A look at the week that was, and the week that will be, for the Seahawks:
Anatomy of a 41-0 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Qwest Field on Sunday
The hearts of the entire defense: The coaches got back to basics, and the players got after it. From rookie linebacker Aaron Curry (nine tackles, a sack and a forced fumble), to defensive end Darryl Tapp (a sack and four QB hits), to rookie defensive end Nick Reed (a 79-yard fumble return for a TD and a sack), to middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu (eight tackles), to defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (whose disruptive presence helped set up many of the plays other made).
Coordinator Gus Bradley’s unit has sandwiched a pair of home-field shutouts around the team’s three-game losing streak. The Seahawks registered three shutouts in 1984 and had two in 1986. They had only six since then, until the first five games of this season.
But the domination Sunday wasn’t wire-to-wire. It didn’t start until the goal-line stand at the end of the Jags’ second possession, when Curry and Tatupu pressured Jags QB David Garrard into throwing an incomplete pass on fourth-and-1 from the Seahawks’ 2-yard line.
“I think that is going to be an overlooked play in this game,” coach Jim Mora said. “That was a huge play. … That was really big. There were a lot of good things in this game. But when you look back and you ask what play started it, that might be the play.”
Matt Hasselbeck’s fractured rib: How sore was it? “I wouldn’t wish this on anybody,” the Seahawks QB said after the game, his first since being injured in the Week 2 loss to the 49ers.
But he never let on during the game. From his scramble and dive out of bounds on the seventh play, through each of his four touchdown passes, Hasselbeck ratcheted the tempo of the offense.
The hands of T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Nate Burleson: Speaking of Hasselbeck’s four TD passes, these guys had two each. For a while, it was like they were playing a game within the game – you know, my TD catch was better than your TD catch.
After Houshmandzadeh beat cornerback Rashean Mathis for a 34-yard score, Housh’s first as a Seahawk; Burleson came back on the very next series with a 44-yarder, breaking two tackles during his run after the catch. After Houshmandzadeh beat Mathis again for a 13-yarder in the left side of the end zone on the first possession of the second half, Burleson came back to match it with a nice grab of a pass Hasselbeck lofted into the right side of the end zone on the next series.
They combined for 11 catches and 175 of Hasselbeck’s 241 passing yards, and the four scores.
Kyle Williams’ knee: Next. When third-option left tackle Brandon Frye went out with a stinger on the Seahawks’ eighth play, Williams came in. When Williams sprained a knee, he stayed in – because there was no one else with Walter Jones and Sean Locklear inactive. It wasn’t just a gutsy effort by the third-year lineman, who was signed off the practice squad on Saturday, it was imperative. The next option? Backup tight end John Owens.
The coaches had to give Williams some help in certain passing situations, but he was on the field for that 16-play drive that consumed almost 12 minutes of the fourth quarter.
The lungs of the fans: The crowd is always into the games at Qwest, but the fans seemed to deliver at the next level on this Sunday – and with the team facing a must-win situation.
“I was excited,” said Hasselbeck, who was more animated than usual coming out of the tunnel during the pre-game introductions. “Our crowd was there today, and I feel we matched their intensity. And I feel like that is something that we have to do. We cannot lose at home. Ever.”
The week ahead
Keep on bringing it. While the shutout of the Jaguars was nice, it won’t mean a lot unless the Seahawks are available to validate it with a victory over the Arizona Cardinals at Qwest Field this week – an outcome that would leave them 3-3 entering their bye week.
This one won’t be as easy, not with Kurt Warner throwing the ball to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. The Cardinals’ Pro Bowl wide outs wore out the Seahawks in two games last season, when they combined for 23 receptions and 337 yards in a Week 11 game at Qwest and Fitzgerald had five catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns in the season finale in Arizona.
The defense will need to turn up the heat on Warner, because when he gets comfortable in the pocket he can be surgeon sharp. The offense will need to get into its rhythmic flow even earlier than it did against the Jags. The Seahawks will need to force, but not commit, turnovers.