A recap of the Seahawks’ 24-7 loss to the Buccaneers at Qwest Field on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Make it plural, and make it Freeman-to-Winslow. That’s rookie QB Josh Freeman passing to tight end Kellen Winslow. Six times. For 93 yards.
Whenever Freeman needed a big play, the ball seemed to find its way into Winslow’s hands. Three-and-3 late in the first quarter? Freeman to Winslow for 19 yards. First-and-10 late in the first half? Freeman to Winslow for 15 yards. First-and-10 on the Bucs’ final possession of the half? Freeman to Winslow for 11 yards, on a drive then ended with a field goal.
Second-and-5 on the second play of the second half? Freeman to Winslow for 21 yards, on a drive to another field goal. First-and-10 on the last play of the third quarter? Freeman to Winslow for 21 yards. Third-and-7 on that same possession? Freeman to Winslow for 20 yards, on a drive that ended in yet another field goal. Third-and-2 late in the game? Freeman to Winslow for 6 yards.
“We’re all trying to help him,” Winslow said of the rookie QB. “He helps us. It takes time to be successful in this league with a quarterback that’s new. We’re progressing. He’s got to know everybody’s job – the protections, the hot (reads), all that. He’s coming along well.”
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: Let’s go with the “homer” pick – Matt Hasselbeck’s 29-yard pass to tight end John Carlson. It produced the Seahawks’ only touchdown, for the second consecutive game. It also was the longest touchdown play of the game, and Carlson’s team-leading fifth TD reception of the season.
“Matt just made a good throw, he flattened me out on the throw to get me away from the inside defender,” said Carlson, who was running a corner route. “I barely got in.”
But get in he did, with a desperate lunge to the pylon in the right corner of the end zone.
It was the best of Carlson’s season-high seven catches, which matched his total from the previous five games combined.
Defense: Bucs’ nickel back Elbert Mack had two interceptions in the fourth quarter, and the last one came in the end zone on a Hasselbeck pass that was intended for wide receiver Deion Branch. Hasselbeck had hit nine consecutive passes in moving the Seahawks from their 20-yard line to the Bucs’ 19.
“Metaphorically and literally, yes,” cornerback Ronde Barber said when asked if this win felt like a dark cloud had lifted for the Bucs. “We’ve been in a lot of games this year and not found a way to win them. It was nice to have a fourth quarter where the game was soundly in hand. I can’t remember the last time we had a like that, so this is really rewarding.”
Special teams: When a 180-pound cornerback whose teammates call him “Slim” steps in to snap on a punt it’s not only noteworthy, it’s very telling about how this season has gone for the Seahawks. That’s what happened in the fourth quarter, when Kelly Jennings became the snapper because Kevin Houser was on his way to the hospital with a shoulder injury.
“How’d you like Kelly Jennings long snapping?” coach Jim Mora asked. “Goodness sakes, it is exasperating to believe that we could actually be at the point where our backup right corner is long snapping for us.”
Prior to kickoff, cornerback Josh Wilson was presented his trophy for being voted the Seahawks’ Man of the Year by CEO Tod Leiweke.
It came at the end of the game, as the TV cameras scanned both sidelines. While the Bucs were all donning smiles of relief, the Seahawks’ players could only shake their heads in disbelieve.
“It’s relieving,” Bucs wide receiver Sammie Stroughter said. “You go back and watch our games and there’s no way we should be 2-12. Period. Point blank.”
Offered Seahawks middle linebacker David Hawthorne, “This is the National Football League, and you can’t give any team anything. You have to go out there go with the same mentality whether it’s a 12-0 team or an 0-12 team. We need to come out and take that approach and then the story wouldn’t have been the same thing.”
No one used the “E” word. Not Mora when he stepped to the podium. Nor Hasselbeck. No one in the locker room, either. But what else can you say about losing to a 1-12 team, at home? It was embarrassing.
In addition to Houser, linebacker Aaron Curry got a stinger, wide receiver Ben Obomanu pulled a hamstring and running back Justin Forsett injured his ribs.
The Seahawks also played without Nate Burleson, their second-leading receiver who got a high ankle sprain in last week’s loss to the Texans.
“He’s had a great year, but I don’t think we went into this game feeling unsure about our three-wide package or anything like that,” Hasselbeck said. “That wasn’t why we lost today.”
YOU DON’T SAY
“I’m speechless about that. It’s not something I ever thought would happen.” – Hasselbeck, on losing to the previously 1-12 Bucs