The Hawks win. Alexander rushes for a hundred. Box score skimmers will no doubt praise our doddering once rusher, for those who watch the game--watch, rewatch; for those who train their eyes on the flickering set like the hovering Holy Ghost, who break their bank accounts to watch miniatures scamper from three hundred yards away, who give their time and money to see 60 minutes of American Goddamn Football 16+ times a year, nothing could be farther from the truth. Alexander hurts Seattle with his pass blocking. He hurts Seattle with inconsistency. His non-receiving. The 2007 Seattle Seahawks deserve better.
Matt Hasselbeck deserves better. Ignore the picks--that's not him. Beck threw for three scores and stepped up every time his team needed him. It's no stretch to say Hasselbeck looks to be beginning what could be a career year.
The Seahawks offensive line deserves better. Hasselbeck enjoyed consistently sound pockets to find his receivers from. Alexander had colossal holes to stumble through, and a CFL caliber set of linebackers in the second level. Walter Jones manned up. Sims dominated. The Hawks line will be ignored until Seattle acquires a rusher worth a squat, but this is a young, very talented and very cheap group that will benefit the Hawk rushing attack for years.
The Hawks defense deserves better. Brandon Mebane and Matchupalooza star Rocky Bernard recorded the only two sacks, but Carson Palmer was consistently harried. The attacking front seven where the invisible drivetrain for Brian Russell's and Deon Grant's picks. Not only did they collapse the pocket and limit time for plays to develop, but they dominated the Bengals power rushing attack. Rudi Johnson ran for 1 or fewer yards on a full 59% of his 17. Palmer had to consistently fight his way out of third down situations. In summation, the Hawks held one of the five best offenses in football to 21 points and four turnovers.
The Special Teams deserves better. With the cover game joining an already elite return, kicking and punting game, Seattle has easily one of the best special teams units in football.
Seattle won a big game, a gutsy game at home to a tough Cincinnati squad, but until they fix their running game they are not contenders. It's clear that Tim Ruskell understands that the Hawks need help at running back, but it's yet unclear what it will take to convince Mike Holmgren to give touches to anyone but Alexander. Loyalty is a quality in character but a liability in business. I cannot stress this enough, to anyone's eyes who watch the Hawks regularly: Shaun Alexander is either hurt, possibly irrevocably, or his career is at an end. If Seattle can't give the ball to someone else, at least for 10+ carries a game, Hawks fans will find out the hard way how true that is.
Hawks win and are now tied for first in the division. Seattle is a better team than San Francisco, but the Niners team speed will eat Alexander for lunch next Sunday. Enjoy this now, things are about to get ugly, needlessly ugly, real, real soon.
Game Ball: Matt Hasselbeck. The Defense deserves mad props, but Beck had to lead the Hawks' O with essentially no rushing attack, no outlet receiver and no backfield blocking.