By Mike Salk
Do you feel any differently about the Seahawks offense than you did before the weekend started?
I would have to imagine you do. Twenty-eight points against the reigning top seed in the NFC should help. Especially if you were one of the fans booing Tarvaris Jackson after his first incomplete pass of Sunday’s 30-28 loss to the Falcons.
The Seahawks have had a lethargic offense for the first three weeks of the season and no one drew more criticism for it than the starting quarterback. He was accused of holding the ball too long, throwing it to the wrong receivers, ignoring Mike Williams, and staring at his chosen target. He was an easy scapegoat.
Tarvaris Jackson helped the Seahawks score a season-high 28 points on Sunday. (AP)
The boos started on Sunday at CenturyLink Field as soon as Jackson failed to convert his first third down. Never mind that he rolled out on a play with very few receivers even in the pattern, saw that all were covered and threw it away to avoid disaster near his own goal line.
There were, I’m sure, plenty of fans that wanted a change right then.
But a funny thing happened in the next few hours. Jackson gained some confidence.
He hit his buddy Sidney Rice on a 52-yard bomb — even better, it was a free play where they both saw the offsides flag on the defense and knew it was a chance to hit a deep ball.
Down 24-7 to start the second half, Pete Carroll and Darrell Bevell put him in the best position to succeed. They turned to the no-huddle offense and just allowed Jackson to do his thing and it worked. He spread the ball to nine different receivers. He played point guard, hitting open targets and marching up and down the field.
“We had a talk last night as a team,” Jackson explained. “I told the guys coming into this game that I felt better than I’ve felt all year and I told them it was time to break out.”
They broke out to the tune of 237 yards and 21 points in the second half.
He brought the Seahawks within a few yards of an improbable comeback that could have changed everything.
And yet, he ultimately fell short.
It wasn’t the quarterback’s fault that the defense wasted two timeouts in the second half because of what Carroll termed “substitution issues.” If he had had even one extra timeout on that final drive, he wouldn’t have had to spike the ball at the 45-yard line to stop the clock with 22 seconds left.
It wasn’t the quarterback’s fault that Rice jumped offsides on the ensuing down, forcing the offense that much farther out of Steven Hauschka’s range.
It wasn’t the quarterback’s fault that the defense failed to stop Atlanta on a third-and-7 play with just over four minutes to play. A stop there would have allowed them ample time to maneuver for the game-winning score.
Tarvaris Jackson may not have won the game, but he may have won over some non-believers. He rallied a team back from a huge deficit and nearly pulled off the miraculous. And, maybe more importantly, he helped a much-maligned offense find something they sorely needed: confidence.
“I felt like any time we got the ball,” he said, “we just knew they couldn’t stop us.â€
That’s a great sign for an offense that had looked altogether anemic through three games.
Now the challenge will be to take that feeling and parlay it into a difficult road win next week in New York.
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