This might be the only post for today as it's my wife's only day off and I have kind of lived in front of the laptop recently. Just a heads up. My goal for tomorrow is to cover the second half and then do a podcast previewing the Raiders.
So, anyway, this was a bad quarter of football for Seattle. Well, that depends on your interpretation. It was boom and bust with more bust than boom. By plays won or lost, I believe Arizona ran away with it. Let me double check ... not counting special teams plays, my quick count lists 18 successful plays on offense and defense for Arizona and 14 for Seattle. Special teams does count though and Seattle's forced fumble and recovery on the Cardinals two was the play of the quarter.
The troubling thing is how Arizona, one of the worst rushing offenses in football, ran over the Seahawks in the second quarter. The Cardinals had runs of 7, 13, 24, 13, 6, 7, 4 and 1. The really spooky part is on how many runs a offensive lineman was ahead of the rusher, nine or ten yards past the line of scrimmage, and how damaging the Cardinals consistent success could have been if Arizona had an elite rusher or a functional passing game.
Select notes from the second quarter, with play-by-play added for clarity:
- 3-8-SEA 37 (14:05) (Shotgun) 6-M.Hall pass incomplete short left to 11-L.Fitzgerald (28-W.Thurmond).
- Walter Thurmond ended the Cardinals first drive of the second quarter with a pass defense on Larry Fitzgerald. It's early yet, but it's hard not to project that Seattle struck gold when it drafted Walter Thurmond.
- 2-10-SEA 20 (13:48) 24-M.Lynch right guard to SEA 25 for 5 yards (28-G.Toler).
- Good cut block by John Carlson. His blocking seems to have come a long way this season.
- 3-5-SEA 25 (13:08) (Shotgun) 8-M.Hasselbeck pass short left to 11-D.Butler to SEA 32 for 7 yards (28-G.Toler).
- Very nice dig route by Deon Butler. Here's the thing about Butler, after watching Butler run deep on play after play in 2009, I thought coaches were certain he couldn't take the wear and tear of the short passing game, and that made me think he didn't have a very bright future in the league. But Jeremy Bates has played Butler to his ability and that is, despite his foot speed, the short passing game. Now, given his 4.38 speed, it's obvious Butler could be an asset as a deep threat, paired with another quarterback, but I don't think that will ever define his game.
- What made the route so fun is the kind of separation he created. His deep speed forced the defensive back to bite deep and that allowed him a clean release to the inside.
- 2-9-SEA 33 (11:53) 8-M.Hasselbeck sacked at SEA 22 for -11 yards (93-C.Campbell). WATCH HIGHLIGHT
- I hate to agree with Brian Billick, but this was crazy. Hasselbeck had between five to six seconds in the pocket before he was sacked. He had a good four seconds without any kind of pressure. He had John Carlson wide open in the left flat, and that was seemingly exactly how the play was designed. He had Carlson wide open on second and nine and could have completed a pass to put Seattle in manageable down and distance. Instead he waited for the four man rush to finally break through, which it did when Calais Campbell finally fought through Ben Hamilton, and then turned as if to scramble free and was sacked for a loss of 11.
- That led to a draw by Justin Forsett, which is kind of a give up play on third and 20. So, from second and nine and a man open to fourth and nine and a punt, in effect.
- 1-10-ARI 15 (10:26) 34-T.Hightower left guard to ARZ 22 for 7 yards (51-L.Tatupu).
- Tim Hightower runs for seven, and ahead of him is Deuce Lutui. That's push and blockers.
- 1-10-ARI 35 (8:57) 34-T.Hightower right end to SEA 41 for 24 yards (57-D.Hawthorne). WATCH HIGHLIGHT
- Aaron Curry and Lawyer Milloy are blocked out and Lofa Tatupu is caught inside. Hightower turns the corner for 24. A rare strongside screwup for Hawks.
- 1-10-SEA 41 (8:09) 34-T.Hightower left tackle to SEA 28 for 13 yards (23-M.Trufant, 36-L.Milloy). FUMBLES (23-M.Trufant), RECOVERED by SEA-23-M.Trufant at SEA 28. 23-M.Trufant to SEA 28 for no gain (63-L.Sendlein). WATCH HIGHLIGHT
- Kentwan Balmer is blown back by a double team, and it's a dominant enough block that Levi Brown is able to peel off and block David Hawthorne in the second level. Marcus Trufant saves the day with a forced fumble, but up to that point this was pure failure for Seattle's run defense.
- 3-7-SEA 31 (6:41) 8-M.Hasselbeck sacked at SEA 27 for -4 yards (78-A.Branch). WATCH HIGHLIGHT
- If you're looking for a sack to pin entirely on the offensive line, the above play is pretty close. Hamilton and Sean Locklear botched their blocks and Locklear's assignment, Alan Branch, recorded the sack.
- Chris Baker dropped a touchdown and then Mike Williams didn't and sometime before the latter, Branch whacked Hasselbeck again. When you're in the moment and the game is in the balance, this can seem very exciting, but on re-watching it, the outcome decided, the cracks begin to show.
- 2-5-ARI 25 (5:09) 26-C.Wells left tackle to ARZ 31 for 6 yards (90-C.Cole).
- Plays like this remind me that Colin Cole is the same player he's always been. His talent is separating from blockers and making a tackle, but that talent has limited value when you're six yards down field. Lutui is again farther down field than the back.
- 1-10-ARI 31 (4:30) 26-C.Wells up the middle to ARZ 38 for 7 yards (90-C.Cole, 95-K.Balmer).
- Both tackles found themselves pushed into oblivion and both tackles separated to stop Wells, after seven. Brandon Keith pulled out and blocked Tatupu and that was all she wrote for Lofa. The compromise of a slimmer, quicker Tatupu is inferior ability to get off blocks, and he's struggled with that all season.
- 2-9-ARI 43 (2:38) (Shotgun) 6-M.Hall sacked at ARZ 34 for -9 yards (98-R.Brock). WATCH HIGHLIGHT
- I assume this was a confused assignment, but neither Early Doucet, aligned tight right, nor right tackle Brandon Keith touched Brock. He zipped around right end and sacked Hall for a loss of nine.
- Curry was playing defensive tackle beside Brock, but he didn't do anything I could see that facilitated the sack. Lutui and Keith doubled Curry, but not out of necessity.
- 3-10-ARI 42 (:35) (Shotgun) 6-M.Hall pass incomplete short right to 12-A.Roberts (34-R.Lewis).
- We leave off with this play, the last before Seattle took a knee despite having three timeouts and 21 seconds on the clock (a decision I called for and still applaud, given how rotten the Seahawks pass offense is). And I list this play only because it's novel, rather than good. Seattle rushes four from a 3-1, and the fourth man is Tatupu. Tatupu is not a stellar blitzer and at first the pass rush fails miserably. It's all pristine pocket and matchups lost--not even the hint of a blocked throwing lane. But Tatupu, from near left end, loops right and pressures Hall just before he passes. It's pretty much an effort/awareness play, but it forces an near-interception by Roy Lewis. Lewis jumps and snags it but the pass squirts through his grasp.
- Something I learned long ago, if you're not good, you better try twice as hard.