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Missed Opportunities Two and Three

The drive never recovered from its first big attempt. Matt Hasselbeck targeted John Carlson and nearly threw an interception to Gerald Sensabaugh. Justin Griffith motioned out of right trips to fullback and Julius Jones picked his way up the middle for ten. Part of Griffith's value is that he guides Jones where to rush. On a previous run I didn't detail, Griffith and Jones started slight-right, but Griffith circled wide left and Jones followed. It was the right read and Jones ran for six.

Griffith was out for Jones next rush, and Jones misread his blockers and effectively tackled himself. The play was a pitch right. Seattle's blockers swooped to the right and attempted to create a long lane to the right flat. Spencer was beat back at the snap. John Owens blocked in and did his best against left defensive end Marcus Spears, but was blown back by play's end. Right tackle Ray Willis released into the right flat.

Jones picked his way towards right end, but cut in and into the teeth of Dallas' defense. He ran into Spears and struggled to get back to the line. The best explanation I can offer for Jones cutting in when the play was designed to be run right, is Jones was minimizing damage. He saw the beaten blockers and decided to avoid a costly tackle for a loss. He had space in the right flat, but didn't take it.

Then Hasselbeck threw the sure to be infamous strike that should have been a lob. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, mouthy as he is, was right. Terence Newman swatted it, Housh couldn't track the deflection and the ball fell incomplete. He was single covered and had timed his burst just enough to separate from Newman. Newman was turned and a slight step behind, but Hasselbeck threw it flat, as if Houshmandzadeh were breaking in, and Newman jumped and deflected it.

It was another opportunity lost and led to yet another lost opportunity. Strike three stopped the drive. Dallas blitzed six out of a 3-3 nickel formation. Hasselbeck sagged and sagged, drawing the defenders in. At the last moment he jumped and threw across his body. The pass was flat and slapped away by Stephen Bowen. Justin Forsett dropped his shoulders, Chris Spencer to his front, Max Unger and Rob Sims at either side; not a defender between him and the first.

Olindo Mare converted from 43 to put Seattle ahead.