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Hasselbeck, Houshmandzadeh, Hurry-up and Taylor Keep Seahawks Alive


It's third and fifteen after Matt Hasselbeck was sacked. He is rolling on his back, signaling time out. Whatever the outcome, the starters are not retaking the field. This is game time.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh motions from the left slot to just outside and behind Deion Branch's right shoulder. Branch is in the right slot. Jordan Kent is playing right split end and Courtney Taylor is playing flanker. Matt Hasselbeck is in shotgun with Justin Forsett at his right hip.

Denver is in a 3-4, with Robert Ayers again showing blitz opposite Ray Willis. D.J. Williams and Denver's two inside linebackers are shaded middle-deep in an arch-shaped array over the offensive right. The secondary is backed off deep, with only right cornerback Andre Goodman visible in the upper left.



Ayers and Elvis Dumervil speed rush the outside. Both get deep penetration, but neither gets by their blocker. Forsett escapes into the right flat. Branch drags underneath. Kent and Taylor go deep. Denver's three linebackers fan out into three underneath zones. T.J. Houshmandzadeh clears Branch, finds the soft spot and begins slanting left.

The key, the three players that make this pass work, is Seattle's interior offensive line. In the last play they struggled, collapsed and left Hasselbeck without a pocket to step into. This time, with Ayers and Dumervil pushing in from the outside, Hasselbeck steps up, neutralizes the edge rush and finds Houshmandzadeh for thirteen.

Seattle then converted the first on fourth and three. The Seahawks ran a hurry up and Hasselbeck found Taylor, covered by Champ Bailey, with separation on the right. Taylor ran a simple out route, but Bailey was still thinking deep cover. The drive was alive.