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Game Recap: Panic in Detroit

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    Josh Brown saves the orphanage from the bulldozers. Again.
? AP/Carlos Osorio

 
Nothin' like an offensive barn-burner to kick off the season! Depending on your usage of the word "offensive," of course.

Well, you know. A win's a win. 1-and-0 is 1-and-0, which is better than how we started last season. And this was a road victory, which is something we always have room for. It's good to stockpile those road wins.

For awhile the Seahawks' 9-6 victory over the Lions felt about as bad a "good start" as a football team can get. The distaste stuck with me for most of the early afternoon. But then I got all David Carradine and got through my disgust with some old school, in-your-face philosophizing.

Remember: This is precisely the type of game the Seahawks used to lose.

For example, grasshoppa, let's go back to last year's Week 7 scoring-challenged victory over the Cowboys, which was every bit as agonizing, infuriating and finally relieving as this game. Many stats were very similar to Sunday's: Matt's passing yardage (224 vs. Dallas, to 210 today), Shaun's yards per attempt (2.9 to 2.7), the team's 3rd down conversion efficiency (3-13 to 2-11), Josh Brown's longest successful field goal (55 yards to 51), number of times I used FCC-banned expletives during the course of the game (well, 0 to 0 - my daughter was in the house). And of course both games ended the same way, with Josh Brown knocking the game winner through the uprights in an attempt that could not be called a gimme.

Bottom line, we had every reason in the world to lose this game, and we didn't. The only reason it felt uglier than last year's Dallas win was because this was Week 1, which is all hype anyway, and we were supposed to play a traditional patsy. In the end, it's just one game out of sixteen. It's this year's Week 7. That's all there is to it.

Well, except for the fact that we couldn't find the end zone with Google Maps.

Obviously, you'll be reading a lot about the offensive line problems from now 'til Sunday next. Nobody's going to delude themselves into thinking Pork Chop Womack had a solid start. But even that can be put into perspective a little bit: Womack was being hassled by Lions tackle Shaun Rogers, who's one of the best in the league over the last couple of seasons. As much criticism as you can make of the Detroit Lions, their defensive line would probably get the least. They're supposed to be pretty good, and they were. That's not an exculpation of Womack, but it should describe the learning curve he faced today.

Still, when your line is throttled to the point that you're scared to hand the ball to last season's MVP, you need to do some homework tonight. And figure out how to avoid a 5-sack game tomorrow night. Tuesday we'll have glee club.

There's a difference between uptempo offense and sheer panic, and it's to Matt's credit that I couldn't really tell which was which in the first half, before the sacks rained down like, well, rain. Before that I was impressed with his spreading the ball around, although having Mack Strong as your leading receiver isn't going to result in a ton of wins. You have to be encouraged by how Darrell Jackson paid off on some nifty, if lip-biting, improvisations. Engram looked like money as well. Burleson had only one catch, but it was a nimble one a lesser receiver might not have made. To be totally honest, Mili's four catches were more than I felt we could expect from him in place of Jerramy Stevens. The passing game might have looked like a bicycle with training wheels rushing down the slopes of Mount Everest at times, but nobody died. Or got intercepted.

Two consecutive plays in the final, winning drive made me very happy because of who was involved: D.J. Hackett and Maurice Morris. These were the most valuable back-to-back plays of the game for Seattle - Hackett's 14-yard reception and Morris's 17-yard run probably kept the game from going into what seemed like certain overtime. And again, it was a nice act of diversifying the offense, giving specific role players the chance to set up something big (and fool the defense). You want to rely on your horses, but in situations like this when you can get a wild-card to turn up big, that's inspirational - even once, let alone twice straight.

As for things that looked positively wonderful on Sunday, you have to like what you saw with the special teams (excepting Josh Brown's first two field goal tries, one of which was attempted from approximately Grand Rapids). Plackemeier is giving them so much hang time that the rushers have more than enough clock to move down the field, get in the returner's face, and open up a lemonade stand with an ATM. Willie Ponder, with three returns and a 29.3 yard average, looked like one of Ruskell's more subtly brilliant acquisitions.

Defensively, there's not much bad stuff to be said about a unit that holds a team to two field goals. Well, one concern: The Lions got a ton of second chances in the interior, after various Seahawk defenders either couldn't finish tackles or were over-carried by their momentum. A lot of Lions just bounced off these guys, and only frantic last acts by the secondary and linebackers kept them from breaking into big yardage. The Seahawks D made their name last year out of the "bend-don't-break" methodology; this afternoon they bent so hard they were practically doing the Linda Blair crabwalk from the director's cut of The Exorcist.

(That last sentence is this week's winner of the Dennis Miller Award for the most awkwardly long sub-cultural analogy. Wait, no, that last sentence wins.)

But again: Before 2005, this would have been a loss. Josh Brown had the extreme fortune of atoning for two horrendously botched attempts with two long and longer field goals, plus a chip shot. That long winning kick was undoubtedly important for Brown, the same way his kick against Dallas was last year. But it might have been equally as important for the Seahawks' mentality for these next four weeks. They have to take the momentum of the shock, and the immense relief of the group exhale, consider themselves lucky, and get back to work.

The good thing about the Seahawks' problems is that they're pretty easily isolated and recognized. The offensive line needs to jell, Alexander's going to have to get tough, the defense will have to tighten up, and Ryan Plackemeier will have to avoid amputation over the next week. But we have an emotional home game next weekend, and at least we won't be predisposed to nausea going into it. Flutters, maybe. Hangnails, possibly. Nausea, no.

Fill in the blanks in the comments section if you like - I have another deadline to work on at the moment.

(And, most of all, monster thanks to all of you who came by the open game threads. It was a huge, record-obliterating day for Field Gulls, and I know it wasn't just due to phildopip and I hitting our refresh buttons. We're fast, but not that fast.)

(And yes, I will use that David Bowie song for a story title anytime we're in Detroit facing a situation of remote peril. I believe the AP style guide mandates that you have to. It's cheap, but what can I say? I'm a blogger.)

(I mean blogga.)