Improvement by the yards

Posted Sep 12, 2011

As ineffective as the Seahawks' offense was in the first half of Sunday's opener, the coaches and players stayed the course and found a productive track in the second half.

In the first half of Sunday’s season opener against the 49ers in San Francisco, the Seahawks’ longest offensive plays were a pair of 12-yard passes.

On their first possession of the second half at Candlestick Park, there was a 12-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Doug Baldwin, a 12-yard run by Marshawn Lynch and a 13-yard run on a reverse by wide receiver Ben Obomanu – on consecutive plays, as the Seahawks drove 56 yards in nine plays to their first touchdown.

Before the game ended, there also was a 55-yard pass play from Tarvaris Jackson to Baldwin for a second TD as well as a 22-yard completion to wide receiver Mike Williams and three other plays that produced double-digit gains.

What changed? Not the plays, or the play-calling. Not the players, or the way they were being deployed.

“What we did at halftime was significant, in that we stayed with what we felt was important – to follow the game plan,” coach Pete Carroll explained Monday during his weekly day-after news conference. “We didn’t waver from that. Players were comfortable with being able to go back out and execute and they did that.

“We made some progress, but we didn’t come up with the finish like we liked.”

But the finished product was much better than what the offense had shown in the first half.

“Without question, we need to get a little something going where they feel like they’re making progress,” Carroll said. “I made sure today in the team meeting, and showed them, that there was a big contrast from first to second half.

“They need to know they’re capable and feel it and have that confidence. I think it was clear and the coaches did a good job of pointing that out in the meetings today to make sure they feel alright about it.”

The proof also is there in black and white on the post-game stat sheet. The Seahawks scored 17 second-half points after going scoreless in the first 30 minutes. They had 182 yards in the second half after compiling 37 in the first half. They had 15 first downs in the second half, compared to three in the first half. They rushed for 52 yards in the first half, after gaining 12 on 11 first-half carries. Jackson passed for 155 yards in the second half, after having 42 in the first half.

You get the picture. Carroll just wanted to make sure his players did, as well.

“You’re not judged just by the first half,” Carroll said. “You’ve got to finish the game and all. So they did better, and hopefully we came away from that with that thought.”

Especially because things get no easier this week, when the Seahawks will travel to Pittsburgh to face a Steelers team that was embarrassed on Sunday in a 35-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

“We have a huge matchup coming up – going to the East Coast to play Pittsburgh,” Carroll said. “We have tremendous respect, obviously, for their program for many years and what all their accomplishments.

“We also know that they had a very difficult first game and they’re home, I’m sure, to try to get right.”

Carroll also used Monday’s forum to stand by his man at QB, again.

“Really, and maybe I’m a bit of a broken record, he’s really tough, he can hang in there and he doesn’t let it bother him,” Carroll said of Jackson, who was sacked five times, hit eight other times and took some shots that made Carroll cringe in the process.

“When he gets a chance to throw the football, and even sometimes when guys are right in his mug, he can still deliver the football and make plays.”

Jackson did throw an interception, but it came on a Hail Mary heave at the end of the first half.

Other than that, “He has a very efficient day,” Carroll said. “And I think it’s under a lot of heat.”

Which was to be expected, as painful as it might be for Carroll to admit and Jackson to absorb. Three members of the offensive line were making their first NFL starts: first-round draft choice James Carpenter at left guard, third-round draft choice John Moffitt at right guard and fourth-year man Breno Giacomini at right tackle. Left tackle Russell Okung, last year’s first-round pick, made his 11th NFL start – but he hadn’t played since spraining an ankle on the first series of the preseason opener. Center Max Unger made his 18th start, but he missed all of last season after injuring a toe in the season opener that required surgery and 14 of his previous starts were at right guard.

“Tarvaris is tough as can be,” Carroll said. “A lot of guys might not have finished that game. He took some serious hits and never even flinched.

“He’s been poised and done a very nice job. He’s really unflappable on the field. It’s a very, very strong characteristic that we’re going to need for a while here as we’re building and getting these guys strong up front. He gives us a chance to really hang tough.”