Monday, January 3, 2011
Seahawks make history, soar into playoffs
With the NFC West title up for grabs, the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard Sunday Night. In fact, the 22 combined points are the fewest in Rams/Seahawks history breaking a record the two teams set earlier this season (23). Despite the anemic offenses (or stout defenses depending on how you look at it) the Seahawks were able to make history in the final game of the 2010 NFL regular season. In defeating the Rams, the Seahawks became the first team in NFL history to win a division title with a sub-.500 record (7-9).
It's the club's seventh division title and first since 2007. Coach Pete Carroll returns to the NFL playoffs for the first time since leading the New England Patriots there in 1998 and becomes the 27th coach in NFL history to lead two different teams to the playoffs.
Despite entering Sunday with the worst running game in the NFL (85.5 Rush YPG) the Seahawks broke free for 141 yards (Seattle’s third-most this season). Much of the ground attack was handled by running back Marshawn Lynch who netted all 75 of his rush yards and three of his four first downs in the second half. All but one of those yards came on attempts to the right side, his highest single-game total to the right over the last three seasons.
The other offensive story for the Seahawks was backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, making his second career NFL start. Whitehurst connected with wide receiver Ruvell Martin on a 61-yard pass play during the opening drive that set up the game's only touchdown (Mike Williams four-yard reception). Whitehurst wasn’t asked to do much more as 23 of his 36 passes were thrown to targets within five yards of the line of scrimmage (63.8 pct). To put that in context, starter Matt Hasselbeck had thrown only 46.8 percent of his passes five yards or fewer this season.
Sunday’s game for Whitehurst’s quarterback counterpart, Sam Bradford, was filled with highs and lows. Of Bradford’s 36 pass attempts, 33 were less than 20 yards downfield, and when the rookie did throw the deep ball, he once again struggled. On the season, Bradford connected on just 33.8 percent of his attempts of at least 15 yards, which is well below the NFL average of 41.4 percent. Things were no different against the Seahawks as Bradford went 0-7.
Some good news is that Bradford’s 36 pass attempts gave him 590 on the season, most in NFL history by a rookie. He also finished with 3,512 pass yards on the season, second-most in NFL history by a rookie behind Peyton Manning’s record of 3,739 yards.