CHICAGO – A recap of the Seahawks’ 23-30 victory over the Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
The entire Seahawks team. They came to the Windy City determined to finally beat a team with a winning record on the road. They came together as a team in doing just that against the Bears.
“This is a big deal for us,” coach Pete Carroll said.
That’s what makes it impossible to single out one player, because so many came up big on this big day.
The defense arrived with an aggressive game plan, and executed it just as aggressively in limiting the Bears’ offense to a pair of field goals after its game-opening touchdown drive. They shut down the run, and then turned up the heat on Bears QB Jay Cutler as five different players contributed to their six sacks – including one for a safety by safety Jordan Babineaux and two from soon-to-be 37-year-old strong safety Lawyer Milloy.
The offense answered the Bears’ first score with an 80-yarder of its own and then put together a 92-yard drive in the fourth quarter. The 1-2 punch of Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett did just what Carroll said they could after Lynch was acquired in a trade two weeks ago. They each scored a TD and combined for 111 rushing yards – 67 by Forsett and 44 from Lynch as the Seahawks cracked triple digits for the first time this season. Mike Williams was there QB Matt Hasselbeck needed him most, catching 10 passes for 123 yards. Deon Butler, elevated to the starting lineup after the trade of Deion Branch last week, caught a 22-yard TD pass. Hasselbeck was in rhythm and in control while completing 25 of 40 passes for 242 yards – and he was not sacked and did not throw an interception. The line obviously made a statement with its pass protection and run blocking.
On special teams, punter Jon Ryan had what Carroll called “a fantastic day,” despite his final effort being return for a TD by Devin Hester.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: Hasselbeck’s TD pass to Butler. The Seahawks’ QB wanted to go to tight end John Carlson in the middle of the field. When that wasn’t there, Hasselbeck used a pump fake to freeze the safety and went to Butler on the left side, where he was in single coverage. It was a big play rendered huge because it answered the Bears’ game-opening TD.
Defense: So many from which to chose, but let’s go with Babineaux’s safety-producing sack – because it scored points, and made a point. Coordinator Gus Bradley used the bye week to devise an attacking scheme and his players executed it, well, with an equally aggressive approach.
Special teams: The ninth punt return for a score of Hester’s career was electrifying. But it was a pair of Ryan punts in the fourth quarter that helped pull the plug on any comeback hopes the Bears might have been harboring. The first – a 54-yarder – hopped out of bounds at the 8-yard line. The second was downed at the 1 by special teams captain Roy Lewis.
Pregame: This one happened way before kickoff. It goes back to the hours Bradley and his staff spent coming up with the package that included three down linemen, Milloy in the role of a linebacker along with Lofa Tatupu and the large, physical presence of rookie Kam Chancellor at Milloy’s strong safety spot. The Bears were not able to match – or handle – what the Seahawks threw at them.
In-game: It came late in the game, on Hester’s 89-yard punt return. Ryan was looking to launch the ball out of bounds. Instead, it was Hester who got the ball and Ryan who got launched – on a rib-bruising block.
Post-game: It had to be the smile of satisfaction on Carroll’s face, and the playful way he answered some of the questions from reporters. This was the kind of effort that Carroll and his staff needed to prove that what they envisioned from this team can indeed come to fruition.
Cornerback Kelly Jennings strained a hamstring in the first quarter and did not return. Rookie Walter Thurmond stepped in on the right side for the rest of the game.
Rookie Dexter Davis aggravated a hamstring injury in the first half and also did not return.
Carroll said he did not know the extent of Ryan’s rib injury, but the punter was able to walk off the field.
The Bears were 0 for 12 on third-down situations. The Seahawks held the 49ers to a 1-for-15 performance in their opener.
Julius Peppers was credited with one solo tackle and no QB hits, an indication of how well first-round draft choice Russell Okung played in his first full game at left tackle.
Cornerback Marcus Trufant led the Seahawks with six tackles and made an acrobatic interception along the sideline that was nullified because part of his body landed out of bounds.
Nose tackle Colin Cole was credited with two tipped passes.
Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane was inactive after aggravating a calf injury in practice Thursday. Kentwan Balmer started in his place.
The Bears had only 61 rushing yards, and 24 of those came on a fourth-and-1 run by Chester Taylor in the fourth quarter.
YOU DON’T SAY
“We take such pride in this because the Bears are such a good football team.” – Carroll