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Monday metatarsal musings
Calling Steven Hauschka unassuming might even be an over-the-top description of the Seahawks’ steady-as-he-goes kicker.
Exhibit A: Sunday’s 22-17 upset of the Baltimore Ravens at CenturyLink Field, when Hauschka provided 16 of those points with a franchise record-tying five field goals and a PAT.
Afterward, as his teammates were celebrating in the locker room and reporters who flocking from one cubicle to the next, Hauschka walked – no, strolled – from the showers at one end of the room to his locker at the other end with a towel wrapped around his waist, all but unnoticed.
The scene was a lot like his on-field performance, not just Sunday but every game day. Just before he kicks, Hauschka does a little torso twist to set himself and then delivers a stroke so smooth it would make Tiger Woods envious. Hauschka is 15 of 17 this season, with one miss coming from 61 yards at the end of the Week 4 game against the Falcons and the other on an athletic double-jump block against the Cowboys.
Mostly hit, or rarely miss, Hauschka’s reaction is pretty much the same. The kid from Needham, Mass., and a former lacrosse player is one cool customer.
Or so it seems. Sunday, he was your basic bundle of nerves during pregame warm-ups – usually the barometer of how a kicker’s day will go – because the Seahawks’ opponent was the team that released him in November of 2009.
“The funny thing is I didn’t even kick well in warm-ups,” Hauschka said. “It just kind of came together during the game. I was kind of distracted during warm-ups because I knew half the guys on the other sideline.
“But once I got that out of there, then I felt like I started kicking well.”
And when needed. With the offense unable to generate much inside the red zone, the Seahawks went to Hauschka, who hit from – in order – 22, 38, 39, 35 and 30 yards.
Fifteen points of five kicks in a five-point victory. That definitely works. But Hauschka made sure that he spread the credit.
“It was really a team effort,” Hauschka said. “I know it looks like five kicks was the difference in the game, but there were a lot of plays and a lot of different guys that helped make that happen. We really came together great today as a team.”
With that said, here’s a look at three other things that worked against the Ravens and three things that need work as the Seahawks prepare for this week’s game against the Rams in St. Louis:
Marshawn Lynch – Heavy emphasis on “worked.” The Seahawks’ “Beast Mode” back ran for 109 of the toughest-to-get yards you’ll ever see on 32 carries. This wasn’t Lynch dashing through the foes. His long run was 8 yards, as he gave new meaning to the term “moving the pile.”
But his best play – and move – came not on a run, but a reception. It was during the game-ending 12-play, 72-yard drive that consumed the final 5:52, when Lynch touched the ball on seven consecutive plays. He took a short pass from Tarvaris Jackson on a third-and-5 play and put a move on Ray Lewis that turned the Ravens’ all-everything linebacker into a ragdoll to pick up 8 yards and the drive-sustaining first down.
“He made it look like he was out there in the backyard playing against some of his cousins or something,” Jackson said.
Lynch also scored the Seahawks’ only touchdown. It was his fifth consecutive game with a TD, and the last Seahawk to do that was Shaun Alexander in 2005. Lynch also has rushed for 100-plus yards in back-to-back games, the first Seahawk to do that since Julius Jones in 2008.
Lemuel Jeanpierre – When rookie right guard John Moffitt when out with a knee injury in the first quarter, Jeanpierre stepped in and more than held his own. The Seahawks continued to pound away at the formidable middle of the Ravens’ No. 2-ranked defense, often running behind Jeanpierre.
Obvious question: Who is this guy? He played on the defensive side of the ball for his first two seasons at South Carolina before moving to the O-line. Jeanpierre signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent after the 2010 NFL Draft, but was released before the season opener. That’s when he was signed to the Seahawks practice squad, where he spent the regular season. This summer, the coaches opted to keep Jeanpierre over incumbent backup Mike Gibson on the final roster cut.
“Lem did a great job,” left tackle Russell Okung said. “He came straight off the bench, knew his role and we didn’t lose a step.”
Special teams – In addition to Hauschka’s contributions, the coverage units set the table for two of his field goals with fumble-forcing hits by Michael Robinson and Malcolm Smith and recoveries by Ben Obomanu and Atari Bigby at the Ravens’ 19- and 18-yard line.
“The special teams had an energy today,” coach Pete Carroll said. “It was beautiful. The hitting. Forcing a couple of turnovers was extraordinary. We couldn’t ask for more than that.”
WHAT NEEDS WORK
Penalties – The Seahawks had season-highs in number (13) and yards (100), and that’s in a season where penalties have been a problem since training-camp practices. They actually were flagged 17 times, but four were declined by the Ravens.
Ten different players were guilty of everything from delay of game to unnecessary roughness; and false starts to pass interference.
The Seahawks now have 83 penalties for 623 yards – which is more than the total yards compiled by their leading rusher (Lynch, 507) and receiver (Doug Baldwin, 484). Only the Raiders (91) have committed more penalties; only the Raiders (775), Panthers (659), Cardinals (637) and Titans (633) have more wrong-way yards.
“Those are things we can avoid, and don’t have to deal with,” Carroll said.
Red-zone offense – Hauschka got all those field-goal opportunities because the offense had its problems inside the Ravens’ 20-yard line. The Seahawks ran 11 plays in five red-zone red zone possessions and had minus-2 yards to show for it (not counting Jackson’s pair of kneel downs to run out the clock at the end of the game). They did score a TD, on Lynch’s 1-yard run, but other than that it was four field goals.
“Our setback today was red zone; we couldn’t get touchdowns,” Carroll said. “That’s not the way we want to play.
“There is still so much out there for us.”
Taking their show on the road – The Seahawks are off to the Edward Jones Dome this week, and they lost to the Rams in St. Louis last season 20-3 to snap their five-game winning streak there. Aside from their upset of the Giants at the Meadowlands in Week 5, the Seahawks are 0-4 on the road this season and 5-23 over the past four seasons.
“That was a big win for us, most definitely,” cornerback Brandon Browner said after Sunday’s game. “It would be good if we could keep it going and win next week.” Read