Say what they may about the suddenly 4-6 Seattle Seahawks, no one can accuse the club of lacking versatility. After the first two possessions of the 24-7 win against the hapless St. Louis Rams on Sunday (Nov. 20), it appeared as though the Hawks’ best passer was a wide receiver and the fiercest tackler was the quarterback.
The first play from scrimmage may have been the most audacious call since the manic razzle-dazzle of the Jack Patera era. Wide-out Sidney Rice wound up with the ball in the backfield, sailing a spiral half the length of the field to find Mike Williams, in full-stride, for a 55-yard pick-up. Minutes later Tarvaris Jackson was intercepted for a second time, the play ending when the quarterback improbably manhandled a Ram, as though the latter was a tackling dummy.
That’s what the battered Rams often resembled — and still will, no doubt, when the Hawks host their one-time serious division rival two weeks from now.
By then Seattle will have played a rare three straight at home, against clubs that awakened Sunday with a combined 8-19 mark. Know what that means? A Seahawks team that has spent this season hovering between mediocre and hopeless could actually wind up 8-8: better than last year, but still nowhere near making the playoffs, as the 2010 vintage did.
If the win-loss numbers aren’t particularly meaningful, at least Seattle fans haven’t seen losing football for two weeks in a row. The offense hasn’t exactly been artful, but the defense has been impressive. Sam Bradford, the apparent St. Louis prodigy, after his superb rookie season, was in sophomore slump Sunday, repeatedly stalked by the Hawk pass rush and struggling to find receivers.
Seattle’s quarterback — still smarting from a lingering pectoral-muscle injury — settled down after tossing picks his first two attempts. He was 14 for 22 the rest of the way, making mostly smart decisions under pressure.
The wisest call on offense was to continue to mine Marshawn Lynch’s ability to pick up critical yards: 3.3 at a time on average Sunday. He ground out 88 yards (more than twice the pickup of Steven Jackson, his St. Louis doppelganger), helping the Hawks control the ball for 35 minutes and score their 24 points after the Rams started out up 7-0. Controlling the clock was notable, if only because the Hawks were missing two key components of their offensive line.
The emotional high point came late for the Hawks, when big Red Bryant enveloped a tipped ball for Seattle’s only interception. Bryant’s nickname ought to be The Red Demon, with the way the 320-pound defensive end has be-deviled rival offenses this year.
Through the (few) ups and (frequent) downs of this season, coach Pete Carroll has stayed admirably positive — ebullient at times. His thumbs-up approach, of course, is credited with much of the success of the USC program he led for a decade. Whether a “rah-rah” guy will find long-term favor in a pro environment remains debatable, especially given Carroll’s dubious results the first time he coached in the pros.
Many observers, though, would agree that Hawk players seem to genuinely enjoy Carroll’s Dale Carnegie take on what has otherwise become a mercenary, injury-laden, often thankless game for players.
After the victory Carroll praised the way “we didn’t waver” or give up after an ugly first quarter on offense.
He didn’t, of course, announce it, but some may wonder whether, after the Ram win, Hawk offensive coordinators might want to try somebody besides Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback. Sidney Rice, after all, already sports a QB-number jersey: 18. After his performance Sunday, Rice’s quarterback rating is 118.8: best in the NFL.