If the Seahawks are looking for the reasons they lost at Cleveland on Sunday afternoon, they need not look any further than in the mirror. The refs had their part in the ugliness, the Cleveland defense deserves some credit for holding the Seahawks to three points, but when you go back and re-watch this game, it's impossible to not feel like the Seahawks simply gave this one away.
For an example, take the Seahawks opening possession.
The Hawks started the game in their scripted offense, throwing twice, first for 7 yards and then for 4 yards, to pick up a quick first down. They followed that up by running Leon Washington right for 4 yards, passing to Leon again on 2nd down for 4 more yards, then Charlie Whitehurst scrambled left for 6 yards and another first down. I remember thinking to myself as I listened to the game on the radio, "Alright, great start, keep moving the ball down the field."
The Hawks had gathered some momentum and energy as they silenced the crowd by making two easy first downs. Let's keep this thing rolling, get a quick score, and knock the wind out of the Browns and keep them reeling.
On first down, another run, this time with Justin Forsett, for 3 yards, that puts the Seahawks out near midfield and in threatening position. Nice, keep it going.
Next play: James Carpenter, false start. 5-yard penalty. Back to the Seahawks 37-yard line.
Next play: Terrible protection, sack. 9-yard loss. Back to the Seahawks 28-yard line.
Next play: Charlie Whitehurst, delay of game. 5-yard penalty, back to the Seahawks 23-yard line.
Next play: James Carpenter, false start. 5-yard penalty, back to the Seahawks 17-yard line. It's now 3rd and 31.
WHAT THE HELL!?
Next play: Justin Forsett, a draw for 8-yards. Guess what? Holding on center Lemuel Jeanpierre. It's declined anyway. Punt.
ANNNNNNNNNNNNND that about sums up this game. They got within the Browns' 30 yard line once all day. They got two quick first downs on that initial drive and then finished the day with only 9 total.
Fast forward to the 4th Quarter. Miraculously, care of the Seahawks defense, the game was still in hand with 3:05 left in the game. Score, 6-3 Browns. Seahawks regain possession. Time to march down the field and either tie the ballgame up or score and take the lead, probably securing the victory.
The first three plays were incomplete passes by Charlie Whitehurst, but the Seahawks lucked out with a defensive pass interference call on Sidney Rice. 1st and 10 at the Seahawks 31 yard line. Still alive.
First play, Charlie goes deep for Rice again, but throws it long. Fine, I like the agressiveness. Too bad the pass was way off. Second play, 2nd and 10 - short pass to Forsett, who picks up 5 yards. Manageable 3rd and 5. Keep the drive alive.
Ball is snapped, Charlie passes to a wide open Ben Obomanu. Ball hits Ben in hands. Ball bounces off hands like he's holding two bricks.
Fourth down! Charlie takes the snap, throws to a wide-open Doug Baldwin for a first down! Drive alive baby! Or not! Offensive pass-interferance!! Questionable call I guess, but another drive-killing penalty. The next play is a 4th and 15 where Charlie passes to Mike Williams, who is being marked by three defenders. Somehow this doesn't work out for the Seahawks.
Browns take over at Seahawks 26 yard line. 2:22 remaining. They run three times, gaining 3 yards. Awesome, there's now 1:18 left on the clock. The Browns will kick a field goal, making it 9-3 in their favor. Leon Washington will be returning the kick, which can be dangerous. We still have Sidney Rice on the outside and Doug Baldwin down the seam. Taking it back down the field in 1:15 or so is conceivable. Keep the faith, this is gonna get interesting!
The Seahawks shot themselves in the foot in this game. Blame can and should go to Charlie Whitehurst, for sure. He didn't play well. But don't forget to look at the stupid penalties, the dropped passes, and the missed opportunities by the rest of the offense.
The opportunity for the Seahawks to reflect on this game and learn from their mistakes is still there, and I hope they take advantage of it. That's all they can do at this point. It's Tell the Truth Monday at the VMAC. I'm sure it will be a brutal gametape session. The bottom line though is that the Seahawks aren't this bad. They simply gave away the game. Time to look back at it, learn from it, then flush it.