Another slow, uneventful quarter. No stage production this time, just the highlights.
- Grant made a really nice play on a deep pass. It's too bad the ball trickled out after impact, because the outcome, a simple pass defensed, really obscures the quality of the play. He broke on the ball in a split and went for a pick in a no lose situation. You either get an interception, defense the pass, or if the complete unexpected occurs and Grant completely whiffs, the receiver was still manned up by Marcus Trufant. Had Grant converted the pick, it would have been highlight material. Instead, a simple feather in the cap for the lesser of Seattle's two big free agents signings this off season. Like Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson, the first season belongs to the bruiser, but time may prove Grant the better overall signing.
- What more can be said about Jordan Babineaux. He's got it bad, his teammates know and fingers are starting to point. I hate to be so stark, but, right now, guy's playing his way off the 2008 roster. On the Panthers' 7th play of their 2nd drive, Babs had every chance to not only cover his assignment, but go for a pick. Panthers break with trips right. Hawks are in a Nickel defense. Presnap, the outside receiver of the bunch motions wide right. Snap. Hawks bring medium pressure, the pocket collapses and Matt Moore rolls right. He finds Drew Carter wide open, passes and Carter converts the first. Babs comes running for the clean up tackle, but the damage is done. Tats, who had the inside zone a step away from Carter, runs up with his arms widespread, staring down Babs in the body language equivalent of "WTF?" If you see this contest again, look at Babs, he knows he screwed up and the shame is splayed across his face. I'm pulling for the guy, but he's a cipher on a defense defined by its headiness and hard work. The capper, I counted, Moore stares down Carter for just under 3 seconds straight, even thrice patting the ball. If you can't cover a guy after all that, man, you're hurtin'.
- Another drop by Weaver.
- Both incomplete passes intended for Maurice Morris were underthrown.
- Dick Stockton somehow, inexplicably calls Nate Burleson, "Wilson". I'm not calling the guy out, but am still trying to figure out how you make that mistake. It's like calling Matt Hasselbeck "Charlie Frye".
- Brian Russell had his best tackle of the season, in what should have been a forced fumble. Russell gets his share of cheepy hits, but in this case, it almost paid off. Brad Hoover was sliding down after a 1 yard dump off by Moore. The typical thing to do here is get a hand on the guy so that he's down. Russell decides he's going to blow Hoover up. The brunt of the hit lands on Hoover's arms and the ball, spitting it up into the air and right back into Hoover's arms. The whole play is called dead on a Kelly Jennings illegal contact, but the effort's appreciated.
- Walter Jones and Rob Sims are still working on their chemistry. Sometimes I'm not sure if Jones is simply blowing his assignment or if he just expects Sims to do something else. Jones completely missed pass blocking the outside against Mike Rucker, nearly leading to a sack and/or turnover. I have to credit Jones with the gaffe, because, that's how it looks. I can't know if Sims was supposed to pop outside, but can say if he had, about three rushers would have poured through untouched inside.
Speaking of Sims, his is a great case of vividness triumphing over quantity. Memory that is. For the entire first half Sims was near flawless blocking. He was good in the run game. He held his own in the pass game. He even had a really nice block, pull, block on Morris's 6 yard rush. That we don't pay much attention to linemen until they screw up is not an excuse for ripping someone a new cornshoot. Remember, you're prevailing memory of any one player, coach or game is often defined by a particularly standout play, but that memory and that play are not best evidence for defining them or it.