Bore Notes: Seahawks at Browns

Well that game certainly was a technical game of football.  That is to say, technically the Seahawks and Browns played an NFL football game yesterday.  There were 60 minutes of game time, 11 players on each side of the ball, and technically there were referees, though I'm 80% sure that those guys were brought in just moments before the game without any experience.

One of them looked an awful lot like Mike Carey though.  I guess I would have thought that guy was NFL referee Mike Carey if I saw him walking down the street too.

Still, I don't blame this entire loss on the refs.  Did they call back a touchdown on a bogus call?  Absolutely.  And did we turn it over on the next play, wiping out all of the momentum that we almost had?  Sure did.  But I won't sit here and pretend to know what would have happened in the alternate universe where Leon Washington returns a punt for a TD.  I would guess that we probably win in that alternate universe, but there are no guarantees.

I would prefer to live in an alternate universe where Charlie Whitehurst chose to be the cool middle school science teacher, instead of playing football.

What I can guarantee is that I missed Tarvaris Jackson and Marshawn Lynch and so did the offense.  The Seahawks fell to 27th in the NFL in points per game and 31st in total yards after putting up a whopping 137 of them against Cleveland.  Kudos to the defense for being out there 75% of the game and still not allowing the Browns to do any more than kick a couple of field goals against us.

That's where I see a couple of positive signs.  This team was playing as short-handed as they have all year and they lost by three points on the road.  I don't care if you're playing the worst team in football, the defense kept us in the game and the special teams nearly won it for us.  It's kind of cool to field probably the worst offense in football outside of the Rams and nearly win a game.   Yeah, it sucks that our offense is that bad, but let me silver-line that cloud for you. 

Let's try not to be too cynical about this, because nobody likes a Debbie Downer and there were positives to come away from in this game, even if it was the most boring thing I've ever seen, and I've seen You've Got Mail.

Onto the game...

"Marshawn Lynch out.  My wishes suck!"

So my love notes sent out on Friday certainly fell on deaf ears.  I wanted Tarvaris Jackson to play, Marshawn Lynch to get 100 yards, the defense to force three turnovers, and Doug Baldwin to be productive.  As well as Pete Carroll to be my backup dad, which I'm still waiting to hear word on.

Jackson and Lynch didn't play, Baldwin was held without a catch, and the defense forced just one turnover while squandering opportunities to force a couple of more.  The fate of the offense was already doomed before the game ever started, with the Hawks playing without their starting QB, RB, TE, and C.  Even if our most talented group might be the wide receivers, the Browns had Joe Haden healthy and are one of the top pass defenses in the NFL.  Meaning that we'd need to win this game on defense and special teams, because the offense was probably not going to get very far.

"Washington with the 1st down.  At least we get extended Leon."

There's been a lot of talk amongst the fans this year that we want to see what Leon can do with a bigger role in the offense. At least with Lynch out, we'd get a better idea of what we have behind Lynch.  The short answer is the Washington had 7 carries for 39 yards and 4 catches for 10 yards.  He didn't play terribly.  The long answer is that I'm still unsure of what we have in Leon.  I think Leon would make a great 10-carry back for a team that had a good offense already, but to play with a bad quarterback on a bad offense, we found out what we already know; Leon isn't a Pro Bowl every-down back. 

Leon did well with what he had, but 11 touches in the game isn't going to be enough to prove anything one way or the other. 

"False start Carpenter"

I only got to see the play once, but I heard on Twitter that the false start on Carpenter might not have entirely been on him.  Maybe this wasn't a fair penalty on Carp, I'll let you guys tell me that.  It still was another bad game for Carpenter regardless of this one penalty.  Carpenter was called for another false start as well and the offense went nowhere all day, with Carpenter getting beat several times.

"Charlie sacked.  Third-and-Forever"

When it was all said and done the Seahawks faced third-and-31 on their opening drive. 

The funny thing about this game is that the Seahawks were moving well up until that false start on Carpenter.  They had three first downs and were at their own 42-yard line facing 2nd-and-7.  Then after the penalty, Whitehurst was sacked for a loss of nine yards.  A delay of game and a false start on Carpenter had us facing this long third down, and even after Forsett rushed for 8 on that play, the Browns declined a holding penalty on backup center Lemuel Jeanpierre.

The Hawks completed self-destructed after those first six plays.  While their longest gain during those opening plays was for seven yards, they were making positive yardage.  So much for that.

"Nice defense Hawks.  Browns offense looks crappy."

I wish I had used a better superlative than "crappy" but you get what you get and I refuse to alter my bar notes.  (After going to Oktoberfest the night before, I was lucky to make it to the bar at 10 AM.) 

But the Browns offense did look crappy, and it continued to look crappy all day long.  Colt McCoy at this stage in his career, does not look like the answer.  He looks like a "game manager" at best, and I am starting to see better why he fell in the draft.  The Browns offensive line may not be the best in the business, but his throws weren't all that pretty.

The Browns went three-and-out and Seattle looked poised to win the field position battle early by starting on their own 45. 

"Obamanu looks wide open.  Pass is way short."

Charlie hardly ever seemed to come close to anybody with his throws past 10 yards.  Just to do an early recap of the offense with some idea of how bad this game was: This drive was :39 long.  Their longest drive of the game in terms of time was the opening drive of 3:58.  Their longest drive in terms of yards was nine plays for 60 yards which led to their only score of the day, a field goal.  Their second longest drive was 14 yards.

Yeah.

This was absolutely one of the worst games you could ever watch, and thinking of things to write in my notes was difficult.  I may as well have just doodled between field goal attempts.

"Dropped pick 6, need those."

If the Hawks had taken advantage of the opportunities they had to make a play on defense, they would have won this game by 10 points probably.  The Browns unlocked the door, but we never opened it.  And there's candy and video games on the other side you guys.

"Mike Williams sighting.  A little too much celebrating Mike."

On their third offensive series, Whitehurst connected with Williams for 10 yards and a first down.  BMW got up, gave the whole "signaling a first down" celebration, and honestly I still can't understand why some guys celebrate certain plays. 

I like Williams, but I can't really understand what he's celebrating about.  He has 9 catches for 89 yards this year.  Maybe he knew this would be his only catch of the entire game.  Maybe he knew that we'd have only nine first downs in the entire game.  Maybe he thinks that wild celebration over getting to their own 45-yard-line would be an additional 15 yards for style points. 

The term "Act like you've been there before" might not make a whole lot of sense for a player who hasn't been there before very often.  I commended BMW for his work ethic in returning to the NFL last year and being productive, and I'll just as easily criticise him for when he's unproductive and throwing around celebrations for plays that do not result in six points.  In the context of the game, it was pretty lame.

The Seahawks punted four plays later.

"Carpenter gets bead badly.  Sack.  Punt."

That's how that series ended.  More bad from Carpenter, who looked like the lesser of the rookies on each side of the ball.

"Hardesty running well."

Montario Hardesty was filling in for Peyton Hillis, but I thought he played pretty well.  He only gained 95 yards on 33 carries, but the Seahawks are one of the best run defenses in the league and even though he had a lot of carries where he lost yardage or got nothing, I thought he did a good job of fighting for yards and getting a little bit extra to keep the Browns moving.  The Hawks d-line played really well, I'm just commending Hardesty for fighting through it.

"Red Bryant perfectly picks up bootleg."

With the Browns driving into Seahawks territory, McCoy ran a bootleg that didn't fool Red for a second and he was all over McCoy in seconds, forcing a bad throw.  The blocked field goals get the attention, but Bryant was absolutely dominating in this game, overall.

"Nice sack Kam.  Worst personal foul penalty ever."

That was probably a knee jerk reaction, but this was the first time we could get irate with the officiating in this game.  On third-and-five, Chancellor went untouched to McCoy and blew him up.  His helmet indeed made contact with the body of McCoy, but it seemed to only graze him and I honestly felt Chancellor did all he could to make it a clean sack.  Still, the refs disagreed and a 15-yard penalty kept the defense on the field.

"BLOCKED FG! YEAH!"

Red Bryant is Awesome Play #2. 

Finally something to cheer about in this game that's now in the 2nd quarter.  I kind of cringed at the idea that we couldn't pick it up and run with it though, because it already seemed doubtful that our offense would keep the momentum going. 

"Golden Tate 1st down"

After two Whitehurst incompletions, he hit Golden Tate 11 yards for a first down and we were at the Browns 43.  Still, the playcalling is weird: On the first set of downs the Hawks threw it on first, second, and third.  On the next set of downs Forsett ran it on first and second and we were left with third-and-seven.  It just sucks to see us in third-and-long when the offense is so bad at converting third-and-long. 

"Seahawks turnover.  Whitehurst sacked on throw(?)"

I think you could make an argument that the fumble was an incomplete pass, but Pete challenged and the call was upheld.  It seemed like his arm could have been going forward at the time, but nonetheless, it was Browns ball at their own 47.

"Cleveland three-and-out.  Nevermind, Hawks blow it."

The defense forced the Browns to punt, but a neutral zone infraction gave Cleveland five more yards and a first down.  Opportunity completely wasted and the Browns would strike first on an ensuing field goal.

"Field Goal.  Refs didn't call false start on Cleveland play before punt."

Facing third-and-nine, McCoy hit Evan Moore for five yards and setup Phil Dawson for a 52-yard field goal.  Seemed insignificant enough, but I could have sworn that the Browns moved early on that play.  There was never a replay, so I can't say for sure, but usually when you have a feeling that team moved before the snap, you're right.  There was no flag and instead of third-and-fourteen, the Browns got the opportunity to kick the field goal and made it. 

This was starting to feel like Super Bowl XL, except on the absolute opposite end of the spectrum in terms of significance. 

"I'd write more if more happened."

This game was really boring.  Somehow I've actually still written a lot and we aren't even at half time yet.  Yay me.  I wonder if I could write a not boring review of AMC's The Killing.

"Punt.  Is there a mercy rule for fans?"

Okay, maybe I'm being a bit redundant now.  There were 12 punts in the game.  They could have called the game in the interest of fan safety, for fear that fans would harm themselves.

"Nice pass breakup for Kam."

Chancellor was a stud in this game as well, and I'm sure we're all stoked that he didn't get seriously injured.  One positive I definitely take away from this game is that Chancellor, Bryant, Hawthorne, and Earl Thomas look like they could form the core of a defense that's not only exciting, but effective.  And yes, there's a difference between the two. 

The Ravens defense being a perfect example of a team that can do both.

"I'd like to comment on Jim Mora, but I can't really hear."

One of the downsides to watching the game at a bar, but that doesn't outweigh the benefits of beer, wings, and every game being shown somewhere in the bar.

It was really interesting that Mora was commentating on a game for a team he coached only two years ago, and even if he still loves the city of Seattle, it had to hurt a little.  Or maybe he was laughing on the inside.  I don't think Jim Mora is a bad person, but he wasn't a very good coach.

"Hey ref, that guy stole your hat."

Anyone else see that?  I'm sure he gave it back.

2ND HALF

"Sherman gets his hand on one.  Hawks need a turnover."

So Walter Thurmond checked out for the rest of the year, and Richard Shermans role in the defense grows even more.  We will be putting a whole crapload of faith for the rest of the year in an incredible amount of inexperience in our secondary.  It could be either excruciating or exciting. 

And yes, the defense still desperately needed to win this game for us.

"Little with the first down.  Don't like Browners tackle."

On third-and-eight the drive could have been stopped if Brandon Browner made a proper tackle on Greg Little.  He did not and Little got nine yards.  It sucked how often the Browns just barely got a first down. 

"Hawthorne INT! HE IS KILL-ING-IT-TO-DAY!" 

Whew, that was close!  David Hawthorne did just enough to get two feet in bounds and the Hawks finally make their own destiny on defense with this interception at the 12.  Still, it was now time for Charlie and the offense to take us out of Browns territory. 

"McCoy drops a first down."

And other things that are eerily reminiscent of the Giants game.  The more I see of Anthony McCoy, the less I appreciate my sense of sight.  I don't know exactly how their blocking compared yesterday, but Cameron Morrah was at least more effective in the passing game.  McCoy is absolutely one of the worst pass catchers I've seen this season.

"Clemons all over the field today.  Browns punt."

I didn't put Chris Clemons in that group above, but he was pretty solid too and finished with four tackles and two sacks.

"Leon returns a punt for a TD.  Called back when a Browns player fell down.  Good refs today."

So the exclamation point on the terrible officiating and the play of the game came right here with seven minutes left in the third quarter.  What was one of the worst Seahawks games I've ever seen, was about to be 7-3, and maybe we'd at least get a victory and forget the details.

Did Kennard Cox touch the player on the back and did he subsequently fall down?  Yes.  But in what context of football does the actual visual evidence of the play suggest that there was a penalty?

I am so impressed by NFL officials sometimes that it boggles my mind that humans exist that can somehow see something with their own two eyes, in that speed of the game, and get the call right.  I've seen countless plays in real time that I say either "no way he caught that" or "I have NO IDEA" whether or not he caught that, that I'm just shocked when an NFL official gets it 100% right.  But they're so good at what they do.

So why in the wide world of sports can they sometimes be so very wrong?  How can they possibly be both so good at their jobs at times, and yet so bad at other times?  Sure, human error will always exist as long as we leave the calls up to humans, but a whole team of officials watched Leon Washington return a punt for a touchdown, and they still decided that Cox had a block in the back, even though his arm was completely stretched out and incapable of pushing when he touched the Browns player.

I wish that Cox would have simply not touched him, and he really never should have, but this was still a penalty that killed our only hope for a touchdown and it should have never existed.  It should exist in that alternate universe.

"Browns proceed to intercept the next play."

I'm never really surprised when the ensuing play after something like that happens is to go downfield.  And so when Charlie chucked it on an intended pass for Sidney Rice, in the hopes that we can just score right now and get that awful taste out of our mouths, it seemed like predictable timing.

It's too bad that the pass was predictably underthrown by Charlie Whitehurst and picked off.  There was a lot of contact by Sheldon Brown, but that was still an interception by Whitehurst because Whitehurst couldn't throw it in a catchable spot for Rice. 

After the game, Charlie Whitehurst's own mother called Pete Carroll and asked about Josh Portis.

"Sidney Rice sighting down to the Browns 9.  Oof, can't stay in bounds."

After a Browns punt, the Hawks actually got their one shining moment when Rice was left completely alone and Whitehurst rolled out and chucked it to the wide open Seahawk.  Unfortunately, the pass wasn't very accurate and Rice was unable to keep his balance on the sideline.  He had a lot of room out there on the right side but the pass led him towards the sideline and instead of walking in for six, his momentum took him out at the nine.

That made me cringe.  The Seahawks scoring a touchdown still seemed unlikely to me from that distance. 

"Face mask on Leon.  First and goal at the 2."

I became more optimistic when the Hawks had first and goal at the Browns two-yard line.  Silly me. 

Without Marshawn Lynch to punch it in, the Hawks gave Forsett one crack at it and then Charlie Whitehurst pass attempts on second and third down.  All of the anger over the penalty on the punt return could have been put to rest if the Hawks managed to just get two yards of offense right here.

Just direct all of your anger directly to Charlie Whitehurst, all of your sadness at the loss of Marshawn Lynch and Tarvaris Jackson, and remember that they might be back next week. 

We kicked a field goal to make it 3-3.

"Third down conversion to Alex Smith.  That's why he was the #1 pick."

Good to see the former Utah quarterback making it in the NFL as a black tight end for the Browns.

The Browns go-ahead field goal could have been a three-and-out if we had just stopped this conversion to Smith.  It stung then, and it hurts even more in retrospect.

"It feels like we're losing.  Browns fans probably feel the same."

Before the game was 6-3 Browns, I wrote this.  It really felt like we were getting our asses handed to us, but this was a tied game and the Hawks had a good shot to win if they could just keep playing defense like they were.  But it felt like we were losing.  And I feel like Cleveland fans felt the same way.  We were both losers.  (Up until the Browns won.)

"52 Yard FG.  Dawson.  3-6"

Then we were losing for real.

"McCoy pressured again.  Escapes for 12 yards.  First down."

It's third-and-eleven, the Browns have it at their own 48, seven minutes remain in the game.  Stop the Browns here and we get the ball back, maybe Leon takes it to the house again.  Something.

The Hawks get pressure on McCoy, like they have all day, and it seems like we'll get him.  Then he scrambles for a first down.  There's nothing more frustrating then the feeling that you've got it and then it's just snatched from your fingers.  You'd rather you had never came so close than to be teased.  If I want to be teased, I'll pay good money for it.  That's just demoralizing and my morals weren't very high to begin with. 

"Kam bodyslams Hardesty.  But this looks grim."

Kam is so damn good.  How are we so lucky to have him?  Still, the Browns were down to the Seahawks 13-yard line with less than four minutes remaining and with first down.  It would take some luck to not lose this game.

"WOW.  FINALLY SOMETHING WORTH WATCHING.  WOW."

Can you guess what that's about?

I didn't express a single emotion throughout this game.  Like I said, it was pretty terrible to watch.  I may have gone "Yes!" during the Hawthorne interception, or "Wow" during the first Red Bryant blocked FG, but I pretty much was in check between nap times.  The dormant volcano exploded when something extraordinary actually did happen.  Not only was it his second blocked FG of the game, not only was Bryant going to win this game for us, but a game that looked unwinnable all of a sudden became ours to lose.  Maybe Red or Kam or Hawthorne would come in and QB?  Surely, the momentum was ours and please don't screw this up Charlie.

I imagine that the defense is more pissed at Charlie than you or I are.

"Whitehurst has 92 yards.  We need at least 50 on this drive."

Starting at their own 20 yard line, the Hawks gave Charlie the ball.  With only three minutes remaining, they couldn't hope to get within FG range with anything but a passing game.  But could we really expect Whitehurst to drive us down the field?  Maybe.  He did it in New York.

Hmmm. 

"PI on Haden.  So lucky."

Third-and-ten and Haden opens the door for an offense that couldn't move the ball on their own.

"Obamanu drops first down."

Can't put the whole thing on Charlie I guess.  On third and five, Ben Obamanu dropped an easy first down, and let's not forget that.  As much as we may like Obamanu, this was a terrible mistake. 

"PI on Baldwin."

Charlie finally hit Doug Baldwin for the first time all day and the Hawks got the first down on fourth.  Too bad that the refs saw Dougie Fresh give the Dougie Push off a Cleveland defender to make it happen.  Did they have to call it?  No.  But did they call it anyway?  Of course.  But it was a callable penalty, in my opinion.  People had bad reactions in the bar, but in my recollection, there wasn't too much controversy. 

The Seahawks turned it over on downs on the next play.

"Red ejected.  Ironically, Bryant seals the loss."

Hero of the day, Red Bryant could win an NFL award of the week for his performance in the game.  Too bad his head butt cost the Hawks any last hopes they may have had to win.

Whether it was a longshot or not, a longshot is more than a "no shot."  The Browns were stopped on third and seven with a little over a minute left.  They'd probably kick a field goal (maybe it would be blocked!) and go up by six points, but what if Leon Washington takes it back?  What if the Browns had some breakdown in their defense?  It doesn't matter what the "What if" statement is, as long as it exists.

Bryants stupid penalty removed all the "What if?" possibilities.  Which sucks because he had the game of his life. 

In good news, he and Hawthorne had the games of their lives.  Kam Chancellor is an absolute beast.  And the Seahawks lost by three points on the road, and they didn't even attempt to play offense.  That's like half the game of football right there! 

I didn't think the Hawks were a playoff team before this game, and I certainly don't think they are now, but I'm more optimistic about our defense and special teams than I was before.  Luckily, the offense, as bad as it is, could improve with a few players getting healthy.  The Hawks might be a 6-10 football team, but they're one that shouldn't have to worry about filling in a few key positions next season and we've seen the maturation and improvement this year, and yesterday especially, of some really exciting Seahawks.

Let's move onto the Cincinnati game, get back home, and continue to see that improvement.

Now, doesn't that feel a lot better than a pity party?

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