I thought I’d wait a few days before writing about week 2 to soak up all the stories and reactions. One thing that stood out for me was the sense of relief after this weeks Seahawks victory was in hand. It was one of those moments when you sensed the collective breath of thousands of fans release almost simultaneously. It was a relief more than exhilaration for many folks because it could have been so much worse. Think of the Seahawks sitting at 0-2 after having lost two games to non-playoff teams. Think about how a Russell Wilson – Matt Flynn “QB controversy” would have been in full bloom, or how Carroll might be on the “hot seat” if things keep going this way. That prospect loomed large Saturday afternoon in the first half. The Hawks just couldn’t get anything going offensively and couldn’t stop the Cowboys on 3rd down. You could tell they were almost there, but something wasn’t quit clicking.
Thank the football gods for half time! The coaching staff made some adjustments during the break that seemed to take care of the ills of the first half. It always amazes me that with the limited time in the locker room they are able to get some meaningful work done to counter things that the opposing team was doing in the first half. Whatever the staff told the team, it worked. This game became a tale of two halves.
The Hawks defense shut down the run, allowing only 8 rushing yards in the 2nd half, harassed Romo in the pocket with an improved pass rush that included one sack, and quit giving up those 3rd and longs they were not stopping in the first half. They gave up only one long drive as opposed to three last week. The pass rush was improved as well, with Bruce Irvin finally sharing credit for a sack and Brandon Browner getting 4 tackles and a pick.
Special teams was again a key contributor and looks like it can be counted on for 3 to 7 points per game. Jon Ryan’s dual 60+ yard punts and 53 yard average kept the Cowboys on a long field all day. One other big difference from last week was only 5 penalties for 35 yards, room for improvement but I’ll take it after last week. The defense and special teams are definitely finding their swagger.
Russell Wilson, with the help of a much-improved pass blocking effort, put together a careful but aggressive passing attack peppered with some strategic running from the pocket that had the Cowboys defense second guessing their assignments. The receiver corps had fewer drops while Golden Tate even delivered a crushing block on a Wilson scramble that will make the NFL 2012 Highlights film. And then there was Marshawn Lynch. His punishment of the Cowboys defense was so complete that by early in the 4th quarter the hang-dog look on the Cowboys faces told the whole story. They wanted it to end. The team that just beat the World Champs at home a little more than a week earlier wanted OUT of Seattle.
So, what does this game mean? Do we look for another dominating performance, or a let down after a big win, or maybe just be satisfied with steady progress from a young team win or lose? Pete Carroll talked about all his players now being of one mind, and how they are developing and perfecting their identity as a team. The Seahawks are a rough, tough, punishing football team capable of dominating other teams. To have that going this early in the season is a sign of things to come. This team can play with anybody.
Now a word of caution. Take another DEEP breath Seattle, and hold it for Monday Night Football next week. We’ve seen this before only to have the team come back the following week flat as an American Idol reject. Do I think the Seahawks can beat Green Bay? Absolutely! But it will take continued great play from special teams, an even more stingy defense, and the offense will have to get things going earlier in the game to keep things even in the first half. Everyone’s excited about this year’s team and there is a lot to be hopeful about, but I’ll believe it when we see this kind of performance week after week with no let-downs, even in losses. I don’t see this team losing in a blow out no matter who they play. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, so it shouldn’t take long to see if the team’s development can keep pace with the increasing level of the competition.