As you can imagine, there were a lot of happy faces in the locker room after the Seattle Seahawks 23-20 win over Chicago.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said his team finally took their game on the road and played like they do at home. They sacked Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler six times, control the tempo of the game offensively for the first time this season, holding a 34:23 to 25:37 advantage in time of possession, and for the most part Seattle limited the mistakes that had killed them in the past on the road.
Seattle did not turn the ball over, and although they did not force any turnovers defensively, Seattle did hold Chicago to 0 for 12 on third down conversions. The Seahawks had a similar performance on defense in the first game of the year against San Francisco, holding the Niners to 1 for 15 on third down conversions.
Carroll praised the play of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Although he did not post gaudy numbers, finishing 25 of 40 for 242 yards and a touchdown, Hasselbeck controlled the tempo of the game from the opening snap, completing passes to eight different receivers. Hasselbeck finally got into the type of rhythm we’ve seen in the past when he plays well.
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Carroll said the reason for Hasselbeck’s success is Seattle is finally finding its identity on offense and playing a style that he envisioned when he first took over a team – a physical running style with a big, dominant receiver on the outside guided by an experienced quarterback who limits mistakes and can make plays in critical moments of the game.
“There is no question that Matt continues to grow,” Carroll said. “Frankly, Marshawn Lynch makes a difference to us and our mentality. He was a factor in the game. He helps the quarterback understand what we are trying to get done.
“You can feel it, because you know there is a chance for the running game to be there. That fits the mentality. We were able to play today in a style that we have been talking about. This is the first time. We should have an opportunity.”
The Seahawks have several firsts today. They scored points for the first time this season in the opening quarter. They scored on the team’s first drive of the game for the first time this season. Hasselbeck did not throw an interception in a game for the first time this season, and the first time in nine games dating back to last year.
Lynch and Justin Forsett played well off of each other. Forsett returned to his more comfortable role as a complementary back, finishing with 67 yards on 10 carries, including a touchdown. And Lynch totaled 44 yards on 17 carries and a score.
“Just the type of runners we are, I think we’ve got a good combination going,” Forsett said. “We kind of feel when each other is getting hot. He’ll look over and say, ‘Hey, come on in.’ That’s the type of guy he is. We’re both selfless guys, and we just want to be productive for our team. It’s like old times again, and it feel good.”
The Seahawks also got after the quarterback pretty well today, finishing with six sacks for 64 yards. Although they gave up 290 yards through the air, including three plays of 34 yards or more, Seattle still made quarterback Jay Cutler feel uncomfortable back there. 3.5 of the six sacks came on safety blitzes.
“Obviously on tape we were licking our chops a little bit seeing the way the Giants had success,” Milloy said. “We had to get up and jam the receivers and give the rush time to get there. Really sacks and stuff come from doing everything right on first and second down. We got them into some third-and-long situations, and we brought the kitchen sink and it paid off for us.”
“We were just mixing our looks,” Carroll said. “Gus (Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley) did a marvelous job today of mixing the calls and keeping them guessing with the rushes and all.”
Carroll said the drive of the game was Seattle’s 92-yard drive to put Seattle ahead 23-13 with 13:45 left. Seattle converted six first downs on the drive.
On the 89-yard punt return by Devin Hester, Seahawks punter Jon Ryan was directed to kick the ball out of bounds, but obviously didn’t get it there. Hester tied a league record for kick returns with nine in his career.
Ryan took a vicious-but-clean hit when receiver Earl Bennett peeled back and decleated him on the return, opening up the sideline for Hester.
Ryan suffered a rib injury on the play but seemed okay in the locker room afterwards.
“It’s sucks when you get one returned on you like that, especially when you don’t remember it,” Ryan said about the play.
Both CB Kelly Jennings and DE Dexter Davis suffered hamstring injuries in the first half and did not return.
* Deon Butler finished with four catches for 47 yards in his first start with Deion Branch gone. * The Seahawks held Chicago to 61 rushing yards just a week after they rushed for over 200 yards against Carolina.
* The two teams combined for 18 punts.
* Marcus Trufant led the team in tackles for a second straight game with six. Trufant also had an interception that was ruled out of bounds.
* Lawyer Milloy is one sack away from joining the elite 20-20 club --- 20 sacks and 20 interceptions. Milloy has 19 sacks after today’s performance and 25 interceptions. With one more sack he would become the 11 person in the 20-20 club, joining linebackers Tom Jackson, Seth Joyner, Wilber Marshall, William Thomas, Donnie Edwards and Ray Lewis, safeties Rodney Harrison, LeRoy Butler, Brian Dawkins and Adrian Wilson, and cornerback Ronde Barber