Tag Archives: NFL Wild Card

Seattle Seahawks Win By A Hawk feather – Panthers up Next

What just happenend

I’m pretty sure that 95% of Seattle Seahawks fans was asking the same thing Archer was kicker Blair Walsh lined up for a 27 yard field goal, shorter than an extra point, and missed. It was a pretty sure thing seeing how Walsh had made 3 previous field goals of 22, 43 & 47 yards.

The snap was good, the hold was good and Blair Walsh, who had made 87.2% of his kicks this year, pulled it left. About the only thing that was “bad” about the kick was the laces of the football were facing Walsh when the attempt was made. This can cause some kicks to be erratic and might have played a part in it but Walsh wasn’t having any part of it.

He placed the blame solely on his shoulders. Teammates consoled him as he broke down. You can’t tell me that NFL is all business. This loss hurt the Vikings deep. Hopefully, they can take a page from the Seahawks and grow stronger from it.

Ah yes, the Seahawks, surviving the 3rd-coldest playoff game in playoff history. While I will give the defense their due, they played a fantastic game, the offense survived on individual efforts.

That’s not to say the Seahawk offense had totally fallen apart, that’s not the case at all. The offensive line run blocked well enough to allow Christine Michael to rush for 70 yards. But for the most part, it was individual efforts by Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett.

The first I point to is in the 3rd quarter. Hawks were at their own 20 yard line with a 3rd and ten. Wilson, out of the shotgun, drifted back in the pocket and threw high. Doug Baldwin, with a Viking on his back, came up with perhaps the best catch I have seen since the days of Steve Largent.

Baldwin went up, with his right hand extended and somewhat behind his head and brought the ball in. First down Seahawks!

The next play came from Wilson and rookie Tyler Lockett (who has not played like a rookie at all) in the fourth quarter. Seahawks had put together a decent drive and had 1st and ten at the Viking 40 yard line. Wilson, in the shotgun, was not prepared for the snap and it sailed over his left shoulder. Wilson chased it back in Seattle territory, picking it up at around the 47 yard line. He secured the ball, saw that no one was around him, scrambled to his right and found Lockett at the Viking 29-yard line.

It would have been a great play right there to pick up the first down but Lockett, with some veteran savvy, turned and ran to the left side of the field and turned up until he was driven out at around the 6 yard line. First and goal, Seahawks!

On second and goal, Wilson found Baldwin on the right of the end zone to put 7 on the board for the Hawks. Later, Steven Hauschka with 8:09 left in the game connected on a 46-yard field goal which turned out to be the game winner.

The Minnesota Vikings have nothing to be ashamed of on this game. They did all the right things to limit the Seahawk offense being on the field. They put pressure on Wilson and the cold, frigid air did the rest on his passes having them seemingly float in the air.

The Viking offense did its part as well, holding the ball for long stretches and building a 9-0 lead that in the game conditions seemed insurmountable to the Seahawks.

But then there are special players that seemingly find just the right time to create magic. Cue Baldwin, Wilson and Lockett.

There are some questions I have on some of the decisions that Pete Carroll made early in the game. For instance in the first quarter, the Hawks have the ball on the Viking 30 yard line with a 4th and 13. Instead of electing to attempt a 40-yard field goal, well within Hauschka’s range, they elected to go for it and completed a 7-yard pass to Fred Jackson.

Then, in the second quarter, Seahawks had gotten the ball to the Vikings 34 yard line and elected to punt instead of having Hauschka attempt a 44-yard field goal.

Hawks again had the ball on the Vikings 38 yard line and went with a punt instead of a 48 yard field goal with 1:15 left in the first half.

I know the conditions were brutal but I feel they left points on the field. Blair Walsh proved that a ball could be kicked from as far out as 47 yards and I think Hauschka as a better leg than Walsh.

As for heading to Carolina, the Seahawks are going to need a much better played game than what they showed against the Vikings. There is a reason that the Panthers went 14-1 during the season. However, Seahawk fans can take solace that the Hawks played them very tough in Week 6 and had the lead in the 4th quarter playing them at home.

Seahawks match up well with the Panthers and I suspect this will be a slugfest. Which it should be since this is for the NFC Division and the right to move on to the NFC Championship game.

Historically, the Seahawks have played well at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. Since 2000, they are 3-2 there and the Hawks have an overall record of 7-3 against the Panthers. Over the last 4 games played in Charlotte, Seahawks are 3-1 and the score differential is only 4 points between these two teams.

I don’t see a low scoring game here however. Panthers led the NFL during the regular season scoring 31.2 points per game and the Hawks were in the Top 5, averaging 26.4. Defenses were close as well. Hawks allowed a league leading 17.3 points per game while the Panthers held opponents to 19.2 points per game.

It will be decided on who has the ball last I think. Perhaps 27-24 Seahawks on a Hauschka 50-yard field goal?

We’re just gonna have to wait and see, won’t we?

I’ll be writing a prediction of the Hawks/Panthers game later this week.

Stay tuned!

GO HAWKS!

Seahawks vs. Vikings – No Lynch? No Problem, Hawks Win 24-13

Hawks Vikings

I woke up this morning and grabbed the Seattle Times off the front porch, made coffee and amid the headlines about the Seattle Mariners retiring Ken Griffey Jr.’s number, my eyes drifted toward a small blurb about Marshawn Lynch not playing in tomorrow’s playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings.

To be honest, I don’t think this will be a determent to the Seahawks.  Yes, it would have been nice to have Beast Mode behind Russell Wilson, with all of his playoff experience and his ability to rise to the occasion when needed.

But consider just how well the Seahawks have played (except for the Rams game) over the second half of the season without him and Jimmy Graham.  All they did was set franchise records for most yards in a season (6,058) and for the fourth time in team history, finished among the top four in total offense in the NFL.

The Seahawks have ridden Lynch to two Super Bowl appearances, winning one of them.   And while I appreciate the talent and drive that Lynch has on the field, I think the true identity of this team has come out in Russell Wilson.

Wilson went nuts in the second half of 2015.  Much of that came after the bye when the team made adjustments to the passing game in getting the ball out quicker from Wilson.  The result of that, Wilson was sacked only 15 times in the second half after getting dropped 33 times in the first.

Benefitting from Wilson’s excellent second half has been Doug Baldwin who has really come into his own, setting team record for most receiving TD’s in a season (14) and achieving 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career.

Let’s not forget about Tyler Lockett who was drafted to upgrade the return game.  Not only has he done that but he also finished with 51 catches for 664 yards and six TD’s.  The Seahawks may have found the deep threat they have been seeking in this kid.  He has the talent to become one of the best receivers in the game.

Jermaine Kearse also has had a solid season with 49 catches for 685 yards and 5 TD’s.  But he also does the little things that allows other players to shine.  On crossing routes, he often frees up the other receiver in ways that he doesn’t get flagged for picking the defender.  He blocks well and has made some of the most clutch catches to keep drives alive.

The combined stats for the trio of Baldwin, Locket and Kearse is 178 catches for 2,418 yards and 25 TD’s.  I’m pretty sure that any team in the NFL would love that production from their wide receiving corps.

And it’s not like the rushing game was tossed out the window after Lynch went down and later when Thomas Rawls got injured.  In stepped cast-off Christine Michael and Bryce Brown along with Fred Jackson who has been good as a third down back.  And let’s not forget fullbacks Derrick Coleman and Will Tukuafu who get the calls to either block on short yardage situations or leak out pass the defensive line to gain critical yardage in screen pass situations.

No Jimmy Graham or Luke Willson?  In steps Cooper Helfet and Chase Hoffman, both of whom had some clutch catches in the Arizona game.

So we don’t have Lynch…that’s OK, we have everyone else that will keep it going until Lynch is ready to play.

Let’s not forget that defense which for the fourth year in a row finished in the top five in the NFL.  They were second in total defense, giving up 291.8 yards a game, second in passing defense, allowing 210.2 yards per game and first in the NFL against the run, allowing a mere 81.5 yards per game.

The key to this game will be the same as it was when the Hawks beat the Vikings 38-7 in week 13.  Mitigate yards gained by Adrian Peterson and dare QB Teddy Bridgewater to beat them with his arm.

And all Bridgewater has to do is throw into the teeth of the Legion of Boom of Richard Sherman, Deshawn Shead, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas.  That is if he has enough time avoiding the rush of Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Brandon Mebane and Bruce Irvin.

The weather isn’t going to factor into this game.  It will affect both teams the same.  What it will boil down to is overall talent between the two teams.  And while the Vikings defense is ranked 13th overall, the way the Seahawks offense has been clicking, they will wear them down with the run game and the short passing game.

I’m not afraid of the Vikings offense which finished 29th overall in 2015.  While they are ranked 4th in rushing (I mean come on, it is Adrian Peterson) they are ranked 31st in passing and 31st in receiving.

So what’s the focus going to be?  On Peterson, put at least two spies on him and try to create turnovers.  Peterson has fumbled 7 times this year, losing 3 of them.

I’d put Bobby Wagner on him first and second down and have Bruce Irvin cover him on third down if he comes out of the backfield.  Wagner is a sure tackler and Irvin has the speed to stay with Peterson and isn’t bad in coverage.

That is if Peterson can get past the road block of Brandon Mebane or Aythyba Rubin up the middle or if he can get around the corner and avoid Bennett and Avril.

Looking forward to this game as the Seahawks will beat the Vikings 23-13.

GO HAWKS!

12th man flag

 

Detroit Lions Lose at Dallas – It All Started With Green Bay

Ashamed Lion

A hard fought game yesterday surrounded in controversy.  What a shocker!

There isn’t anybody out there in the Lion’s Nation that was more heartbroken than I was yesterday.  But surprisingly, I was pretty stoic about it.

The reason for my stoicism?  The Lions shouldn’t have even been in Dallas.  They should have been at home, being the #2 seed in the NFC waiting for their opponent to come see them at Ford Field this upcoming weekend.

The Lions laid a big, fat, stinky egg at Lambeau Field against the Packers on the last day of the 2014 NFL season.  If they had put together the same type of effort they did in the first half of the playoff game, they could have beaten the Packers, won the division and have had a home playoff game.

But that isn’t the Lions way, is it?  They went into Lambeau knowing no matter the outcome of the game, they were in the playoffs and they let up.  They let up against a team that knows a thing or two about winning Super Bowls and what home field advantage means.

While first-year coach Jim Caldwell and his staff did a fine job this season, I have to lay the blame at Caldwell’s feet for this one.  There should have been reminder after reminder that the Green Bay game was the start of the playoffs for the Lions and it should have been viewed as a must win game for them.

As for the Wild Card game, the Lions came out very hot, putting up 14 points in the Cowboys.  But again, they let up on the gas.  Someone needs to send these guys a memo:  There is no such thing as too many points scored in the NFL, especially if you are on the road and in a playoff game.

I will not point to the call as the reason for the Lions losing this game.  The call occurred with over eight minutes left in the game and the Lions still had the lead.

I will point to the decision to line up after the call to try and hard count the Cowboys into a false start on 4-1.  This is the playoffs, you win or go home.  In my opinion, they should have snapped the ball and given it to Joique Bell.

I will also point to the 10 yard shanked punt.  That gave the Cowboys the ball in great field position and it was the mistake the Cowboys were waiting for the Lions to make.

Despite all of that, I am still very proud of this Lions team and the great job that Caldwell did.  This was a much more stable team in recent years and if they can play smart with the draft and upcoming contract negotiations, they will again be a threat to take the NFC North.

I am a Lions fan…now and for as long as I live!