Monday Metatarsal Musings

Posted Dec 13, 2010

Or footnotes: A look at the positive steps taken by the Seahawks in Sunday’s loss to the 49ers, and those areas that remain works in progress as they prepare for this week’s game against the Falcons.

The frustration was apparent on Pete Carroll’s face as he stepped to the podium following Sunday’s loss to the 49ers in San Francisco.

The Seahawks simply had not given themselves a chance to win the game, because of too many turnovers (five), too many missed tackles and too many mistakes. Instead, with their 40-21 victory, the 49ers remained in the hunt in the NFC West – the division it seems no one wants to win.

It was the most points the 49ers have scored in seven seasons, and their most ever against the Seahawks in 24 regular-season meetings.

With all those nits to pick, the Seahawks’ first-year coach picked another bottom-line assessment.

“What we have to do is go home, regroup, put together a plan and an approach and mindset to win a football game next week,” Carroll said. “That’s what this is.”


A closer look at the NFC West as the Seahawks and their division rivals head into the final three games of the regular season:

  W-L H A Opp. W-L
Seahawks 6-7 4-2 2-5 25-14
Rams 6-7 4-2 2-5 19-20
49ers 5-8 4-3 1-5 17-22
Cardinals 4-9 3-4 1-5 10-29

Remaining schedule

Seahawks: vs. Falcons (11-2), at Buccaneers (8-5), vs. Rams (6-7)

Rams: vs. Chiefs (8-5), vs. 49ers (5-8), at Seahawks (6-7)

49ers: at Chargers (7-6), at Rams (6-7), vs. Cardinals (4-9)

Cardinals: at Panthers (1-12), vs. Cowboys (4-9), at 49ers (5-8)

That plan, approach and mindset will be geared toward the Atlanta Falcons, who have the best record in the NFC (11-2), feature the league’s leading receiver (Roddy White, 99 receptions), a running back who has 1,174 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns (Michael Turner), a quarterback who has earned the nickname “Matty Ice” (Matt Ryan), an 11-sack defensive end (John Abraham) and are plus-11 in turnover ratio.

While the Seahawks are playing the Falcons at Qwest Field this week, the St. Louis Rams will be hosting the Kansas City Chiefs (8-5). The Seahawks and Rams continue to share the NFC West lead at 6-7, with the 49ers a game back at 5-8. The 49ers play the Chargers (7-6) in San Diego on Thursday night.

So these three could emerge from this weekend just as they did last weekend – waiting for someone to take control of the division.

“We’re battling and slugging it out until the end,” Carroll said. “There are some people in this fight who are going to scramble to see if they can get involved. The 49ers gave themselves a chance by knocking us down.

“All we’ve got is our next game. That’s all we have. You can’t focus on anything but that, and that’s what we’re going to do.”  

With that said, here’s a look at three things the Seahawks can build on heading into this week’s game, as well as three things that still need work:

Three steps forward

One. Leon Washington. Their special teams remain the best – and most consistent – aspect of the team, and Washington is the best of the best. His 92-yard kickoff return against the 49ers was his third this season and the seventh of his career – which ranks second in NFL history, one behind the Browns’ Josh Cribbs. Washington had been tied with five others at six, including Gale Sayers, Mel Gray and Ollie Matson.

The best part of Washington’s latest big play? His perspective.

“It wasn’t enough,” he said in the locker room at Candlestick Park. “There is no consolation prize. You have to win the game.”

Two. Ruvell Martin. His first catch as a Seahawk was an 11-yarder for a touchdown – a score that tied the score at 7. He also had a 36-yarder on the drive to the Seahawks’ other offensive TD, a 20-yarder and a 6-yarder.

The scoring catch was his first since 2008, while playing for Packers. It also came in the same stadium – and same end zone – as his first NFL TD. That was in 2006, also while playing for the Packers.

Martin kept the ball from Sunday’s TD catch. With Deon Butler out after breaking his leg on a TD reception in the fourth and the trio of Mike Williams (sprained ankle), Ben Obomanu (lacerated hand) and Brandon Stokley (strained hamstring) iffy for this week’s game, Martin could add to his collection. 

Three. Marshawn Lynch’s toughness. He gained only 29 yards on 10 carries and 37 on seven receptions, but the “Beast Mode” back made his presence felt. In a collision with Patrick Willis, it was the 49ers’ Pro Bowl linebacker who got crumpled. Lynch also used a stiff-arm to get the best of cornerback Shawntae Spencer.

In the tough stretch that is these final three games, the Seahawks can use all the toughness they can muster.

Three things that still need work

One. Matt Hasselbeck’s decision making. The Seahawks’ QB didn’t have his best receivers, or his best game. He threw four interceptions, tying his career high, and also lost a fumble when sacked. The 49ers parlayed those five turnovers in 20 points in their 19-point victory.

“A freebie with a bow on it,” is the way Hasselbeck described his pass that was intercepted and returned for touchdown by 49ers free safety Dashon Goldson. That assessment also works for the rest of the game.

Two. Playing without Mike Williams. This just in: The Seahawks offense, and especially the passing game, is not the same without the 6-foot-5 Williams. He leads the club with 52 receptions, and also leads by example. Williams has come from nowhere (he was out of the league the past two seasons) to be where he’s at – a pivotal part of what the Seahawks are trying to do.

He has missed two games, and the Seahawks have lost by 18 points to the Chiefs and 19 to the 49ers.

“The thing that unraveled us a little bit is when Mike Williams has gone down,” Hasselbeck said last week. “He’s become such a big part of our offense. We’ve gotten a little unraveled when he’s gone down.”

Three. Turnovers. Sunday’s loss was Exhibit A in what has been happening all season. When the Seahawks turn the ball over, they lose. When they force turnovers, they win. Of the 20 turnovers they have forced, 15 have come in their six wins. Of the 27 turnovers they’ve committed, 20 have come in their seven losses.

As Carroll said after Sunday’s game, “The story here is that we turned the football over so many times that they had a ton of points because of the turnovers. You just don’t give yourself a chance.”