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. Read more »
Peephole perspective: A short TD run by Marshawn Lynch early. A long punt return for a TD late by Devin Hester. Seahawks 23-20.
Player of the quarter: Make it plural, and make it the Seahawks’ defense for pitching a shutout in the second half. They sacked and pressured Jay Cutler. They stuffed Matt Forte. They made a statement.
Play of the quarter: Pick a punt. Jon Ryan pinned the Bears at their 8-yard line by dropping a 54-yarder that hopped out of bounds. On his next effort, Roy Lewis downed Ryan’s punt at the 1. But when Ryan finally gave Devin Hester a punt to field, the Bears’ specialist ran it back 89 yards for the ninth of his career.
Number of the quarter: 1. As in, the Seahawks’ first road win of the season – and against a division-leading opponent that came in 4-1. Read more »
Peephole perspective: Third quarter. Two points, on a safety-producing sack by Jordan Babineaux. Seahawks 1613.
Player of the quarter: Mike Williams. And not just for this quarter, but the first three. When Matt Hasselbeck needed a lay, he looked to Williams. That’s how he finished the first three quarters with nine catches for 117 yards.
Play of the quarter: After Jon Ryan pinned the Bears at their 10 with a punt, nickel back Jordan Babineaux produced the Seahawks’ first safety since 2007 with a sack of Cutler in the end zone.
Number of the quarter: 36. That’s Lawyer Milloy’s number, and his age. The Seahawks’ veteran safety had two sacks in the quarter.
The bigger picture: Leon Washington gave the Seahawks prime field position by retuning the second-half kickoff for 42 yards to the 45. When the drive stalled, Jon Ryan was able to pin the Bears at their 10 with a lofting punt that Devin Hester had to fair catch.
The tilted field position worked, as Jordan Babineaux got to Jay Cutler for a 10-yard sack in the end zone for a safety to make 16-13 Seahawks. It was the Seahawks’ first sack since Josh Scobey had one on Dec. 9, 2007.
The field position titled to the Bears’ favor, however, when each team was forced to punt and rookie Golden Tate muffed a return and recovered at the Seahawks’ 7. After a three-and-out, the Bears got the ball at the Seahawks’ 48.
The Bears moved into potential field-goal range, but Lawyer Milloy got to Cutler for an 11-yard sack on third down.
The quarter ended with the Seahawks driving.
Peephole perspective: Another TD by the Seahawks, on a 9-yard run by Justin Forsett. A pair of Bears’ field goals. Seahawks 14-13.
Player of the quarter: Lofa Tatupu. The Seahawks’ do-it-all middle linebacker made a couple of huge plays on third downs. On third-and-5 from the 50, he tipped a Jay Cutler pass incomplete. Then, on third-and-4 from the 6, Tatupu blitzed and pressured Cutler into throwing an incompletion.
Play of the quarter: Throwing from near his own goal line, Cutler got off a short pass to Johnny Knox, who turned it into a 67-yard gain by running up the sideline and then cutting to the middle of the field.
Number of the quarter: 59. That’s Aaron Curry’s uniform number. On a third-and-10 play from the Seahawks’ 11, Cutler had his sights set on the end zone. But Curry also had Cutler in his sights. Curry whiffed on a first attempt at a sack, but then got Cutler with a second effort.
The bigger picture: The drive that ended the first quarter continued into the second, and ended when Forsett rammed into the end zone on a 9-yard run on third down. Hasselbeck hit two big throws on the seven-play, 37-yard drive – including a 14-yarder to Mike Williams on third-and-4.
The Bears came back to make it 14-10 on a 34-yard field goal by Robbie Gould with 11:51 left in the half. Cutler hit two huge passes on the seven-play, 65-yard drive – a 34-yard to Devin Aromashodu to the Seahawks’ 47 and a 36-yader to Earl Bennett to the Seahawks’ 11. But Chris Clemons then stopped Matt Forte for no gain on second down and Curry sacked Cutler for a 5-yard loss on third down.
After the Seahawks went three-and-out, Forte went for 19 yards on a screen pass. But the Seahawks held again, as Earl Thomas broke up Cutler’s second-down pass and Tatupu tipped away his pass on third down.
The Seahawks moved from their 6-yard line to the Bears’ 37 on the ensuing series, but he drive stalled and they had to punt.
The Bears got a “chunk” play on their next series, when Knox took a short pass from Cutler and turned it into a 67-yard gain. The Seahawks challenged the play, but the ruling on the field stood, giving the Bears a first down at the Seahawks’ 25. Cutler followed that with a 13-yard pass to Knox to the 12. But the Bears had to settle for another field goal – a 24-yarder by Gould – as Thurmond tipped Cutler’s first-down pass incomplete near the goal line and Tatupu pressured Cutler into an incompletion on third down.
Peephole perspective: Early offense, as each team drove 80 yards to touchdowns on their first possessions. Then, a lot of defense. 7-7.
Player of the quarter: Matt Hasselbeck. The Seahawks’ QB came out with the hot hand, completing each of his four throws on the first series for 76 yards – including the game-tying TD pass.
Play of the quarter: After the Bears had used a big pass interference penalty to set up their TD on the game’s opening series, Hasselbeck led the Seahawks back and tied the game on his 22-yard scoring pass to Deon Butler.
Number of the quarter: 111. Hasselbeck’s passing yards in the quarter, as he completed eight of 12 passes.
The bigger picture: The Bears got the ball when Lofa Tatupu called tails in the coin toss and it was heads. On the second play, Bears QB Jay Cutler had forever before launching a deep pass to Devin Hester. Dime back Roy Lewis was called for a 58-yard pass interference penalty, giving the Bears a first down at the Seahawks’ 22-yard line. RB Matt Forte did the rest, taking a screen pass for 13 yards to the 9 and then running for 3 and 6 yards. On the scoring run, Forte was hit by Tatupu, but still got in.
But the Seahawks came right back to score their first points in the first quarter this season – on Hasselbeck’s 22-yard TD pass to Butler. Hasselbeck was 4 of 4 for 76 yards on the six-play, 80-yard drive. Hasselbeck passed for 14 yards to TE John Carslon and then hit back-to-back passes of 16 and 24 yards to Mike Williams before throwing the TD pass. The drive included a wildcat play, as Michael Robinson took the snap and handed to Marshawn Lynch, who got the start at running back. But Lynch was stopped for no gain.
Then the defenses took over, as the Seahawks forced a trio of three-and-outs and the Seahawks punted twice. Rookie Walter Thurmond took over at right cornerback Kelly Jennings, who injured a hamstring and was ruled out for the rest of the game.
The following players are inactive for the Bears today:
S Major Wright
CB Joshua Moore
RB Kahlil Bell
LB Lance Briggs
OG Roberto Garza
DE Charles Grant
DT Marcus Harrison
3rd QB: Todd Collins
Briggs did not practice all week because of a sprained ankle, so Brian Iwuh will start.
The Bears’ shuffled offensive line will include – from left tackle to right – Frank Omiyale, Chris Williams, Olin Kreutz, Edwin Williams and J’Marcus Webb.
The following players are inactive for the Seahawks today:
DB Nate Ness
CB Kennard Cox
OL Allen Barbre
OT Breno Giacomini
OG Chester Pitts
TE Anthony McCoy
DT Brandon Mebane
DE E.J. Wilson
Mebane being inactive might seem like a surprise, but it shouldn’t. He was limping Friday after aggravating a calf injury during practice on Thursday. Kentwan Balmer will start.
CHICAGO – Greetings from venerable – even if it has been remodeled – Soldier Field, where some of the Seahawks already are out preparing for today’s game against the 4-1 Chicago Bears.
This matchup on a gorgeous fall afternoon on the shores of Lake Michigan has more storylines than Julius Peppers has pass-rush moves, and that’s as good a place as any to start:
Rookie left tackle Russell Okung making his second start – and hopefully finishing his first game – for the Seahawks. The team’s top draft choice will be doing it against Peppers, the Bears’ big free-agent acquisition during the offseason. Okung missed 5½ weeks with a high ankle sprain before starting the Seahawks’ pre-bye week game against the Rams in St. Louis. But Okung didn’t finish that game because of soreness in the ankle. He was moving much better in practice this week. Peppers, meanwhile, has not missed a beat – or much of anything else – since coming to the Bears.
There’s also running back Marshawn Lynch making his Seahawks debut after being acquired last week in a trade with the Buffalo Bills, and doing it against the Bears defense that ranks third in the league against the run. The flip side is Bears leading rusher Matt Forte, who is coming off a career-best 166-yard rushing performance in Carolina last week, going against a Seahawks defense that ranks second in the league against the run.
Don’t leave the room early, or get back late, when either team is punting or kicking off, either. The Seahawks’ Golden Tate and Leon Washington lead the NFC in punt and kickoff return averages, respectively, while the Bears’ Devin Hester and Danieal Manning rank second in each category.
Second-year wide receiver Deon Butler will make his first start at flanker, after the Seahawks traded Deion Branch back to the New England Patriots on Monday. Part of the reason coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider felt Branch was expendable is because they wanted to see what Butler could do in a more featured role.
The offensive lines play will be a bigger factor in this game than most, because the Bears will be starting their fifth different unit this season – as Chris Williams steps in at left guard for the injured Roberto Garza. The Seahawks will be using their fourth different starting combo – with Okung and right tackle Sean Locklear making their first start together.
It’s also always fun to watch the pre-snap game of check and countercheck that goes on between Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck and Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, the QB of the Chicago defense.
Less significant, but sure to get some play during the Fox telecast, is the relationship between Seahawks offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates and Bears QB Jay Cutler. They were together in Denver in 2007-08, and Cutler lobbied to get the Bears to sign Bates before he decided to join Carroll’s staff.
Then there is the ongoing saga of the Seahawks’ plight when they take flight. They are 0-2 on the road this season, where 1-7 last season and have lost 17 of their past 20 games away from Qwest Field. Carroll has inherited this unnerving situation and tried a new wrinkle this week by having the team travel on Friday – but only after getting in a final full practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
Finally, there’s the bottom-line factor in this game: Turnovers. As Carroll always says – and signs in every meeting room at VMAC proclaim in large letters: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BALL. In their two victories, both at Qwest, the Seahawks forced seven turnovers in upsetting the 49ers and Chargers. In their two losses, at Denver and St. Louis, they had one. Compounding the conundrum is the fact that the Bears have forced a league-high 14 takeaways. But they’ve also given the ball away 12 times.
We’ll be back later with the lists of inactive players.