A week ago we ventured a not-quite-reckless guess that the Seattle Seahawks were due for a series of "exemplary efforts." One game actually can be a series when it's a road win against a division opponent, meaning the Hawks in effect took a pair at San Francisco on Sunday, Sept. 30, because their 23-3 victory left them at 3-1 and dropped the rival 49ers to 2-2. It presents the strong possibility that Seattle will have won five of six division games and claimed a fourth National Football League West title by season's end.
They did it with a smothering defense that injured the S.F. quarterback early, repeatedly sacked and hurried the back-up QB, and allowed the 49ers just 184 total yards. The home team didn't crack the Seattle red zone and didn't even penetrate the Hawk 30 yard line until late in the third quarter, scoring their field goal with 4:36 remaining in the third.
Typically, the sleepy Seahawk offense started with all the drive, savvy, and charisma of the Fred Thompson campaign. The "O" was forced to punt four times during the first 22 minutes, but Seattle led 13-0 at halftime and was never in much trouble. The Niners were supposed to be the most-improved division opponent, but that's like saying oatmeal is a culinary improvement over bran flakes. The 0-4 St. Louis Rams have put up 39 points this season. The 2-2 Cardinals have given up on their star quarterback twice already this year. The Hawks may lose next week in Pittsburgh to a Steelers team embarrassed at home by Arizona, but Seattle figures to win the next six before a Dec. 2 test at Philadelphia. An 11-win season seems feasible, and 13-3 is possible.
It won't be probable, though, unless the offensive line starts pushing at least half as hard as the Hawk defense has. Shaun Alexander (just three yards a carry again, with 78 in 25 tries) might actually hit holes more often if there were any.
The passing game is fine so far, with Deion Branch the reliable speed receiver Darrell Jackson was supposed to be. D-Jack, who caught three balls Sunday, did so for the Niners; by way of comparison, the Hawks now employ former 49er Julian Peterson, who had three sacks. Marcus Trufant, once the weak link of the Seattle secondary, picked off a couple of passes from S.F. backup Trent Dilfer. Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck also tossed a pick but otherwise made solid decisions and had 281 yards and a pair of TD passes.
Another of our musings last week was that the Hawks could sure use the return of running back Maurice Morris, if only to spell Alexander once in a while. It actually happened twice in a while, the best example of Morris's change-of-pace running style helping the Hawks kill time during a late-game possession.
Our third contribution to the Hawk suggestion box was a humble plea to get some salary value out of Seneca Wallace, the back-up QB who also can run and catch. This would seem to have been obvious given a Hawk offense missing key players. Indisputable proof that Hawk offense guys Mike Holmgren and Gil Haskell are among the millions of Crosscut readers: Wallace actually got into the game a few times, albeit not producing much because the Niner defense guessed the ball might come his way. The team started working out Wallace at wide receiver a few days earlier, suspiciously about the time that our suggestion was posted.
So we know the right people are reading and responding. Maybe now the Fred Thompson campaign managers (assuming there actually are any) will heed our advice and announce that Ol' Fred's fixin' to announce that he's gonna pick Sam Waterston as his runnin' mate – well, his "amblin'" mate.