Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Seahawks 31, Rams 16

I expected this season to be good. I expected us to be AT LEAST as good as last year, if not better. I expected WAY better then most expert prognosticators had us pegged.

I did not expect this.

Yesterday the Seahawks rolled the St. Louis Rams 31 to 16, capping the perfect transition from the losing Seahawks of old. Once again, recall Tory Holt, on draft day, discussing his team's perfect 3-0 mark against the Hawks last year. What did he say? The Rams were mentally tougher.

And I agreed with him. It sure wasn't talent-based or coaching-based. That left heart, and the Rams knew in the 4th quarter that, if they pressed, the Hawks would fold.

They tried that same tactic yesterday, and the Hawks pressed down on their chests and took all the wind out of them behind MVP Shaun Alexander and the left side of our offensive line.

That's right. I said it. Who else is a better candidate for the MVP but Shaun? He had 165 yards and 3 touchdowns yesterday. There is absolutely no way we would have won that game without him. Who are the other possibilities?

1. Tomlinson - The Chargers are a middling team playing below their talent. Their record will keep LT from getting this award.

2. McNabb - Not after the T.O. debacle. He can't get the stats he needs now.

3. Edge - Same argument goes with Peyton. The stats are too distributed over the entire offense. No one really stands out.

4. Dwight Freeney - He got stoned against the Pats. MVPs don't have a disappearing act during a huge game like that.

5. Steve Smith - He is the Panthers best offensive weapon, and it is just a matter of time before teams start triple-teaming him and daring the Panthers to beat them another way.

Sure, some of those guys are terrific players, but none are having a season like Shaun is having. He has a strong possibility of 2000 yards before the season is done, and he might catapult us into a 1st round bye, which I never thought I would say as a Seahawks fan.

Basically, this win was remarkable. The final gorilla is gone. We can go play some football, starting with the 49ers next week. We can't take any weeks off (see NY Giants against Minnesota and Atlanta against Green Bay), but this doesn't seem like the type of team that WILL take any weeks off. A win here and we will be 5-0 in our division with a home game against the 49ers left. We have only 2 games left against teams with winning records, the Giants and the Colts. That game against the Giants will be the new Biggest Game of the Season.

Defensive MVP - Lofa Tatupu. 10 tackles and a sack. The man was frigging everywhere, and is playing out of his mind. This is quite remarkable. Tatupu, Lewis, and Hill (2 rooks and a newbie) are simply outplaying, in any way imaginable, last year's tandem of Brown, Simmons, and the Harvard Masked Magician.

Honorary Notice: Once AGAIN our depth stepped up in a huge way. Rocky Bernard is having a great season, Craig Terrill (my boy) was great in relief work, Marquand Manuel (8 tackles) is stepping in well for the Hammer, Leroy Hill was remarkable in work for Jamie Sharper, and Kelly Herndon and Jordan Babineaux are playing well enough that it doesn't matter if Andre Dyson keeps getting injured.

Double Honorary Notice: Stephen Jackson was held to 70 yards on 17 carries. That's remarkable, and speaks to the heart of our undersized line and linebacking corps.

Turning Moment #1: The Rams take the ball on their first possession and waltz down the field at will. They get to the red zone, 1st and 10 on the 15 yard line. 1st down: Jackson is stuffed for a 1 yard loss by Tafoya and Leroy Hill. 2nd down: 3 yard completion to Jackson. 3rd down: Incomplete pass to Curtis. Rams have to kick a field goal instead of getting a quick 7 point lead.

Turning Moment #2: The Rams have picked off Hasselbeck on what SHOULD have been a defensive illegal use of hands penalty. Previous Seahawks teams have been known to be sucker-punched for at least a quarter after one of those instances. We are playing tentatively, and the Rams take it down to the red zone AGAIN. 1st down: Jackson tackled for a 1 yard loss by Boulware. 2nd down: Tatupu tackles Jackson after a 5 yard completion. 3rd down: Dyson rocks Kevin Curtis, causing him to fumble the ball out of bounds. This is where Joe Vitt got positively Martz-ian. They line up as if they are going for it, try to draw us offsides, doesn't work, call a time-out, put the field-goal unit out, and then try for the fake, when YOU KNOW that is all we have been talking about the whole time-out. "Remember, guys, watch for the fake." Trufant breaks it up, the Rams get no score, we take the ball and promptly march down the field for our first touchdown. A possible 14 point swing right there. The game was never the same.

Turning Point #3: Ryan Hannam has a ball go right off his chest into a Rams defender, setting up a field goal for the Rams. Do we falter? No, on the next possession we go right down the field and score the next 14 points, opening up a 24-6 lead. I'm telling you, this team just doesn't seem to get rattled. It's really odd. As a Seahawks fan, I keep waiting for this team to do something stupid towards the end of games and lose it. Even in the Washington game, in previous years we wouldn't even have had that final field-goal CHANCE.

Turning Point #4: The Rams have just scored to cut the gap to 24-16. Bulger is hot, and the feeling in my gut is strong that the Rams will score a touchdown if they get the ball again. They never got that chance until there was a minute left in the game and the score was 31-16. All Shaun, baby. Watch this drive that started with 6:53 left in the 4th quarter, from CBSSportsline:

1-10-SEA31: (6:53) S.Alexander left tackle to SEA 30 for -1 yards (L.Little, A.Hargrove).
2-11-SEA30: (6:11) M.Hasselbeck pass to J.Jurevicius to SEA 40 for 10 yards (T.Fisher).
3-1-SEA40: (5:32) S.Alexander left tackle to SEA 42 for 2 yards (D.Groce).
1-10-SEA42: (4:50) S.Alexander left end to SEA 41 for -1 yards (D.Coakley).
2-11-SEA41: (4:38) S.Alexander right tackle to SL 49 for 10 yards (J.Kennedy, M.Furrey).
3-1-STL49: (3:56) M.Hasselbeck up the middle to SL 47 for 2 yards (T.Jackson).
1-10-STL47: (3:14) S.Alexander right end to SL 44 for 3 yards (B.Green, J.Kennedy).
2-7-STL44: (3:07) S.Alexander left tackle to SL 45 for -1 yards (R.Pickett, L.Little).
3-8-STL45: (3:02) M.Hasselbeck sacked at SEA 48 for -7 yards (A.Archuleta). PENALTY on SL-L.Little, Defensive Offside, 5 yards, enforced at SL 45 - No Play.
3-3-STL40: (2:58) M.Hasselbeck pass to B.Engram to SL 26 for 14 yards (M.Furrey).
1-10-STL26: (2:15) S.Alexander left tackle to SL 23 for 3 yards (D.Lewis).
2-7-STL23: (2:00) S.Alexander right tackle to SL 17 for 6 yards (R.Pickett, A.Archuleta).
3-1-STL17: (1:18) S.Alexander left end for 17 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
J.Brown extra point is GOOD, Center-J.Darche, Holder-T.Rouen.
STL 16 SEA 31, Plays: 12 Yards: 69 Possession: 5:48.

We converted FOUR third down plays on that drive. First, Alexander toughed out a 2 yard run that was perhaps his toughest run of the game. Second, Hasselbeck snuck it up the middle for 2 yards. Third, after a sack was nullifed by defensive offsides, Hasselbeck rolled right and found Bobby Engram, wide open, for a 14 yard completion. Finally, Alexander took the ball 17 yards left for the final touchdown. That was a drive of a champion. That was a drive that people should be talking about for the rest of this season. Chumps and pretenders don't have those types of drives in crunch time. We NEVER had those types of drives last year.

Bam. The NFC West is ours. The pundits still aren't on our side (besides John Clayton, bless his soul), but I am feeling more and more comfortable with predicting big things for this team. They simply aren't giving me any reason not too.

posted by colin_hesse @ 2:56 PM  0 comments


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