As commentators Sam Rosen and Chad Pennington kept on telling us this was a good, hard-fought encounter where both teams played like they had a lot more on the line than pride. It was as if Fox were concerned you couldn’t work out for yourself if you were enjoying the game; let’s just reassure the people watching that football with nothing at stake can be more entertaining than watching Tim Tebow struggle to complete 25% of his throws, they said … without actually saying it of course.
Truthfully, this was far more to my taste with some outstanding play on both sides to discuss and extrapolate into next year. When the dust of this season settles, the offseason is done and we are looking forward to Kick Off 2012, will what we saw here be far more salient than what was transpiring in Mile High?
Seattle – Three Performances of Note
Predicting the Line
While the defense has been far better than could have been hoped, the receiving corps is stacked once injuries are accounted for and the Marshawn Lynch trade is looking like great business, the offensive line continues to struggle. Sure everyone can point to the number of people on IR and say “what do you expect?” but the truth is they were probably worse when everyone was healthy.
The odd man out is Max Unger (+2.9); he’s played every offensive snap and done a solid job overall. There’s some in the PFF ranks who think he’s just an average center but I think that’s harsh, never mind taking into account what’s gone on around him. He’s been an excellent pass protector giving up only seven hurries all year (zero here) which is about two games worth for the Eagles Jason Kelce. It’s true he does have issues at the point of attack in the run game, though when he gets to the second level he’s much more accomplished. Looking forward to next year, I actually see him improving–particularly if they can get some decent production from the guards.
Obomanu and Out
When I mentioned Seattle were stacked at receiver I wasn’t including Ben Obomanu (-2.1) in that assessment. Playing 51% of all snaps this year, the Seahawks have hardly got fair reward for their faith. He averages a feeble 1.27 yards per pass route run and is ranked 86th among qualifying receivers in terms of drop rate.
Which brings us nicely to why I singled him out here; failure to catch the ball. Three times he dropped catchable passes, the final of which could probably have won the game if he’d hung onto Tarvaris Jackson’s throw with 14:17 left in overtime. While none of them were simple, not pulling in even one of these opportunities left his side with too much to do and likely him without a roster place out West.
What’s Around the Corner?
Starting the year with perennial PFF “All-Overated” CB Marcus Trufant and a project from Canada at corner made a number of staffers worry about the Seahawks ability to defend the pass. Sixteen games later and things have moved on somewhat as rookie Richard Sherman has looked far better than Trufant has for many a year (if ever) and an ex-CFLer has blossomed in the NFL.
While Brandon Browner’s (+3.2) selection as first Pro Bowl alternate was a little premature and probably testament to the ridiculous weighting given to interceptions in determining these things, he’s at least worthy of being in a conversation. Frankly, if he carries on in the vein of form he showed here maybe All-Pro is a better topic to discuss. Targeted four times he didn’t allow a single catch and knocked down three of the four. The only blemish was one which has plagued him all year, as he added to his 14 penalties with another for a hit out of bounds.
Arizona – Three Performances of Note
It’s tough, but in my last Re-Focused I made the case for Calvin Johnson being the best receiver around this year after watching him dismantle the Packers’ secondary. That was immediately before settling down to analyze this gem from Larry Fitzgerald (+5.4). Perhaps what I learnt is it’s a debate best left for a cooler head; one not chock full of brilliant catches from a quarterback with a tendency to spray the ball around rather inaccurately at times. Sure, when he was targeted in Browner’s coverage the Seahawk was brilliant and didn’t allow a reception, but on everyone else Fitzgerald was far more effective and his one-handed grab in overtime (8:38 left) will go down as one of the best catches of the year.
A Tale of Two Ends
Calais Campbell (-3.2) has been so good this year I had to check my grading when this rating came in. I’d seen it at the time, play by play, but maybe I just didn’t think when it was all added up it would be quite so stark. He found Robert Gallery (who most other people beat up on) difficult and even when he got penetration, he missed tackles. As he went out injured I felt maybe it was an exacerbation of something he was playing through because this was not the player I spent my Pro Bowl vote on.
Even more remarkable was the player that replaced him, Vonnie Holliday (+5.5), then came in and played so well. It’s not that he’s a bad player; far from it. If there is one guy usually available as a free agent who you can rely on to play excellent football, it’s Holliday. It’s just he was so good. Two hits, a constant threat in the running game and that play. The one with 2:06 left in the second quarter where he pushes Gallery back, gets inside him and dumps Lynch for a loss. Simply brilliant.
Peterson the Corner
Patrick Peterson (-2.9 coverage) is an unbelievable player who as a special teamer makes play after play. He was at it again here, blocking a Seattle field goal and then setting up Arizona with one of their own on another scintillating punt return.
He’s just not anywhere near as good as a corner. Yet. It’s one of those deals where the pure stats will never say how poor he was because as players got open on him they dropped passes, or were overthrown. In addition there was a 31-yard gain that was nullified for offensive holding. In future I’ll use this game as an example of why five reception on eight targets for 39 yards does not a true picture paint.
– Michael Robinson was named as a Pro Bowl alternate at Fullback after playing only 23% of Seahawk snaps. Is that really enough?
– Brandon Browner’s 15 penalties is second only among cornerbacks to Oakland’s Stanford Routt who has 17.
– After giving up 10 sacks, five hits and 32 hurries through 10 weeks of the year, Levi Brown has only given up one sack and eight hurries in the last six games. Think he may be looking to Free Agency?
PFF Game Ball
Larry Fitzgerald the best wide receiver … oh wait … in this game for sure.