The 2007 Seattle Seahawks are a defense first team. As such, I'm going to concentrate on the achievements of our defense and not the continued suckiness of, well, you-know-who.
How complete was today's defensive domination by the Seahawks? Here are the basic stats: Seattle allowed just 1.9 yards per pass attempt, that's startling by itself. They sacked the Niners 6 times for negative 53 yards. They forced 5 fumbles. Marcus Trufant recorded two picks. Kelly Jennings quietly shut down his entire side of the field. That, by itself, is an amazing defensive performance.
But if you watched it, you knew Seattle's D was even better than that. The Hawks front seven looked like LSU clobbering Louisiana Tech. They were so frequently in the Niners backfield that Moose and Goose were tongue-tied scolding the offensive line. Every tackle was jarring. Seahawks were flying to the ball, on the ground and in the air. By midway through the third quarter, Seattle was so squarely on top, so commanding, you could almost see a manifest smirk, something less respectful than a swagger, in their play.
Matt Hasselbeck had an iffy showing. His numbers are strong, but he was given a lot of time and made a number of spotty decisions and errant passes. That's okay bald fella, it's hard to pass when you have virtually no rushing attack. Deion Branch was made for the Walsh offense. The way he slips through zones and rips off yards after catch--Branch is the best receiver I've yet seen in Holmgren's Seahawks system. The Hawks line looks stout. Beck had almost zero pressure, and his numbers reflect the kind of time he was given. The two sacks he did fall victim to were classic coverage sacks. Two third and six plays where the Niners dropped seven with little fear of a run or a pass to Shaun Alexander.
Seattle has allowed just 13.3 points per contest against a suddenly very respectable looking schedule. The Bucs are 3-1, and look to have few competitors in the NFC South. Arizona just toppled Pittsburgh, a team that was soaring on a 79.9% cumulative DVOA. Cincinnati's big loss to the Dawgs doesn't look too shabby after Cleveland toppled Baltimore. Seattle has the balance between offense, defense and special teams of a Super Bowl contender. That is, except for the run game.
Alexander has steadily become the Seahawks' Rex Grossman: an albatross at a key position who doesn't seem concerned about his play and is nearly impossible to replace while Seattle is winning. Maurice Morris, on three carries to end the game, facing a Niners defense that knew every play was going to be a run, looked better than I can remember Alexander looking all season. He didn't have huge holes, but what he had he took. He broke arm tackles. Leonard Weaver has established himself in the passing game. It's time Holmgren starts using his talent and stops deferring to Alexander and his mighty contract/ego.
I talked about today's game giving the Hawks season definition and it clearly did. This was a great win. A wire to wire blowout, partially hidden by the score. Seattle has emerged as a contender, but, quietly, so have the Cards. A great defense needs a strong running game to salt away easy victories like today. Seattle is an old team in many key positions, it simply can't squander the kind of talent and strength of schedule they have this season. The Hawks aren't just playing for the division, in the bigger picture they're playing for a bye, for home field throughout. That means every game counts. Gift fumbles, blown blocks and four rushing first downs are the real estate of losers. It's time we kick that shit to the curb.