I don't want to talk too much about coaching mistakes. It makes these posts long, blubbery and inexact. I'm left guessing, arguing rather than reporting. But it must be said, the end of the first half was Mike Holmgren and John Marshall's greatest weaknesses exploited into six points. Seattle went soft, allowing the Bills first scoring drive. Following a change of possession, Seattle attempted three passes, despite poor starting field position (the Seattle 25) that could easily translate into points for Buffalo. By not running once or even attempting a high percentage dumpoff, Seattle left the Bills 34 seconds on the clock and two timeouts. Given another short clock, Marshall again went soft, starting his excellent man corners ten yards off and employing deep zones. My personal favorite was the brilliant strategy to match D.D. Lewis against Lee Evans, while Josh Wilson (who played mad-burly all game) protected the shallow flat. That's stupid. Evans literally juked Lewis to the ground. With that 19 yards, setting up a 38 yard field goal, Marshall had given the Bills offense, in just four minutes, more yards (90 to 87) and nearly as many points (6 to 7) as they had accomplished in their seven other drives of the first half combined.
Matt Hasselbeck's flashback: In the second quarter, Hasselbeck threw five passes into coverage. That's vintage Hasselbeck, circa 2001. We all love Hasselbeck, partly because he's long overplayed his talent, but all the piss and anger poured on the receivers ignores just how many hopeless or dangerous passes Beck threw. A perfect example is on the second to last play of the quarter, Beck underthrows Jones. Jones is surrounded by three Bills defenders. Jones drops the pass, but the alternative was likely an injury, a fumble or both. He also showed very poor pocket presence. On the sixth play of Seattle's first drive, following a holding penalty on Rob Sims that looked like a mistaken call, Matt Hasselbeck sacks himself by running out of bounds. The only pressure is the pressure Hasselbeck creates after breaking the pocket right and allowing Kyle Williams the angle on his blocker. Hopefully, this is rust, because the Hawks can't survive a Hasselbeck regression of this magnitude.
Walter Jones' flashback: Meanwhile, the man who played too much this preseason, Walter Jones, was anything but rusty.
Fifth play of Seattle's first drive, it's 2nd and 10 on the Bills 43. Seattle breaks 3WR, TE, Rb. Buffalo in one of many nickel packages. At the snap, Walter Jones employs a masterful mirror slide, selling pass and drawing Aaron Schobel deep into the backfield, but that's half. The slide creates a nice lane for Julius Jones to set up outside, and when screen is evident, Walter Jones engages Schobel and removes him from the play. That's the essential other half. I don't think Jones is still the best left tackle in the NFL, but that he still legitimately belongs in the discussion after 12 seasons speaks to his greatness.
Rhymes with scrappy: Second play of Seattle's first drive, it's 2nd and 9 on the Seahawks 43. Seattle breaks 4 WR, Rb. Buffalo in a nickel. Logan Payne is in the left slot position. It's an essential spot for this play, because the run is coming his direction. If Payne is the organizational soldier he's been put on as, this is the kind of play he executes well in between looking totally outclassed as a receiver. Instead, he doesn't sell pass, coming slow off the snap. Donte Whitner, aligned across Payne, reflexively looks into the backfield, sees a draw play and begins barreling into Seattle's backfield. Payne, takes three "damn, damn, damn" steps towards Whitner, NEVER ENGAGES THE BLOCK, runs upfield towards a third level DB completely uninvolved in the play and allows Whitner to run uncontested into Seattle's backfield. Jones, having a Whitner in his cutback lane, runs up right where there's congestion between the two lines and is tackled for a loss of two. The congestion on the right is simply because the play was designed left. The defensive linemen and two linebackers have bitten right, and the play has successfully minimized the bodies to the left, but Payne's two big lapses lead to a loss of yards.
Indeed, Trent Edwards arm limits the deep passing attack: Evans, among the field fastest wide receivers in the NFL, had Kelly Jennings beat deep.
Fourth play of Buffalo's second drive, Buffalo sets in a 2 WR, TE, I formation. Seattle in a base 4-3. Evans runs a straight go route, speed against speed, Evans versus Jennings. That's a fun little matchup, because Jennings has excellent speed, but Evans is even faster. Evans gets a step on Jennings and is a good pass from the end zone, but Edwards limps a ball underneath, allowing Jennings back into the play and, in fact, punishing Evans for his speed. That speed coupled with an underthrown pass turns Jennings getting beat into Jennings in position for a pick. He doesn't, just like Brian Russell doesn't contribute anything to this play. Russell, in his preferred spot, away from the action, starts by running alongside Evans and Jennings, perhaps feels a twinge of pride, decides to, I'd'know, defend an uncontested space in the middle flat, where things are serene. Deon Grant, for his part, can be seen streaking across the field and smartly taking a vertical route that would have, possibly, cut off Evans to the end zone.
Not much in the way of pass rush: Seattle's front four played well, but not so well that Seattle should have abandoned the blitz. But they did. In the entire quarter, Seattle blitzed but once.