A recap of the Seahawks’ 35-24 loss to the Bears in their divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jay Cutler. Since 2003, only five quarterbacks had won their first playoff game – against 19 losses. Cutler made it six, by passing for two touchdowns and also running for two.
“Jay made some terrific plays,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He played a great game today.”
Especially early. Cutler’s first touchdown pass came on the third play of the game – a 58-yarder to tight end Greg Olsen. Cutler was 3 of 5 for 109 yards in the first quarter with a passer rating of 143.8. He was only five of 11 in the second quarter, but scored on a 6-yard run. He scored again in the third quarter, on a 9-yard run and then threw his second TD pass in the fourth quarter – a 39-yarder to No. 2 tight end Kellen Davis.
Cutler passed for 274 of the Bears’ 437 total yards and added another 43 yards on eight carries.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: That TD pass from Cutler to Olsen. It set the drone of a tone for the afternoon, as Olsen ran past veteran strong safety Lawyer Milloy to take Cutler’s pass in stride and didn’t stop until he got to the end zone.
Defense: This one happened on the play that followed the Cutler-to-Olsen TD pass and involved Seahawks tight end John Carlson. Matt Hasselbeck passed to Carlson, who leaped into the air as he was heading toward the sideline. Bears SS Danieal Manning hit Carlson, driving his facemask into the turf in front of the Seahawks’ bench. Carlson was motionless, and eventually strapped to a board before being taken off the field on a cart and then to a nearby hospital, where he spent the night as a precautionary measure.
The concussion-inducing play cost the Seahawks one of their two tight ends and impacted what they wanted to do in the running game as well as the passing game.
Special teams: The Seahawks were desperate for a big play as the Bears had stormed to a 28-0 lead on Cutler’s second TD run. Leon Washington was there to supply it, with a 62-yard return of the ensuing kickoff. But the Seahawks came away with only an Olindo Mare field goal, despite getting the ball at the Bears’ 30-yard line.
Pregame: Just before kickoff it began to snow lightly, which was not in the forecast. Lightly turned into heavily as the first half progressed, but then the snow was gone by the second half.
In-game: With the Bears leading 28-3 early in the fourth quarter, running back Matt Forte lined up in the wild-cat formation and threw a pass – that was intercepted by Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry. An exasperated Bears fan was so irate that he bellowed “Martz” so loudly it was audible in the enclosed press box. His ire, of course, was aimed at Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who just couldn’t sit on the lead. The Seahawks scored nine plays later to make it 28-10.
Post-game: The Seahawks have won as a team and lost as a team all season. Sunday, they were disappointed as a team in the locker room for blowing the chance to host the NFC Championship game at Qwest Field next Sunday. They knew the opportunity was there after the Green Bay Packers had beaten the top-seeded Falcons in Atlanta on Saturday night. They just weren’t able to cash in on that opportunity.
In addition to Carlson, cornerback Marcus Trufant also got a concussion in the third quarter. And was strapped to a board. And taken off the field on a cart. And transported to the hospital. And spent the night there for observation. As with Carlson, Carroll said the moves were precautionary.
Backup tight end Cameron Morrah got a turf toe in the second quarter, leaving wide receiver Ruvell Martin to take some snaps at tight end. Morrah did return in the second half. Fullback Michael Robinson bruised ribs in a third-quarter collision and was not able to return. Running back Justin Forsett injured an ankle.
With his trio of fourth-quarter TD passes, Hasselbeck became the seventh QB in NFL history to throw scoring passes in 10 consecutive playoff games.
Linebacker David Hawthorne had a game-high nine tackles, after also leading the team with nine tackles against the Saints in the wild-card playoff game last week and posting a team-leading 105 tackles during the regular season.
Defensive ends Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock had sacks of Cutler, upping their season totals to 12 and 11. Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu also had a sack, his second of the season.
Rookie wide receiver Golden Tate was the Seahawks’ leading rusher. That’s right, he had 13 yards on a pass that was ruled a lateral. Other than that, Forsett had 9 yards on four carries and leading rusher Marshawn Lynch 2 yards on four carries.
The Seahawks’ coverage units did an exceptional job containing Pro Bowl kicker returner Devin Hester, who had 30 yards on two punt returns and 6 yards on one kickoff return.
Wide receiver Brandon Stokley had a game-high eight catches, including 9-yarder for Hasselbeck’s third TD pass. Hasselbeck completed passes to nine receivers, including TD throws of 2 and 3 yards to Mike Williams.
Not surprisingly, the Bears had substantial advantages in total yards (437-276), rushing yards (176-34) and time of possession (37:10-22:50).
The temperature at kickoff was 24 degrees, with a wind chill of 19 degrees.
YOU DON’T SAY
“We’ve got a big, giant (play) call sheet. Losing John Carlson took it down to a corner of that.” – Hasselbeck, on the impact of losing his starting tight end on the Seahawks’ fourth play of the game