Tag Archives: Washington Huskies

Review: Seahawks 19, Cardinals 3

23 Nov
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

After what happened on Sunday afternoon it is hard for me to wonder what I was so worried about going into this week’s game. The Seattle Seahawks were able to keep their hopes at the NFC West division title alive as they easily defeated the Arizona Cardinals 19-3. With the win the Seahawks improve their record to 7-4 and with the Cardinals falling to 9-2 Seattle now sits two games behind Arizona for first place in the division. As refreshing as this win was and as great of a game we played on defense, I saw a few things on offense that still have me worried. Let me share my brief thoughts on this game.

Special Teams Sets Offense Up For Success: Bryan Walters and DeShawn Shead played key roles in the success of the Seahawks special teams unit on Sunday. Walters had his longest punt return of the season, a 21-yard return at the end of the first quarter. Shead blocked an Arizona punt which gave the Seahawks the ball on the Cardinals 24-yard line which ultimately led to a Steven Hauschka field goal. The Cardinals gave Seattle the ball 9 times on punts, punt blocks, and missed field goals on Sunday. Four of those first 6 drives started from inside Arizona territory, giving the Russell Wilson and the rest of the Seahawks offense a short field to work with.

Offense Did Just Enough to Win: Going into this game I predicted that the entire Seahawks offense could be in for a rough day at the office from a statistical production standpoint. Thanks in large part to the special teams as previously noted, the offense was given fantastic field position on the majority of their drives. The frustrating part was seeing the Seahawks settle for 4 field goals on drives which started from the Arizona 49, the Seattle 44, the Arizona 48 and the Arizona 24 respectively. People get offended when they hear quarterback Russell Wilson referred to as a “game manager” but honestly that is what he had to be this week. Wilson played a fairly conservative game and the strategy worked well as he completed three-quarters of his passes, finishing the day 17/22 for 211 yards and a touchdown pass to tight end Cooper Helfet. On the ground Wilson was Seattle’s leading rusher after the dominant front seven of the Cardinals was able to bottle up Marshawn Lynch for the majority of the game, as I thought was definitely possible. If the Seahawks had started more of their drives from deeper inside their own territory we would be talking about a much sloppier, defense-oriented game.

Wilson Got Dirty: Take away the fact that the Seahawks were at home and take away the fact that we were playing a very sub-par opposing offense. The Seahawks will not survive another game like the one we played on Sunday if our pass protection of Russell Wilson does not improve. Wilson was sacked 7 times on Sunday, 5 of which came in the first half alone. This is the second time in Wilson’s career that he has been sacked 7 or more times in a game. The Seahawks offensive line struggled to pick up on Arizona’s blitz schemes all day long and there were several instances where Russell Wilson had no time to throw because the defender was coming at him unblocked. Having Alvin Bailey and Patrick Lewis starting on the interior offensive line is a big problem and I never thought I would say this, but I am really missing James Carpenter at left guard. If the Seahawks are forced to start the duo of Bailey and Lewis again on Thursday night, the Seahawks offense is going to have to get creative to outwit the outstanding pass rush San Francisco will throw at them.

Good to Have You Back, Bobby: Today the Seahawks defense played one of their best games of the season. The run defense in particular played lights out football. One of the main factors on defense was the return of middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner led all Seattle defenders in tackles with 8 and he was also able to hit Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton once. The Seahawks held Cardinals running back Andre Ellington to 26 rushing yards on Sunday, the lowest number of yards allowed to an opposing running back all season. One other stat to note is Arizona’s third down conversion rate which was a mere 25 percent on Sunday. With the exception of Brandon Mebane the Seahawks defense is now at full strength when we need it the most. Having Wagner back will stabilize the middle of the field and I believe we will see significant improvement in the short passing game in the coming weeks. Drew Stanton did not perform well enough through the air to give us a sample of our short to intermediate pass defense. Next week against Colin Kaepernick that may be a completely different story.

Thoughts on Arizona: I think this is going to be an interesting stretch of the season for the Arizona Cardinals. The goal? Survive long enough to outlast the emerging Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. I believe this team is a playoff-caliber team but I am not convinced that they can even hold on to win the NFC West. I understand not having Larry Fitzgerald really hurt their offense on Sunday but they had the talent in Michael Floyd and John Brown to be successful without him. This team will not get very far in the postseason the way they played today. Our week 16 matchup in Arizona will definitely give all of us a better gage as to where the Cardinals are headed come January.

Random Thoughts: All navy and all white for the Seahawks and Cardinals respectively this week just as I predicted… Gene Steratore is one of my favorite referees in the NFL but today I believe there were a few questionable calls that did not go in our favor and it seemed like those penalties all happened in a short window of time. In particular, I do not believe the pass interference called on cornerback Byron Maxwell was PI… 88 Keys is a great place to hang out before the game. Very spacious but there could have been more important games on the bigger televisions and projection screens… A lot of people were late for kickoff. There has to be a bigger effort for future 1:05pm starts to tell fans to get in their seats in time for the start of the game… Former UW and Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy raised the 12th Man flag this week. I’ve always been a fan of Milloy, the man who helped groom half of the Legion of Boom (Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor)… The wiener dog races did not disappoint this year as the final heat ended in a photo finish… I need to get more sleep the night before home games. 5 hours of sleep had me feeling like a zombie on Sunday while at the game… We only have 4 days to get ready for once again the biggest game of our season which comes on Thanksgiving night.

In just 3 days I will have my preview of Thursday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers fresh on the blog. Check back Wednesday. Go Hawks!

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Review: Seahawks 34, Cardinals 22

18 Oct

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Well the Seahawks sure proved me wrong. After I predicted that the Seahawks would barely squeak by with a win, Seattle dominated the Arizona Cardinals on both sides of the ball en route to an impressive 34-22 victory on Thursday night. The Seahawks extend their best start in franchise history as they improve to 6-1 on the season. The Cardinals fall to 3-4 on the season and are currently in last place in the NFC West. Here are the positives and one negative I took out of this week’s game.

Wilson Stretches Field and it Pays Off: Going into this game I felt that in order for Russell Wilson to be more effective he needed to throw the ball deeper for large gains. Tonight Wilson did a much better job of this. Wilson found Sidney Rice for a 31-yard touchdown on a beautiful rainbow pass into the endzone. Seven of Wilson’s passes went long for 16 yards or more. On the night Wilson went 18/29 for 235 yards and 3 touchdowns. I think it was the most impressive performance by Russell Wilson so far this season. The zone-read also played perhaps its biggest role by the Seahawks offense in a game so far this season. Wilson’s quarterback keeper runs gained at least 4 yards each and three were converted for first downs. Even with sub-par offensive line play, Wilson did a good job of keeping plays alive. He was the catalyst of what seemed to be a drastically improved offense since playing Tennessee last Sunday. The offense will continue to get healthier and better. With the talent coming back in the coming weeks both on the offensive line and at the skill positions, Wilson will become increasingly dangerous and I am confident the offense will be firing on all cylinders.

Lynch Shines: Why does it seem like Marshawn Lynch really likes to go full Beast Mode in primetime? Lynch ran 21 times on Thursday night for 91 yards and a touchdown (he should have had 2 touchdowns but one was ruled down inside the 1-yard line). Lynch ran like a man on a mission. I was really impressed with his ability to shed tacklers and the fact that he was nearly able to put up 100 yards on the 5th best run defense in the NFL. Going forward against easier run defenses, the Seahawks are in a great position to put up big numbers, control the games coming up, and continuing to win games. Lynch is averaging 83 yards per game on the road so far this season and the team is averaging 150.5 rushing yards per game on the road. Like I stated, Lynch has a knack for stepping up in primetime and with our next game also in primetime Lynch could be due for another impressive performance next week.

Pass Rush Very Impressive: Want to know how impressive the Seahawks pass rush was on Thursday night? 8 different Seattle defenders recorded at least half of a sack against the Cardinals. That number is the most of any defensive unit against a team so far this season. Of our 4 primary pass rushers Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, and Michael Bennett each recorded one sack. Bruce Irvin also recorded 4 tackles and had a hit on quarterback Carson Palmer which resulted in an interception. 7 sacks is the most by the Seahawks in a game so far this season as they took advantage of a Cardinals offensive line that not only game up those sacks, but were also ineffective in the running game as Arizona backs Rashard Mendenhall and Andre Ellington, as well as two scrambles by Carson Palmer only ran for 30 yards. It is dominant play by our front seven that allows our defense to get off the field and for the offense to work to put points on the board. I was very impressed by the Seahawks defense being that it was a road game and the Seahawks defense has struggled at times on the road this season. My confidence in our play on the road has never been higher.

Bring the Boom: The play of the Legion of Boom Thursday night was nothing short of spectacular. Brandon Browner and Earl Thomas each made interceptions and Richard Sherman nearly had an interception which was smartly batted away by Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd. The Legion of Boom recorded 22 of the Seahawks 60 tackles and also added 7 passes defensed. Carson Palmer came into this game having thrown 11 interceptions in his first 6 games and even though he threw 2 against the Seahawks it could have been a lot worse. The Seahawks seemed more determined to make sure no yards were gained after contact and they helped in creating only a 33% conversion rate on third down for Arizona. After letting long drives continue the past few weeks, the secondary, just like the pass rush, showed significant improvement in stopping those drives.

Fumbles Still A Problem: As well as the Seahawks played on Thursday night there is always room for improvement. It is evident that the Seahawks offense still has a problem holding onto the ball. Russell Wilson fumbled the ball 3 times, including a combination of ball security and a lack of awareness of what is developing around him. The Seahawks have fumbled the ball 8 times in the past 2 games which is still unacceptable. It is getting to the point where I am hoping the ball carrier just falls down on his own on big plays to prevent the possibility of fumbling the ball. As dangerous as we showed we can be and for all the praise we have received so far following this game, imagine what people would be saying after a game in which the Seahawks played like this and were turnover free.

Thoughts on Arizona: The Arizona Cardinals showed potential for the future. Key words: For the future. Carson Palmer is believed to be an upgrade to John Skelton or Kevin Kolb but he played no better than those two guys on Thursday night. If Arizona can build the offense in the next year or two and keep the core members of the defense together, they could contend at that time. I do not see how you can possibly think the Cardinals will contend this season. After the game got away from them in the third quarter there seemed to be no sense of urgency on the field and a lack of belief from the fans in the stadium. The Cardinals were driving to try to make it a one-score game late in the fourth quarter and although they went no-huddle they drove at a speed that could warrant a huddle if needed. In addition, no Arizona fans seemed to care that their team could have made the game closer than the final score showed. Having seen the on-the-field product on the field and to see the incredible presence of the 12th Man after the game on the NFL Network postgame show, I would be quite embarrassed if I was a fan of the Arizona Cardinals.

Random Thoughts: For the second time this season the Seahawks broke out the wolf grey jersey’s and pants this week. I may be wrong but I think it is NFL uniform policy that teams can only wear their alternate jersey twice per season. If that is the case, we will be seeing the Seahawks in white for the remainder of their road games… Terry McAulay was the referee on Thursday night… The number of Seahawks fans in Arizona was incredible. My Dad was in attendance and texted me pictures of Glendale throughout the day. It looks like a raging party that will surely carry into the weekend as the Huskies get set to take on Arizona State on Saturday… The shots of the Arizona desert and sunset on the NFL Network broadcast looked amazing. I am big fan of their broadcast production… Russell Wilson was MVP of the game and was presented a bag of gifts by the NFL Network personalities after the game. For those who didn’t see it he was awarded the following gifts: A Leon Sandcastle bobblehead, a Thursday Night Football hat, a Kurt Warner VHS tape, and a Deion Sanders “Prime Time” CD… Oh and they gave Wilson a present intended for Marshawn Lynch; a box of Skittles… It feels so good to be 6-1. If we can get past St. Louis next week to get to 7-1 I may want to make some hefty predictions and/or guarantees. Stay tuned… Speaking of our next game against the Rams it is fun to know that the entire nation will once again get to watch this fun, exciting brand of football the Seahawks are delivering to us… After watching the various postgame shows on television, people are finally starting to believe that we WILL be serious Super Bowl contenders this season. I can’t wait to see how next week unfolds.

With our early-week game this week I will take a few days off from the blog. If anything breaking happens (Percy Harvin *cough*) I will hop back on. Until next week’s preview of Monday Night Football against the St. Louis Rams, 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!

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 22, Raiders 6

30 Aug

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After 36 days of training camp and 4 practice games, the preseason is finally over. The Seahawks finish the preseason 4-0 for a second straight season after defeating the Oakland Raiders 22-6 at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night. Although the offensive starters only played one series, it was enough to gage our level of readiness for the regular season. Here are some things I took out of Thursday night’s game.

Wilson is Ready: It took only six plays but the starting offense led by quarterback Russell Wilson proved that they are ready to go for the regular season. Wilson went 3/3 for 68 yards, including a 50-yard deep pass to Stephen Williams. Wilson also added an 11-yard run for a first down. The thing that stands out was how easy Wilson made the opening drive look. Granted it was against a very unimpressive Oakland defense but I felt like the drive told the 12th Man “see, I still have it. I’m ready. See you in the regular season.” The offense was able to stay healthy for the most part. Stephen Williams left the game after his long reception due to a concussion. Regardless, all projected starters made it through the drive without a hitch and I am convinced we can go out and move the ball in the regular season just like how we have done in the preseason.

Hauschka is Ready: I remember during training camp last season kicker Steven Hauschka could barely kick a 58-yard field goal. Months later, the final play in Atlanta last season could have been a 65-yard field goal attempt to win the game and send the Seahawks to the NFC Championship game if Hauschka was healthy. It seems as though Hauschka trained this offseason to prepare for such a possibility. During training camp Hauschka was able to kick 58-yard field goals with ease and tonight he booted 5 field goals; 3 of which from 50 yards or more. His first kick, a 56-yard field goal was a career high and looked strong enough to have been good from at least 60 yards out. Hauschka is definitely a better kicker than he was last year and he will be a valuable asset to put up points if drives stall in the opponents territory.

Who Helped Their Stock: After Thursday’s game I would be stunned if Benson Mayowa does not make the team. Mayowa recorded another sack in the second half and did a great job applying pressure to Raiders quarterbacks Matt McGloin and Tyler Wilson. Thanks to Mayowa, Wilson made several forced throws off of his back foot. Given the recent injuries along the defensive line, Mayowa could find himself on the week one roster. If the Seahawks decide to cut Mayowa, I believe he will not clear waivers and he will be on an active roster somewhere else in the NFL for week one.

Who Hurt Their Stock: For the past several weeks I have mentioned that I believe wide receiver Chris Harper needs to make more of an impact in the preseason. He may have stamped his ticket out of Seattle on Thursday night. Harper dropped two wide open passes, one of which was an underthrown pass into the endzone which would have surely been a touchdown. The ball hit Harper in the chest and he could not bring it in. Harper, in my eyes, is the sixth wide receiver on the current roster. It is up to the coaches to determine if 5 or 6 wide receivers make the week one roster. If only five make the team, Harper will be cut.

Oakland Scouting Report: The Oakland Raiders did not show me anything special from any of their units this week. Terrelle Pryor was unable to conjure up a touchdown drive and the starting defense could not stop the Seahawks offense. Pryor had a golden opportunity to show the Raiders coaching staff he could win the starting quarterback job. He played pretty mediocre football, going 3/8 for 31 yards and one interception. The only highlight I saw out of Oakland was their ability stop the Seahawks running game. The Raiders only allowed 53 rushing yards while gaining 126 rushing yards of their own. As a whole however, I think it is going to be a long season for Oakland Raiders fans. At this point I would not be surprised to see them in contention for the number one overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks were able to limit their penalties significantly this week. 8 penalties total for 65 yards… The Seahawks wore blue pants and blue jerseys this week again… There was very interesting scene at the bar before the game. A Seattle rap group which I believe calls themselves “Neva Scared” filmed footage of their music video for their Seahawks themed anthem. It was kind of cool but was low budget and not very impressive. Just a hunch, but I don’t think they’ll be the next Macklemore & Ryan Lewis… The starting defense was introduced this week… My buddy Josh was only able to get one Raiders autograph before the game. He had terrible luck, as a thunder and lightning storm along with heavy rain postponed pregame warm-ups for both teams. The funny thing though was the rain stopped shortly thereafter and was clear for the rest of the night… You can clearly tell who season ticket holders are and who are not. Maybe it is appropriate to try to start “the wave” in the first quarter at a Husky game or during a Mariners game but NOT during a Seahawks game. In general, preseason games are more for the casual fan who are not fortunate enough to get tickets to a regular season game… At the end of the game the following was announced to the crowd: “we’ll see you on September 15th when your Seattle Seahawks, on Sunday Night Football, host the San Francisco 49ers.” This got a pretty loud cheer from the scattered fans leaving the game. I am already getting excited about the home opener. Can’t overlook the season opener though. Speaking of which… 10 days until the season opener!

The Seahawks have until 3pm on Saturday to make their final roster cuts to get the active roster down to 53 players. I will publish another roster analysis post Saturday night or Sunday morning. And make sure to check back on Saturday, September 7th as I preview our week one matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Go Seahawks!

Jets/Seahawks Preview

10 Nov

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Matchup: New York Jets vs. Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

The Seahawks have a chance to head into their bye week at 6-4 and on a two-game winning streak. In their way this week is the New York Jets. The Jets are coming off their bye and are sitting at 3-5 and they are looking to get back into the AFC playoff picture. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Jets 9-8. In their last meeting, the Seahawks defeated the Jets and their quarterback Brett Favre 13-3 in December of 2008. That game was most famous for being in the middle of the worst snowstorm stretch in Seattle history. It was also Coach Holmgren’s final home game coached for the Seahawks. There is a lot to be looking for out of both teams this week. Here is what I’ll be watching for.

Marshawn Lynch is 119 yards away from reaching the 1,000 yard plateau for the second straight year. The New York Jets defense is giving up an average of 141 rushing yards per game. It is no surprise given these numbers that running the ball will have a big impact on the productivity on offense this week. I do not think Russell Wilson will have to put up big numbers passing this week. My hope is that we can have a 55/45 mix in terms of running and passing the ball. The Jets defense is banged up and all-pro cornerback Darrelle Revis is out for the season. Outside of Lynch, I think Sidney Rice will have a big game this week. Russell Wilson has been looking more towards Rice’s direction recently and I think it is only a matter of time before Rice really breaks out and puts up numbers that challenge for the best wide receiver numbers in the NFL in a given week. The key to Wilson’s play this week will not to be too eager to throw the ball, especially if he gets into a comfortable rhythm. This is the type of game could get sloppy with multiple turnovers if the Seahawks are overconfident. If the Seahawks offense has more than 2 turnovers, the game may be closer than I hope.

I watch film of the New York Jets and I see an offense and a quarterback that can get flustered fast and try to force passes. Of course one of the most important aspects of a successful defense is establishing a pass rush but if that does not work this week, the Seahawks can get off the field if they can shut down New York’s receivers. If Mark Sanchez finds an open receiver, he will make a throw. But what happens if Sanchez cannot find an open read? Sanchez will hold on to the ball and try to force throws into coverage. The faces of Earl Thomas, Brandon Browner, and Richard Sherman will not have wider smiles if this happens this week. I expect at least two interceptions thrown by Sanchez this week. Stopping Shonn Greene will also be a focus this week given our struggles in the running game the past three weeks. I think the key to victory on defense however begins with forcing Mark Sanchez into mistakes. I will even go on a limb right now and make the bold prediction that Tim Tebow will be the Jets quarterback late in the fourth quarter, as Sanchez will struggle mightily this week.

On special teams, I am interested to see if the Jets do anything differently in order to stop Leon Washington. Washington previously played for New York before being traded to Seattle on draft day 2010. Because of this, the Jets and head coach Rex Ryan would know better than anybody how to stop Washington. Leon has struggled recently, especially on punt returns. It would be nice to see him break off a couple decent returns but I am not expecting anything extraordinary.

The New York Jets have been labeled my many fans and critics as “The Circus” given the always-contending mentality of Rex Ryan and the fact that they sport the league’s most popular backup quarterback, Tim Tebow. This year the Jets have gotten off to a shaky start at 3-5. The Sanchez vs. Tebow debate rises every week that Sanchez struggles and the Jets also have lost two of their best players for the season due to injury; cornerback Darrelle Revis and wide receiver Santonio Holmes. It is the Jets’ offense that has my attention this week. New York is averaging just shy of 20 points per game on the road this season and they are 1-2 in the process. I put my spotlight on the Jets receiver corps this week. Without Holmes, the Jets available receivers are Jason Hill, Clyde Gates, Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens, and rookie Stephen Hill. None of these receivers have proven themselves to be Sanchez’s go-to target and the leading receiver, Kerley, only has 30 catches for 478 yards on the season. As I noted earlier in my preview, if the Seattle defense can stay on top of New York’s receivers all game long, Sanchez will have a difficult time. All-in-all, the Jets defense does not scare me one bit. 20 points per game may be an okay amount on the road, but I expect the Seahawks to hold them for significantly less this week.

One more quick note, this week the Seahawks need to keep up the momentum at home. This is the first home game where the Seahawks are unanimously picked to win by all the experts on every sports network. After beating Minnesota last week, a mental letdown would be the worst thing for this team, especially since our next two games after the Jets are on the road.

Random Thoughts: This week is “salute to service” military appreciation week around the NFL. The Seahawks will participate in a card stunt during the national anthem just like last season. The Seahawks will also wear camouflage accessories on the field and World War II vet Joe Moser will raise the 12th Man flag… I got my customized authentic Seahawks home jersey in the mail this week. It looks so cool. I can’t wait to wear it on Sunday… Speaking of uniforms, expect the Seahawks to wear blue/blue again this week… I am taking my dad to this weekend’s game. One slight negative to taking my dad is I give up my aisle seat for him. I am more than happy to do it but when you sit in that seat 9 out of 10 times a season, sitting in seat 2 feels really weird… The Washington Huskies play Utah at 7:30 Saturday night. I was praying the Huskies game would be an afternoon game. Now I have to decide how hard to go Saturday to make sure I am rested and ready to go for Sunday… The temperature is supposed to be in the high 40’s at gametime. It looks like I’ll be able to wear the beanie I got with my season tickets for the first time this week… I am sick of all these 1:05 starts. It’s nice to have an extra 20 minutes if the game starts at 1:25 instead. The good thing I guess is the rest of our games are 1:25 kickoffs, barring a game being flexed into Sunday Night Football… No word on the pregame giveaway at this point. Odds are the giveaway will be military themed though… Marv Albert and Rich Gannon have the call for CBS this week. Given Marv’s primary broadcasting focus is basketball, how many times do you think he will call the Seahawks the Sonics?… It will be nice to have a bye after this game. If we can beat the Jets and win in either Miami or Chicago, we have a tremendous chance of making a push for a playoff spot.

Prediction: I have no reason to believe the Seahawks will lose this game. We are better than New York in all three phases of the game. Like I predicted earlier, Lynch will get to the 1,000 yard mark, he will score a touchdown, and Tim Tebow will be quarterbacking the Jets by the end of the game. Rex Ryan will make a statement in his postgame press conference about how the Jets play was embarrassing, and the Seahawks will head into the bye week with a 6-4 record.

Seahawks 28, Jets 9

Check back Monday for my review of the Jets game. Enjoy the game everybody! Go Seahawks!

Patriots/Seahawks Preview

13 Oct

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Matchup: New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

Tom Brady faces off against the Seahawks in Seattle for the first time in his career this Sunday as the Patriots come to town in a huge test of top offense vs. top defense. The Patriots enter the game 3-2 and they are coming off a 31-21 win over the Denver Broncos. The Seahawks return home from Carolina where they beat the Panthers 16-12 last week. The Patriots lead the all-time series 8-7. The last time these two teams played was in 2008. The Patriots defeated the 2-win Seahawks 24-21 on December 7th, 2008 with Matt Cassel at quarterback for the Patriots. Here are the storylines I will be looking at this week in arguably the most anticipated home game this season.

Russell Wilson has continued to improve each week despite lackluster statistics. This week he faces the Patriots and their 30th ranked pass defense. With a beastly front four which includes Vince Wilfork, it may be difficult to run the ball this week. If this is the case, Wilson will be on the spot to make plays. I would definitely look for Wilson to scramble if given the opportunity. This may be a week where Wilson runs for close to 50 yards. One of the biggest keys this week, just like any other week is to limit turnovers. If the Seahawks can keep the ball for as long as they can and limit the time Tom Brady is in control of the Patriots offense, we will have more room to breathe and will put increasing pressure on New England. The longer we have the ball, the more pressure put on Brady and the Patriots.

The Seahawks boast the number one overall defense in the National Football League. This year especially, the Seahawks defense has done a great job of making opposing quarterbacks look silly. Aaron Rodgers was sacked 8 times in the first half alone and the explosive Packers offense was only able to score 12 points. With a beat up offensive line including a hurt Logan Mankins, the Seahawks have the potential to have a stellar day. Behind the roar of the 12th Man, expect the defense to put immense pressure on Tom Brady to flush him out of the pocket or make snap decisions. Bruce Irvin is the man to watch this week. In 5 games this season Irvin has 4.5 sacks. He is on pace for 14.5 sacks on the season. After a multi-sack game during the last home game I would not be surprised at all to see him repeat those numbers this weekend.

Expect the nickel package to be used more this weekend. The Patriots like to use all of their weapons in different packages and formations. The Patriots will use Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and Danny Woodhead all throughout the game. The only set matchup I see is Lloyd vs. Brandon Browner; the number one cornerback. Marcus Trufant may have a big role this week. Trufant is the number three cornerback on the depth chart and is used primarily in the nickel package. With the cornucopia of receivers the Patriots have at their disposal, we may see more secondary players on the field at irregular times. With the difference in normality within certain defensive packages against this complex New England offense, players that normally do not make an impact may be able to make plays this week if the rush can force Brady into bad decisions.

The Patriots have the number one ranked offense in the National Football League. The Patriots are averaging close to 35 points per game yet they have already lost two games on the road. Tom Brady is Tom Brady. There is no debating that. However keep in mind the following facts: This is the farthest trip for the Patriots this season and their only cross-country trip. Tom Brady has never played at CenturyLink Field before. He is facing the number one defense in the league. I do not expect Brady to have as bad of a game as Tony Romo or Aaron Rodgers but he has the capability to do effective things that will frustrate the Seahawks defense. For example…

The no-huddle offense has become a staple of the New England offense this season. According to Coach Carroll, the no-huddle offense is difficult to run with a roaring crowd; mainly due to the difficulty of communication between coach and quarterback. If the Patriots can put up some points early and put the Seahawks in a disadvantage, I would expect to see no-huddle called to sink us even further.

Random Thoughts: This is the first time I will be back at CenturyLink Field since Monday Night Football against the Packers. We are coming off a win and are in striking distance of the Cardinals and 49ers. I expect the crowd to be in their seats early and be as loud as the past two games… It is the only home game during the month of October for breast cancer awareness… This will be the best halftime ceremony I have ever been a part of. Cortez Kennedy will have his #96 jersey retired. I’ll have to remember to bring a couple tissues. I teared up during Walter Jones’s jersey retirement… I am super excited to see Tom Brady play live for the first time. This will be one of those games where I look back and can tell my kids “I got to see one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time play”… Don’t sleep on the Patriots running game. Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden are two great backs that can both have a big impact this weekend for New England… I have 30.5 ounces worth of Skittles ready to throw on Sunday. Don’t let me down Marshawn… Tailgating will be done in a parking lot like before the Cowboys game. Very excited… There is a Washington Huskies home game the day before against the USC Trojans. Looks like I’ll have to save my voice for Sunday… Might have to break out the sweatshirt and jeans for the first time this week. Only supposed to get up to 60 degrees on Sunday… The Seahawks will most likely wear blue this week. They’ve worn the blue practice jersey’s all week during practice… Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts have the call for CBS this week. Words cannot express how happy I am that I won’t have to sit through THAT commentary… The pregame giveaway is a lanyard. Was hoping for something a little bit cooler for a game against a team like the New England Patriots… I predict that Bill Belichick will wear his famous gray hoodie… The Seahawks are looking to get to 4-2 for the first time since 2010. A win would be huge going forward, especially since we play the San Francisco 49ers on the road next on five days rest.

Prediction: Bear Bryant once said “defense wins championships.” This is not a championship game by any means but it may feel like it. The Seahawks will prove that this statement is true. Tom Brady will be sacked 6 times. The offense will not be spectacular but we will do a good enough job in the red zone to put up points and put continued pressure on the Patriots. I have seen the Seahawks beat iconic quarterbacks such as Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Kurt Warner live. By Sunday night, Tom Brady will be added to this list.

Seahawks 26, Patriots 21

My review will be up on Monday Afternoon. I will be working on my preview for next week’s Thursday night game against San Francisco in a crammed timeframe so bear with me. Enjoy the game everybody. Go Seahawks!

“God bless America and God bless the Seattle Seahawks.”- Cortez Kennedy