Updated Mar 8, 2011 - 10:00 am
Slow start buries Seahawks offense
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- Post-game audio and video
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CHICAGO – Matt Hasselbeck's fourth-quarter pass bounced off the chest of cornerback Charles Tillman and into the waiting hands of Mike Williams, turning a sure interception into an easy touchdown.
The ease of that score was an ironic reminder of just how bad the Seahawks struggled offensively for the majority of their 35-24, season-ending loss to the Bears on Sunday. For most of the day Seattle's offense was so futile that it could score touchdowns only when Chicago almost literally handed them over.
It all came undone early, as the Seahawks punted on their first eight possessions, failing to gain more than 36 yards on any of them. By the time they got on the board with a third-quarter field goal, Chicago had already scored 28 points.
"We started slow, we looked slow," said quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. "Maybe it was the conditions, maybe just a combination of all those things."
Hard to blame Hasselbeck for the slow start. He completed 26 of 46 passes for 258 yards and three fourth-quarter touchdowns. Several of his incompletions were drops.
"There were some plays we could have made, where Matt put the ball close enough," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said, later adding that the snow that picked up significantly in the second quarter might have been partially to blame. "The snow challenged you a little bit. There was a lot hanging; that maybe was a bit of a distraction."
Seattle's first touchdown didn't come until the 11:21 mark of the fourth quarter, and even then it took another gift to get it. Aaron Curry intercepted a wobbly pass from running back Matt Forte, giving the Seahawks a short field that led to a Williams touchdown, his first of two scores.
The running game that finally came alive in Seattle's last two games was non-existent, as the Seahawks managed just 34 yards on the ground, their lowest total since a Week 12 loss to Kansas City. The early deficit, along with several third-and-long situations, forced the Seahawks to rely heavily on the pass. Seattle ran just 12 times total, and only four in the second half.
Marshawn Lynch, who averaged 103 yards in the Seahawks last two games, had two yards on four carries.
"They were down 28 points," Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "(That) pretty much took him out of the game."
Seattle was further limited by injuries to their only two tight ends. John Carlson left in the first quarter with a concussion after he was upended and landed hard on his head. Cameron Morrah, Carlson's replacement and the only other tight end on the active roster, was slowed with turf toe in the second quarter.
"We have a big giant call sheet," Hasselbeck said in reference to the amount of plays that are available with a full compliment of tight ends. "It took it down to just like a corner of it."
Carroll said both Carlson and Marcus Trufant will remain in the hospital overnight after each sustained a serious concussion. Trufant's injury came in the third quarter when he hit his head on the knee of tight end Kellen Davis. Carlson and Trufant were both carted off the field.
"It seems like, with both of those guys, all the indications are OK," Carroll said. "It didn't look to be anything (more than) a concussion.
With Chicago deep in Seattle territory and threatening to take a 14-0 lead, Jordan Babineaux let an easy interception bounce off his hands. He had room to run had he caught the ball, but instead Chicago retained possession and Chester Taylor scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, capping what could have been a 14-point swing.
Seattle sacked Cutler three times on Sunday, compared to six in the first meeting.
"We didn't pressure like we did in the first game," safety Earl Thomas said. "We just sat back. If you look at our games, when we sit back we're vulnerable. We didn't get the pressure we wanted on the quarterback and he took advantage of that."
Cutler ran for a career-high 43 yards and scored on touchdown runs on six and nine yards.
"When he scrambled he made plays," Thomas said. "That's a credit to them."
They said it
Hasselbeck: "I think we really believed we were going to win ... and as unlikely as it may have seemed to a lot of people, I think we really believed and we were excited. We just couldn't overcome some of the things that happened."
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Matt Hasselbeck's fourth-quarter pass bounced off the chest of cornerback Charles Tillman and into the waiting hands of Mike Williams, turning an sure interception into an easy touchdown.