Seahawks start a bit slow, then dominate
Call it Week 1 jitters. Or never knowing what you're going to see from the opponent in the first game of the season, as Seahawks coach Mike...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Call it Week 1 jitters. Or never knowing what you're going to see from the opponent in the first game of the season, as Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren put it.
The good teams adjust to such circumstances and overcome any confusion or slow starts or altered game plans to win the games they are expected to win. And win the Seahawks did on a sunny Sunday at Qwest Field, scoring 20 consecutive points over the second, third and fourth quarters to topple the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-6.
Sure, there were boos over conservative play calls. There were failed third-and-one attempts. A pair of fumbles and another big gain on a pass play against the Seahawks secondary, painfully reminiscent of the defense from last season.
There also were big hits and a ferocious pass rush on defense. Seven players had receptions, including backup running back Maurice Morris, who caught a 34-yard pass for his first touchdown since 2005. Another wearing down of an opposing defense by a healthy Shaun Alexander, who gained 105 yards for the 36th 100-yard game of his career. A big punt return, the fast-becoming trademark of Seattle's Nate Burleson, that set up Alexander's touchdown. And a solid effort from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who completed 17 of 24 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown.
It might not have started so well, but it ended just the way many of the 68,044 fans hoped it would — with victory No. 1 of the season.
"They made a few plays out there," Burleson said. "But you bounce up. You fall down, get back up, dust yourself off and you know that next play could be the big play."
Burleson lived what he said. He took a mighty wallop from Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber in the fourth quarter but hung on to the ball for a 20-yard catch.
Seattle trailed 3-0 after former Seahawks receiver Joey Galloway leaped over cornerback Kelly Jennings in tight coverage to complete a 49-yard pass play from Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia near the Seahawks' sideline.
The play set up Matt Bryant's 38-yard field goal.
The Seahawks trailed 6-0 thanks to a roughing-the-passer penalty and a 28-yard pass play that set up a second field goal.
It wasn't until midway through the second quarter that the Seahawks began to take control on both sides of the ball.
Hasselbeck connected with Bobby Engram over the middle for 49 yards, the receiver adjusting to the throw. Josh Brown ended the drive with his first field goal, from 28 yards away.
Then it was Burleson's time. The Seattle native with the wispy mustache has made a living, at least since becoming a Seahawk in 2006, making things happen as a return man. And his 56-yard punt return sparked the Seahawks.
Three plays later, Alexander was in the end zone. A place he has come to know quite well — it was his 97th rushing score. The Seahawks took a 10-6 lead and never looked back.
Defensively, the Seahawks went from bending and not breaking in the first quarter to brick wall the rest of the way. They got physical, knocking starting running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams out of the game when Lofa Tatupu blasted him in the ribs.
Even after a Burleson fumble, the defense kept hitting. The pass rush was in Garcia's face for three quarters, hitting him 12 times (seven combined for defensive end Patrick Kerney and linebacker Julian Peterson) and sacking him five.
Peterson was credited with two sacks, Kerney 1 ½ in his first regular-season game as a Seahawk. It was Peterson and linebacker Leroy Hill who forced Garcia out of the game for two series after tackling him on a scramble in the third quarter.
"Our guys came to play defense today," Holmgren said. "I thought we were very physical and I liked that part of it."
Another Brown field goal on the second play of the fourth quarter gave the Seahawks a 13-6 lead.
Two later plays sealed the deal — Hasselbeck's TD pass to Morris with 7:55 to play, and a Tampa Bay fumble forced by Tatupu when he stripped Earnest Graham of the ball after a catch with 3:40 to play.
"We know them, they know us," Hasselbeck said of the Bucs. "They threw some new looks at us and we handled some of them OK. We didn't handle others very well. But all in all, it was typical of a first game.
"... We had opportunities where sometimes we made the play, sometimes we missed the play. I think it's a good starting point for our offense."
And the season, too, when the scoreboard shows a victory.
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or email@example.com
|Stingy to start|
|For the second consecutive year, the Seahawks defense did not allow a touchdown in the opening game.|
|Year||Opponent||Score||TDs allowed||FGs allowed|
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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