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Monday metatarsal musings

Posted Jan 2, 2012

Or footnotes: A look at three things that worked in Sunday’s season-ending loss to the Cardinals, and three things that need work as the Seahawks head into the offseason.

From the top of Marshawn Lynch’s Skittles-munching head to the tip of Jon Ryan’s punt-crushing foot, the Seahawks’ just-completed 2011 season was memorable for a number of reasons.

For example:

Lynch finished with 1,204 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, both career highs.

Ryan broke his own club records with a 46.6-yard average and a net average of 39.3, and his 95 punts were the second-most in franchise history.

Red Bryant blocked four kicks (three field goals and a PAT) to set another single-season record.

Tarvaris Jackson passed for a career-high 3,091 yards and finished with more touchdown passes (14) than interceptions (13) after facing a 7-11 deficit after 10 games.

Doug Baldwin caught 51 passes for 788 yards to become the first rookie free agent in the league to lead his team in both categories since 1960.

David Hawthorne led the team in tackles for the third consecutive season, making him the sixth player in franchise history to do that – joining an impressive list that also includes Terry Beeson (1977-79), Michael Jackson (1980-82), Fredd Young (1985-87), Chad Brown (1997-99) and Lofa Tatupu (2005-08).

Chris Clemons had 11 sacks, with nine coming in road games, to tie his career-high from last season.

And how about Leroy Hill? The veteran linebacker wasn’t even expecting to be on the team, let alone starting, and all he did was finish fourth in tackles (89, the second-highest total of the career) and second in sacks (four).

Connect the dots between these numbers and it creates a picture of a team that was better this year than last, despite the deceiving 7-9 records both seasons; and will only be better in the seasons to come.

With that said, here’s a look at three things that worked in Sunday’s season-ending loss to the Cardinals, 23-20 in overtime, and three things that need work as the Seahawks move into the offseason:

WHAT WORKED

Leon Washington He had a 48-yard run for his first touchdown of the season against the Cardinals, as well as 47-yard kickoff return to open the overtime period. For the season, Washington averaged 11.3 yards returning punts (eighth in the league) and 25.2 yards returning kickoffs (11th in the league). He also rushed for 248 yards and a 4.7-yard average and caught 10 passes.

Ricardo Lockette His day was limited to one catch, but what a catch it was. Lockette not only used his speed to get deep, he fended off physical coverage from the Cardinals’ Marshay Green to gather in a 61-yard touchdown pass from Jackson that allowed the Seahawks to tie the score in the fourth quarter.

Lockette has been doing these kinds of things in practice all season, as a member of the practice squad. In his two games on the 53-man roster, he had the 61-yarder against the Cardinals and a 44-yarder against t 49ers last week.

“We have these highlight films, the good plays from the previous day’s practice,” fellow receiver Golden Tate said after the game. “Ricardo makes the highlight film every day.”

Hawthorne – Despite playing on a sprained knee that limited his practice time during the week for much of the season, the player his teammates call “Heater” was there on game days. Sunday, he had a game-high 13 tackles, including a sack, to finish with 115.

WHAT NEEDS WORK

Penalties – The Seahawks had seven for 55 yards against the Cardinals, upping their season totals to 138 for 1,047. The number of penalties broke the franchise record of 128 from 1984, while the yards rank No. 2 behind the ’84 team (1,179).

Only the Raiders had more penalties this season (163), while the Raiders (1,358) and Lions (1,075) were the only teams with more penalty yards.

Starting faster – The Seahawks scored 61 first-quarter points, and had 58 in the second quarter. They scored touchdowns on their first possessions only twice – in the Week 5 upset of the Giants and the second game against the 49ers. They failed to score in the first quarter eight times.

As fond as coach Pete Carroll is of saying, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” even he had to admit the slow starts affected the team’s ability to finish as he wants it to.

“In this league, games come down so often to the end,” he said after Sunday’s game. “We didn’t do as well as we like to there. We did a nice job when we were ahead to finish the games because we can run the football. It’s when we weren’t in the lead that we didn’t do as well and we need to do a better job there.

“That will be a big focus for us.”

Third downs – The inconsistency of the season can measured here. The Seahawks had four games were they converted better than 40 percent on the pivotal down, and won three of them. They also had four were they converted 20 percent or less, and lost all four.

Sunday, it was three of 16 for 19 percent; compared to seven of 17 (41 percent) for the Cardinals.

“We didn’t do well on third downs and it caught us,” Carroll said. “We needed to hit it right and we didn’t get it done. Basically it came down to third down.”

Game Rewind: Seattle Seahawks