The Seattle Seahawks' trip to New York to face the Giants offered them some opportunities to not only pull out a scrappy win, but for a team and its parts to make some reparations heading into the bye week.
The slow start, the Eastern time zone, the running game and a few players found redemption last Sunday – in New Jersey of all places.
The slow start
Going into Sunday's game, the Seahawks had been outscored in the first half by a point margin of 13-67. True, the Hawks could've taken a 28-14 lead into the locker room at halftime had it not been for two fumbles in the red zone. But the two early touchdowns scored by Ben Obomanu and Marshawn Lynch more than doubled their point production in the previous eight quarters of first-half football.
Head coach Pete Carroll talked all week about starting fast and they certainly accomplished that with four of their first five plays resulting in first downs. The no-huddle offense proved to be the right recipe for an eight-play, 80-yard scoring drive that got the Hawks rolling early.
The dreaded EST
Prior to Sunday, the Seahawks hadn't won in the Eastern time zone since 2007. The first touchdown came at approximately 10:10 a.m. PST! The last time the Hawks scored that early Matt Hasselbeck was on the team ... and he had hair!
The Seahawks running game
Two days ago, the Seahawks were second to last in rushing yards per game. OK, so they only moved up three slots but the 145 yards on the ground added more than a 50 percent gain to their total rushing yards for the year.
My only complaint was why not feed "The Beast"? Marshawn Lynch has the nickname "Beast Mode" for a reason. It describes how he runs when he's "in the zone." I understand that the Hawks need to get Justin Forsett and Leon Washington some carries but why not go with the hot hand?
The most important statistic
If I had to choose one statistical battle for the Hawks to win each year, I'd pick turnover ratio. It is an extremely telling statistic that is as consistent as Brandon Browner's legs are long.
There was a reason why the Giants were 3-1 coming into this game and the Seahawks were 1-3. The G-men were plus-4 in turnover ratio and the Hawks were minus-4. As mentioned, the Hawks could've done a better job taking care of the ball but the defense's five turnovers made up for it and the Hawks ended the day plus-2 in that category.
The backup quarterbacks
Whether you're a Tarvaris Jackson fan or in Charlie Whitehurst's corner, both quarterbacks have suffered criticism in Seattle and both are considered to be backup quarterbacks by many. But each played well enough to win in their own way.
When Tarvaris Jackson left the game in the third quarter with a strained pectoral muscle, he had just run 11 yards for a first down and had completed 68 percent of his passes for 164 yards, one TD and one really bad interception.
Charlie took over and although he only completed 58 percent of his passes, he took care of the ball and found a wide-open Doug Baldwin for the go-ahead touchdown. I'll let you decide who should start and I'll say no more, lest I start a riot in the comments section. Too late!
The undrafted rookie free agent
At no time has rookie receiver Doug Baldwin been considered "much maligned", but he may have felt that way on draft day. Stories like Baldwin's are fascinating and what make the NFL draft so exciting.
Just as I wonder who will be this year's "bust", I wonder who will be the next Tom Brady – a late-rounder or UFA who lights it up and proves everyone wrong. This year, that's Doug Baldwin.
Consider this: Baldwin's 20 catches for 330 yards and two TDs ranks him 42nd in the league in catches and 22nd in yardage. If you compare him to New England's Wes Welker, who leads all receivers with 45 catches, it makes you wonder what Baldwin could do with Tom Brady throwing him the ball. Welker has more than twice the catches but he's been thrown to 65 times compared to Baldwin's 27 targets. Welker's reception percentage is only 69 percent compared to Baldwin's 75 percent. Oh, I forgot to mention that Welker is a starter on the No. 1 offense in the NFL. Baldwin is a backup on the No. 29 offense.
Brandon Browner's "rocky" start
Maybe the only starter on the Seahawks depth chart more criticized than Tarvaris Jackson is cornerback Brandon Browner. Including his two penalties in the Giants game, Browner has tallied six penalties this year. By my count, two of his infractions were "phantom calls." He did NOT touch 49ers kicker David Akers and was wrongly identified in Sunday's second quarter punt infraction. His pass interference call in the Pittsburgh game was because of a busted coverage and his only option was to hold Steelers receiver Mike Wallace in order to save a touchdown. His penalty did end up saving a touchdown as the Hawks defense held Pittsburgh four times from the 1-yard line.
That leaves three legitimate penalties that Browner owns. But here's another laundry list from Sunday's 36-25 win over the Giants: Six tackles, three passes defensed and one big, game-clenching 94-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Now THAT, is atonement.
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