Rarely has the analogy "like a train wreck in slow motion" seemed so apt. It was a slow, plodding game, two dink-and-dunk offenses with very little big plays on either side. When the Seahawks reached the redzone with about four minutes left in the third quarter, it was the first time either team had been inside the other team's 30 yard.
This was one of the ugliest games of football I've ever seen. I wish I could say it was about two great defenses going toe-to-toe, but it really wasn't, it was about two fairly good defenses going up against a pair of incredibly bad offenses. Injuries of Zach Miller and Marshawn Lynch on our side and Massaquoi and Watson on the Cleveland side didn't help at all.
But I shouldn't undersell the defense fully, defensive linemen on both sides spent a lot of time in the other team's backfield, logging a total of eight sacks (five for us). The best players on the Seahawks side were - not coincidentally - all defensive players. Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane both had dominant games limiting the Cleveland run game (to 2.5 YPC, and that's a fairly good run-blocking O-line) as well as causing occasional pressure against the Cleveland short and quick passing game. Red Bryant also logged two blocked kicks, though the second was kind of gifted by the Browns. He played great overall, until a blatant and idiotic headbutt that got him ejected late in the 4th. It was just the perfect way to end this game.
To supplement that, Leroy Hill had a good game, but was overshadowed by David Hawthorne. After being a bit of a liability in coverage so far this season, showed up in a major way, logging a sack and hauling in a wobbly-bobbly pick on a terrible McCoy throw (most of Colt McCoy's throws were bad, so the pick was inevitable). Hawthorne had his best game so far this season, and was probably our best player on the field. So, at least we have that? Sadly, we also had to deal with some injuries on defense. Chancellor came back after sitting out some snaps, but Walter Thurmond was carted off and we'll have to nervously await news on that key young player.
As for the offense, the less said the better. Charlie Whitehurst made a ton of bad decisions and bad throws, and while some bad offensive line play and errant snaps from backup center Lemuelle Jeanpierre excuses some of it, most of it is on Charlie. This'll quiet some of the quarterback controversy but honestly the only sensible conclusion so far this season is "both our quarterbacks are bad", which is really what most of us were saying prior to the season, and what will make this a long season as we wait for a legit player under center.
There were other factors crippling this offense. You could tell we missed Marshawn Lynch on short-yardage/goalline situations, as the FO has very little faith in Justin Forsett. Missing Zach Miller showed itself in bad blocks by Cameron Morrah and bad catches by Anthony McCoy. Sidney Rice was effectively taken out of most of the game by Joe Haden, who was a major playmaker for the Browns. James Carpenter had a terrible game, not helped by the interior offensive line constantly collapsing. We produced 137 total yards, with Charlie Whitehurst logging 72 net passing yards. Bad. Terrible enough to make Tarvaris look positively desirable.
No discussion of this game would be complete without mentioning the big flub by the referees. The score would have changed from 6-3 to 6-10, Seahawks win, as the Leon Washington's punt return touchdown was called back (interception on the ensuing play with an underthrown pass from Whitehurst). It was a horrible, horrible call that had way too much influence on the game. Kennard Cox barely touched a Cleveland Brown player who reacted by flopping to the ground like an association football player. A terrible non-call. The referee, Mike Carey, is in my opinion one of the best in the game, yet there were a few calls and non-calls on both sides that were somewhat dubious, it wasn't a well-officiated game by the ending whistle. Most of the dubious calls are/were getting overblown in the emotion of the moment, but there's no excusing that block in the back call. Fans often look to blame the game on referees, and usually I instinctively go against that, but that one call on the punt return did factually change the game and it was undeniably a horrible call.
That said, it shouldn't overshadow how badly we played. 17:04 to 42:56 Time of Possession. 137 to 298 total yards. 8 to 20 first downs. 2 to 1 turnover. This is the kind of game we could've pulled out of the fire thanks to special teams, kind of like we did last year, but mostly it was just one of the worst games any of us have seen in a long time, and one we deserved to lose. And isn't that odd after the Giants win? It is, yet it makes some kind of sense. We're a very young team, and we're going to be very up and down all season, especially away. While I never expected it to get quite this bad, just figure next week we should have some key offensive starters back, and hopefully play a better game of football. Can't play much worse. Anyone who was daring to think playoffs heading into the byes, though, think again.