Seattle 35, Washington 14
But for a brief stretch in the late third/early fourth quarter, the Seahawk defense looked very good. They stuffed the run, put pressure on the quarterback, and played good coverage. There are a lot of solid performers on that defense, and they just might be able to go into Green Bay next week and make it a ballgame (the Seahawks under Holmgren have yet to be blown out of a playoff game). I see a solid defensive line, a solid linebacker corps, and a solid secondary--a lot of different players made noticeably good plays (like Marcus Trufant, Lofa Tatupu, and Julian Peterson).
D.J. Hackett: on Friday, I wrote that the Vikings should prioritize D. J. Hackett (who I believe will be a free agent). Today he had 6 receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown, looking like just the sort of playmaker wide receiver the Vikes could use.
Matt Hasselbeck: Hasselbeck is now 4-4 as a playoff starter. While Hasselbeck hasn't really been recognized as an elite quarterback, do you realize that he could end up in the Hall of Fame? IF Hasselbeck wins a Super Bowl before he retires, we'll look back and see a QB that had a lot of solid, productive seasons for a consistently winning team, that got his team to a couple of Super Bowls and won one. I think a Super Bowl win is what it will take for Hasselbeck to be a HOFer, but he's 32 and it's possible. He's got the sort of numbers that get a Super Bowl winning QB into the Hall, but not a non-Super Bowl winning QB (compare him to Troy Aikman).
Mike Holmgren: I have trouble not seeing Holmgren as a Hall of Fame coach: three Super Bowls with two teams, a Super Bowl win, 12 years in the playoffs and 14 winning seasons. But each year, the further he takes the Seahawks, the further he strengthens his legacy.
Jacksonville 31, Pittsburgh 29
After watching Jacksonville's lousy pass offense and (at least in the second half) lousy pass defense, it's hard not to believe they're about to go get shit-stomped by the Patriots. They'll have to play a near perfect game in New England to walk out with a victory. I can envision it: a strong pass rush like they had tonight, some opportunistic turnovers, defensive backs willing to rough up Randy Moss, some long special teams returns, a consistent running game to keep possession of the ball. But it's going to need to be perfect.
Gutsy decision/call by David Garrard to run on 4th and 2. As I watched, I thought about how I had no confidence in Jacksonville to pick up the first down (because I completely considered it a passing down). Then Garrard takes off on essentially the game-winning play.
I find Al Michaels annoying, and I have for a long time. He makes me enjoy games less.
Maurice Jones-Drew is good: I watched him at UCLA, and I wouldn't have imagined he'd be such a dynamic pro. When you want him run, he looks slow: his low, squat body makes it look like he's not quick. And yet in the open field, defenders have a tough time getting a clean hit on him (hence a 96 yard kickoff return and a 43 yard touchdown reception).
Rashean Mathis is good: I always like watching interception returns for touchdowns (except when they're against the Vikings).
Ben Roethlisberger: Roethlisberger is 25, and tonight was his seventh playoff start (his team has won five of them). He's had good numbers (63.2% career passer, a 32 TD season this year), and he's had a lot of team success. If he continues to even put up solid numbers on a team that's consistently in the playoffs, he's likely to be a Hall of Famer. Of course, he's also going to need to not suck in the playoffs. He played very well in helping bring the Steelers back, but his four turnovers ultimately killed the Steelers.
Hines Ward: in a pass happy era, Hines Ward certainly doesn't have the cumulative numbers for a Hall of Fame wide receiver. But he's played in a run-first offense, and on a good team (tonight was his eleventh playoff game, and he's been a Super Bowl MVP). He's a fringe Hall of Fame candidate, but he's probably going to get consideration.