I’m trying to get home from a crowded SFO but am taking the time out to offer up some analysis before this afternoon’s Mike Holmgren news conference.
The Seahawks’ defense in the 23-3 victory was stellar, particularly since it came against a much larger offense line that looked completely discombobulated at times. Matt Hasselbeck tried to be diplomatic about it in his postgame presser, and caught himself when he started talking about it, but basically said Trent Dilfer’s pass protection simply was not there. Even when the D line was not sacking Dilfer, it was harrying him to a noticeable degreee. I thought Darryl Tapp was very active, Patrick Kerney got in a few times, Rocky Bernard was strong and Julian Peterson obviously was pumped about playing his former team, against which he didn’t do especially well last season.
It’s hard to say whether the pass defense was good because of the rush or the rush was good because of the pass defense, but I tend to think both were pretty good on this day and they simply fed off one another. Alex Smith may have done a little better because he was more mobile but I think any QB would have struggled against the Seahawks on this particular day.
Now, you have to wonder what this means in a revenge game for the second consecutive week. Certainly last year’s two losses to the Niners was a vivid memory that played into how the Seahawks prepared for Sunday’s game. Is the loss to Pittsburgh two years ago in the Super Bowl still so acute that it will be a factor. Fans certainly remember it. But remember, Deon Grant, Brian Russell, Patrick Kerney, Peterson, Brandon Mebane, Josh Wilson, Marcus Pollard, Deion Branch, Nate Burleson were not even with the team. They know about the game, of course, but I can’t imagine it resonates as much with them as it does with Hasselbeck, Alexander and others. And, Pittsburgh has something to play for now that it was beaten by Arizona on Sunday.
The offense in the Niners game obviously still has issues. I thought that could easily have been a 37-3 game. Hasselbeck missed Will Heller on an open route along the goal line, Mike Holmgren made a few conservative calls inside the 10, the results of which would have really embarrassed the Niners. Still, Hasselbeck was very sharp, as he has been pretty much all season, Alexander was unable to get going and got 80 yards from the mere fact that he ran the ball so often. It will be interesting to see what Holmgren says today about the run game. He was taking the blame for it yesterday, saying he has to come up with a strategy to get it going better. I think that is coach-speak after a satisfying win, but the last time he said that it was pertaining to Deion Branch getting no catches and that has turned out pretty well once he committed to getting Branch the ball more.
Leonard Weaver got a lot more playing time this week and I think you are starting to see the transition from Mack Strong to Weaver. And the Seneca thing adds an interesting wrinkle that teams have to game plan for now. I wonder if Holmgren put it in this week so give the Steelers something to think about given some of the plays that unfolded in the Super Bowl.
All three primary wide receivers were strong, and I don’t recall any dropped passes, a topic of conversation the past few weeks. That pump-and-go play that allowed Branch to get past Nate Clements is a staple, but they went to it once too often because that also was the play on which Clements got the interception. But Branch and Hasselbeck clearly are forming a nice tandem and that pass that Hasselbeck dropped in to Engram was about as pretty as they get, given the location of the linebacker. We had a weird angle in the press box, but from there it looked like the ball was sailing out of bounds and then it just dropped into Engram’s hands. Boling and I looked at each other and just said, ‘Wow."
OK, that’s all for now.