Why Check Down? Because It Works.

Simple explanations are best and the simple explanation for Matt Hasselbeck's check down-fever was that Detroit was rushing the passer and dropping into medium and deep cover. The Lions were protecting an early 17 point lead. Their plan to attack the line and drop into deep cover is a typical response to an early lead. So Hasselbeck and Greg Knapp attacked them where they were exposed: between the linebackers and safeties.

He threw to T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Kevin Hobbs put a hat on the ball and forced a fumble. Max Unger was running towards the play and recovered. Unger was beat on his pass block and thus in excellent position to recover. It was a classic Big Play Babs maneuver.

In all, Seattle ran four play-action passes in seven pass plays. They all fit a single idea: draw the linebackers and wait for space between the linebackers and safeties. It worked. It also opened the run for the first time. Seattle ran play action four times, but ran only twice.

Justin Forsett attacked the middle on a simple run up the gut. Chris Spencer turned his man and from there it was Force against the second level. He ran for fourteen. It was the single longest play of the drive.

Julius Jones cashed in on an inside draw. Max Unger was run through and Jones had to bull and spin through a tackle in his own backfield. Spencer and Rob Sims had fought back the defensive right and Jones cut left and into space for the touchdown.

A team uses the plays that work. I am sure the Seahawks will feature a similar playbook versus the attacking Arizona Cardinals. I did not consider Hasselbeck's showing a failure. It worked. However, in the big picture, this is the latest game in which Matt Hasselbeck seems unwilling to pass against modestly tight coverage. That coverage gets tighter this Sunday. Will Seattle design enough check downs to stay astride an explosive Cardinals offense?

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