Much of my pregame blog centered around my belief that the Seahawk defense could shut down Colt McCoy and the Brown offense. Shut down the Browns they did, as the Seahawks held Browns starting running back Montario Hardesty to just 2.9 yards per carry over 33 attempts, and frustrated Colt McCoy all game long. The Browns mustered just six points despite having the ball for nearly 43 minutes, while the Seahawks only had the ball for 17 minutes. It was a masterful performance by the Seahawk defense, but was all for naught, as the Seattle offense failed to get in any rhythm and posted just three points.
Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson recorded the first points of the game with a 52 yard field goal in the second quarter, and the score was 3-0 at halftime. After a a 38-yard pass to Sidney Rice put the Seahawks on the Cleveland 9-yard line in the 3rd quarter, things were looking up for Seattle. However, the drive stalled at the Cleveland 2, and Seattle was only able to score 3 points on a Steven Hauschka field goal.
The Browns were able to retake the lead at the beginning of the 4th quarter thanks to another 50+ yard field goal by Phil Dawson. Seattle was never able to threaten the slender Cleveland lead, and slumped to an ugly defeat.
The Seahawk defense and special teams nearly won the game for Seattle, as Leon Washington returned a punt for a touchdown, but the play was called back because of a holding penalty. Additionally, Seahawk defensive end Red Bryant blocked not one, but two Cleveland field goals. Here are links to video clips of both: First blocked kick - Second blocked kick. Bryant has been stellar for the Seahawks this year, and though his statistics don’t indicate that, he has been a nightmare to block and has anchored the run defense.
Seattle’s chances of winning were dealt a huge blow when Marshawn Lynch was lost before the game started due to back spasms. Coach Pete Carroll acknowledged that Lynch has struggled with back problems since he came to the Seahawks. Lynch had been an integral part of the momentum that the Seahawk offense had built coming into the Cleveland game, and has provided the team with much-needed balance on offense. The loss of Lynch crippled the running game, and allowed the Browns to focus their attention on quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, much in the same way the Seahawks were able to focus on (and shut down) Colt McCoy.
Whitehurst had a disappointing day against the Browns, completing just 12 of 30 passes for a meager 97 yards and an interception. Many fans had been hoping he’d become the regular Seahawk quarterback after poor performances by Tarvaris Jackson in the preseason and early in the regular season. He did not help his case with this performance, although it was not solely his fault that the offense struggled. Whether or not the result of the game would have been different with Jackson at the helm is irrelevant now, but I believe Jackson’s return to the lineup (he’ll likely be back next week) will help the offense regain some of its rhythm and tempo. Jackson has begun to develop chemistry with receiver Doug Baldwin and has worked with star receiver Sidney Rice for several years. He’s been getting most of the practice repetitions this year, and whether he is the long-term answer at quarterback or not, he is the quarterback that will give the Seahawks the best chance of winning games this year. One thing I will say about both Jackson and Whitehurst is that both players have shown an immense amount of professionalism, handling the media and themselves well throughout the season. This hasn’t been easy for either of them, and they have shown class, selflessness, and maturity.
On a final note, the Seahawk defense played a brilliant game, but was overshadowed because of the Seahawk defeat. They sacked Colt McCoy five times including two from Chris Clemons (who has six sacks in the last five games for Seattle). Seattle’s defense has become an imposing, physical unit, and young players David Hawthorne, Kam Chancellor, and K.J. Wright have exceeded all of my expectations. Pete Carroll has found some gems on that side of the ball, and I can’t wait to watch this unit develop further. The only negative for the defense was the loss of a second cornerback in two weeks, as Walter Thurmond broke his leg yesterday, and is done for the season.
The Browns game was a bitterly disappointing result for Seattle, and it will be interesting to see how the Seahawks pick themselves up from this. The youthful Bengals come to Seattle next week, and the Seahawks will desperately need a win to salvage their season.
About the Author
Written by Erik Olsoy
Erik was born in Columbus, Ohio during the only Ohio State football victory over Michigan in the 1980s, but moved to Washington state and grew up there. His loyalty to Ohio State remains strong, but his strongest allegiances developed toward Seattle sports. Though he recently graduated from Boston College, he has not yet been converted to the ways of New England Sportsdom, and only roots for the Red Sox against the Yankees because the Yankees are the root of all evil.