Seattle started the drive with Edgerrin James in the backfield. He stumbled for one yard and then wasted the concerted push-left of the offensive line punctuated by a clean and well timed trap block by Rob Sims. It's moments like this you realize an offensive line creates opportunities, but the back must be able to cash in.
The Seahawks converted the first when John Carlson cut across the hash marks and found a soft spot in Dallas' zone. Seattle burned its next snap with a failed SeaCat attempt. It's part of the low-probability, high-reward attack that Greg Knapp has brought to Seattle.
It's a system that is not run through the quarterback, like the simple offense Peyton Manning has thrived in, that is not run through the rush game, like the proposed Seneca Wallace offense, but that is run through Knapp himself. With second and ten and Dallas up by two scores, Knapp read an overload-left blitz and split Carlson wide left. Dallas shuffled its players, and the secondary ran around, but at the snap, Carlson was wide open. Hasselbeck took a single-step drop, turned and tossed into the outstretched hands of Anthony Spencer. What defined both plays for me was there was no read, no progression or options, just an attack on a perceived weakness.
Hasselbeck hit Nate Burleson in the hands and Burleson stumbled through the catch, received for 36, but was free to the end zone. It was a great pass.
Seattle then ran, and as before, details stopped the start of a good play. Ray Willis dropped as if to pass block, and when James attempted to run behind right guard, Willis wasn't in position to maintain the hole. Willis needed to drive block and instead sagged as if to shadow.
Knapp attempted mate with a knight. He motioned Justin Griffith wide right, but Dallas held its 3-4 look and left Griffith uncovered. At the snap, Spencer, the left outside linebacker, rushed into the backfield and James abbreviated the play action and cut blocked him. The left inside linebacker buzzed into the right flat and the safety closed over top, but Griffith was free between them, yards from the end zone. Hasselbeck threw a perfect pass towards the pylon and Griffith threw his hands up and stumbled absently as if unaware where to go. Knapp had an interesting theory, but defenses ignore fullbacks for a reason. Maybe if it is was Stanley Havili or Leonard Weaver split wide it would have worked.
The drive ended on a beautiful pass and an equally beautiful catch by Deion Branch. Branch ran a skinny post and jumped and turned just as the pass hit him in the numbers. It was basic football decided by talent and execution. The style that defines the Colts offense; a style Knapp may have abandoned after years of JaMarcus Russell and Michael Vick.