Booting Brown provides all offense in Hawks opener
Seattle Times staff reporter
The eight field goals attempted Sunday by Seattle's Josh Brown and Detroit's Jason Hanson, with yardage, time and outcome:
41 - Seahawks
1Q 12:40 - Brown blocked
44 - Lions
1Q 8:00 - Hanson made
53 - Seahawks
2Q 12:28 - Brown blocked
20 - Seahawks
2Q 5:59 - Brown made
51 - Seahawks
2Q 0:00 - Brown made
52 - Lions
4Q 14:10 - Hanson short
37 - Lions
4Q 7:05 - Hanson made
42 - Seahawks
4Q 0:00 - Brown made
DETROIT — Most of these Seahawks had been here before.
They had seen last-second heroics. Lived the ups and downs of a close game. Felt the joy of winning on the very last play. So when adversity struck Sunday, they answered the call the way a defending NFC champion is expected to do.
When kicker Josh Brown parted the uprights with a 42-yard field goal as the clock expired in Sunday's regular-season opener, the Seahawks were already expecting the 9-6 victory they earned over the Detroit Lions.
But not wide receiver Nate Burleson. The former Minnesota Viking wasn't with the Seahawks last season when Brown won two games with field goals.
"I was almost a nervous wreck," Burleson said. "Here, a lot of the players have been in this situation many times. In Minnesota, I haven't had too many games that came down to the last kick with that low of points on the board."
So what did Burleson do? He locked arms with his teammates on the sideline as if it were the last free throw of a basketball game. Teammates assured him it would be all right.
It was. But on a day when the special teams came up special in the end, the field-goal unit wasn't so precise early in the game.
Brown and the field-goal troops overcame two blocked attempts in the first half, settling down in their assignments to go 3 for 3 the rest of the way. The three field goals gave the Seahawks the win in their return to Detroit and Ford Field, seven months after Super Bowl XL.
"Well, it was a dynamic offensive struggle," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren deadpanned.
"We made some mistakes, and we're not used to that," Brown said. "We all had to make changes within ourselves, and that's what we did. The guys did what they needed to do to make sure that we got the other field goals off and we had three in a row."
Moving the ball, at least to start the game, wasn't the problem. The Seahawks got into field-goal range with their opening drive. Brown came on for a 41-yard attempt, only to have Shaun Rogers bat it away.
The Lions took over and marched to a 44-yard Jason Hanson field goal for a 3-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Brown lined up for a 53-yard attempt. Decent snap, good hold, except someone forgot to get enough of a block on defensive lineman James Hall.
Hall got enough of the ball to give the Lions two blocked field goals in a game for the first time since 2001.
"We just didn't do a good job up front," Holmgren said. "I suspect we'll do a much better job the rest of the year, because that can't happen. Usually when that happens ... you don't win games like that. It's inexcusable. and we're going to fix that."
Things were fixed for the last three tries — a 20-yard effort in the second quarter, a 51-yard kick to end the first half and the game-winner.
Brown called the final kick his smoothest of the day.
"We've practiced so much and we've got a routine down, and you don't waver from it," Brown said. "It's a 42-yarder. It's a chip shot. You're not kicking a 55-, 56-yarder where you really have to speed your leg up and make sure you're hitting things proper. I know if I hit it square, the ball will go straight. I got a great hold, I had tons of time, and nobody was in my face."
The Seahawks' defense was in Detroit's face, an effort that kept Seattle in the game in the second half when the offense gained only 83 of its 264 total yards.
"Same stadium and half the electricity," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "Same team, same people, but we didn't have that same sense of urgency or intensity. Not that we didn't try, but we just never really found that rhythm."
On defense, the Seahawks made stop after stop and allowed one field goal in the second half. They were particularly stout against the run, holding the Lions to 38 yards overall.
The special teams beyond Brown was also solid. Willie Ponder, if he returns kicks the way he did Sunday, is an upgrade. Rookie Ryan Plackemeier punted well. Jimmy Williams had a 22-yard punt return.
No one, including Brown, ever lost confidence in the field-goal team despite the events from early in the game.
"At least we redeemed ourselves," long snapper J.P. Darche said.
Been there. Done that.
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company