the game). The defensive pressure on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was cranked up as Clinton McDonald and Chris Clemons each recorded a crucial sack on third down plays in the fourth quarter. Byron Maxwell once again stepped up in place of Walter Thurmond, recording 5 tackles, 3 passes defensed, and an interception. Overall the Seahawks defense only allowed 19 points to a solid 49ers offense which should be enough in order to win. Unfortunately the Seahawks failed to get any momentum going on offense to parallel the effort of the defense.

2nd Half Offense Fails to Show: When I went to Houston back in September the Seahawks were down by 17 points at halftime. Although I was surprised and disappointed I never gave up hope that the Seahawks could comeback because prior to that game they had proven that they could come back facing a deficit of at least 20 points. The Seahawks trailed the 49ers by 2 points at halftime and my overall feeling was that Darrell Bevell and Russell Wilson would make the necessary adjustments for the offense to comeback, take the lead, and potentially blow this game wide open. That never happened. The Seahawks only scored 3 points of their own in the second half and missed opportunities denied Seattle the chance to extend drives and perhaps put points on the board. Marshawn Lynch only ran for 72 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries and it felt as though the Seahawks number one priority this week was to move the ball through the air even though Russell Wilson only threw the ball 25 times for 199 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. I give lots of credit to the San Francisco secondary, especially cornerback Tramaine Brock and safety Eric Reid for their impressive blanket coverage on all Seahawks receivers. As the game went along the belief remained that the Seahawks would make a run at taking control of the game because I knew they could but as the minutes ticked off the clock the worse our chances became and by the time we got the ball back for our final drive it was too little too late and the clock had struck midnight.

Penalties Doom Seahawks: While watching Sunday NFL Countdown on ESPN in my hotel room prior to leaving for Candlestick Park, one analyst boldly predicted that this week’s Seahawks/49ers game would break an NFL record for most number of penalties in a single game. It sure felt like he was right but the calls that went against the Seahawks came at the worst times. Instead of extending drives, penalties backed the Seahawks so far back that the drives predictably stalled and the Seahawks were forced to punt, trading potential points for goose-eggs and a change of possession. In a nutshell, I strongly believe that the 49ers did not beat the Seahawks but that the Seahawks beat the Seahawks. Two Marshawn Lynch first down runs were called back for holding, a long completion to Golden Tate was called back for offensive pass interference because Tate pushed off of his defender, and on a 4th and 5 while in punt formation it appeared that a 49er defender jumped offside, which caused the Seahawks to point towards the other side of the line of scrimmage. Instead of a 5-yard offsides penalty and an automatic first down, it was ruled a false start and the Seahawks backed up 5 yards. In total, the Seahawks committed 9 penalties for 85 yards. About half of those penalty yards came on long, potential game altering plays.

The Gamble and the Two Plays that Changed the Game: After the Seahawks took a 17-16 lead the 49ers got the ball back with 6:20 left in the game. The Seahawks had two timeouts to work with and with the way the defense had been playing, I felt that it was entirely possible that we could force a quick drive and get the ball back to attempt to pad our lead. Instead, the 49ers gave the ball to running back Frank Gore who galloped 51 yards on the fourth play of the drive and all of a sudden the 49ers went from having the ball in their own territory to having the ball in the red zone, well within field goal range. After Kendall Hunter ran for one yard on the next play coach Carroll decided to take our second timeout and it was clear how he was going to play the end of the game; use both timeouts and the two-minute warning to stop the 49ers with enough time to allow them to kick a field goal and for us to go down the field into field goal range for Steven Hauschka to win the game. Carroll used the Seahawks final timeout after a 2-yard run by Gore and all the Seahawks needed to do was stop San Francisco to set up a 49ers field goal with 2:00 left. Instead Carroll’s gamble backfired and the Seahawks allowed the second most important play of the game; a first down scramble by Kaepernick to give San Francisco a fresh set of downs and the ability to run the clock down under a minute, kick a field goal, and leave the Seahawks virtually no time to go down the field and score. If I was Pete Carroll I would have waited to use our timeouts after the two minute warning which would have given us about one extra minute of game clock. I do not blame Carroll for the decision he made because he had trust in a unit that had not given up any points in the second half up until this point in the game. Unfortunately it nipped the Seahawks in the bud.

49ers Played Like They Wanted it More: On Saturday night, Mitch Levy of Sports Radio 950 KJR tweeted that the attitudes and body language of 49ers players in interviews leading up to this week’s game showed a team that was uptight; so uptight that, as Levy stated “you can’t get a blade of grass up their asses.” San Francisco sure did not play like that at all. The 49ers came out firing with full confidence and I got the sense that they did a remarkable job preparing for what the Seahawks were going to throw at them on both sides of the ball.  They fed off the energy of their home crowd and scoring 16 points in the first half alone gave their defense extreme confidence to shut the Seahawks offense down. The 49ers did not play as an uptight team, but as a team that had a “we have nothing to lose” mentality when in reality this was a game they definitely needed to win to continue to control their own destiny in the NFC wild-card race.

Injury Analysis: Linebacker K.J. Wright broke a bone in his foot on Sunday and there is an estimated recovery time of at least six weeks. If that is the case, Wright could make it back in time to play in Super Bowl XLVIII should the Seahawks make it. Wright however remains hopeful that he will be healthy enough to return in time for the start of the playoffs, as was portrayed on his Twitter shortly after Sunday’s game. Max Unger and Jeron Johnson also exited the game this week and both did not return. Unger is dealing with a strained pectoral muscle and Johnson pulled a hamstring. To my knowledge their statuses for next week against the New York Giants is unknown. Losing Wright, a starter on defense, hurts but Malcolm Smith stepped in for Wright and did a good job. Unger is the man I would be the most worried about. Unger is the anchor of the offensive line and if the Seahawks are going to be without him for any length of time, we may see shades of the Seahawks teams that struggled against St. Louis and Tampa Bay.

Thoughts on San Francisco: The 49ers looked like a team that could make the playoffs as a wild-card and make a run deep into the playoffs, assuming of course that they do not run into Seattle along that road. The defense played a really good football game and if Frank Gore is feeling it he is extremely hard to stop. The addition of Michael Crabtree back into the lineup also adds firing power to the cannon of Colin Kaepernick. If the 49ers have to come to Seattle in the playoffs they will most likely lose but I would not be surprised to see the 49ers make it to at least the divisional round if not the NFC Championship Game if they are able to play like they did on Sunday.

Random Thoughts: All of my random thoughts will come in an in-depth feature post on my entire weekend trip to San Francisco. I hope to have that post published by mid-week. Stay tuned!

In addition to “Weekend in San Francisco 2013” post in the middle of this week, make sure to check back on Saturday as I preview next week’s matchup with the New York Giants. Go Hawks!

Review: Seahawks 27, Buccaneers 24 (OT)

3 Nov
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

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!

Seahawks/Cardinals Preview

16 Oct

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

Site: University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Arizona)

Kickoff: 5:25pm

In week 7 last season the Seahawks came off a close win the previous week and played a division rival on Thursday Night Football. The Seahawks are now set for their déjà vu moment this season. On Thursday night, the Seahawks will face their division rivals the Arizona Cardinals for the first time this season. The Seahawks are 5-1 and are coming off a 20-13 win last week over the Tennessee Titans. The Cardinals are tied for third place in the NFC West as they hold a 3-3 record. They are coming off a 32-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The Cardinals lead the all-time series 15-13 but in their last meeting in December 2012, the Seahawks demolished Arizona 58-0 in the Seahawks most lopsided victory of all-time. Although the Cardinals currently hold a worse record than at this point last season, many including myself believe Arizona is a much improved team this year and this could be a significant challenge and this could potentially be a trap game for the Seahawks. Here is what I think we need to see out of the Seahawks this week in order to have a good chance of coming home victorious.

There were a lot of things on offense last week that frustrated me. Upon reviewing the game film however, there were some aspects that are encouraging and are showing signs that our offense is indeed improving. Quarterback Russell Wilson did not have a flashy performance against the Titans but did manage to throw for 257 yards and record a passer rating of 98.5. He himself made no fundamental or mental mistakes including no turnovers. Over the past few weeks it seems to me that Wilson has not been as accurate on longer throws and because of that he has played more conservatively. This week I think it will be necessary for Wilson to get back to his 2012 self by confidently stretching the field. Facing a Cardinals defense that will try to take advantage of weakened offensive line, Wilson will be forced to make hurried throws. If the Seahawks offensive line can effective manage Arizona’s pass rush, Wilson could exploit the coverage of the Cardinals secondary. Look for Golden Tate to make a big impact and I think Jermaine Kearse’s height could make him a key contributor as well. Wilson has hit Kearse deep for touchdowns in two of the Seahawks first three road games.

The biggest key to an all-around good game from the offense could be the return of tight end Zach Miller. Miller has been a valuable asset in both the passing game and the running game as a blocker. Miller has been sidelined the past two games with a hamstring injury. Surprisingly, without Miller this season the Seahawks average 45 more yards rushing per game than with him. The Seahawks offense also average about 1.5 sacks less without Miller than with him. Given these numbers the Seahawks are averaging 3.3 more points more with Miller than without him. Adding Miller back into the mix could definitely help the Seahawks move the ball better and Miller’s presence could lead to more scoring opportunities. If we can take advantage and score touchdowns instead of settling for field goals the Seahawks will be in great shape.

There are three things on to keep an eye out for on defense this week. The first two are individual players. Defensive end Chris Clemons is unlikely to play this week after suffering a hyperextended elbow against Tennessee. If Clemons is out we are down to only three primary pass rushers. Bobby Wagner’s absence was also noticeable last week as the Seahawks used many different linebacker packages. Heath Farwell was who I expected to step in primarily for Wagner last week and he only recorded one tackle. Wagner was missed tremendously last week and I think it would be beneficial to limit the linebacker rotation to a small handful of players instead of the cornucopia of linebackers the Seahawks used against the Titans. With a smart veteran quarterback in Carson Palmer, the Cardinals may know how to exploit the Seahawks in the middle of the field more effectively than a Ryan Fitzpatrick if Wagner is not there to balance out our defense.

Most importantly in my opinion, I will be looking at the Seahawks fourth quarter defense. After shutting the Houston Texans down in the fourth quarter and overtime three weeks ago the Seahawks have given up a long game-winning drive to the Indianapolis Colts and a 96-yard drive to the Titans last week which resulted in a field goal. Both of these drives came in the final 15 minutes of the game. If the game is close entering the final quarter of the game I will be extremely worried. The Cardinals were able to go down the field for a long game-winning scoring drive against us last year in Arizona and this year could spell the same fate with an improved Cardinals offense. The perfect way to avoid this is to run away with the game in the first three quarters. But what if the game is close? The Seahawks need to take it one play at a time and don’t panic every time Arizona moves the chains. Third downs will be very important and smart tackling could prevent disappointment. Do not go for the turnover, just focus on wrapping up the ball carrier. If we can force an Arizona turnover late in the game we will most likely win. Fundamental defense will be our biggest ally in these situations. Do not get fancy and play smart. Smart play and good fundamental execution will put us in good shape.

The Arizona Cardinals feature a rather improved offense this year. A lot of this has to do with their new starting quarterback Carson Palmer. After 3 seasons with a rotating quarterback carousel, Palmer adds stability to a position and a team that has not made the playoffs since Kurt Warner led the Cardinals to back-to-back division titles in 2008 and 2009. The Cardinals do not boast an overly-impressive running game and it will be very tough to run on the Seahawks run defense. This makes the passing game my focus of the Arizona offense. Usually I like to pick an X-Factor player that flies under the radar but this week how can you not pick Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald? Fitzgerald is the Cardinals leading receiver with 405 yards and 4 touchdowns. Fitzgerald will line up across from Richard Sherman this week and if there is one receiver who could give Sherman trouble it’s Fitzgerald. I expect Carson Palmer to test Sherman a lot on Thursday night by trying to get the ball to Fitzgerald. Look for the head coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin to build a game plan that will feature creative ways to get Fitzgerald open.

Even though the Cardinals have gone 8-14 dating back to the start of last season, they feature one of the best defenses in the league. I think their defense is very underrated and they play extremely well at home. Patrick Peterson is one of the best cornerbacks in the league and the return of linebacker Karlos Dansby has added a dynamic tackler to the Cardinals linebacking corps. The Cardinals held Russell Wilson to 139 yards passing and also sacked Wilson 3 times in week one last season. There are two players on the Cardinals defense that are worthy of being X-Factor players to watch. Rookie cornerback Tyrann Mathieu has the second highest number of tackles on the Cardinals defense with 40 and his speed could present a problem for the Seahawks receivers. The best pass rusher the Cardinals have is defensive end Darnell Dockett who has 4 sacks this season. Dockett had a big impact when the Seahawks played in Arizona last season and it will be crucial to double team Dockett to prevent Russell Wilson from getting knocked down.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will most likely wear white jerseys this week. No word on pant color yet… Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock have the call for NFL Network this week. After discussing broadcasters and analysts with a couple of friends last week, I came to the conclusion that Mayock is my favorite analyst on any network. He knows the game of football very well, knows the talent on the field being an NFL Draft expert, and can be critical of players; something you oftentimes do not see on a television broadcast. *Cough, Jon Gruden, cough.*… NFL Network features a 2-hour pregame show as well as live look-ins all day on their weekday shows. I look forward to Rich Eisen’s comedy, Kurt Warner’s Arizona bias, and Deion Sanders’ ridiculousness on TV this week… For those of you who do not know who Priyanka Chopra is you are going to find out right before Thursday’s game. Her single “In My City” is the theme song for Thursday Night Football and not only is it a catchy song, she is also a stone-cold fox… Why does it seem like the Seahawks never get to play at home for Thursday Night Football? Since TNF started in 2006 the Seahawks have only played a TNF game at home twice… The crowd at University of Phoenix Stadium is the loudest I have heard on any of my road trips. Add in the fact that Thursday’s game has been announced a sellout and that it is in primetime, the Seahawks may have trouble at the line of scrimmage this week. Hopefully not though… If the Seahawks can pull out a victory they will head into a mini-bye week before week 8 against the St. Louis Rams with a 6-1 record!… To anyone who is going to Thursday’s game and Saturday’s UW game at Arizona State, I am extremely jealous (that means you, Dad).

Prediction: Rushing yards will come at a premium this week for both teams. I think the Seahawks will struggle mightily at times on Thursday night. The Seahawks will ride a roller coaster consisting of solid plays and frustrating plays. The Cardinals will be able to move the ball effectively but I think Carson Palmer will throw at least two interceptions this week. After giving up a field goal to make it 21-19 Arizona, the Seahawks will successfully drive down the field and Steven Hauschka will kick a game-winning field goal with mere seconds remaining. The Seahawks will barely escape with a 6-1 record and will hold a 1.5 game lead on the rest of the NFC West heading into Sunday’s games.

Seahawks 22, Cardinals 21

Check back on Friday for my review of Thursday Night Football. Go Seahawks!

Rant: Seahawks 20, Titans 13

13 Oct

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Through all of the bumps and bruises, the Seahawks reached down deep on Sunday as they pulled out a 20-13 win over the Tennessee Titans. The Seahawks improve their record to 5-1 and still hold a one-game lead on the San Francisco 49ers for first place in the NFC West. The “average” Titans, as described by head coach Mike Munchak following today’s game, fall to 3-3 on the season. That seemed to be the only positive to come out of today’s events. On multiple different occasions today, both on the field and in the stands, I seemed to be extremely frustrated and was left scratching my head as well as being angry and extremely disappointed. I apologize in advance for the following rant folks. Let me explain…

Fumbles: I will get to the botched field goal a little bit later on but let me touch on the Seahawks inability to hold on to the ball from a broader perspective. The Seahawks fumbled the ball 4 times on Sunday. Two of these fumbles resulted in a turnover and/or points for the Titans. This number is beyond concerning and is absolutely unacceptable. The fumble by Derrick Coleman out of bounds and the fumble in the red zone by Marshawn Lynch (which was basically flipped right back to Russell Wilson by the Titans) illustrates a need to figure out how to carry the ball more securely, especially for Lynch, who has fumbled four times in scoring range dating back to last year’s playoffs. The Sidney Rice fumble and turnover is so baffling to me for a couple of reasons. First, from my view in the stands it looked as though Rice had gained enough yards for a first down. If that was the case, then why on Earth would you extend the ball out while it is mostly unprotected?! Secondly, I know it was next to impossible to see which direction the defender is trying to tackle you from but usually the receiver and defender are running towards each other. You are basically asking the defender to take the ball from you if you try to get fancy to gain extra yards. This fumble was a total brainfart by Rice and he needs to quit trying to be fancy and take the yards you have already gained. The risk definitely outweighs the reward. The risk? Turning the ball over deep into enemy territory. The reward? A gain of only ONE extra yard.

Really, Maragos?!: Steven Hauschka briefly left Sunday’s game with a concussion he suffered on kickoff coverage with 9:23 remaining in the second quarter. That injury ultimately led to a Titans touchdown and a mind-boggling switcheroo of personnel on the field goal unit. Typically the punter holds for the kicker on field goal attempts but when an injury occurs to the field goal kicker, it is common to see the punter replace the kicker and a quarterback (starter or backup) fill in for the punter as the holder. The best example I can think of this is Tony Romo in the 2006 playoffs. He started the 2006 season as the holder on field goal attempts because he was the backup quarterback at the time. Organically, I must raise the question, why was Chris Maragos the emergency holder?! It would make more sense in my opinion to have Tarvaris Jackson or B.J. Daniels hold for Jon Ryan but apparently (and unfortunately) that job belongs to Maragos. What is frustrating is that the snap did not slip out of his hands. He just simply dropped the ball. What is even more frustrating is the fact that Maragos tried to make chicken salad out of chicken crap. Why would you ever risk the possibility of turning the ball over and having the Titans run it back for a touchdown?! Maragos should have just fallen on the ball and gone to halftime with a 7-3 lead. Instead, Maragos tried to shovel pass the ball and make a miraculous play and it backfired to the max. Tennessee’s Jason McCourty returned the fumble 77 yards for a touchdown and a 10-7 Titans lead. I cannot remember the last time I saw as boneheaded of a play as that one.

“Can You Win the Game in the First Quarter? Can You Win the Game in the Second Quarter? Can You Win the Game in the Third Quarter?…”: As you probably know, this is part of one of Pete Carroll’s famous mantras. After the third quarter the Seahawks took control of the game, piling up 139 fourth quarter yards and scoring 10 points which ultimately determined the outcome of the game. As positive as these numbers are, the fourth quarter defense also left me frustrated. On Tennessee’s 14 play, 96 yard drive which resulted in a field goal towards the end of the game, the Seahawks defense could not stop Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Titans no-huddle offense. We have given up long scoring drives in the fourth quarter in each of our last two games. Fortunately it did not cost us a victory today but our defense needs to find a way to stay fresh for the entire game. With only 4 days to prepare for the Arizona Cardinals, I am immensely skeptical about our ability to stop any defense when it matters the most. If the Seahawks are in a close game in the fourth quarter on Thursday night, I will definitely be afraid of the possibility of another win slipping away from us on the road.

Commentary, Skittles Celebrations Are Over: Before I get into this part of the rant, let me quote the NFL in-stadium code of conduct policy:

“When attending a game, you’re required to refrain from the following behaviors: Behavior that is unruly, disruptive, or illegal in nature… Event patrons and guests who violate these provisions will be subject to ejection without refund and loss of ticket privileges for future games.”

As you know or may have read about in one of my blog posts, I bring two large Ziploc bags full of Skittles to each home game and when Marshawn Lynch scores a touchdown my guest and I throw handfuls of Skittles in the air in any and all directions to celebrate. These celebratory actions are simply that; celebratory. When I throw the Skittles, I am in no way whatsoever trying to hurt anyone or piss anyone off. Today after Lynch’s second touchdown of the game a middle-aged male fan sitting in the front few rows of the section to my right angrily complained to a security guard that a SINGLE Skittle hit him and his wife. Although security did not single me or anyone around me out as the main perpetrator, myself and the people around me were warned that they were going to camp out in our section and that if they saw anyone throw Skittles again they would be ejected from CenturyLink Field. I consider this to be a direct threat not to bring Skittles again or else I will be kicked out of the game.

Remember that my intentions are good, so someone please explain to me how celebrating by tossing Skittles into the air violates the NFL code of conduct policy?! In my opinion I do not see how you can justify the action of me throwing Skittles in celebration violates the league’s code of conduct policy. It is not unruly. It is not disruptive (as the entire stadium was in celebration mode). It is not illegal.

To the furious fan who ratted us out. I WAS NOT INTENTIONALLY TRYING TO HIT YOU! You were sitting one section over and at least 20 rows in front of us. If you think I was intentionally trying to hit you with a single Skittle from that distance you might as well sign me up to play quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars with that kind of accuracy.

I have been celebrating Marshawn Lynch’s touchdowns by throwing Skittles since the end of the 2011 season and I have NEVER had a single complaint from security or anyone else around me. The majority of people I have talked to think it is a very creative celebration and they have even joined in by bringing their own bags of Skittles to games to throw.

Instead of reveling in the excitement of celebrating a touchdown with fellow Seahawks fans, you choose be a “Debbie Downer” and get pissed off over what I believe to be the smallest thing possible.

By attending a Seahawks home game you are subjecting yourself to witnessing way worse behavior in the stands. If you can tolerate witnessing excessive alcohol consumption, hearing foul language constantly throughout the game, and seeing potentially intense heckling by other fans around you, why can’t you tolerate feeling the slightest “pelt” of a Skittle that hit you from at least 200 feet away?! It’s not like I threw them as hard as I could directly into your face!

It is incredibly disheartening that one butt hurt fan can ruin such a fun tradition for an entire group of fans. Of all the frustrating moments today, this one REALLY got my blood boiling. Absolutely infuriating. It is with great anger, frustration, and sadness to say that I will not be bringing Skittles to anymore Seahawks games.

Thoughts on Tennessee: The Seahawks had their hands full with the Titans at home today. Just imagine what could have happened if Jake Locker was healthy? Chris Johnson will make this team incredibly dangerous if he can perform like his 2009 self. Also, their defense might be one of the most underrated units in all of football. I think that the Tennessee Titans have solid young talent and if they play as tough as they did today, I think they might challenge for an AFC Wild-Card spot.

Random Thoughts: Pre-gaming started at 9am at King Street Bar and Oven. Good to know you can call ahead to reserve a table. All of the tables were reserved when we got there… “Hawk Shots” are the King Street staple drink and they taste like straight candy. Pretty easy on the wallet as well… King Street Bar and Oven are famously known for their calzones and today I tried the house favorite “Sicilian” calzone; three different meats and cheese baked into a homemade pesto-brushed crust. It was the best pregame meal I have had in a very long time…The only problem I had with this bar was that they only showed one morning game on all of the televisions. I wanted to watch Rams/Texans not Packers/Ravens… The giveaway this week was “crazy hair” which is basically a headband with lime green hair-like fuzz on the top of it. I left mine at my seat after the game and I can’t say I’m sad I did so… Like all Seahawks home games I was right again. Blue jerseys and blue pants for the home team this week… Blake Lewis of American Idol fame sung the national anthem on Sunday. I was only slightly surprised he didn’t burst into full beat-box mode halfway through… Any other week the 12th Man flag raisers would have been great. The Seahawks picked the wrong week to host the Eastlake Little League team to raise the flag because both Will Ferrell and Macklemore were in attendance at Sunday’s game. I was really hoping one of those two guys would do the honors. Unfortunately they did not and I was pretty bummed out about that… Kevin Lee was also in attendance at his first ever Seahawks game this week. For those who may not know or may not remember, Kevin was featured on ESPN’S “My Wish” series over the summer and the Seahawks invited him back to Seattle for this week’s game… Nice to have you back, 60 degrees and sunshine… Time to get back to work, Seahawks. We have a lot to get fixed before we play again on Thursday night.

Programming Note: Check back on WEDNESDAY for my preview of Thursday Night Football between the Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. Talk to you very soon, 12th Man. Go Hawks!

Titans/Seahawks Preview

12 Oct

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Matchup: Tennessee Titans at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

After losing their first game of the season last week the Seahawks look to bounce back in week 6 as they finish their tour of the AFC South by hosting the Tennessee Titans. The Seahawks hold a one game lead in the NFC West with a 4-1 record. The Tennessee Titans come into this game a somewhat surprising 3-2 and are one game behind the Indianapolis Colts for first place in the AFC South. Including the playoffs, the Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise 9-6. Their last meeting came in week 17 of the 2009 season. Chris Johnson broke the 2,000 yard mark on the season as the Titans defeated the Seahawks 17-13. The Seahawks finished the season 5-11 and just days after the defeat Jim Mora was fired and Pete Carroll was hired as Seahawks head coach. Here are my keys to victory and some things to look for this week.

With Max Unger likely back this week, the Seahawks will have their healthiest starting offensive line in three weeks. Given this I hope to see better pass protection of quarterback Russell Wilson which hopefully also translates into better production from Wilson. After 3 solid weeks, Wilson’s numbers slipped in his previous two games. Wilson threw for a combined 333 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions in back-to-back road games in Houston and Indianapolis and last week was the first week since week 2 his completion percentage was under 50 percent in a game. Wilson also has not seemed to be as accurate so far this year as he was at the end of last season. I think the offensive line could make all the difference in the world. I expect the Seahawks passing game to get back on track this week and I would not be surprised to see Wilson throw for between 250 and 300 yards against the Titans.

This week is the first week that all of our pass rushers will play together in front of the 12th Man. This could spell disaster for Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Even though the defense struggled down the stretch last week, our front 7 still sacked Andrew Luck twice and recovered a fumble on a strip-sack. I think the pass rush will play a huge factor this week and Fitzpatrick will be sacked at least four times. One thing that could affect the Seahawks on defense this week is linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner is dealing with a low grade high-ankle sprain and head coach Pete Carroll suggested that Wagner’s final game status could be determined during pregame warm-ups on Sunday. If Wagner cannot play, Heath Farwell will most likely start at middle linebacker. Wagner is the leader of the defensive huddle and he may be the most important defensive player as he relays the defensive formations to the rest of the defense. Wagner also has the second most tackles so far this season behind safety Earl Thomas. I am confident in Harwell’s ability to fill in but look for Tennessee to try to take advantage of the “weaker” middle of the field by dumping passes off to tight end Delanie Walker and primary slot receiver Kendall Wright.

The Tennessee Titans have gotten off to a rather surprising start to the 2013 season. After starting the season 3-1 they lost in two aspects last week against Kansas City Chiefs. They lost the game, and they also lost starting quarterback Jake Locker for the next 6-8 weeks with a hip injury. Without Locker, the Titans now turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick to command the offense. Ideally with a backup quarterback at the helm the offense will turn to their running back to carry the load to try to take some of the pressure on the quarterback. The Titans definitely have a running back capable of carrying the load in Chris Johnson but playing in Seattle, Johnson may be facing a long and tough day this week. The Titans will be forced to throw a lot this week especially if the Seahawks can build a lead early on in the game. On offense for Tennessee this week my X-Factor player to watch is wide receiver Justin Hunter. Hunter, a rookie from the University of Tennessee, was a player I had my eye on at this year’s combine and the time before the NFL Draft. Hunter’s height and speed to break away from defenders made him a perfect #2 wide receiver immediately in my eyes. This week he will line up across both Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner depending on the play. The Titans have a lot of wide receivers that will see playing time this week. With Kenny Britt and Nate Washington receiving most of the attention, look for Hunter to possibly make a bigger impact than expected against the Legion of Boom.

Last season Richard Sherman led all NFL cornerbacks in interceptions with 8. This year, the Titans feature a guy in their secondary that could wind up leading the league in interceptions by season’s end. Cornerback Alterraun Verner has intercepted 4 passes so far this season and I believe he has established himself as the permanent replacement to former Titan Cortland Finnegan. What is interesting about the Titans defense is that they have a handful of guys that are effective in rushing the passer and another handful of guys that are effective getting to the play and making tackles. My X-Factor player to watch on defense is a guy who falls into both of these categories, outside linebacker Zach Brown. Brown, a second year man from the University of North Carolina, has recorded a team-high 3 sacks so far this season and also ranks third on the team in tackles with 29. Brown has also forced one fumble. Watching him on film, Brown does a very good job at being the first defender to figure out what type of play the offense will run. He does a good job of getting to the ball and is has more of an impact on running plays than on passing plays. I expect Brown to rush to the right side of the Seahawks offensive line to catch J.R. Sweezy and Michael Bowie off guard.

Random Thoughts: This is the first home game in three weeks and the only home game in the three weeks upcoming. Talk about a bummer from a fan’s perspective but I would rather knock out the majority of our road games now so we can enjoy back-to-back home games on two separate occasions later on in the season… The Seahawks will wear blue uniforms and blue pants this week… Carl Cheffers is the referee for Sunday’s game… Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf have the call for CBS this week. They are CBS’s #2 crew, meaning they get the privilege to broadcast one playoff game each season so these guys are pretty good all things considered. Should be a good call if you’re watching from home… I’m changing up my pregame plans this week. I’ll be a bar north of the stadium, probably King Street Bar and Oven. I don’t think I’ve been there since the 2012 preseason… Oh yeah, pregaming starts at 9am sharp… I need to get more pink Seahawks stuff to wear for breast cancer awareness month. All I have is an NFL logo pink ribbon pin and a bracelet… Sunday is a 1:05 start, not a 1:25 start. I’ve stated in the past that this 20 minute difference is actually pretty significant and not as many fans are in their seats for the start of the game if it is a 1:05 start. To all the people going to this week’s game please keep this in mind. Be in your seats by 1:00pm (okay, 12:45 just to be safe).

Prediction: Last season the Seahawks lost a close game to the Miami Dolphins and responded by winning 6 straight games before losing to Atlanta in the playoffs. I think that the Titans may open up this game with an early lead but the Seahawks will regain complete control shortly thereafter. Earl Thomas will intercept a deep pass and the Seahawks defensive front seven will force two fumbles. On offense, Sidney Rice will lead the receivers in yardage with 80 and a touchdown. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch will both run for touchdowns and the Seahawks will get ready for the Arizona Cardinals with a 5-1 record.

Seahawks 30, Titans 13

Check back Sunday night for a review of the Seahawks game against the Titans. I will be blogging a lot in the coming week as the Seahawks face the Arizona Cardinals on a short week in week 7. Enjoy the game. Go Hawks!

Review: Colts 34, Seahawks 28

6 Oct
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Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

In the 93 year history of the National Football League only four teams have had an undefeated regular season. Hopefully that is something to remember as we disappointed Seahawks fans saw our team lose for the first time this season on Sunday. Seattle’s 34-28 defeat to the Indianapolis Colts drops the Seahawks to 4-1 on the season and we hold a one game lead on the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West. There was some good, some bad, and a bit of frustration mixed into this week’s game. Here is what I saw.

First Half Offense Shows Improvement: The first 12:15 of the game could not have gone any better for the Seahawks. After getting on the board with a field goal, the Seahawks drove 64 yards on 8 plays capped off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate. After forcing another Indianapolis three-and-out, Jermaine Kearse blocked Pat McAfee’s punt which resulted in a safety as the officials ruled that Jeron Johnson did not have complete control of the recovered blocked kick in the endzone. Instead of a touchdown and a 17-0 lead, the Seahawks had to settle for the safety and a 12-0 lead. Add in a Jermaine Kearse touchdown in the second quarter and the Seahawks scored 19 points in the first half; 13 more points than in the first half’s of their first two road games combined. I think that the fast start will pay dividends going forward as it shows that we are capable of getting out to an early lead and taking the initial momentum of the game.

Thoughts on the Zone-Blocking Scheme: One of the things I always look for is for the Seahawks to be effective in the running game. Today the Seahawks seemingly looked unstoppable on the ground. I don’t want to take anything away from Marshawn Lynch because he gained over half of his yards after initial contact but the fact the Seahawks had two 100 yard rushers (Lynch and Russell Wilson) shows how the zone-blocking scheme implemented by offensive line coach Tom Cable is supposed to work at its best. Even without Pro Bowlers Russell Okung and Max Unger as well as starting right tackle Breno Giacomini, it is a telling sign that the talent along the offensive line is not the most important thing when it comes to running the ball with the zone-blocking scheme in place. Could you imagine if our 2005 offensive line (Jones, Hutchinson, Tobeck, Gray, Locklear) was blocking for Marshawn Lynch in the zone-blocking scheme now? Lynch may be a 2,000+ yard rusher with that unit. As our offensive line continues to get healthier, I think Marshawn Lynch’s production will only increase and both Robert Turbin and Christine Michael could also see improved statistics if they see playing time.

Defense Struggles: After forcing three straight three-and-outs to open the game, I thought the Seahawks were going to run away with this game. Unfortunately there were three quarters and change left to play at this point. The Colts were 7/12 on third down on Sunday and Andrew Luck was very effective in picking apart the Seahawks defense on short passes later on in the game. After doing a decent job of stuffing Trent Richardson in the first half, the Seahawks were unable to stop Richardson for little or no gain when it mattered the most. Richardson’s longest run of the game was only 16 yards but his short yardage runs on first down made it easier for the Colts to convert over half of their third down attempts. I was very disappointed in the tackling this week, especially in the open field. This was never more evident than on T.Y. Hilton’s 73-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter when Earl Thomas overran Hilton, allowing Hilton to cut and walk in for the touchdown. Overall, our offense is what kept us in the game until the very end. I’m not taking anything away from Indianapolis, as they have dynamic playmakers on offense that are capable of scoring points, but allowing 31 points is unacceptable for this group. After allowing only 10 points in their first two games, the Seahawks have allowed 17, 20, and 31 points in each of their last three games respectively. Fixing fundamental problems on defense should be a focus in practice this week. With a home game on deck, this is a prime opportunity for the Seattle defense to get back to the way they were playing in their first couple of games.

Thoughts on Indianapolis: At the start of each season my friends and I like to predict the playoff field, seedings, and playoff matchups leading up to us predicting a Super Bowl champion. I predicted that the Colts would win the AFC South over the Houston Texans and this game proved why they belong at the top of their division. The Colts have very impressive talent on offense and what I believe to be an underrated defensive unit. Andrew Luck really impressed me against the Seahawks. The poise he showed rivals the current elite quarterbacks in the NFL and it will not be long before we mention Luck’s name with the likes of Rodgers, Brees, and Peyton Manning. The Colts are going to be good for a while and if they play like they did against the Seahawks, I would not be surprised to see them make a push for a division championship along with a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs this season.

Thoughts on the Officiating: I understand that there is no changing what the final outcome was today but I do believe that there were multiple calls that went against Seattle today that could have changed the outcome of the game. The calls I question were a pass interference call on Brandon Browner on third down and long, a pass interference call on Richard Sherman where receiver Reggie Wayne simply slipped and fell down on his own, and a pass interference non-call on our final drive (where the Indianapolis defender had his arm wrapped around the waist of receiver Sidney Rice) which would have given the Seahawks a fresh set of downs and would have gotten us closer to the endzone. Two of these calls occurred along the Colts sideline with the players and coaches signaling the officials to convince them to throw a flag and it seemed to work. Last week I mentioned the role the crowd can play in determining whether or not a flag is thrown and I feel like that may have cost us today. At the end of the day, the loss stands and the Seahawks will move forward and try to get better to make sure these situations do not come to fruition in future games.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks wore white jerseys and white pants just like I said they would in my game preview. It wasn’t so bright inside the stadium however because the roof was closed… As much as I enjoyed getting a break from Chris Myers and Tim Ryan on the FOX broadcast maybe they are our good luck charms. We are 2-0 so far this season when Myers and Ryan have the call… John Lynch didn’t really seem to have a lot of good things to say about either offense this week. Not surprising though since he was a defensive player who was taught to hate the opponent’s offense… I understand and appreciate the gesture of having pink penalty flags in honor of breast cancer awareness month but they are kind of an eyesore and also very confusing. Since the players towels are also pink there was confusion in this game as to whether or not a penalty flag was thrown or not. I say go back to the yellow flags for next week’s games… The Seahawks do not have another 10am kickoff until week 10 when we play Atlanta… The most encouraging thing I saw online after this loss was from Jayson Jenks of the Seattle Times. He stated that in the long run this game will not have any serious effect on the Seahawks playoff chances and that “the feeling was that Seattle needed to win one of two games at Houston and Indianapolis, and that’s what the Seahawks did.” My hope was that the Seahawks needed to be at least 3-2 after their first 5 games to stay in good shape in the division race. The fact that they are 4-1 is a huge plus and most Seahawks fans would accept that record in a heartbeat. Arguably the toughest road stretch of the season is over and in our next 4 games we have two against sub-.500 teams and two at home. That is something to think about moving forward. Don’t panic yet, 12th Man.

Check back on Saturday as I preview our week 6 game against the Tennessee Titans. Thanks for reading. Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Colts Preview

5 Oct

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts

Site: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, Indiana)

Kickoff: 10:00am

The Seahawks won 3 regular season road games all of last season. This week they have a chance to match that number and it is only week 5. The Seahawks head to Indianapolis to take on the AFC South leading Colts. The Seahawks are 4-0 and are looking to extend their best start in franchise history. The Colts are 3-1 and are coming off a dominating 37-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Seahawks are 4-6 all-time against the Colts. Their last meeting came in 2009 in Indianapolis when the Seneca Wallace-led Seahawks lost to Peyton Manning’s Colts 34-17. Here are the keys I believe the Seahawks need to focus on in order to escape Indianapolis with a win.

One of the big things that propelled the Seahawks to a victory last week was the improved pass rush in the second half and overtime. This week the Seahawks have a 4-headed pass rushing monster that could give the Colts trouble. Bruce Irvin is back from serving his 4-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy. The Colts offense will have to prepare for Irvin along with Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, and a healthy Michael Bennett. Back during training camp and the preseason I pondered about the creative blitz packages Dan Quinn could draw up using all four of our primary pass rushers. This is the first week Quinn will have a chance to implement a gameplan that uses all of these guys. I will be keeping an eye on Indianapolis’s third down efficiency because these four guys will make the biggest impact on third down. I would not be surprised to see more blitzes called on first and second down this week to try to confuse the Colts offense and get to quarterback Andrew Luck early and often.

A struggle of the Seahawks in the first half last week was the play of the offensive line. Quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked 5 times last week and was pressured in 16 total plays throughout the game. This week, regardless of who starts along the offensive line, Seattle must contain the pass rush of the Colts. We are not going up against the best defensive player in the NFL this week but we are going up against one of the most underrated defensive units in the league. Indianapolis linebacker Robert Mathis has flown under the radar so far this season. He leads the league in sacks with 7.5 on the season. I expect the Seahawks to struggle early in this game if they try to throw the ball. The trend on the road this season seems to be a slow start matched with in-game adjustments to improve on what the opponent throws at them on both sides of the ball. The Seahawks have averaged only 3 points in the first half of their two road games. One way to avoid a slow start this week is to get Marshawn Lynch going in the first half. If you take out a 43-yard run in the first quarter last week, Lynch only rushed for 17 yards and also turned the ball over via fumble in the first half. Effective running by Lynch will wear down the Colts defense and could potentially prevent us from having to come back from a deficit late in the game.

The Seahawks have won the turnover battle in each of their first four games. They have forced over twice as many turnovers (13) as they have turned the ball over themselves (6). This week will be a big challenge in the turnover department as the Seahawks defense faces a Colts offense that has only turned the ball over twice this season. Consider this to be an extension to the point of establishing a consistent pass rush. If the Seahawks defense gives Colts quarterback Andrew Luck a lot of time, he will pick our defense apart much like how Matt Schaub picked apart our defense in the first half last week. If we win the turnover battle this week, I think we will be victorious once again.

The Indianapolis Colts are loaded on both sides of the ball. Andrew Luck has one of the brightest futures of any young quarterback in the National Football League due in large part to his mental capability and his underrated athleticism. Add the talent of veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne and powerful running back Trent Richardson, the Colts offense is definitely capable of moving the ball and scoring points. The Seahawks run defense has not given up a touchdown on the road all season so I am confident that they can stuff the run effectively. I am not worried about Richardson and the Indianapolis running game as much as I am worried about their air attack, which was an aspect of the opponent’s offense that was a weakness for the Seahawks last week in Houston. In their two road games so far this season the Seahawks have allowed an average of 225 passing yards per game. Meanwhile, the Colts offense has averaged 231 passing yards in their two home games. Richard Sherman will line up against Wayne this week and I am confident he can hold him to minimal catches and yards. My X-Factor player to watch this week on offense for the Colts is tight end Coby Fleener. With starting tight end Dwayne Allen out for the season with a hip injury, Fleener has emerged as the #1 tight end moving forward. Given his history with Andrew Luck dating back to college at Stanford, Fleener could be a reliable target this week, especially given the potential unwillingness to challenge the Legion of Boom on the outside. Fleener could be primed for many catches this week if he gets open when the Seahawks defense is in zone coverage.

On defense for the Colts, another X-Factor player to watch is linebacker Jerrell Freeman. As I discussed earlier linebacker Robert Mathis has earned a lot of attention for his sack total but Freeman has also made an impact in the opponent’s backfield. Freeman has recorded 3 sacks of his own so far this season and his speed could be a challenge for the Seahawks makeshift offensive line this week. Look for Freeman and Mathis to make an impact on second and third down often this week.

Random Thoughts: This week is the only road game where I know exactly what uniform combination the Seahawks will wear. Per NFL rules, each team is required to notify the league office of which uniform top they will wear for each week of the season by the end of July. Some teams choose to post explicitly what their uniform combinations will be each week but the Seahawks choose not to. However I have learned that before the July deadline, Russell Wilson requested that the Seahawks wear white pants along with their white jerseys against the Colts. Wilson believes that the white/white combo will make it easier for him to see his teammates and the opponent because the way Lucas Oil Stadium is designed, it can be very bright down on the field, thus it is hard to make out who you are throwing to if both teams are wearing similar colored uniforms… Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch have the call for FOX this week. It will be nice to have a break from Chris Myers and Tim Ryan… Now that I think of it, Seahawks fans will not be exposed to a Myers/Ryan broadcast until at least week 9, as our next three games after this week are on CBS, NFL Network, and ESPN respectively… Ron Winter is the referee this week… You will be able to tell how old and unathletic Winter is. Maybe he is the referee that is retiring at the end of this season… I am having a bunch of people over for the game this week so that will be a lot of fun. I haven’t hosted a “watch party” since the playoffs last year… Go Panthers, go Jaguars, and absolutely go Texans this week!… A win this week means a 5-0 start. I was talking with my friend James earlier this week about the upcoming schedule. I did not want to look too far ahead, as I try to take the same “one game at a time” approach the players and coaches do. However, it gets me excited to think about what could be in store if we beat the Colts and get to 5-0. With Tennessee at home, Arizona, a struggling St. Louis Rams team, and an unraveling Tampa Bay team at home, following this week’s game is there any part of you that thinks the Seahawks could be looking at a 9-0 record like I do?

Prediction: Going into this season I thought that the Seahawks would split their back-to-back road games in Houston and Indianapolis. I did not know which game would be a win and which would be a loss but I was content to accept the possibility of losing one of those two games. However, following last week it has become increasingly difficult to count the Seahawks out of any game regardless of how bleak it may look. I expect the Seahawks to struggle but I believe Russell Wilson will play a better all-around game then he did last week. Big plays by the Legion of Boom will be the difference. Bobby Wagner will force a fumble and Earl Thomas will pick off a deep Andrew Luck pass in the 4th quarter to seal the win and give the Seahawks their first 5-0 record in team history.

Seahawks 26, Colts 24

Check back Sunday night after the game for my review of the Seahawks matchup with the Colts. Thanks for reading and enjoy the game. And as always, go Hawks!

My Weekend in Houston

2 Oct

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*A detailed summary of my trip to Houston, Texas for the Seahawks game against the Houston Texans*

Saturday: Our flight left Seattle at 10:15 Saturday morning. After getting my Sea-Tac staple meal (Wendy’s breakfast) and enduring a long wait at the gate, I took my aisle seat in 25D and we were in the air shortly thereafter. The plane ride was full of Seahawks fans and a couple Seattle news personalities. Seahawks play-by-play man Steve Raible sat in first class and Paul Silvi of King 5 was seated about 10 rows in front of me. I’ll spare you the details of my flight, as it was, well, a flight. Pretty standard stuff. The only thing worth noting was the beverage service, as the flight attendants took about 30-40 minutes to get to our row. I joked with the guys sitting next to me that we would probably make it into Texas before we got our first round of drinks.

After we landed we took a bus to the off-site rental car facility and got our car. Let me say here that when we walked out of the airport towards the bus the Houston humidity really hit me. I hadn’t felt humid conditions like this since going to New York in the summer of 2006. The drive from the airport to our hotel in south Houston took us right past the downtown Houston skyline and shortly after passing downtown we exited the freeway and were at our hotel, the Crowne Plaza at Reliant Park. The hotel is located right off the I-610 freeway and is a 5 minute walk from what is called “Reliant Park” which includes Reliant Stadium, the Reliant Astrodome, and Reliant Arena. Last season in Arizona I stayed at the Renaissance Hotel which was located about the same distance away from University of Phoenix Stadium that the Crowne Plaza is from Reliant Stadium and I think that the Crowne Plaza was the exact opposite in all facets compared to the Renaissance:

The rooms are small, the ceiling in the bathroom was about two inches taller than my head, the ceiling above the shower was moldy, the bathroom mirror hung at breast level, meaning taller people like me have to bend down in order to see themselves in the mirror, our room faced the highway instead of the stadium, not only was there no free breakfast but there was also no complimentary coffee in the lobby in the morning, and there was only one vending machine in the entire building.

After checking-in we headed to a Buffalo Wild Wings near the campus of Rice University for the UW/Arizona game and to participate in a 12th Man rally. The restaurant was packed with Seahawks fans, thus it was standing room only and it truly felt like I was back at home. After ordering a glass of St. Arnold’s Oktoberfest (a local brew) and a few wings it came to our attention that a cameraman from Kiro 7 news was among the 12th Man faithful. He announced to the crowd that we were going live on TV in Seattle within 5 minutes so I got in prime position to be right in front of the camera. Even with a minimal warning to friends back home on Facebook, my friend Alan confirmed that I was “looking good as always” right in the middle of his TV screen. Success! At least somebody saw me on TV. After watching the Huskies knock off Arizona we picked up breakfast and beer at a local Kroger, headed back to the hotel, and called it a night. My wake-up call for Sunday morning: 7am.

Random Thought: There was a poster hanging at the bar for spicy Bloody Mary’s which included pepper flavored Absolut vodka. You read that right. PEPPER flavored vodka. As in salt and pepper. I have never heard of pepper flavored vodka before and the thought of it makes me want to gag. It must be a Texas thing.

Sunday: I struggled tremendously in getting a good night’s sleep due to the anticipation of the game and the noise from the cars driving on I-610 right next to the hotel. I woke up at 7am, showered and got dressed, bought a cup of coffee downstairs, had a muffin and was watching pregame and drinking Bud Light by 8:45am. This was the third road game I have been to where the Seahawks play in the 10am Pacific Time slot so it is really weird to be in the hotel pre-gaming with pregame shows on instead of the early games. We left the hotel and walked to the stadium at 10:15am and were inside the stadium by 11am. Our seats were in section 523 which was the fourth row of the upper deck. The seats looked straight down the Seahawks sideline so they were about halfway between the goal post and the corner of the endzone.

On the whole, Texans fans were very nice. I only had one notable moment of heckling when I was in line to use the restroom at halftime. The Seahawks were trailing 20-3 and as I was in line I heard phrases like “Seahawks suck,” “Go back to Seattle,” and “who the hell is ‘Hansman?!” in reference to the customized Seahawks jersey I was wearing. The Texans fans around me were also very knowledgeable about their team. The lady who sat behind me was a Texans season ticket holder and she admired the fact that I was a Seahawks season ticket holder who was dedicated enough to travel to see them play on the road. She was the most realist fan I have ever met. Before the game she explained the feeling the Texans fan base has for certain players. As the game wore on she became less and less willing to talk and after the game I politely told her “maybe we’ll see you guys again in February [for the Super Bowl].” She hostilely and angrily replied “no we won’t. Not the way we played today” and walked away.

Random Thought: A lot of Texans fans do not like Matt Schaub. That was evident after the game when a handful of Texans fans burned his jersey in the parking lot. They do not have faith in his decision making at all and they think it’s time that the Texans move on from both Schaub and head coach Gary Kubiak, who they believe is a package deal; they feel you have to get rid of both of them or neither of them. It reminded me of the last couple years of the Matt Hasselbeck era in Seattle. The feeling with Hasselbeck seemed to be “we like you, you got us to the next level, but you’re past your prime and you make terrible in-game decisions now. It’s time to part ways.”

At the end of the game I went absolutely crazy. We stuck around at the seats to watch the Seahawks celebrate on the field and to wait until most of the Texans fans had left. We walked down the ramps of Reliant Stadium (which were a similar set-up to the ramps at CenturyLink Field) with a large group of Texans fans and they were all visibly frustrated. Nothing negative was said in our direction but it was a very hostile feeling. Myself, my dad, and the two other guys we went with couldn’t shake our feeling of amazement and disbelief; we couldn’t believe what had just taken place inside that building.

After the game we went out to dinner to a Mexican restaurant called Pappasitos Cantina and celebrated with a couple rounds of cervezas. If you are ever in Houston, I highly recommend going to Pappasitos and trying the chicken and beef fajitas. They were the best fajitas I have ever had. The meat was juicy and the onions, Pico de Gallo, and beans added flavor that I had never experienced at a Mexican restaurant before. After watching the San Diego Chargers beat the Dallas Cowboys (to the delight of the Texans fans at the restaurant) we walked back to the hotel to relax and to see the highlights of the Seahawks/Texans game, something that we were hoping to see during halftime of the afternoon games but didn’t.

During the first part of Sunday Night Football I went for a walk around Reliant Stadium one more time to bask in the glory of seeing the Seahawks win live on the road for the first time since 2007. Upon my arrival back to the hotel, I somehow stayed awake for the rest of Sunday Night Football and shortly thereafter, I crashed. What a day.

Monday: I made up for the lack of sleep I had got the night before, as I slept in later than I had planned. After getting ready for the day we checked out of the hotel and headed for downtown Houston, where we would spend our afternoon before heading back to the airport to come home. We were contemplating different ideas on how to spend our Monday afternoon. A small road trip to the Gulf of Mexico, touring NASA headquarters, and touring Minute Maid Park (home of MLB’s Houston Astros) were among our ideas but we did not do any of these which was too bad.

After walking around the downtown core we ate lunch at Tejas Bar and Grill and drove over to Minute Maid Park to walk around the stadium. Even though we did not tour the stadium you could still see into the stadium from the outside. One cool thing about Minute Maid Park was that they incorporated a previous standing building on the property into the stadium; much like how the San Diego Padres incorporated the Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field of Petco Park. The left field plaza was an old train station terminal building that they turned into a waiting lobby, the Astros team store, and a restaurant. Afterwards we headed back to the airport to fly home. From the end of the game to our arrival back home, I still could not believe that I witnessed one of the greatest comeback victories in Seahawks history.

All in all, Houston is a city that I would only visit again in special circumstances such as Super Bowl LI in February 2017. It was a fun trip and I was glad that I was able to come home happy.

Review: Seahawks 23, Texans 20 (OT)

1 Oct

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Last season in Chicago the Seahawks drove 80 yards in overtime to beat the Bears 23-17. That game turned out to be a huge statement game and jump started the Seahawks to 5 straight wins to end the regular season. What happened on Sunday could carry huge momentum as we carry on with the 2013 season. The Seahawks came back from a 17 point halftime deficit to defeat the Houston Texans 23-20 in overtime in one of the biggest and most impressive comebacks in franchise history. With the win the Seahawks have started 4-0 for the first time in franchise history and keep a two game lead on the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West. The Texans fall to 2-2 on the season. Here are my thoughts on the big points of Sunday’s amazing win.

Thoughts on the Offensive Line: I understand that the Seahawks offensive line went up against one of the best defenders in the NFL in Texans defensive end J.J. Watt this week. Watt recorded 4 tackles and only 0.5 sacks but the stat line does not show what I saw from the upper deck of Reliant Stadium. What I saw was Watt, linebacker Whitney Mercilus (my X-Factor player if you remember), and defensive tackle Antonio Smith completely dominating the Seahawks offensive line physically.  The Texans bull-rush technique was extremely effective throughout the game on Sunday. Russell Wilson was pressured 16 times by the Houston defense. Those 16 plays resulted in 5 sacks, 5 incompletions, 5 quarterback rushes, and one interception. These results contributed to a passer rating of 49.7 for Wilson, the third lowest passer rating of his career. The adjustments offensive line coach Tom Cable made at halftime worked because the Seahawks showed slight improvement by giving Wilson slightly more time to throw. With center Max Unger hopefully coming back this week I do not believe Wilson will have the kind of frustrating day against Indianapolis that he had in Houston.

Thoughts on the Defense: Just like with the offensive line, it was a night-and-day difference between the first half and the second half/overtime. After allowing 20 first half points the defense buckled down and did not allow another Texans score. In the second half and overtime the Seahawks forced 7 Houston punts, recovered a fumble, and cornerback Richard Sherman returned an interception for a touchdown to tie the game 20-20. The pass rush also improved dramatically as Clinton McDonald, Chris Clemons, Tony McDaniel, and Cliff Avril each recorded a sack of Matt Schaub in the second half. The resiliency the Seahawks defense showed against Houston proves that we have the capability to come back from any deficit. Seahawks fans should be very confident in this unit. This year, more than any other year, do not count this team out of any game regardless of the score or circumstances. They made a huge statement in Houston this week and with the schedule easing up a bit in the coming weeks, this is a perfect opportunity to get further ahead of the rest of the division.

The Michael Bennett Factor: With 10 seconds left in the first half Michael Bennett left the game on a stretcher with a lower back injury. Thankfully, the injury was not as serious as it looked and at halftime Bennett was in the Seahawks locker room. He told Richard Sherman “just come on, win this for me. I’m not going to be able to come back in this one.” This moment of inspiration and emotion was a tremendous motivating factor for the entire team and especially for the defense, as they went on to shutout the Texans offense for the remainder of the game. Without the injury I raise the question: would the Seahawks have the fire and inspiration to play the way they did in the second half? Luckily for the Seahawks the game resulted in victory and luckily for Bennett it looks like he may have a decent chance to play next week.

Thoughts on Houston: The Texans have a talented team but the offense is their weakest link. Head coach Gary Kubiak along with Texans fans do not seem to have confidence in Matt Schaub’s decision making and his play in-fact cost them a win. The defense will continue to be one of the best units in the NFL as long as they can stay healthy. If this team can get on a winning streak, they could become a dangerous contender later on in the season.

Random Thoughts: Most of my random thoughts will be detailed in a post about my weekend in Houston later this week. I only have only one random thought for this review. The Seahawks wore grey jerseys and grey pants this week. As I posted on Facebook before the game, I am the kind of fan who likes to wear the same jersey that the team is wearing for each game. I do not believe I have ever worn the wrong colored jersey to a Seahawks game in my life. I felt quite out of sorts this week in the stands, as I was wearing my white road jersey; the one I thought the team would be wearing.

Later this week I will post an in-depth summary of my weekend trip to Houston for the game. Be sure to check back for that. Also, my preview of next week’s game against the Indianapolis Colts will be posted Saturday morning. Go Hawks!