It’s a brand new season for the Seahawks and the first game really allows fans to gauge how the rest of the season will go. For those who have followed the team for a long time, it’s easy to make comparisons to teams of the past. Two teams in particular stand out in the history of the Seattle, the 1992 and the 2005 Seahawks for different reasons. Watching the preseason, fans knew this wouldn’t be a 13-win team similar to the 2005 NFC Champions. Conversely, the 1992 Seahawks were so dismal at 2-14; it’s difficult to believe it any season could be that bad again.
After the first half of football – it looked that bad.
The Seahawks offense managed only three first downs in the first 30 minutes of play, and they actually played much worse than that stat would suggest. If not for a roughing the kicker penalty on a punt after their first three-and-out they would have only managed one first down. And, immediately after that particular first down, Tarvaris Jackson was sacked and fumbled the ball. With the ball inside the 10-yard line, the 49ers jumped to 6-0 on their second field goal and continued on going up 16-0 into halftime.
As miserable as the Seahawks offense played, the defense did their part to keep the game close. Outside of the one sustained touchdown drive by the Niners, each field goal was scored on a short field. Coming out after half time the Seahawks offense looked like a completely different team and the defense continued to play hard. According to Coach Pete Carroll, it wasn’t that the team did anything differently; they simply stuck with the game plan.
“It was just that we just played better,” said Carroll. “We didn’t have to do much different; it was just a matter of feeling comfortable and playing.”
On their first drive after the half, Jackson led the Hawks on a 56-yard drive capped by an 8-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate. The defense completely stifled the Niners offense for the entire third quarter and Seattle’s offense was able to get in position for a field goal as they went into the final 15 minutes.
Now within six points, the 49ers managed their longest drive of the game. But after Smith led the team down to the 4-yard line, the defense held them. Not even a bogus roughing the kicker call could discourage the defense as David Akers flopped to the ground during his field goal attempt. Even with a new set of downs on the goal line, the defense continued to hold.
Six plays later, it looked like the Seahawks had the momentum to take over the game after Jackson connected on a 45-yard catch and run by Doug Baldwin. Baldwin has some jets on him and left the pursuing Niners defense in the dust to put Seattle within two points, 19-17.
But any chance the Hawks had to come back was lost. On the ensuing kickoff, Ted Ginn went 102 yards untouched for a score. Then, perhaps thinking that Ginn would be out of breath following a Seahawks 3-and-out, Seattle punted the ball back to him as he went on for a 55-yard score. That solidified the33-17 win for the 49ers.
“19-17, you know, we’re right there,” said Carroll. “So, all the way to that point we’re ready to win the game, and then bang there goes the kick return and then goes the other kick return.”
The defense’s line after the game: Alex Smith was 15 of 20 for 124 yards, Frank Gore rushed for a mere 59 yards on 22 carries, and the 49ers were 1 of 12 on third down conversions. Looking solely at those stats, you could assume the Seahawks get a win. Instead, special teams and the first half offense buried the Seahawks.
Despite the loss, Carroll saw a lot of positives in the young team, especially with how well the defense played. Even with a terrible first half, the offense never gave up and came out firing.
“I love the way we fought back,” said Carroll. “I love the way we played defense today. I don’t care what happens in the first half, it’s how you finish, and we had a chance to finish this game and we let it get away.”
While not like the 1992 or 2005 Seahawks, this team is likely closer to the 2000 team that went 6-10. It’s a team in transition, and just as Mike Holmgren retooled the team and began building for the future, Carroll seems to be following a similar blueprint.
“What’s important now is how we handle our next step,” Carroll said via Twitter after the game. “We’ve got to hang together and get right… We will bounce back.”
Elsewhere in the NFC West, the Cardinals pulled off the win at home against the Carolina Panthers, 28-21, despite allowing 422 yard passing by rookie quarterback Cam Newton. If that’s the kind of defense the Seahawks will be dealing with in the home opener two weeks from now, their chance for a win is pretty solid.
The Rams took on the Philadelphia Eagles at home. Sam Bradford and Stephen Jackson were both injured, although not seriously, and the Eagles pulled away to a 31-13 win.
Lastly, although Matt Hasselbeck is no longer with the team, many Seahawks fans were following the Titans game before kickoff. With Chris Johnson only rushing for 24 yards, the entire offense was held up by Hasselbeck. Matt completed 21 passes on 34 attempts for 263 yards and two touchdowns while looking completely out of place in a Titans uniform. He was intercepted on the final drive of the game, and Tennessee fell 16-14 to the Jaguars.
Next week, the Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh who lost 35-7 this week in Baltimore. The Ravens defense forced seven turnovers in the game, and Seahawks fans will be rooting for the “turnover-fest” to continue next week.