Seahawks head coach Jim Mora said his decision to go for it on fourth and 1 from his team’s 38 yard line was a culmination of all the frustration he’s experienced so far this season in general, and specifically with Seattle turning the ball over on two straight possessions to begin the game.
Seahawks running back Julius Jones was bottled up on an inside handoff and the Seahawks did not convert, turning it over to Detroit on downs. The Lions converted the good field position into a Jason Hanson 41-yard field goal, taking a 17-0 lead.
But Settle would rattle off 25 unanswered points after that, as the players seemed resolved to turn things around after another bad start.
“That was probably not a good decision to make,” Mora said. “Matter of fact, it wasn’t a good decision to make. But it was a decision that I made because I just felt like I had enough, and sometimes you do that.
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“Even if we would have made it, it wouldn’t have been a good decision.”
Mora had no major injuries to report. He did say cornerback Ken Lucas had trouble turning his neck on a deep ball he got beat on early in the game, and also hit his ulnar nerve when he came down. So the team chose to play Kelly Jennings in nickel situations because he has been playing well of late.
Mora said even with the team down 17-0 there was no panic from the bench.
“I just felt like our guys remained confident, and remained focused,” he said. “And showed some resolve and just continued to play.”
Mora again gave a lot of credit to his quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, for remaining poised and doing a good job in leading the team after Seattle got behind. Mora said Hasselbeck came up with the idea to use freeze play on fourth-and-1 from Detroit’s 7-yard line. Hasselbeck drew Detroit’s defense offsides, but the Seahawks still had to settle for a field goal.
“I don’t know if I have any more respect for any player that I’ve ever coached than I have for Matt Hasselbeck,” he said. “He’s a veteran. He’s calm. He’s confident. He has a great command for the game.”
Mora was also happy to see improvement from the kick return and punt return game. Both Louis Rankin and Justin Forsett had kick returns of over 40 yards. And Nate Burleson almost broke one on an 18-yard punt return.
Mora also said he told offensive coordinator Greg Knapp to go with the passing game early on when Seattle again struggled to get the ground game going.
“I told Greg that our best bet to move the ball is to put it in Matt’s hands, and let him make plays for us,” he said. “And let him make decisions. That’s what we did, and that opened things up a little bit for us in the run game.”
Here's the full transcript of Mora's press conference ..
(Opening… ) For us today, that was just a measured step in the right direction. We had to overcome some early adversity and dig in and find a way to win, and we were able to do that, and so now we need to build on that. That will be our focus this week.
(On the rough start…) That’s just pro football. Sometimes those things happen. We just had to dig in and overcome it, and fortunately we were able to. We’ll try to build on that.
(On what he said to the team when they fell behind 17-0… ) I didn’t say a word to them. I’ve said enough to them this week. It was up to them.
(On what he thought after falling behind 17-0…) I didn’t know that we would come back and win the way we did, but I didn’t have any doubts that we would respond. No, I didn’t.
(On going for it on fourth down in the first quarter…) That was probably not a good decision to make. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t a good decision to make, but it was a decision that I made because I just felt like I’d had enough. Sometimes you do that. Even if we’d have made it, it wouldn’t have been a good decision. I try to avoid those things when I can; making poor decisions, but sometimes your gut tells you what to do.
(On whether he went for it to try to find a spark…) Maybe a spark, maybe not backing down, maybe a had enough. It was one of those moments.
(On whether it was a message for the players…) I don’t know. I don’t even know how many of them even noticed it. That’s how I felt. It would have been nice if we’d have got it, but we didn’t.
(On the attitude on the sidelines when it was 17-0 …) I didn’t sense any panic on our bench when we got down 17-0. I felt a resolve amongst our players. Sometimes sidelines take on a personality of their own, an up and a down. I just felt like our guys remained confident, and remained focused; and showed some resolve and just continued to play. I don’t know, other than that.
(On Matt Hasselbeck…) I don’t know how many times I’ve said it; I just have so much respect for Matt Hasselbeck and his toughness, both physical and mental. I think today was about both of those things for him. He had to overcome some things physically. You guys are out there every day. He showed his true leadership to me. He showed everything that he is. I don’t know if I have any more respect for any player that I’ve ever coached than I have for Matt Hasselbeck. He’s a veteran, he’s calm, he’s confident, he has great command of the game. It was his idea to do the freeze play on fourth down. It wasn’t my idea, it wasn’t Greg’s idea; it was Matt’s idea. He just has very good command of the game. You guys know him as well or better than I do. He’s a special kind of man.
(On the defense with 5 interceptions…) We needed to start making some plays on the ball. We came into this game with only 3, and we needed to make some plays on the football when the ball was in the air, and we were able to do that today. David had a chance at 3 there at the end.
(On how they had 5 interceptions today, and only 3 all season prior to today…) I wish I knew. I don’t know. The cliché is that they come in bunches; I don’t know. Young quarterback. We just made some plays, finally. Guys just stepped up and make some plays. I wish I could tell you exactly why, because then I would try to bottle them up and feed it to them every Sunday.
(On emphasizing the passing game today…) It was quite early in the game. I told Greg that our best bet to move the ball is to put it in Matt’s hands, and let him make plays for us, and let him make decisions. That’s what we did, and that opened things up a little bit for us in the run game. I have told you guys this before, we’re not going to be stubborn about the run. Certainly we want to be able to run the football, I think in order to have sustained success in this league, you have to be able to run the football. You know Greg and my history together, in running the football, so it’s something we take seriously, but we’re not going to run the football just to prove a point. If there is another way to try to win, then that’s what we’re going to try to do.
(On the injury to Ken Lucas….) He came into the game fine. When they got him on that deep ball, he had trouble just turning his neck a little bit, and then he hit his ulnar nerve when he came down. So, Kelly has been playing well, so the decision was made to just play Kelly. We came out of this game, it appears, relatively healthy. There is the typical bumps and bruises, but there is a chance that on Wednesday or Thursday, we might have everybody practicing again. So, be there. It is a historic sight.
(On how he feels after winning despite falling behind 17-0…) I’m not disappointed that we got down. I didn’t like it at the moment. You guys know how I feel about adversity, I think it reveals who you are. I think we made a step in the right direction today. We just have to continue to take steps in the right direction. But I don’t know how I feel. I feel good that we won, but I don’t know. I just feel.
(On the young linebackers, particularly David Hawthorne…) We talked about Lofa’s instincts earlier this week, or last week, and David is starting to exhibit some instincts as a middle linebacker. I think we saw that a little last year when he played in preseason. He’d make some plays. Really, more than anything with David, it’s his work ethic. He really gets himself ready to play on Sundays. He’ll come out there sometimes on Wednesdays, and he’ll struggle a little bit with the calls, the things that we’re doing differently in the game plan, but he’ll go home and spend 4 or 5 hours on his own, studying film, getting in the playbook, working at his craft. By the time we kick it off on Sunday what he has shown at least thusfar, is that he is ready to go. And that gives him a chance to make plays. He played well again today.
(On disappointment on falling behind early vs. seeing the team come back to win…) You take it as a whole. It’s how we responded to the first quarter, and coming back and winning the game.
(On why kick returns were successful…) It’s a couple of things. It’s certainly the blocking, and then I think that Louis helped us with that element of speed that we talked about. You could see it. That last one, Justin popped it. I think we executed better. We’ve put a lot of work into that, that’s something that we’ve been working hard on; our return game, both kick and punt. Today we improved in the kickoff return game. We were close to breaking a couple in the punt return game. So, it’s something we’re going to keep working on, and keep working on, and keep grinding them on, and trying to get better at every week. Guys blocked better, and guys found the holes.
(On covering Calvin Johnson…) He’s a very, very, very good football player. He’s an upcoming star in this league. His physical traits are amazing. You’re down on the sideline, and he’s lined up, and you think is this guy a tight end, is he a defensive end pass rusher; what is he? But he’s a 4.3 40 wide receiver. We played quite a bit of cover 2, more than we typically do, so that allowed us to roll up on Calvin and get a safety over the top. So that takes him away a little bit. When we asked our guys to cover him in man, I think they challenged him. But, he’s a heck of a player. Boy.
(On Matthew Stafford…) People will say he threw 5 interceptions, but he’s a talented young man. You saw what he was doing early in the game; he’s very poised. I was very impressed with him.