The Seahawks made a statement in the opening game of the 2009 season by creaming their division rival St. Louis Rams by a score of 28-0 in front of a packed Qwest Field. The win, the first since the disastrous 2008 season and first under new head coach Jim Mora, was a chance to show that things were going to be different this time around. While the Rams aren’t exactly considered to be a high-quality opponent, a shutout against any NFL team is certainly an accomplishment for this team, and especially its defense, to be proud of.
The game got off to a very interesting start, with a flurry of four turnovers in the first half destroying any sort of momentum that either team attempted to muster. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck himself was guilty of throwing two interceptions in his first three pass attempts, and on another pass the caught ball was fumbled by a pressing Nate Burleson. Both Hasselbeck and Burleson had not played in an NFL game for almost a year.
“Obviously it was a sloppy start offensively, but we’ll clean that up.” Coach Mora said. “We might have been a little tight. Nate and Matt hadn’t played in a while.”
After that, the tightness disappeared quickly, as Hasselbeck managed to string together a series of completions to his entire receiving corps, ending drives with touchdown passes to Burleson and tight end John Carlson in the second quarter.
Rookie linebackers Aaron Curry for the Seahawks and James Laurinitis of the Rams both made impressions for their new teams. Curry was a constant nuisance to Rams running back Steven Jackson and was often found chasing the quarterback in the backfield. Laurinitis finished the game with 14 tackles, far and away the most on either side.
The offense became even more active in the third quarter, when Hasselbeck orchestrated a 99 yard drive including a 37 yard pass to Carlson, and immediately coming back to Carlson for a 33 yard touchdown pass. After getting the ball back, the offense put the ball in Julius Jones’ hands, and he responded with a 62 yard gallop into the end zone to cap the scoring at 28.
Throughout the game, the 12th man made it hard for an already uncoordinated Rams team to function properly. The Rams were flagged for four false starts and their kicker, former Seahawk Josh Brown, missed a relatively easy kick that would have put the Rams in the lead. Brown drew extra ire from the Seahawks faithful for leaving the team for St. Louis two years ago even after being offered a contract that would have made him the highest paid kicker in NFL history.
The Rams had two other prime scoring chances in the game. One came when Seahawks kicker Olindo Mare attempted to make a long field goal, and the shot was blocked by a Rams defender. That defender ran the ball back for a touchdown, but on the ensuing review of the play, it was discovered that the Rams had 12 men on the field, which negated the touchdown. At the very end of the game, the Rams were well within range of another field goal on fourth down, but elected to go for the end zone instead and were sent away by a stingy Seahawks defense.
Seahawks Linebackers Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill both left the game with injuries. While Tatupu’s injury isn’t expected to hold him out for the San Francisco game, Hill could be out for up to seven weeks with a muscle pull. Such an injury would keep him out until at least November, when the Seahawks play the Dallas Cowboys.
Next, Seattle will take on the San Francisco 49ers, who knocked off the Arizona Cardinals on the road last week. The game could have NFC West championship implications.