So how do the Seattle Seahawks feel about being alone in first place for the first time in three seasons? Players for the most part are pleased, but acknowledge that there’s a lot of season left to be played.
“It’s a great start,” said Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. “As we talk about all the time, it’s really not about how you start, it’s how you finish. And the same is true for a game, and it’s certainly now different when you talk about a season. We’re off to a decent start, but there’s a lot of football left.”
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said he didn’t even mention to his players the fact that winning this game meant they would be standing alone atop the division.
“We didn’t even talk about it,” he said. “I didn’t talk about it after the game, either. I love being in first place, but it doesn’t mean anything right now. To me, it’s like the BCS; it doesn’t matter right now, it’s how you finish.”
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Defense and special teams again put Seattle over the top at home. With five turnovers in the game, Seattle has now forced 12 turnovers at home and just one on the road. And Seattle has struggled putting points on the board after turnovers, scoring just 22 points today
The Seahawks finished 1-of-7 in the red zone for the game.
“I think they had a plan for us in the red zone that was a little different than what we saw them do against other people,” Hasselbeck said. “They were a little grabby down there. I thought we had situations where we should have had a completion but maybe guys were on that 5-yard line where they let you play a little bit, but we’ll see the film.”
One thing that is working well for Seattle is the growing chemistry between Hasselbeck and Mike Williams. The USC product finished with 11 catches for 87 yards and a score, a week after finishing with 10 catches and 123 yards against Chicago.
“I really like him,” Hasselbeck said. “I’m trying not to talk too much about him because I don’t want people to know. But I think we’re done sneaking up on people with that situation.”
Hasselbeck was asked if he’s developed the type of chemistry with Williams that he had with Bobby Engram or Darrell Jackson, and he said they’re making progress but are not there yet.
“That’d be a strong statement I think,” Hasselbeck said. “But I think we could easily get there, and that’s the goal. If I could get with any of these guys the way I was with Darrell or Bobby that would be awesome.”
On the injury front, rookie offensive tackle Russell Okung is back on the shelf after injuring his other ankle in the first offensive series in the game. Tight end Chris Baker rolled up on Okung’s left ankle while trying to make a cut block on a back-side run. Okung limped off the field and eventually made his way to the locker room, where X-rays came back negative.
Okung already has missed the team’s first three games with a high ankle sprain of his right ankle that he suffered in the second preseason game, and Carroll said the Oklahoma State product likely will miss more time.
“It’s not as bad as the last one, but it’s so unfortunate,” Carroll said. “He just gets going and he’s such a big part of what we’re doing. Tyler (Polumbus) did a good job of going in for him, but that’s not what we want. We want to see him out there playing for us, so we’re going to miss him for a bit. I don’t know how long it’s going to take.”
Fullback Michael Robinson also suffered a knee injury and did not return, and receiver Brandon Stokley appeared to suffer a hip injury.
Along with the defense, kicker Olindo Mare was the star of the game, tying a franchise record with five field goals. Mare actually made nine field goals, but four were waived off because of penalties. Mare now has made 30 consecutive field goals dating back to last season.
But Mare is not within shouting distance of the record, which is 42 consecutive held by Mike Vanderjagt from 2002 to 2004 during his time with the Indianapolis Colts.
“I’ve never kicked that many field goals,” Mare said. “I think a lot of guys, when you start getting into a rhythm and kicking a lot of field goals, it kind of helps you out. I guess it’s like a quarterback throwing a lot, you get into a rhythm.”
* Offensive tackle Sean Locklear was called for two holding calls, negating 40 rushing yards for Marshawn Lynch. He also was called for a false start and gave up a sack. His play didn’t go unnoticed by Carroll.
“We had a couple of holds that shouldn’t be there,” Carroll said. “
* The Seahawks defense gave up 100 yards on the ground for the first time this season. Arizona finished with 113 yards on 20 carries for a 5.7 yards per carry average. Tim Hightower finished with 59 yards on six carries, and Beanie Wells had 54 yards on 14 carries.
“We weren’t able to keep the streak going as far as 100-yard games,” said Seattle defensive tackle Colin Cole, who led his team with seven tackles. “But we don’t have a 100-yard rusher against us, so for the most part we’ve done a good job with it.”
* Seattle held Larry Fitzgerald to three catches for 30 yards, his worst numbers against the Seahawks. Before that, Fitzgerald was held to three catches for 41 yards and no touchdowns in his rookie season at Qwest Field.
* Earl Thomas had another interception, raising his total to four. He also had two other plays where he had a chance at a pick, as the University of Texas product continues to be around the ball. Thomas tied the rookie record for interceptions established by John Harris in 1978.
* Seattle’s defense continues to be lights out on third down The Seahawks held Arizona to 2 of 12 (17 percent) on third down.
* Seattle held rookie quarterback Max Hall to 4 of 16 for 36 yards and an interception. For the game, Arizona quarterbacks finished 12 of 33 for 132 yards.