CHICAGO – Sometimes, there’s no point even trying to downplay the significance of a single game.
The standard cliché in football, after both crushing defeats and uplifting victories, is to say it was just one game out of 16, no more important than the next one, nor no less.
On Sunday, however, the Seahawks didn’t bother trying to deny how much it meant to beat the Chicago Bears 23-20 at Soldier Field.
Not only did the Seahawks win on the road, they beat a good team, and did it in a game that kicked off at 10 a.m. PDT. “We’re trying to win them all, but I’d be lying if I said this one isn’t special, because it is the early game on the road, which we’ve been terrible at,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said.
The win was significant not just because it improved Seattle’s record to 3-2, good for a share of first place in the NFC West with coleader Arizona visiting next Sunday, but because it showed that, on this day at least, the Seahawks found a winning formula away from Qwest Field. Prior to Sunday’s game, Seattle was 3-15 on the road going back to the start of the 2008 season.
“It was a really big day for us today,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We wanted to get going on the road and we have been talking about this for a number of weeks. … This was a big deal to us. We will build on it. The guys know how we did it and they understand what it took to get this done.”
The Seahawks won but by simply outplaying a team that came into the game 4-1.
The defense stuffed the run, as it has done all year, and treated Jay Cutler like a human piñata, sacking the Bears quarterback six times, once for a safety.
The offense, which had not scored a touchdown in six quarters, found the rhythm it has lacked, producing three touchdowns, two on drives of 80 and 92 yards.
Hasselbeck, who had struggled on the road this season, had his best game since the season opener, completing 25 of 40 passes for 242 yards and a score. More importantly, he avoided throwing an interception for the first time in nine games.
The start of the game gave no indication the Seahawks were three hours away from a breakout victory. The Bears, aided by a debatable 58-yard pass interference call on cornerback Roy Lewis, jumped to 7-0 lead less than three minutes in.
Considering that Seattle hadn’t scored in the first quarter this season, that start could have been the beginning of another lopsided road loss. But instead the Seahawks answered with a six-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Deon Butler. The drive also featured a pair of catches for 40 yards by Mike Williams, who finished the game with 10 catches for 123 yards, both career highs.
“It was important for us to answer right there,” said Hasselbeck, who completed all four passes on that drive. “We wanted to run the ball, and had we not answered and made it 7-7 right away, it would have been tougher to do that.”
Justin Forsett, who lost his starting job to the newly acquired Marshawn Lynch, capped a 37-yard scoring drive with a 9-yard run, giving Seattle its first rushing touchdown by a running back since the 11th game last season.
The Seahawks gave themselves some breathing room with the 92-yard drive that ended with Lynch scoring on a 1-yard run, his first touchdown as a Seahawk. It turned out the Seahawks needed it because Devin Hester, one of the game’s most dangerous returners, scored on an 89-yard punt return late in the fourth quarter to make it a three-point game.
The Bears’ comeback hopes died when Seattle tight end John Carlson recovered the ensuing onside kick.
“This is exactly what we needed,” said cornerback and special teams captain Roy Lewis. “Now we know what we’re capable of, and I think this is going to be contagious. This is going to give us momentum. This is exactly what we need to get the ship rolling the right way.”
Seahawks 23, Bears 20
Chi—Forte 6 run (Gould kick)
Sea—Butler 22 pass from Hasselbeck (Mare kick)
Sea—Forsett 9 run (Mare kick)
Chi—FG Gould 34
Chi—FG Gould 24
Sea—Lynch 1 run (Mare kick)
Chi—Hester 89 punt return (Gould kick)
|Total Net Yards||353||307|
|Time of Poss/||34:23||25:37|
RUSHING—Seattle, Forsett 10-67, Lynch 17-44, Robinson 1-3, Hasselbeck 3-(minus 3). Chicago, Taylor 4-31, Cutler 2-19, Forte 8-11.
PASSING—Seattle, Hasselbeck 25-40-0-242. Chicago, Cutler 17-39-0-290.
RECEIVING—Seattle, Williams 10-123, Butler 4-47, Stokley 3-17, Lynch 3-9, Carlson 2-21, Baker 1-16, Forsett 1-9, Washington 1-0. Chicago, Knox 5-120, Bennett 3-55, Forte 3-40, Aromashodu 2-40, Hester 2-26, Manumaleuna 1-5, Taylor 1-4.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Chicago, Gould 54 (WR).