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Matt Hasselbeck Audibles to Beat the Blitz

Seattle converted the first with a Matt Hasselbeck head dive for three. The three yards recorded by the NFL's official scorekeeper makes a mockery of statistics. The first yard was the centimeter or so that separated Seattle from the first down marker, and the next two yards were the yard and fraction of a yard the linesman arbitrarily awarded Hasselbeck. If ever find yourself wondering why statistical models fail to capture the NFL, consider the source of the statistics.

The next play was an audible quick hitter that was pretty bitchin in its own way.

Seattle sets three wide, blocking tight end and single back deep. St. Louis is in a nickel formation, with the linebackers tight, the line shifted left and the right defensive end on an island on the right. James Laurinaitis audibles the right tackle wide and then he and Will Witherspoon threaten the right and left "A" gaps. The nickelback shows blitz. Hasselbeck looks around, signals to his team and deep back Julius Jones moves up two yards into a full back position.


At the snap, Hasselbeck sinks and hands off to Jones. The Rams blitz six, but feign seven, with the nickelback false stepping blitz and then assuming coverage. Nate Burleson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh walk, yes, walk, a step or two and stop in front of their defensive backs. The action is on the right.

The line is stretching right, but it's a variation. Sean Locklear pulls hard right and ignores the opposing defensive end. Rob Sims moves forward and cut blocks the right defensive tackle and obstructs the right end. Steve Vallos blocks Laurinaitis, then attempts to screen and run past him. Max Unger drops and pulls around right tackle Ray Willis. Willis is blocking in, engaging the left defensive tackle. The left defensive end is blocked back and turned by Owens. Jones takes the short hand-off and runs right and between Willis and Owens.


Vallos can't shake Laurinaitis and Laurinaitis uses his right hand to rein Vallos and ride him towards the ball carrier. From the third level flies O.J. Atogwe. Unger can't get a good hit on him and Jones, now to the right of Vallos and just behind Unger, is surrounded by defenders. He braces for impact and is wrapped by Laurinaitis after six.

Essential details: Hasselbeck reads the blitz and makes a smart adjustment.

Sims effectively cut blocks.

Owens and Willis seal the interior.

Unger and Vallos pull effectively but neither blocks in space effectively.