Today's home opener versus the Arizona Cardinals was a perfect example of how this team will function over the course of the 2011 season and was also very reminiscent of the 2010 regular season finale which resulted in a hard fought win and a division title. What we saw then and what we saw today was a power running game that looked to control time of possession, a passing attack that basically just complemented the run, and a stifling defense that kept the score close enough for the game to be winnable in the final minutes.
The Seahawks defense showed today what they are capable of by both shutting down the Arizona running game at the line of scrimmage and putting enough pressure on quarterback Kevin Kolb to keep the passing attack from gaining any momentum. In the second quarter, the Cardinal coaching staff put Kolb and the offense in to a hurry up mode to counteract the defensive attack. This was very significant as this is normally only used towards the end of games in desperate situations. Some teams use it as part of their normal attack, but not Arizona. This was a clear sign that they knew the Seahawks defense was too much for their offense to handle and scoring points would be a luxury. This attack helped lead the team to a 10 to 6 half time lead mainly due to the play of all world wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald who had the team's only touchdown.
In the second half, the Seahawks took the lead with a touchdown play that could have just as easily resulted in a loss of yards if not for Jackson's scrambling ability. Seeing that there were no receivers to throw to, he decided to take matters in to his own hands. At first heading to the sideline, he saw blockers set up in a way that would lead him straight to the house and sure enough, after a quick change of direction and then a dive in to the end zone, the 12th Man was celebrating the first home touchdown of 2011. The Cardinals were unable to answer on offense and even Larry Fitzgerald was unable to catch a single pass during the entire second half. The Seahawks defense held Arizona scoreless the rest of the way and ultimately carried the team to their first victory.
Head coach Pete Carroll firmly believes that defense wins championships and is building a team that will some day be prepared to fulfill that promise. Helped by an improving offense and the roar of the 12 Man (the announcers on TV commented on the crowd's impact throughout the game) this year's Seahawks team just might find themselves defending the same title they inexplicably walked away with last year. A lack of quality competition within the NFC West division could also help this to become a reality...or maybe this is just one of those "be patient and wait until next year" type seasons. Either way, the likes of guys named Jackson, Rice, Lynch, Clemmons, Trufant, and Thomas will be giving us a lot to talk/write/blog about, that's for sure.