Seahawks' running game making some positive gains
The Seahawks defense that was so good on third down in Week 1 against San Francisco allowed Denver to extend drive after drive. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck failed...
Seattle Times staff reporter
DENVER — The Seahawks defense that was so good on third down in Week 1 against San Francisco allowed Denver to extend drive after drive.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck failed to bounce back from an early interception as he did in the season-opening victory over the 49ers.
A team that avoided mistakes in Week 1 sabotaged itself on the road in Week 2.
But there were signs of progress for Seattle, particularly on the ground. Seattle finished with 109 yards rushing, which may not sound like all that much. But that was significantly better than the Week 1 results, when 32 of the team's 77 yards came on one fourth-quarter play.
"We were able to feel better about the running game," coach Pete Carroll said.
Starter Justin Forsett led Seattle with 44 yards on eight carries, and Hasselbeck scored on a 20-yard scramble in the fourth quarter.
Hasselbeck, who had not rushed for a single touchdown the previous four seasons, has scored twice in two weeks.
"We were building from that second half from last week's game," Forsett said. "Those guys were doing some great things. We've just got to continue to keep executing. Just reps together, and we'll continue to get better each week.
"It was a good sign for us today that we were able to run the ball."
Seattle was penalized seven times for 64 yards, but the problem wasn't just the total — it was the timing.
A holding penalty against Sean Locklear nullified a first-quarter touchdown for Seattle, and a pass-interference penalty against cornerback Marcus Trufant on a critical third-down play in the third quarter sustained what became a Broncos touchdown drive.
"I don't know why it would pop up today," Carroll said. "And I don't want to give into the fact that it's because you're on the road. I'm not letting anybody off the hook for that at all. That should be no issue for us, so we have to clean that up.
"We can't let that happen. It just makes you stutter so much that you can't get going."
Four of the penalties were against Seattle's offensive line — Stacy Andrews was penalized twice for false starts, and Ben Hamilton and Locklear were each called for holding.
Seattle didn't just go for it on fourth-and-two in the third quarter, trailing by 17 points. The Seahawks went for all of it from the Denver 20, with a deep pass toward Deion Branch while he was covered by Champ Bailey.
Why would Seattle want to do that? Well, it didn't.
"They took away the stuff that we tried to make the first down on," Carroll said. "That's what Matt had to go to. That was just a chance to capture momentum, and give our guys another boost to finish this thing off. They did a nice job of covering the stuff we wanted to get the first down on, and he had to put it up just to give us a shot."
So what was the play?
"It's kind of like a screen play to the right, essentially," Hasselbeck said. "Julius Jones was kind of the guy to get the ball. I think their defense got confused. They ran two guys to Julius, so it's just kind of a bad break, a little bit of bad luck. And rather than just concede the play, I just tried to throw it up, again to Champ Bailey, which probably isn't going to work."
It didn't. Seattle turned the ball over on downs, completing a third red-zone possession that failed to produce points.
Seattle's third-down defense was a strength in its regular-season opener as the 49ers converted just 1 of 15 opportunities. Compare that to the Broncos, who converted 14 of 20 third-down plays against Seattle.
So what was the difference?
"We had a much more effective rush last time," Carroll said. "We weren't near the QB today much at all, and that makes it hard."
Seattle had one sack, credited to Raheem Brock, that came when Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton dove to the ground short of the line of scrimmage.
• Ben Obomanu's 11-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter was the second of his career. He caught a scoring pass in 2007.
• Denver backup quarterback Tim Tebow did not play Sunday.