CHICAGO – A recap of the Seahawks’ 35-24 loss to the Bears in their divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jay Cutler. Since 2003, only five quarterbacks had won their first playoff game – against 19 losses. Cutler made it six, by passing for two touchdowns and also running for two.
“Jay made some terrific plays,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He played a great game today.”
Especially early. Cutler’s first touchdown pass came on the third play of the game – a 58-yarder to tight end Greg Olsen. Cutler was 3 of 5 for 109 yards in the first quarter with a passer rating of 143.8. He was only five of 11 in the second quarter, but scored on a 6-yard run. He scored again in the third quarter, on a 9-yard run and then threw his second TD pass in the fourth quarter – a 39-yarder to No. 2 tight end Kellen Davis.
Cutler passed for 274 of the Bears’ 437 total yards and added another 43 yards on eight carries.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: That TD pass from Cutler to Olsen. It set the drone of a tone for the afternoon, as Olsen ran past veteran strong safety Lawyer Milloy to take Cutler’s pass in stride and didn’t stop until he got to the end zone.
Defense: This one happened on the play that followed the Cutler-to-Olsen TD pass and involved Seahawks tight end John Carlson. Matt Hasselbeck passed to Carlson, who leaped into the air as he was heading toward the sideline. Bears SS Danieal Manning hit Carlson, driving his facemask into the turf in front of the Seahawks’ bench. Carlson was motionless, and eventually strapped to a board before being taken off the field on a cart and then to a nearby hospital, where he spent the night as a precautionary measure.
The concussion-inducing play cost the Seahawks one of their two tight ends and impacted what they wanted to do in the running game as well as the passing game.
Special teams: The Seahawks were desperate for a big play as the Bears had stormed to a 28-0 lead on Cutler’s second TD run. Leon Washington was there to supply it, with a 62-yard return of the ensuing kickoff. But the Seahawks came away with only an Olindo Mare field goal, despite getting the ball at the Bears’ 30-yard line.
Pregame: Just before kickoff it began to snow lightly, which was not in the forecast. Lightly turned into heavily as the first half progressed, but then the snow was gone by the second half.
In-game: With the Bears leading 28-3 early in the fourth quarter, running back Matt Forte lined up in the wild-cat formation and threw a pass – that was intercepted by Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry. An exasperated Bears fan was so irate that he bellowed “Martz” so loudly it was audible in the enclosed press box. His ire, of course, was aimed at Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who just couldn’t sit on the lead. The Seahawks scored nine plays later to make it 28-10.
Post-game: The Seahawks have won as a team and lost as a team all season. Sunday, they were disappointed as a team in the locker room for blowing the chance to host the NFC Championship game at Qwest Field next Sunday. They knew the opportunity was there after the Green Bay Packers had beaten the top-seeded Falcons in Atlanta on Saturday night. They just weren’t able to cash in on that opportunity.
In addition to Carlson, cornerback Marcus Trufant also got a concussion in the third quarter. And was strapped to a board. And taken off the field on a cart. And transported to the hospital. And spent the night there for observation. As with Carlson, Carroll said the moves were precautionary.
Backup tight end Cameron Morrah got a turf toe in the second quarter, leaving wide receiver Ruvell Martin to take some snaps at tight end. Morrah did return in the second half. Fullback Michael Robinson bruised ribs in a third-quarter collision and was not able to return. Running back Justin Forsett injured an ankle.
With his trio of fourth-quarter TD passes, Hasselbeck became the seventh QB in NFL history to throw scoring passes in 10 consecutive playoff games.
Linebacker David Hawthorne had a game-high nine tackles, after also leading the team with nine tackles against the Saints in the wild-card playoff game last week and posting a team-leading 105 tackles during the regular season.
Defensive ends Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock had sacks of Cutler, upping their season totals to 12 and 11. Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu also had a sack, his second of the season.
Rookie wide receiver Golden Tate was the Seahawks’ leading rusher. That’s right, he had 13 yards on a pass that was ruled a lateral. Other than that, Forsett had 9 yards on four carries and leading rusher Marshawn Lynch 2 yards on four carries.
The Seahawks’ coverage units did an exceptional job containing Pro Bowl kicker returner Devin Hester, who had 30 yards on two punt returns and 6 yards on one kickoff return.
Wide receiver Brandon Stokley had a game-high eight catches, including 9-yarder for Hasselbeck’s third TD pass. Hasselbeck completed passes to nine receivers, including TD throws of 2 and 3 yards to Mike Williams.
Not surprisingly, the Bears had substantial advantages in total yards (437-276), rushing yards (176-34) and time of possession (37:10-22:50).
The temperature at kickoff was 24 degrees, with a wind chill of 19 degrees.
YOU DON’T SAY
“We’ve got a big, giant (play) call sheet. Losing John Carlson took it down to a corner of that.” – Hasselbeck, on the impact of losing his starting tight end on the Seahawks’ fourth play of the game
Peephole perspective: The Seahawks finally scored a couple of touchdowns, on two Matt Hasselbeck passes to Mike Williams and one to Brandon Stokley. But it was a textbook case of way too little, way too late. Bears 35-24.
Player of the quarter: David Hawthorne. The Seahawks were out of this one before the quarter ever started, but you never would have known it by how well – and hard – the third-year linebacker played. He entered the quarter with six tackles and tacked on a couple more by stopping RB Chester Taylor for a 1-yard gain and running down Taylor after an 11-yard gain.
Play of the quarter: The TD pass from Hasselbeck to Williams, which was setup when LB Aaron Curry intercepted a pass not from QB Jay Cutler but RB Matt Forte. Hasselbeck’s throw made him the seventh player in NFL history to pass for a TD in 10 consecutive playoff games.
Number of the quarter: 2011. As in, wait until next year for the Seahawks.
The bigger picture: The Seahawks opened the final quarter with the kinds of plays they didn’t make in the first three quarters. First, Curry intercepted a pass and returned it 22 yards to the Chicago 33.
Then Hasselbeck passed to Williams for a 2-yard TD that capped a nine-play, 33-yard drive. Bears CB Tim Jennings was called for pass interference on a fourth-and-1 pass to WR Brandon Stokley, giving the Seahawks a first down at the 19. Stokley then went down to get Hasselbeck’s low throw on a third-and-4 play for an 11-yard gain to the 2. The TD pass came on third-and-2.
The Seahawks forced a punt on the Bears’ next possession, but the tandem of Brad Maynard (punt) and Corey Graham (catch) then pinned Seattle deep in its own territory again (5-yard line).
The Bears tacked on a late score when Cutler passed to TE Kellen Davis for a TD with 4:40 left to play.
The Seahawks’ second TD came with 2:16 play, when Williams grabbed a pass that went off Bears CB Charles Tillman. Hasselbeck passed 17 yards to WR Brandon Stokley on the play just before the TD.
The Seahawks had a chance to get the onside kick, as it went off the Bears’ Graham. But Nick Roach recovered for Chicago.
Inside two-minutes, the Seahawks were in the no-huddle offense and scored quickly on a 46-yard reception from Hasselbeck to Obomanu setting up a quick 9-yard score to Stokley and narrowing the Bear’s lead to 11. The ensuing onside kick was recovered by Chicago who were able to run out the clock and end Seattle’s miraculous playoff run and season.
Peephole perspective: The Seahawks finally scored, on an Olindo Mare field goal. But the Bears scored again, on Jay Cutler second TD run. Chicago 28-3.
Player of the quarter: Cutler. In his first postseason game, the Bears did all he could to make sure there would be a second. He not only scored his second rushing TD, Cutler also scrambled for a first down on the drive and completed a 15-yard pass – both on third-down plays.
Play of the quarter: The Seahawks were desperately in need of a big play, and Leon Washington delivered by returning the kickoff following Cutler’s TD for 62 yards to the Bears’ 30 to set up Mare’s three-pointer.
Number of the quarter: 23. That’s Marcus Trufant’s uniform number. Like TE John Carlson in the first quarter, the veteran cornerback sustained a head injury in the third quarter and was strapped to a board and taken off the field on cart.
The bigger picture: The second half began with the Seahawks doing something they were only able to accomplish once in seven first-half series – force a three-and-out.
The offense then was unable to do something it accomplished only one in the first half – convert a third down, as CB Charles Tillman made a diving deflection of Matt Hasselbeck’s third-and-10 pass that was intended for WR Mike Williams. It was the Seahawks’ fifth three-and-out of the game.
On the Bears’ next possession, however, they were back to coming up with big third-down plays – while another Seahawk went down. Trufant went low to tackle TE Kellen Davis after a 3-yard reception and appeared to take a knee to the helmet. Like Carlson, Trufant was strapped to a board and taken off the field on a cart. Also like Carlson, Trufant was motionless on the field as his concerned teammates could only watch. Rookie Walter Thurmond took over on the left side for Trufant.
Back on the field, Cutler scored on a 9-yard run – on a third-and-6 play. Cutler’s second TD run capped a 14-play, 70-yard drive that consumed almost eight minutes. Cutler scrambled for 8 yards on third-and-2; pass to WR Johnny Knox for a 15-yard gain on third-and-11; RB Matt Forte ran for 2 yards on third-and-1; and Cutler scored on the next third-down play.
Washington then got the Seahawks their best field position of the afternoon as he returned the ensuing kickoff 62 yards to the Bears’ 30. The offense could move the ball only 18 yards in seven plays, so Olindo Mare kicked a 30-yard field goal to make it 28-3 with 1:52 left in the quarter.
Peephole perspective: The snow finally stopped but not what seemed like an avalanche of big third-down plays by the Bears, who scored again to take a 21-0 lead.
Player of the quarter: Jay Cutler. The Bears’ QB scored on a 6-yard run – on a third-and-5 play – and also passed for 22 and 13 yards on the nine-play, 63-yard drive. The second completion came on a third-and-4 play.
Play of the quarter: The Seahawks’ defense forced a punt late in the quarter, but even that didn’t help as Corey Graham caught Brad Maynard’s kick at the Seattle 1.
Numbers of the quarter: 1 for 8, which was the Seahawks’ performance on third downs in the first half; and 3 of 7, which was the Bears’ performance in the first half. In the Seahawks’ win here in Week 6, the Bears were 0 for 12 on third downs.
The bigger picture: The Bears scored on their first possession of the quarter, as Cutler ran it in on a third-and-5 play from the Seahawks’ 6. The TD capped a nine-play, 63-yard drive that also included Cutler passing to TE Greg Olsen for 22 yards on the first play and 13 yards to WR Earl Bennett on third-and-4.
The defense finally forced a punt after back-to-back Bears’ drives ended with TD runs, but Graham and Maynard combined to pin the Seahawks near their goal line.
The final five possessions of the half ended with punts.
Peephole perspective: A pair of Bears’ touchdowns and snow. Chicago 14-0.
Player of the quarter: Greg Olsen. The Bears tight end ran past Seahawks SS Lawyer Milloy to score the first touchdown and then had a 33-yard reception to set up the Bears’ second TD.
Play of the quarter: The first long pass to Olsen – a 58-yarder. It came on the Bears’ third play of the game.
Number of the quarter: 89. That’s John Carlson’s uniform number. The Seahawks’ tight end was taken off the field on a cart and strapped to a board – a precautionary measure – facing landing on his facemask.
The bigger picture: The Seahawks got the ball first, as Jordan Babineaux called heads in the coin toss and it was. But the Seahawks went three-and-out as WR Brandon Stokley couldn’t handle Matt Hasselbeck’s third-down pass that was thrown a bit wide.
The Bears had no such trouble on third-down play on their first possession, as Olsen ran pass Milloy to take a pass from Jay Cutler for the 58-yard TD.
The Seahawks got a 14-yard gain on a pass from Hasselbeck to Carlson on the first play of the ensuing. But Bears SS Danieal Manning hit Carlson while he was in the air and Carlson was taken from the field on a cart, and strapped to a board, after landing on his facemask and having his head snapped back. That left the Seahawks with only one tight end – Cameron Morrah – because Anthony McCoy and Chris Baker are on injured reserve. Hasselbeck went to Morrah two plays later, but Morrah dropped the pass and the Seahawks had to punt. Jon Ryan pinned the Bears at their 9 as his punt went out of bounds.
The official word is that Carlson has a head injury and taking him off on the board was a precautionary measure. Carlson had feeling in his arms.
The Bears scored again with 1:19 left in the quarter on a 1-yard run by RB Chester Taylor. The big play on the eight-play, 50-yard drive was Cutler’s 33-yard pass to Olsen. Cutler then kept the ball for a 2-yard gain on fourth-and-1 from the 3.
Seahawks TE John Carlson was taken from the field after Bears SS Danieal Manning hit Carlson while he was in the air and Carlson landed on his facemask and had his head snapped back. The official word is that Carlson has a head injury and taking him off on the board was a precautionary measure. Carlson had feeling in his arms.
CHICAGO – The following players are inactive for the Bears:
S Craig Steltz
CB Joshua Moore
CB Kahlil Bell
OG Herman Johnson
OL Edwin Williams
TE Desmond Clark
DT Marcus Harrison
3rd QB: Caleb Hanie
CHICAGO – Not that it’s a surprise, but middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu is active and will play against the Bears today.
Tatupu had yet to be cleared to return on Friday, but he and the team expected him to play all along despite getting a concussion in last week’s game against the Saints.
Inactive for the Seahawks:
CB Josh Pinkard
CB Marcus Brown
LB Joe Pawelek
OG Lemuel Jeanpierre
OG Paul Fanaika
OT Breno Giacomini
DT Amon Gordon
3rd QB: J.P. Losman
CHICAGO – Postseason greetings from a frigid Soldier Field, where the Seahawks and Bears will not only play for a spot in the NFC Championship game, but to host it next Sunday.
That’s right, the conference title game could be played at Qwest Field, if the Seahawks can pull off their third upset in as many weeks. If not, it will be played at Soldier Field. What is known is that either the Seahawks or Bears will play at home next week, because the sixth-seeded Green Bay Packers eliminated the top-seeded Falcons in Atlanta on Saturday night.
To the higher-seeded team goes home field in the championship game, and the Bears are the No. 2 seed and the Seahawks the No. 4 seed. So …
Because the storylines in today’s game already have been well documented, let’s take a look at one player who missed the Week 6 matchup between these teams at Soldier Field – Bears linebacker Lance Briggs; and one who didn’t play in the second half after injuring a knee – Seahawks fullback and special teams standout Michael Robinson.
First, Robinson, who was signed Sept. 6 after being released by the San Francisco 49ers. He rushed for 77 yards on 12 carries, caught eight passes for 37 and made four coverage tackles during the regular season; then added three coverage tackles and a big block on Marshawn Lynch’s electrifying 67-yard touchdown run that iced last week’s stunning upset of the defending Super Bowl champion Saints.
But even the sum of those numbers doesn’t add up to just how important Robinson has been in his first season with the Seahawks – especially the past two weeks, when the Seahawks rushed for 141 yards in the win over the St. Louis Rams that clinched the division title and then had 149 against the Saints.
“We didn’t have him for a long time,” coach Pete Carroll said during the week, referring to Robinson missing five games at midseason with a hamstring injury, in addition to the second half of the game against the Bears in October.
“We felt that. He’s one of the special teams soldiers that came back to us and has made a difference. As far as on offense, Mike does a really good job. He’s a most-versatile player. He understands the game really well. We can do a lot of things with him. He can run with the football. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. And he’s been a very effective blocker for us.
“He does give us a whole element that we lost for a long time. He’s quietly been more of a factor than people realize, particularly in the last few weeks running the football. He’s been right in the middle of all that. He’s an important player for us.”
As is Briggs for the Bears. It was QB Matt Hasselbeck who offered, “He’s huge. … So as hard as this game is going to be, the fact that he’s back takes it to a whole other level.”
The Seahawks expected to see Briggs in that game, which they won 23-20. But an ankle injury prevented him from playing.
“That was a big deal,” Hasselbeck said. “For us to sit back and say, ‘Oh hey, we beat them at their place, we can do it again.’ That would be a dangerous way to feel because Lance Briggs did not play in that game. He’s a big, big-time difference maker and a great football player.”
Briggs finished second on the team with 121 tackles – behind Pro Bowl middle linebacker Brian Urlacher. He also had two sacks, two interceptions, seven passes defensed, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
He is, as Hasselbeck said, a definite difference maker.
“Well, for the Bears’ sake we hope a big difference,” Chicago coach Lovie Smith said when asked what a difference having Briggs today could make. “Lance Briggs is a great player. There’s a reason why he’s gone to so many Pro Bowls. He’s a big-game player, but he’s just a good, solid player.”
Smith caught himself and then added, “I shouldn’t say solid. He’s more than that. He’s just a great player and he can make all the plays. We’re a better defense with him. We’re looking forward to him being a part of the defense this time around.”
Smith will get no argument from Carroll.
“He’s a great player,” the Seahawks’ first-year coach said. “He’s a productive, aggressive, tough dude that makes things happen.”
At some point today, Robinson and Briggs will undoubtedly run into each other at Soldier Field – where the forecast is calling for a temperature 18 degree at kickoff, with a wind chill of 10 degrees.
The players and coaches have pooh-poohed any attempts at comparing the October game here to today’s game, and rightfully so. But one less-obvious area where the Seahawks definitely could use a repeat performance is field position.
The Bears led the league during the regular season with 43 possessions that started at midfield or in opponent’s territory. In the Week 6 game against the Seahawks, they had one – because Jon Ryan tied his career high with six punts inside the Bears’ 20-yard line.
Just one final factoid to tide you over until kickoff.
CHICAGO – Catherine Kraayeveld plays for the Chicago Sky of the WNBA, but she grew up in the Seattle area and went to Lake Washington High School in Kirkland.
She has a friendly wager on today’s game with Candace Parker, who went to Naperville Central High in the Chicago area.
“When, not if, the Bears win, Catherine must buy me Portillo’s, the best fast food restaurant in Chicago,” Parker told the Chicago Tribune.
Countered Kraayeveld, whose father, Dave, played for the Seahawks, “We’ve got some crazy fans here in Seattle; they’re way louder that the Mutes of the Midway. Hey, I love my adopted home of Chicago where fans have been great to me, but blood is thicker than water.”