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Sprint Game Ball of the Week: Milloy, Lewis and Williams

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I give out game balls directly following the game, but between the thread and the innate business of football, my picks are not perfectly accurate. SB Nation worked a now more than a year-old sponsorship deal with Sprint, and about a week ago we started a "game ball" promotion. That's convenient, because this is a post I should probably write anyway. And that is, after reviewing the entire game, who really deserves game balls?

Lawyer Milloy: Seattle ran quite a few "Big Sub" flavored packages with a safety, Jordan Babineaux or Lawyer Milloy, substituting for a linebacker. The Bears abandoned the run very early on and so both Milloy and Babs received plenty of looks. Milloy was in on every defensive snap and Babineaux was in almost as many snaps (28) as Aaron Curry and David Hawthorne combined (32). Both blitzed and blitzed and blitzed. It worked.

"Quarterback hit" is an imprecise stat, as are most stats recorded in the NFL, and comparatively "pressure" is almost indefinable. Milloy had at least three pressures by my count, along with two sacks, a pass defense that wasn't marked because it was damn close to interference and one "saving tackle."

What interests me most about Milloy isn't his late career resurgence but the scheme Pete Carroll runs that has allowed this resurgence. When Seattle drafted Earl Thomas, it didn't just add a young, potential franchise free safety. It also created a position for a player that's not entirely a defensive back and not entirely a linebacker, but fast, fearsome and smart; able to blitz one second and tackle a free ball carrier another.

Roy Lewis: Lewis stepped up in the fourth while his teammates crumbled. Two plays really stand out. He stopped Earl Bennett short of the first to end a Bears drive and protect Seattle's field position advantage. He also downed a ball on the one. That long field is one major reason the Bears ensuing 65 yard drive ended in a field goal instead of a touchdown. Of course, we can't know what would have happened if Jon Ryan's punt rolled into the end zone for a touchback, but it didn't and as it turned out Seattle needed every one of those additional 19 yards.

Lewis isn't a great player. No one thinks he is. Lewis is a great return on investment though. For all intents and purposes, Lewis was acquired for free. Every team has 45 active players on game day, but not every team has 45 contributors. A lot of teams have filler more or less, or players it expects to develop but that do not contribute much. Seattle only has one player like that and Golden Tate is more mixed bag than deficit. By having 44 active contributors every week, one of them Roy Lewis, Seattle has squeezed every ounce of potential from this roster. That's how this team is shaping into a dark horse contender.

Mike Williams: He had at least one drop and his potential as a big play threat is certainly capped, whatever the specific reason, but whether Williams was all he could be or even sensational against the Bears, he was an integral part of the Seahawks offense.

Seahawks fans have known forever that Matt prefers big targets. I mean, who doesn't, right? But games like last Sunday's test and support that idea. Williams had a few excellent breaks that created huge separation, and he negotiated at least one zone, but what really made him such a welcome target for Hasselbeck is how he creates separation without creating physical separation. Williams is able to separate through his presence, by controlling a spot, and through his reach, by extending and snatching a pass from far in front of his chest. He may not be a great number one receiver just yet, but against Chicago he looked like a dependable possession receiver. If it takes a possession receiver with number one receiver tools for the Seahawks passing offense to sputter to life, then so be it.