We ended the 2nd quarter with a Tarvaris Jackson HailMary interception and Seattle down 10-6. It's been a back and forth game, the crowd is in to it, Kam Chancellor laid the Seahawks' block of the year to this point, and the offense is a lot more explosive than it was in Pittsburgh. Seattle scored their first 1st quarter points of the year and also held the lead for the first time.
There are some things to take note of from the first half. The Cardinals are not blitzing much (a dialed back approach) and are getting pressure with only four guys; something we saw the Steelers do last week, though the Cards are getting it done more often - the Steelers had four 4th quarter sacks, largely a product of the blitz. Given that defensive coordinator Ray Horton came from Pittsburgh's defensive staff, a similar strategy here, after it worked very well the week before, is an "oh, that kind of makes sense" thought to me. In general, Seattle needs to keep T-Jax upright. However, despite the pressure we've seen Seattle get chunks of yards on the ground and through the air. Now they just need to sustain a drive and get in the end zone. Can they break through?
On the other side of the ball; in the middle of the 2nd quarter the Cards marched down the field on their touchdown drive with the no huddle, and Seattle couldn't do much to combat it. But, now the Cards have shown their card and Seattle needs to counter. Thus far Arizona is producing somewhat methodical and consistent offense - three of five drives totaling 8 plays or more.
All in all; for the first time this year we've got a legit football came in progress heading out of halftime! Let's get to it!
The kickoff to the Cardinals brings another slew of missed tackles, but luckily Kennard Cox is there to clean up, again - he's been a major positive on special teams coverage for Seattle in this one.
Fox then enlightens us with Carroll's comments about the 1st half, via the sideline reporter; "a lot of things need to improve," in particular Tarvaris needs to get rid of the ball quicker (the other half of the keeping him upright formula) and the offense needs to improve down and distance - other than on the first drive of the game, Seattle found themselves in 2nd/3rd and long a bit too often. The run defense is the positive.
Seattle in a six DB set versus '10.' The arrowed men (Brock on top, Clemons on bottom) are the only two that do anything "special" here; everyone on the line (including Matt McCoy and Richard Sherman) attacks. Notice on top there are three receivers and only two defenders.
Brock drops into coverage, Clemons is stunting around McCoy and Mebane into the middle. Clemons will get there, but...
Alfonso Smith runs out of the tackle, and then breaks this Earl Thomas tackle. Instead of 3rd and 13 or even 3rd and 8, it's 3rd and 6.
Don't worry, Clemons is just getting started. Seriously, this is one of my favorite halves of his. It's awesome. He pressures the throw...(after the jump)
And Kam Chancellor breaks it up, punt. Big stop. Leon Washington gets 13 on the return, which puts Seattle at their 28. Now, a little flashback; I happen to remember how big that 3rd down stop was for this crowd. After the Trufant pick to stop the Cardinals from scoring to end the half and then this, there was a feeling of "C'mon, OFFENSE, TOUCHDOWN TIME!" in the building.
Seattle runs for one on 1st and immediately goes no huddle - trying to establish the rhythm they found in the 4th quarter last week, perhaps, and something they do for the majority of this drive (stopping once they approach the redzone). Seattle gets a 1st on 3rd and 2, only to find themselves in 2nd and 10. Seattle comes to the line in '11' versus nickel, and we see Jackson audible.
(Some stats for ya.)
The only change on offense is Lynch switched sides (in the backfield); on defense the linebacker on the left hash creeps up a little bit. Golden Tate is arrowed.
Quick 5 step drop, good protection, on time throw into a small window. Jackson looks more in rhythm. But it's 3rd and 1; it looks like a normal run, and then...watch the blocking, and Lynch does the rest.
Incomplete into the ground. And then this graphic comes up:
And great, then it's 3rd and long. Remember that whole down and distance thing Carroll talked about? Yeah...the bright side is we have one of my favorite throws of the year coming up. Has been since Week 3.
Seattle in shotgun '11,' Arizona in nickel. Doug Baldwin is arrowed; he'll work his way across the field. Check Jackson's footwork here; he drives back with purpose, and quickly sets at the top of his 7 step drop.
Eyes downfield. Good protection by both tackles and Leon Washington, which allows Jackson to climb the pocket and slide in front of the defender just enough...
So he can get a lazer off to Baldwin, hitting him in stride for the 1st and a gain of 20. I thought Jackson looked as confident and decisive as we've seen him thus far this year, not to mention he made it happen with his feet as well. He was aware of the situation and made a big throw to keep the chains moving.
I think this play shows the movement skills and arm strength the front office likes about Jackson; the upside is he's yet to put it all together consistently. Wait, what; upside? Did that grind your gears? Maybe? C'Mon, everyone has an upside... I bet I just opened a can of worms. In all seriousness, though; nice throw, but it's just one play. I've come back to earth.
The next play we see some more. Seattle is in '11.' Note where Jackson looks initially, but also Ben Obomanu on the bottom.
Obo sits like he is waiting for the quick throw. Jackson sees nothing up top and snaps his head towards the middle and then other side quite forcefully here (a timing signal perhaps?). Obo takes off. Jackson is looking towards him and Lynch; note the solid-enough protection by Carpenter that makes this throw possible.
Sees nothing, rolls right, finds his guy and it's another dime to the right sideline. What I like most here; no panic, the mantra of the Seattle quarterback position these days.
Anyway, Seahawks huddle. 10 plays, 44 yards in 4-plus to here. This final throw of three in a row by Jackson, well, yeah...here's one for the 'Jackson is inconsistent' camp.
All there is to see here is that Jackson starts by looking down the middle; up top notice Tate stopping on the marker as Patrick Peterson retreats. This creates a lot of open space, but Jackson doesn't see this until he works his way across Sidney Rice (in the slot and covered):
Great extension and catch. Two weeks in a row Tate has done something like this. Though, it's worth noting we've seen a few balls sail on Jackson when he tries to make a "stick it in there" throw to the left side - we saw this a bit in Week 2. This is the anti throw your receiver open play. Some cold water on the fire just for a moment.
Seattle runs on 1st down - now in the redzone - and then Jackson rolls right off play action and guns one to Rice along the right sideline. That's now five passes completed on that side for the drive, four for 1st downs.
Here we are; the play that had Max Unger saying of Jackson after the game, "he's all in with us." Click here to see the 11 yard touchdown run. It's much better than scrolling through the 14 screen shots I took (and didn't use). Now that you've clicked the link and seen the play, here are just a few shots of before Jackson crosses the line of scrimmage:
Both receivers run slants; Jackson looks to Rice who is covered, but up top you can see the corner played off and is now charging hard to Williams. But then he gets caught...
Jackson does a nice job of running with his head, eyes and the ball up. Though Mike Williams is kind of at a stand still (and covered), this "fake" keeps the defender with Zach Miller and opens up the running lane. Touchdown, fireworks go BOOOOOOOM!
14 plays, 72 yards, 6 minutes off the clock. Seahawks lead in the 2nd half, at home. The 12th man is now in play. Arizona receives the kick, touchback, and then encounters this 3rd and 1. You ready for some more Chris Clemons? Well, I am, and the Cardinals aren't.
Seattle in a "5-3" with nine in the box, Arizona in '22." Todd Heap motions, Kam Chancellor comes with, and then this is all about Clem. I'll shut up so you can watch:
(Fake handoff, pitch.)
(Underlined: Leroy Hill gets rag-dolled. He's on the ground under the Fox logo, next frame.)
Gets ruled an incompletion instead of intentional grounding or a sack. On 3rd the Cardinals show pressure:
Which leads to a timeout, and then a Jackson throw-away. Then we have another punt to the Arizona 27. Two runs leads to a 1st down, but then Leroy Hill makes a rare yet strong play in coverage and hinders Larry Fitzgerald just enough to force an incomplete pass over the short-middle. On the ensuing punt Jeron Johnson almost gets a piece:
But instead it's Seattle ball on the 20. On 3rd and 7 Mike Williams lines up in the slot and jumps. Pete:
Now we have 3rd and 12. Here is another solid play action roll right; watch Justin Forsett on the back side, and note Paul McQuistan pulling out in front as the foundation of solid protection. Sidney Rice (arrow) is the target and Baldwin runs a complementary route. Seattle in '11:'
Fake works. Niiiiiice protection.
Rice found the hole in the zone (maybe partly opened by Baldwin) but didn't appear to run his route past the marker. Now we have one of those "where does this get spotted" situations on a play that could have easily been a 1st down. Maybe the throw brought Rice back, maybe not; can't really tell.
And I'm not telling where this ball gets spotted. You'll have to come back for part 4 tomorrow to find out.