A recap of the Seahawks’ 24-7 loss to the Buccaneers at Qwest Field on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Make it plural, and make it Freeman-to-Winslow. That’s rookie QB Josh Freeman passing to tight end Kellen Winslow. Six times. For 93 yards.
Whenever Freeman needed a big play, the ball seemed to find its way into Winslow’s hands. Three-and-3 late in the first quarter? Freeman to Winslow for 19 yards. First-and-10 late in the first half? Freeman to Winslow for 15 yards. First-and-10 on the Bucs’ final possession of the half? Freeman to Winslow for 11 yards, on a drive then ended with a field goal.
Second-and-5 on the second play of the second half? Freeman to Winslow for 21 yards, on a drive to another field goal. First-and-10 on the last play of the third quarter? Freeman to Winslow for 21 yards. Third-and-7 on that same possession? Freeman to Winslow for 20 yards, on a drive that ended in yet another field goal. Third-and-2 late in the game? Freeman to Winslow for 6 yards.
“We’re all trying to help him,” Winslow said of the rookie QB. “He helps us. It takes time to be successful in this league with a quarterback that’s new. We’re progressing. He’s got to know everybody’s job – the protections, the hot (reads), all that. He’s coming along well.”
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: Let’s go with the “homer” pick – Matt Hasselbeck’s 29-yard pass to tight end John Carlson. It produced the Seahawks’ only touchdown, for the second consecutive game. It also was the longest touchdown play of the game, and Carlson’s team-leading fifth TD reception of the season.
“Matt just made a good throw, he flattened me out on the throw to get me away from the inside defender,” said Carlson, who was running a corner route. “I barely got in.”
But get in he did, with a desperate lunge to the pylon in the right corner of the end zone.
It was the best of Carlson’s season-high seven catches, which matched his total from the previous five games combined.
Defense: Bucs’ nickel back Elbert Mack had two interceptions in the fourth quarter, and the last one came in the end zone on a Hasselbeck pass that was intended for wide receiver Deion Branch. Hasselbeck had hit nine consecutive passes in moving the Seahawks from their 20-yard line to the Bucs’ 19.
“Metaphorically and literally, yes,” cornerback Ronde Barber said when asked if this win felt like a dark cloud had lifted for the Bucs. “We’ve been in a lot of games this year and not found a way to win them. It was nice to have a fourth quarter where the game was soundly in hand. I can’t remember the last time we had a like that, so this is really rewarding.”
Special teams: When a 180-pound cornerback whose teammates call him “Slim” steps in to snap on a punt it’s not only noteworthy, it’s very telling about how this season has gone for the Seahawks. That’s what happened in the fourth quarter, when Kelly Jennings became the snapper because Kevin Houser was on his way to the hospital with a shoulder injury.
“How’d you like Kelly Jennings long snapping?” coach Jim Mora asked. “Goodness sakes, it is exasperating to believe that we could actually be at the point where our backup right corner is long snapping for us.”
Prior to kickoff, cornerback Josh Wilson was presented his trophy for being voted the Seahawks’ Man of the Year by CEO Tod Leiweke.
It came at the end of the game, as the TV cameras scanned both sidelines. While the Bucs were all donning smiles of relief, the Seahawks’ players could only shake their heads in disbelieve.
“It’s relieving,” Bucs wide receiver Sammie Stroughter said. “You go back and watch our games and there’s no way we should be 2-12. Period. Point blank.”
Offered Seahawks middle linebacker David Hawthorne, “This is the National Football League, and you can’t give any team anything. You have to go out there go with the same mentality whether it’s a 12-0 team or an 0-12 team. We need to come out and take that approach and then the story wouldn’t have been the same thing.”
No one used the “E” word. Not Mora when he stepped to the podium. Nor Hasselbeck. No one in the locker room, either. But what else can you say about losing to a 1-12 team, at home? It was embarrassing.
In addition to Houser, linebacker Aaron Curry got a stinger, wide receiver Ben Obomanu pulled a hamstring and running back Justin Forsett injured his ribs.
The Seahawks also played without Nate Burleson, their second-leading receiver who got a high ankle sprain in last week’s loss to the Texans.
“He’s had a great year, but I don’t think we went into this game feeling unsure about our three-wide package or anything like that,” Hasselbeck said. “That wasn’t why we lost today.”
YOU DON’T SAY
“I’m speechless about that. It’s not something I ever thought would happen.” – Hasselbeck, on losing to the previously 1-12 Bucs
Peephole perspective: Bucs 24, Seahawks 7. The Bucs put the finishing touches on their run of 24 unanswered points with a field goal and a couple of interceptions.
Player of the quarter: Elbert Mack. Two interceptions in one quarter, including one in the end zone on Matt Hasselbeck’s final pass.
Play of the quarter: On the third play of the quarter – and a third-and-7 play, at that – Josh Freeman passed 20 yards to WR Antonio Bryant for a first down in the Bucs’ drive to a 39-yard field goal.
Line of the quarter: 4 and 5. The four belonged to SS Deon Grant, who had that many tackles. The five belonged to TE John Carlson, who had that many receptions.
The bigger picture: Just as they did in the first/second quarters, the Bucs put together an eight-play, 47-yard scoring drive that spilled over from the end of the third quarter to the start of the fourth quarter. This drive also ended with a field goal – this one a 39-yarder to run the Bucs’ lead to 24-7. The drive included that 20-yard pass from Freeman to Bryant. It was the Bucs’ fourth score in as many second-half possessions.
The Bucs got the ball back when CB Elbert Mack ran down Hasselbeck’s deep throw to Deion Branch for an interception at the Tampa 6-yard line.
The Seahawks finally got a stop, after the Bucs had reached the Seattle 49. But the damage already had been done. The Seahawks also went on a final drive, only to have it end when Mack intercepted Hasselbeck’s final pass in the end zone.
Peephole perspective: 18-0, Bucs. And they didn’t stop here, despite taking a 21-7 lead.
Player of the quarter: Sammie Stroughter. The former Oregon State wide receiver/punt returner did damage in both roles. He caught three passes for 33 yards and also had a 33-yard punt return.
Play of the quarter: On a second-and-16 play midway through the quarter, WR Deion Branch and CB Ronde Barber got their feet tangles as Branch was coming out of his break. Branch went down and FS Tenard Jackson intercepted Matt Hasselbeck’s pass. One play later, RB Carnell Williams scored on a 22-yard pass play to make it 13-7 Tampa Bay.
Line of the quarter: 9-11-118-2-0-150.9. That was Josh Freeman’s quarter. Nine of 11 passing, for 118 yards and two TD passes. That’s a 150.9 passer rating.
The bigger picture: The Bucs were productive and then self-destructive on the opening series of the half. They stormed into Seahawks’ territory on a 21-yard pass from Freeman to TE Kellen Winslow and Williams’ 20-yard run. But two false-start penalties and a holding call stalled the drive, leaving Barth to kick a 45-yard field that brought the Bucs to within a point.
The Bucs got the ball back quickly, when Barber tripped Branch coming out of his break and Jackson intercepted Hasselbeck’s pass. On the next play, Williams took a short pass from Freeman and ran 22 yards for a touchdown to make it 13-7 with 7:44 left in the quarter.
Again, the Seahawks did nothing with the ball when they got it back. Hasselbeck’s first-down pass to Branch was almost intercepted by Barber. On the second-down pass, Branch broke inside as Hasselbeck threw outside. Hasselbeck was hit by LB Geno Hayes as he threw incomplete on third down.
The Bucs got a boost when Stroughter returned Jon Ryan’s 51-yard punt 33 yards to the Seahawks’ 37. Freeman passed 16 yards to Stroughter on third-and-10. Freeman passed 9 yards to Stroughter on third-and-7. Freeman passed 6 yards to Ward on third-and-goal for a TD. The Bucs’ pass on the two-point conversion was incomplete, but the Seahawks had called timeout prior to the snap. Given a second chance, Freeman ran it in for the two-pointer.
Peephole perspective: 7-3, Seahawks. A TD pass from Matt Hasselbeck to TE John Carlson. A late Buccaneers’ field goal that followed a tipped-pass interception.
Player of the quarter: Justin Griffith. The Seahawks fullback carried once on third down, and got the first down. He also hooked up with Hasselbeck on a 33-yard pass play on the TD drive.
Play of the quarter: The only touchdown of the first half. It came when Hasselbeck passed to Carlson, who made a lunge to get to the pylon for the 29-yard score. It was Carlson’s team-high fifth TD reception.
Line of the quarter: 106-50. Again, it’s the Seahawks’ yardage edge. Again, they had almost twice as many yards as the Bucs.
The bigger picture: The Bucs ended the first quarter and began the second on the move, driving from their own 16 to the Seahawks’ 19. But Connor Barth missed a 38-yard field goal to waste the effort, which included Freeman’s 19-yard pass to TE Kellen Winslow on third-and-3 and a 25-yard run by RB Derrick Ward.
On the Bucs’ next possession, DE Cory Redding got penetration to blow up a third-and-1 run by Ward, who was dropped for no gain by LBs Leroy Hill and David Hawthorne.
The Seahawks finally scored, with 4½ minutes left in the half, as Carlson made his al-out effort to get to the goal line. The eight-play, 85-yard drive also included Hasselbeck’s 23-yard pass to FB Justin Griffith and RB Justin Forsett’s spin after he was hit to gain 3 yards on a third-and-1. Hasselbeck was 3 of 3 for 58 yards.
But the Seahawks weren’t done giving the ball away, either. On a third-and-14 play – which followed a second-down sack – Hasselbeck’s pass was tipped by DL Jimmy Wilkerson and LB Geno Hayes intercepted it at the Seahawks’ 25 with less than a minute to play. The Bucs cashed in, as Barth kicked a 28-yard field goal. They had to settle for the three-pointer after FS Lawyer Milloy broke up Freeman’s third-down pass to WR Sammie Stroughter at the goal line.
Player of the quarter: Hooooush. Or, T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The Seahawks’ leading receiver caught five passes in the quarter – five of Hasselbeck’s six completions.
Play of the quarter: The Seahawks had driven to the Bucs’ 4-yard line, but had to settle for a field-goal attempt. They didn’t even get the three-pointer, however, when the usually sure-handed Ryan dropped the snap from Kevin Houser.
Line of the quarter: 128-67. That was the Seahawks’ yardage advantage. But they had no points to show for it.
The bigger picture: The Seahawks got a turnover on the Bucs’ first possession when Grant intercepted a Josh Freeman pass on third down – Freeman’s ninth interception in the past three games. Justin Forsett then broke a 35-yard run – thanks to a nice block from LG Rob Sims – to the Bucs’ 29-yard line. But Hasselbeck lost the ball on a third-down scramble when he tried to pitch it back to Forsett and the Bucs recovered.
The Seahawks continued to have problems finishing on their next possession. After driving from their own 24 to the Bucs’ 4, Ryan dropped the snap on a 23-yard field goal attempt and K Olindo Mare was flung to the ground. Hasselbeck completed 19- and 11-yard passes to T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Jones broke a 25-yard run to move the Seahawks into scoring position, before Hasselbeck threw incomplete to WR Ben Obomanu and TE John Carlson on second and third downs.
Guard Mike Gibson is active today for the first time since joining the team in October. But then we knew that would happen, because Gibson is scheduled to split time at right guard with Chris Spencer. With Gibson active, linebacker D.D. Lewis is inactive. Lewis is recovering from a sprained knee.
Also inactive for the Seahawks:
- RB Louis Rankin
- OG Mansfield Wrotto
- DT Red Bryant
- WR Nate Burleson
- TE Cameron Morrah
- DE Derek Walker
- 3rd QB: Mike Teel
Deion Branch started at split end for Burleson, who got a high ankle sprain in last week’s game against the Texans.
Inactive for the Bucs:
- CB Derrick Roberson
- DL Michael Bennett
- OG Shawn Murphy
- OT James Lee
- WR Michael Clayton
- WR Terrence Nunn
- TE John Gilmore
- 3rd QB: Rudy Carpenter
Maurice Stovall will start for Clayton, and tight end Kellen Winslow will play despite missing practice on Friday.
Greetings – make that, Season’s Greetings – from Qwest Field, where the Seahawks play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers today.
The Seahawks are 4-2 at home, and have beaten the Rams, Jaguars and Lions by a combined score of 101-20. That’s significant today, because the Bucs are 1-12, have failed to score more than seven points in three of their past four games and just traveled coast to coast. The Rams are 1-12, the Lions 2-11 and the Jags 7-7 – somehow and surprisingly.
Of course, the Seahawks can’t think that way. They must take the field with a sense of urgency. It didn’t happen against the Lions, and they fell behind 17-0.
Other keys today:
Protect Matt Hasselbeck. The Seahawks’ QB has been battered the past two games and it cannot continue.
Generate pressure on Josh Freeman. The Bucs’ rookie QB has thrown eight interceptions the past two games, so the Seahawks must find a way to harass him into making mistakes – and should get an assist from the 12th Man.
Run the ball. The Bucs have allowed an average of 167 rushing yards the past eight games. To continue this trend, the revamped interior of Seahawks’ line – rookie Max Unger at center and Chris Spencer moving from center to right guard to replace Unger – must be able to handle the D-tackle tandem of Chris Hovan and Ryan Sims. It also will be imperative for fullback Justin Griffith to win more than his share of matchups with middle linebacker Barrett Ruud, the Bucs’ leading tackler.
We’ll be back later with the inactives.