Maybe I'm just grumpy. The hours I've been keeping would give Millay pause. But I refuse to believe I'm the only one who doesn't give a crap about Seattle's supposed "homecoming". So Mike Holmgren was the coach of the Packers, 9 years ago, and Matt Hasselbeck was once on the Packer's roster, as Favre's backup. Was the Hawks contest in Atlanta a homecoming then, too? Tim Ruskell was once their assistant GM and Kern - oh wait, they really did run that angle, didn't they? Anyway, I won't turn this into a full-blown tirade, but let me say once and for all, I watch football, I watch sports, for the sport, not the underlying soap opera.
Very slow quarter, a few notes, and then I'll throw up the Tape for the wild and wacky fourth quarter in a little bit.
- I'm not a scouting genius, I just watch the tapes, take notes and present my best possible opinion. In the second quarter, on the second play of the Hawks second to last drive, I jotted down a little asterisk and wrote: "Alex looks slow again." After having a pretty nice start to the game, this run seemed to signal to me that Shaun Alexander was hitting a wall, winded, breaking down, pick your cliché. Here's Alexander's rushing line from that point onward: 0, 1, 3, 0, 4, 8, 3, 2, 0, -3. Alexander was also targeted on two pass plays: 0, -1. So, the question is, ignoring the insanity of Alexander being targeted in the passing game, if I can tell that Alexander is clearly out of gas, and, at the very least, should be spelled for a couple series, why then did Morris and Weaver have 2 combined touches from that point onward? The Hawks offense looked awful on Saturday, and, clearly, Hasselbeck was in his full, atavistic, circa 2001 splendor, but Alexander, riding Alexander, is killing this rushing game. If the Hawks want to make a surprise Super Bowl run, they must stop forfeiting an entire offensive unit because of loyalty/apathy/incompetence.
- Leroy Hill rocks. Being able to chase down Clinton Portis, coming from the right end to a rush being run around left end, is just something else. He's also improved markedly in coverage. On back-to-back pass receptions by the Skins, Hill held close coverage and then, kind of counterintuitive really, broke his tackle. Hill's a good tackler, who can hit, he's developed into a good coverage linebacker, but I guess he's yet to combine those skills. But, you know what, I think he can. And then, like Lance Briggs, he should be able to force fumbles by laying the wood to preening slot receivers.
- Rock obviously showed up at just the right time in the 4th quarter. I decided to give him extra focus, see if one play was his "breakout": Proof that he was beginning to win his matchup. In the 7th play of the Skins final drive of the 3rd, I thought I saw it. First viewing, I see Fabini getting ripped apart by a maddog Seahawks tackle and think "bingo" Bernard's back. But, nope, it was Mebane nailing a stunt. Bane takes a couple slow steps left, offensive right, bends his knees and then just explodes into Fabini, driving him back towards Collins quick enough and decisively enough that Collins is forced to check down. Now, an 8 yard reception to El on first and 10 is by no means a success for the Hawks defense, but it was nice play, nevertheless.
- Finally, further proof that Brian Russell rots. It's 4th and 1, the Skins are on the Hawks 27, a stop for Seattle gives them the ball and a 13 point lead with about 16:00 minutes left in regulation. Important, yousay? The Hawks D is in a base formation, the Skins run a PA out of a heavy package. Russell reads the PA, at the line of scrimmage assumes man coverage on Sellers, and then is Cajun cooked by Washington's 32 y/o, 284 pound fullback. That Russell had to interfere with Sellers to prevent a touchdown reception is, is, - Jesus, Russell, it's just pathetic. Russell pitches a fit to the official, but on replay you can see Russell grabbing Sellers' leg with his right arm. A real "heady" move by a player that would make a better coach.