David Hawthorne. With apologies to Bears QB Jay Cutler, the Seahawks’ second-year linebacker definitely made the most of his first NFL start.
Stepping in for an injured Lofa Tatupu, Hawthorne finished with 16 tackles and also intercepted a pass. The only players in franchise history with more tackles in a regular-season game were Terry Beeson (18) in 1977 and Sammy Green (18) in 1978. Brian Bosworth had 17 in a playoff loss to the Houston Oilers in 1988. The last player with 16 tackles was Isaiah Kacyvenski in the 2002 season opener against the Raiders in Oakland.
You get the picture, we’re talking historic stuff here.
“He played great, I know that for sure,” rookie linebacker Aaron Curry said when asked about Hawthorne’s big day. “He was awesome out there, just being the leader that a (middle linebacker) has to be. Making the plays that he needed to make and I was excited to see him play so well.”
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: The game-winner, of course. And that would be the 39-yard pass play that Cutler and wide receiver Devin Hester hooked up on with two minutes to play. It appeared the Seahawks had defended it well by blitzing Cutler and having cornerback Travis Fisher play Hester to the inside on the slant route. But Cutler threw the ball just behind Hester, who reached back to make the catch and took advantage of Fisher and strong safety Deon Grant running into one another to get into the end zone.
“He’s a threat when he gets the football, he can score at any time,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “And that’s what happened.”
Defense: The Seahawks had the lead, 13-7, and the ball to open the second half. Until, that is, Bears free safety Danieal Manning forced wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh to fumble after he had taken a 5-yard pass from Seneca Wallace. Defensive end Adewale Ogunleye recovered at the Seattle 42-yard line, and the Bears scored five plays later to take the lead.
“It was huge, and the defense did a great job,” Bears tight end Greg Olsen said. “Especially coming in after halftime and getting that early stripe. Our hats off to our defense for creating those turnovers.”
Special teams: The two field goals that the usually reliable Olindo Mare missed. Both were kicked toward the north end zone. Each was wide left. That’s a six-point swing in a six-point game.
“They were just bad kicks,” said Mare, who missed from 43 yards just before halftime and then from 34 yards midway through the third quarter. “I don’t know if I have ever missed two (in one game).”
Last season, he missed only three attempts all season.
On Green Day at Qwest Field, the Seahawks came out in their new lime-green jerseys. But it wasn’t just the jerseys. They also wore pants that are darker blue and match the shoulders of the jersey.
“I liked them, man,” wide receiver Nate Burleson said. “Seneca (Wallace), he calls me ‘Mr. Flamboyant.’ I like bright colors and things that stand out. It was good. I like anything different. Change is good.”
Brandon Frye started at left tackle, because Sean Locklear and Walter Jones were out. Frye then strained a groin early in the game, but remained in the game because, well, the Seahawks had no other tackles active. The emergency plan was for guard Rob Sims to move outside, but he left the game in the third quarter with a strained oblique and did not return.
So Frye, making his first NFL start in his third week with the team, gutted it out – or groined it out.
“Hats off to him,” coach Jim Mora said. “He taped it up and he kept playing. He did a nice job. That’s a good football player he was going against (Bears defensive end Alex Brown). I thought he really fought hard, showed a lot of character doing that.”
Mare was near tears when talking to reporters after the game. He took the blame for the loss, and also some direct hits from Mora, who called missing two makeable field goals, “Not acceptable. Absolutely not acceptable.”
The Seahawks started the game without eight starters – quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (rib), fullback Justin Griffith (rib), Jones (knee) and Locklear (ankle), linebacker Leroy Hill (groin) and Tatupu (hamstring) and cornerbacks Marcus Trufant (back) and Josh Wilson (ankle).
During the game, they lost Sims (oblique) and cornerback Ken Lucas (aggravated groin injury).
Sims will have additional tests to determine how long he might be sidelined.
But center Chris Spencer played for the first time since tearing a thigh muscle in the second preseason game; wide receiver Deion Branch (hamstring) also played for the first time during the regular season; and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (calf) returned after missing last week’s game.
YOU DON’T SAY
“As gloomy as I feel, I will say this to you: The sky is not falling. We are about to get some really good football players back playing football for us. We just have to weather the storm, and the way you do that is to hang in there together.” – Mora