NFC West: Jonathan Babineaux

Wrap-up: Falcons 34, Seahawks 18

December, 19, 2010
Thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 34-18 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at Qwest Field in Week 15:

What it means: The Seahawks lost no ground in the NFC West race while falling to 6-8, but questions persist at quarterback after coach Pete Carroll benched Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck completed 10 of 17 passes for 71 yards, two interceptions and a critical lost fumble. Hasselbeck's interceptions on consecutive third-quarter possessions precipitated the change. Charlie Whitehurst completed 8 of 16 passes for 83 yards in relief.

What I liked: The Seahawks started quickly. They scored a touchdown on their first possession and tied the score 10-10 after Atlanta took the lead. Seattle's shaky run defense held firm against the Falcons' Michael Turner, even when the Seahawks fell behind.

What I didn't like: The three third-quarter turnovers helped turn a 17-10 deficit into a 34-10 blowout before the fourth quarter. The Falcons' Jamaal Anderson sacked Hasselbeck in the end zone. The ball came out and Jonathan Babineaux recovered for Atlanta. The Falcons led, 24-10, and Hasselbeck followed with two picks. Interceptions have become a problem for Hasselbeck when Seattle falls too far behind. Seattle also got little from its usually productive return game.

Tomorrow's Talker: Is Hasselbeck finished in Seattle? Even if Hasselbeck remains the starter heading into Week 17, is there any way the team will re-sign him after such a rough late-season stretch? Hasselbeck has four touchdowns and 16 interceptions in his previous five December games dating to last season.

Williams' returns: Top receiver Mike Williams returned for Seattle. He caught eight passes for 66 yards.

What's next: The Seahawks head to Tampa Bay for a Week 16 game against the Bucs.

NFC West Week 11 decisive moment

November, 23, 2010
NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Sam Bradford proved a week earlier he could lead the St. Louis Rams to the tying field goal in the final minutes.

The rookie quarterback was leading another potential fourth-quarter rally in Week 11 when the Rams called a seemingly safe play for third-and-goal from the Atlanta Falcons' 2-yard line. More than three minutes remained in a game the Rams trailed 26-17. A touchdown would have made the Falcons work to close out the game.

Instead, everything that could go wrong for the Rams did go wrong. The Falcons picked off the pass, added a late touchdown and coasted to a 34-17 victory.

"I thought it was a good call," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo told reporters Monday. "I’m standing there saying, 'We’ve got a touchdown here.'"

Bradford hadn't thrown an interception in an NFL rookie-record 169 pass attempts. His passer rating on third down ranked among the best in the league. The Falcons later admitted they had no idea a shovel pass was coming. The Rams never could have anticipated the Falcons intercepting such a quick pass.

"The play was developing," Spagnuolo said. "Just the way Sam got it all set, I thought we had the right guy getting the ball, people were going to concentrate on Steven [Jackson] and the whole thing."

The play began to go awry when Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux beat Rams guard Adam Goldberg off the ball. The unexpected disruption prevented tight end Mike Hoomanawanui from releasing as a receiver out of the backfield. Hoomanawanui, a rookie, also might have tipped off his route a little early. The man assigned to cover him, Falcons safety William Moore, ran to the spot where Hoomanawanui had intended to run.

Bradford delivered the ball on schedule.

"They penetrated a little bit, knocked Mike off the ball," Spagnuolo said. "I don’t know that I’ve seen that happen. It’s usually incomplete, or even if it’s a tackle you kick the field goal, but it’s unfortunate the way that happened."

Dockett putting up big numbers

December, 2, 2009
Darnell Dockett showed athletic ability and football smarts while collecting 3.0 sacks against the Titans in Week 12.

On one sack, Dockett held his ground and resisted charging too far upfield. He shed the offensive lineman's block at the right time, sacking Vince Young as the quarterback stepped toward him. It almost seemed as though Dockett had set a trap on the play.

Dockett plays left end in the Cardinals' base 3-4 defense. He moves around, though, and the NFL still lists him as a defensive tackle. The designation should help Dockett's chances for the Pro Bowl because most defensive tackles cannot match his sack totals.

Did I say most? Make that all. Dockett has more sacks this season than any NFL defensive tackle. He has 20 sacks since the start of the 2007 season, more than any defensive tackle, including Albert Haynesworth (17.5) and the Vikings' Kevin Williams (17.5).

No wonder Texans coach Gary Kubiak called Dockett the best player he had seen this season.