If anyone should have the nickname “clutch” this season, than it should be Seattle kicker Josh Brown. Sunday night in another big game for Seattle, the Hawks kicker found his stride after missing a few early kicks, and booted a 50-yard field goal with 4 seconds left as Seattle beat the reeling Broncos 23-20. Brown has already kicked Seattle to two wins over the Rams this season, and Sunday he missed early from 40 and 53 yards, only to overcome those for the game-winner.
Seattle struggled most of the night on offense, as Shaun Alexander found the Broncos defense much more tougher to run against than that of the Packers. One week after going over 200 yards, Alexander was held in check for most of the game, ending with 90 yards on 26 carries, a 3.5 yards per carry average. He also did most of it without starting fullback Mack Strong, who left the game early with an injury. Matt Hassleback, playing in his second game back, was 16-for-28 for 268 yards and one INT. He threw for just 39 yards in the first half before finally coming around in the second half.
While Seattle was trying hard to get their offense going, most of the attention for the contest was focused on new Broncos starter Jay Cutler, who was making his first NFL start. His debut will likely be remembered for two plays, one of which was a bad interception while being sacked that was taken back for a touchdown, and another was a 71-yard catch and run that resulted in a TD for the Broncos to tie the game at 20. All in all, Cutler threw for just 143 yards on 10-for-21 with two TD’s and two INT’s.
The Broncos committed five turnovers, the most they have committed at home since 2000. Now with the growing pains of a new quarterback staring at the franchise, it looks as if the team is going to rally just to make the playoffs. This after starting the season 7-2 and the defense holding teams to less than 10 points a game. They have dropped three straight at home, and a loss Sunday in San Diego could very well end their hopes of making it to the playoffs as even a wild card.
The Hawks are flying high with their big two of Hassleback and Alexander back. Despite not putting up gaudy numbers on offense Sunday night, the key was they hung in against a team that was desperate for a win in a place that it is never easy to win in. At 8-4 and three of their last four games against the Cardinals, 49’ers and Tampa Bay, it looks as if going 12-4 is not out of the question, and that would likely be enough to earn a bye and one home playoff game.
There are plenty of areas for the Hawks to improve, but when you have a kicker like Brown who can be called upon in the toughest of times to boot 50-yard game winning field goals, winning close games can become second nature. That’s exactly what the Hawks have come to expect from “Clutch” Brown this season.