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Monday cyber surfing: Reaction to season-opening setback

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks after their 20-16 season-opening loss to the Cardinals in Arizona.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times recaps Sunday’s opener, “Seattle’s defense allowed 10 points in the first half and then held the Cardinals without a first down on their first six possessions of the second half. But with Seattle leading 16-13, the Seahawks allowed the Cardinals to drive 80 yards after quarterback Kevin Kolb came in to replace starter John Skelton, who suffered an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. ‘Bottom line, we’ve just got to finish,’ free safety Earl Thomas said. ‘We had a great game except that last drive.’ But in the end, Seattle showed progress. The Seahawks got to the opponent’s 4-yard line, which was closer than they ever came to pulling off a last-minute comeback a year ago.”

O’Neil also has a look at running back/kick returner Leon Washington, who had a kick return of 83 yards and punt return of 52 yards yesterday, “Special-teams returns played a huge role in Sunday’s game, which wouldn’t be all that shocking because Arizona’s Patrick Peterson set an NFL record last year by scoring on four punt returns. Except it was Seattle’s Leon Washington whose returns proved pivotal. ‘(He) gave us a chance, really,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Washington. ‘He lit it up. That and the plays on defense gave us a real chance to be in the football game.’ “

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times writes that Sunday’s loss was an all too familiar scene for these Seahawks, “And so Pete Carroll’s first year of big expectations starts with a major bugaboo. The Seahawks lost despite knocking the Cardinals’ starting quarterback, John Skelton, out of the game with 8:18 remaining and while holding a 16-13 lead. They lost despite running seven plays inside the red zone in the final 52 seconds. They lost despite having first-and-goal from the 6-yard line, despite a spirited comeback from a 13-3 deficit and despite receiving an extra timeout on the final drive because replacement referee Bruce Hermansen got confused. ‘I thought this was a really indicative game of the league,’ Carroll said. ‘The margin is just so slight.’ For the Seahawks, that slight margin will be the difference between a third straight losing season and a playoff appearance. The NFL is legislated for parity, and every team must win its share of close games to be successful. The Seahawks might be an exaggerated example because the grind-it-out style they employ dictates low-scoring, tight games.”

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has a look at rookie quarterback Russell Wilson’s first regular season NFL start, “In four exhibition games, he threw for 536 yards and five touchdowns while adding 150 rushing yards and a touchdown. But regular-season games, as it always does, provided a ruder welcome. Against the Cardinals, Wilson was 18-for- 34 passing, throwing for 153 yards. He was intercepted once, but he also connected on his first touchdown pass – a 10-yard throw to wide receiver Sidney Rice to cut Arizona’s lead to 13-10 in the third quarter. ‘I knew they were going to bring pressure,’ Wilson said. ‘I knew they were going to do different things. That’s what NFL teams do, and we changed it up, too, on offense, as well. I think the main thing is just coming out a little bit stronger in the first half, just collectively, and continue to grow and capitalize on opportunities.’ “

Williams details Washington’s big returns, “Though Washington hasn’t scored on a return in 20 games, dating back to an 84-yard punt return against Carolina on December 5, 2010., he still provided two of the most explosive plays for the Seahawks, giving the team a spark. ‘Huge,’ Michael Robinson said about Washington’s returns. ‘It totally sparked our second-half run. That’s what this team’s all about – one phase is down, and the other phase picks them up. It just wasn’t enough today.’ “

Williams also has his game recap from Sunday.

John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune says don’t give up on Wilson just one game into his NFL career, “While Wilson’s passing stats (18-for-34, for 153 yards and a touchdown with one interception) suggested no upgrade from 2011 starter Tarvaris Jackson, don’t underestimate the Cardinals’ influence in those numbers. ‘They threw everyone hard at us,’ said Carroll. ‘Considering how Russell was under duress, I think it was a great first game for him. It was not easy for him at any time.’ Consider something else, too. Among the five rookie quarterbacks who started Sunday, Wilson’s effort was eclipsed only by Washington’s Robert Griffin III, who completed 19-of-26, for 320 yards and two touchdowns (a passer rating of 139.9), and ran for another 42 yards on 10 carries in the Redskins’ 40-32 win.”

Mike Salk of mynorthwest.com tells us that Sunday’s contest was a prime example of what to expect from Seahawks football in 2012 – a tough, grind-it-out game that Seattle had a chance to win, “The Seahawks are supposed to crush your ability to run, pressure your ability to pass, and then slowly grind out a few scoring drives. They aren’t quick-strike. They don’t meticulously pick you apart. They bulldoze you. With that gameplan in mind, they should play games that come down to a few plays. Make them, and you’ll win. Fail to make them, and you’ll go home disappointed. That script played out for 55 minutes of Seattle’s 20-16 loss to Arizona on Sunday. The Seahawks found themselves within a score, needing just one play to win the game. Unfortunately, that play never came.”

Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com details Sunday’s opener and Wilson’s performance, “Wilson, who finished 18 for 34 for 153 yards, a TD and a pick, knows he’s still opening the college physics book in the middle. This is the NFL, where rookie starters don’t have the luxury of beginning at the beginning. ‘I have to go through my reads quicker, that’s the main thing,’ he said. ‘In the red zone, the windows are a lot shorter, and I have to be smarter. I felt great about the opportunities we had. We just fell short. The defense and special teams did a great job helping us out.’ “

For a bit of injury news, CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reports that Russell Okung’s injury suffered yesterday does not seem to be serious, calling it a bone bruise.

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his “Rapid Reaction” following Sunday’s opener, “What it means: The quarterback drama and questions that dominated pregame discussion aren’t going away. Kevin Kolb, all but written off in Arizona, came off the bench to throw the go-ahead touchdown pass in the fourth quarter after an ankle injury knocked out starter John Skelton. Seahawks rookie Russell Wilson answered by quickly leading Seattle down the field, but his final pass fell incomplete in the end zone on fourth down with 18 seconds left. In the bigger picture, both teams are still looking up at the San Francisco 49ers. The standings show a tie atop the NFC West, but neither Seattle nor Arizona played anywhere near the level San Francisco demonstrated while handling the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Both teams appeared limited offensively. Both have big injury concerns.”

Sando also has a look at Wilson’s day under center.

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has his game story, Tony Ventrella recaps the 20-16 defeat, and Rod Mar has a look at the day in photos.

We also have coach Carroll and Wilson’s postgame press conferences, as well as some game highlights from the Seahawks’ rookie quarterback.


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