Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson competed eight of ten passes for 98 yards, and threw for three touchdowns. Marshawn Lynch scored a touchdown and led all rushers with a modest 21-yards. Leon Washington added a 92-yard kickoff return to set up a score. Earl Thomas also contributed with an interception. Max Unger and Russell Okung provided solid protection. In the end, the NFC put up a record number of points in the 62-35 victory.
In fact, the NFC dominated in all three phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams. They scored six passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns and two field goals.
In the face of criticism, the players seemed to play with an appropriate mix of caution and competition. The game also included some fun all-star moments. Russell Wilson connected with Larry Fitzgerald for a touchdown pass. Earlier in the game, JJ Watt lined up as a receiver but failed to catch either of his two targets.
While the stakes were still lower than some fantasy football games, it was fun to watch. The broadcast included scenic shots from Hawaii and several on-field interviews. It was also a chance to see some of this year’s players get a bit of recognition for their hard work.
This week the Seahawks are in for a division road game and, while they are favored, winning in a rival’s house is never easy. This is exactly the type of game that fans take for granted as a victory when they are looking at the schedule but it will actually be extraordinarily difficult to win. The Cardinals are a fantastic home team and the Seahawks have an awful history playing at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Also Week 1 games tend to be volatile and unpredictable as it’s hard to know exactly how teams will come out of the gate. Today I examine a couple of matchups that will be crucial in determining the outcome of this hard fought battle.
Matchup #1: Chris Clemons vs. D’Anthony Batiste
Chris Clemons has proven himself to be a quality pass rusher during his time in Seattle and on Sunday he gets what looks to be a very favorable matchup. Commentators commonly try to point out that Clemons and other Seahawks pass rushers do much better at home due to crowd noise, in Clemons case this demonstrably false. Last year Clemons got 9 of his 11 sacks on the road and in 2010 he registered 6.5 out of his 11 away from home. The foreign terrain won’t be an obstacle for Seattle’s ace pass rusher and I’m not sure the LT he lines up against will either. D’Anthony Batiste was an undrafted free agent in 2004. He spent some time in both the AFL and the CFL before catching on with the Cowboys in 2006. In his 6 years in the NFL Batiste has played for 6 teams and started only 4 games. I suppose the fact he has stuck around so long mean something but I’m not exactly sure what that something is. Don’t be surprised to see the over-matched 30 year old journeyman allow a sack or two, even with the TE and RB help he’s sure to get. Clemons should, and likely will, have his way in Week 1.
Matchup #2: Richard Sherman vs. Larry Fitzgerald
Larry Fitzgerald is a player to be respected and feared. Even though Arizona’s QB play has been shaky since the departure of Kurt Warner, Fitzgerald continues to produce. He has unbelievable hands and is a monster with the ball in the air. He is the one true threat on a team with a relatively inept offense. Sherman is the type of big corner that, in theory, is meant to combat Fitzgerald’s strengths. However, last year it didn’t work out like that. Fitzgerald compiled 14 receptions, 213 yards and a touchdown in his two games against Seattle in 2011. I think we can give Sherman a rookie mulligan on that one though. Sherman was a revelation as a rookie and Larry Fitzgerald is capable of dominating any corner on any given Sunday. This week I look forward to seeing that if Sherman can make the necessary adjustments to contain Fitzgerald. If he does it’s a good sign that his second season will have him building on his standout year as opposed to regressing into sophomore slump.
Matchup #3: Sidney Rice vs. Patrick Peterson
I have high hopes for Sidney Rice this year and I think that today he has the opportunity to get off to a good start. Patrick Peterson is no pushover though, in fact he’s an elite talent who was drafted 5th overall in 2011.He has excellent size at 6-1 219 and blazing speed (4.34 40 at the Combine). He had an excellent rookie year as a punt returner which overshadowed the work he did as a corner. Peterson started all 16 games for the Cardinals and was fairly average in coverage. At his age, 22 this year, not being an amazing cover corner right away is not at all a huge deal. In fact I’d say the odds of Peterson becoming a star CB in the NFL with his otherworldly athleticism are excellent. I just don’t think he’s there yet. For example, Peterson recorded 13 passes defended and 2 interceptions last year. To put that in perspective Richard Sherman had 17 passes defended and 4 picks in only 10 starts and Browner had 23 passes defended and 6 interceptions. I think this shows that Peterson is not yet adept at making plays on the ball compared to his Seahawks counterparts (who, to be fair, are pretty good). As Rice ages and Peterson improves the Seahawks wide receiver will become more and more unlikely to win this matchup, but this Sunday I like his chances.
Tomorrow is a day that many have been waiting a long time for. Week 1 is always exciting at as fans from all across the league are brimming with optimism about their teams. Hopefully the optimism of Seahawks fans will be rewarded.
12. Continuing their partisan bickering, Dino Rossi and Patty Murray struggle to jointly raise the 12th man flag, fighting for control of the rope while their aides make statements blaming the other for its slow rise. Seahawks fans write in Chuck Knox on their ballots.
11. After watching Matt Hasselbeck throws three touchdown passes in the 1st half, Larry Fitzgerald demands a trade to the Hawks midway through the 2nd quarter.
10. Thanks to the new law allowing police greater powers to detain suspected illegal immigrants, local cops in Arizona interrupt the Cardinals’ game with the Seahawks to detain Arizona defensive back Hamza Abdullah.
9. You never know when Marshawn Lynch is going to unleash the beast, unfortunately for shoppers it was at a the Southcenter Mall. In the melee The Beast ran for 400 yards, injured 14, and in Macy’s alone, broke seven tackles before being brought down by security. When asked for comment, mall security said it was the most devastating combination of speed and power they’d ever seen.
8. With his public image steadily deteriorating, Brett Farve finds himself craving the adoration of fans and mistakenly does the Lambeau leap into the stands at Lambeau Field after throwing a touchdown pass to Randy Moss. It doesn’t end well.
7. Brett drops his unlimited minutes package and returns to T-Mobile’s “Family Plan.”
Tags: 12th Man, 12th Man Rising, Alex Bannister, Alex Smith, Arizona Cardinals, Beast Mode, Brett Favre, Darrell Jackson, Deion Branch, football, Humor, Jay Cutler, Koren Robinson, Lambeau Field, Larry Fitzgerald, Marshawn Lynch, Matt Hasselbeck, Mike Singletary, NFC West, nfl, Qwest field, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, Tim Ruskell, Top 12
Three wide receivers will be selected to represent the NFC West. Feel free to share your opinion, and don’t forget to vote!
Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald could very well be the best wide receiver in the National Football League. His combination of size, speed, and ball skills compare with the best pass-catchers of all time. Since Fitzgerald was drafted third overall in 2004, he has averaged 87 catches, 1,178 yards, and 10 touchdowns per season (including his rather pedestrian rookie campaign).
Arizona Cardinals: Steve Breaston
Breaston has developed into a quality receiver at the professional level after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. With Anquan Boldin out of Arizona, he’ll finally have an opportunity to start full-time with the Cardinals. Though Breaston’s opportunities have been minimal, he has started 15 games in three seasons. In 2008, Breaston’s best season so far, he started nine games and caught 77 balls for 1,006 yards and 3 touchdowns.
San Francisco 49ers: Michael Crabtree
Crabtree is best known for a prima-donna attitude entering the 2009 NFL Draft and a lengthy hold out that cut his rookie season short. But in 11 games last year, Crabtree proved he is a talented prospect and can easily develop into one of the league’s better receivers. In an abbreviated rookie season, Crabtree caught 48 passes for 625 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Seattle Seahawks: T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Houshmandzadeh came to Seattle following an impressive eight-year run with the Cincinnati Bengals; although his statistics were respectable in his first year with the Seahawks, they could have been much better. With the Seahawks, Houshmandzadeh caught only 79 passes for 911 yards and 3 touchdowns. And at 32 years old, Houshmandzadeh would probably perform best in a limited role as the second or third option. Despite his imperfections, however, Housh still is an excellent possession receiver capable of running precise routes and producing with the best of them.
Seattle Seahawks: Deion Branch
Though he has disappointed in Seattle, Branch remains a candidate for this list because of his body of work. He may not be a Pro Bowl receiver, but he is very capable and can produce when healthy. Despite his potential, however, Branch has only played an entire sixteen-game schedule once, has never had a 1,000-yard season, or caught more than 100 passes. His average size – 5-foot-9, 192 pounds – doesn’t allow him to beat larger, more physical defensive backs or press coverage. At least his Pete Rozelle trophy keeps him warm at night.
St. Louis Rams: Donnie Avery
Avery was the first receiver taken in the 2008 NFL Draft and has developed into one of the only offensive threats on a poor St. Louis Rams roster. Despite inconsistent quarterback play and a lack of playmakers around him, Avery has proven his worth at the professional level. Around a more talented group, Avery would no doubt have better production and statistics to support his talent.
Shaun Dolence’s take:
Larry Fitzgerald is a no-brainer here. He is one of the best receivers in the NFL and belongs on any team of All-Star athletes.
Steve Breaston and Donnie Avery are intriguing options, but I’m not sure I’ve been impressed enough yet. Breaston is close, but he is still playing in the shadow of Fitzgerald in Arizona.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh may not be a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver anymore, but given the list of candidates, I think he deserves a spot on a three-deep roster of wide receivers. I’m usually biased towards Seahawks players, but I sure don’t think Deion Branch deserves a nod. Maybe Deon Butler will develop into an All-NFC West receiver in a year or two.
Michael Crabtree probably gets the last spot on my roster, only because he looked very good for a rookie receiver in a short season last year. His size and ball skills are impressive, and he looks like a star in the making. His resume isn’t bad, either – the guy can really produce when given the right opportunity.
Andrew Augers take:
Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
Much like the blatant obviousness of the top two running backs in the NFC West, the top two wide receivers should be similarly easy to figure out.
Larry Fitzgerald not only is the clear cut No. 1 pass catcher in the West, but is in the elite stratosphere where Andre Johnson resides as arguably the top receiver in the game.
An average of 1,177 yard per season, 59 total touchdowns, four double digit touchdown seasons, three consecutive double digit touchdown seasons, and only four missed games in six seasons will do the trick.
Sitting behind Fitzgerald the second best receiver in the division has to go to TJ Houshmandzadeh based on his clear cut No. 1 status in the Seahawks offense and his recent production.
Over the past six seasons Houshmandzadeh has averaged 87 catches, and 996 yards per game to go along with 39 scores.
His “disappointing” inaugural season in Seattle resulted in a team high 79 grabs, and a team high 911 yards; his yardage totals and YPC average were both higher then they were in 2008.
Keep in mind last season could be considered disappointing for many Seahawks.
Michael Crabtree also gets the nod from me rounding out the top three based on his status as the No. 1 receiver in San Francisco as opposed to Steve Breaston being the No. 2 option in Arizona.
Despite playing in four less games, Crabtree was less than 100 yards away from eclipsing Steve Breastons receiving yardage from last season.
We can’t be entirely sure if Breaston was simply the product of outstanding quarterback play with Kurt Warner at the helm; Crabtree has proven he can produce with a mediocre guy at the helm.
Next up, tight ends!
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Deion Branch, Deon Butler, Donnie Avery, football, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Crabtree, National Football League, NFC West, nfl, Other, San Francisco 49ers, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Steve Breaston, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, wide receiver