A recap of the Seahawks’ 17-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Qwest Field on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Chris Johnson. This day belonged to the Titans’ talented running back, in several ways. First, he scored two touchdowns – including a 1-yarder with 4½ minutes to play that proved to be the game-winner. But he also ran for 134 yards, making him the sixth player in NFL history to compile 2,000 in a single season – 2,006, to be exact.
It did, however, take Johnson a career-high 36 carries to join Eric Dickerson, O.J. Simpson, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis and Jamal Lewis in the record book.
“I’m not really tired,” Johnson said. “I’m just happy about getting 2,000 yards and the victory. It’s not weighing down on me or anything like that. I’m not paying too much attention to that.”
The Seahawks did pay a lot of attention to Johnson, and his quest. They hit him hard, and often, in holding Johnson to a 3.7-yard average.
“They told me that I wasn’t going to get it on them, that went on the whole game,” said Johnson, who surpassed 2K on a on a 4-yard run midway through the fourth quarter and then added the decisive 1-yarder with 4 minutes, 33 seconds left.
“They played a tough game, a hard game. They have a very fast defense. They were running around making plays. But our offense won out in the end. Neither team had a chance of getting in the playoffs, so our goal was to come in and run the ball. Their goal was to come in and stop the run.”
Johnson became only the second back to rush for more than 100 yards against the Seahawks this season. The other was the 49ers’ Frank Gore, who went for 207 in a Week 2 game in San Francisco.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: It was a play that didn’t count – Johnson’s 62-yard burst for a touchdown in the fourth quarter than was erased because fullback Ahmard Hall was penalized for holding Seahawks middle linebacker David Hawthorne.
“It was very disappointing,” Johnson said. “It was a great play, and the line blocked the guy right. We felt it wasn’t holding. But the refs, they get paid to do their job. We knew it would get us closer to our main goal, which we were focusing on.”
Main goal? Bigger than 2,000 yards? Bigger than a win that made the Titans the first team to finish .500 after starting 0-6?
“It was Eric Dickerson’s record,” Johnson said of the league record of 2,105 yards from 1984.
One of those officials explained the call to a pool reporter.
“The ruling was that he was hooked with both arms at the point of attack, and pulled away from where the ball carrier ran right by him,” referee Ed Hochuli said.
Defense: Fourth down, with the Seahawks at the Titans’ 27-yard line and 79 seconds left to play. Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck threw to wide receiver Deon Butler – or was it running back Justin Forsett? Instead, he found Titans linebacker Gerald McRath. The rookie from Southern Mississippi, who was subbing for an injured Keith Bulluck, made the interception to snuff the Seahawks’ hopes of pulling out a victory.
“I felt like it was exciting to have the opportunity to go down and win it,” Hasselbeck said after throwing his ninth interception in the past three games. “Last game. Last drive.
“It’s sort of the story of our season: Opportunities were there, we didn’t take advantage of them. I don’t actually know what happened on the last play. I had Deon Butler open and I had to get it over a guy. Apparently, I didn’t get it over him. So it’s just disappointing, frustrating.”
Offered Titans coach Jeff Fisher, “It’s just a great play. We had a number of opportunities in that last drive. We had him nearly on the ground (on a play where Hasselbeck ducked what appeared to be a sack and scrambled for 6 yards). We had some opportunities there, and we didn’t take advantage of it.
“Matt is a good quarterback. It’s unfortunate for him to have the season end on an interception. But he’s a good quarterback, and we knew that he was going to bounce back after the last couple of weeks.”
Special teams: Again, it’s a play that didn’t happen. Faced with a fourth-and-10 from the Titans’ 35-yard line late in the second quarter, coach Jim Mora opted for a punt rather than trying a 54-yard field goal.
“That’s a little bit out of our range, maybe,” Mora said after the game. “The wind was swirling. It was fourth-and-10. I did not want to give them the ball on the 46-yard line, so I choice to punt.”
The crowd did not approve. “I heard the boos,” Mora said. “And I could understand that people would say, ‘What the heck do you have to lose? Go for it.’ But in my mind, we’re trying to win a football game. That’s why I did that.”
Even with a kicker who has been torrid since missing two field goals – his only two misses of the season – in the Week 3 loss to the Bears?
“It was just out of range,” said that kicker, Olindo Mare. “Their guy (Rob Bironas) made one from 47 and it went in by a few yards. But 7 yards is a lot on a long field goal. You’ve got to drive it a little more.”
Also, the kick was toward the north end, where Mare’s only two misses of the season came.
It was a double-dip of nostalgia. First, Hasselbeck was presented with the Steve Largent Award, which has been presented annually since 1989 to the player who “best exemplifies the spirit, dedication and integrity of the Seahawks.” Then, Mariners’ great Ken Griffey Jr. raised the 12th Man Flag above the south end zone.
Easy. Johnson surpassing 2,000 rushing yards. It’s not every day, and certainly not every play, that a player runs into the record book.
While Johnson was doing a live TV interview, Fisher gathered his offensive linemen and tight end at midfield and had them wait for a photo to commemorate their efforts in helping Johnson get to 2K.
The Seahawks played without three injured starters – wide receiver Nate Burleson (sprained ankle), linebacker Aaron Curry (shoulder stinger) and cornerback Josh Wilson (hip pointer).
During the game, wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, defensive tackle Colin Cole and running back Justin Forsett had to leave the field with unspecified injuries. But each returned.
AN EYE TO 2010
The Seahawks will play the following teams next season, but the schedule will not be announced until the spring:
New York Giants
YOU DON’T SAY
“No. It’s exciting, though. As a quarterback, you get hit all the time. You never get to hit anyone. So it’s good to let some frustration out.” – Hasselbeck, when asked if he was intending to throw a block to help spring Justin Forsett for a 17-yard run that set up Mare’s go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter