CHICAGO – The Seattle Seahawks’ patchwork secondary never came apart at the seams, but the threads were beginning to fray on Sunday.
Chicago quarterback Rex Grossman exposed the injury-plagued unit for 282 passing yards, helping lead the Bears to a 27-24 overtime win over the Seahawks.
Grossman tested Seattle’s secondary often and had plenty of success, particularly against rookie Kelly Jennings.
“I expected it these last few games,” Jennings said. “If I was an opposing coach, that’s what I would have done.”
Jennings was in coverage on at least five receptions, including Grossman’s lone touchdown pass.
“I was up and down,” Jennings said. “I didn’t think I did good enough when I should have.”
Fellow starter Jordan Babineaux also had his share of struggles, most notably on a missed interception that resulted in a 37-yard catch and a blown assignment in overtime that led to a 30-yard reception.
One cornerback who did make an impact was recent acquisition Pete Hunter, who intercepted a pass deep in Seahawks territory during the fourth quarter. In two postseason games, Hunter has an interception and a fumble recovery.
When Grossman did struggle, it was usually because of a solid pass rush that resulted in three sacks, five quarterback hits and several hurried throws.
“We’ve got good pass rushers,” defensive end Bryce Fisher said. “It may not show up in the stats, but we’ve got guys that can get to the quarterback. We might not have that premier, Julius Peppers type of guy, but we’ve got guys that work hard and that football matters to.”
That’s a switch: The last time the Seahawks played at Soldier Field, they lost 37-6 to the Bears in October.
Sunday’s game was a much different story.
“We just kept fighting,” offensive lineman Walter Jones said. “Nobody expected us to get this far, and nobody expected us to play as well as we did today.
“You’ve got to take your hat off to the Bears, but I’ve also got to take my hat off to these guys (in the Seahawks’ locker room). We fought hard. We didn’t want to put on a showing like we did last time (in Chicago). We went out there and fought to the end.”
Said Hasselbeck: “A lot of people didn’t give us a chance to win because of the way we played them the last time. But we believed we could get it done.”
Calling all talk shows: Linebacker Julian Peterson gave the conspiracy theorists known as Seahawks Nation some ammunition after Sunday’s game, saying that Seattle was affected by “a couple calls.”
Asked for specifics, Peterson mentioned a play on Chicago’s final possession that resulted in a loose ball that the Seahawks recovered. One official ruled the play dead before the ball came loose, while another appeared to signal that it was Seattle’s ball.
Television replays showed that Bears running back Cedric Benson did not lose possession of the ball until he hit the ground, but Peterson was bitter that game officials never bothered to look at the replays.
“Nobody signaled that it was already down,” he said. “One ref signaled: ‘White ball (the Seahawks’ colors).’ That just showed that it should have at least been reviewed.”
Third-down woes: The Seahawks had trouble stopping Chicago on third down – particularly in the first half – and struggled on the offensive end as well.
Seattle’s offense was 5-for-15 on third downs overall, and just 1-for-7 on third-and-3 or less.
Brrrrrr: While game-time temperature was a brisk 32 degrees, the Seahawks weren’t afraid of the cold. Only two starters – Walter Jones on offense and Rocky Bernard on defense – wore long sleeves.
The temperature was measured at 22 degrees when including the wind-chill factor.
No top pick: If the Seahawks are looking for immediate help from the April draft, they’ll have to find it in the later rounds. Thanks to the Deion Branch trade, New England has Seattle’s first-round pick.
Show no pain: While Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck appeared to aggravate his left hand injury in the first quarter, he wasn’t saying so afterward.
“I got the wind knocked out of me,” he claimed when asked about the injury during his postgame news conference.
Hasselbeck did admit that he was upset because of what he perceived as a late hit on that play.
Quick slants: The last two times Seattle has played a road game in the postseason, it has lost in overtime. Green Bay’s Al Harris took an interception return for a touchdown in overtime of a 2003 meeting, beating the Seahawks. Unlike that game, when Hasselbeck boasted during the coin toss that the Seahawks would score, he didn’t make any such prediction. He wasn’t even involved in the overtime coin toss Sunday. … In two games against the Seahawks this season, Bears cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. has three interceptions. … Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill had a team-high 10 tackles. … Injuries have plagued the Seahawks to such a degree that six of the 11 players on their kickoff coverage unit were not even on the active roster in November. … Seahawks cornerback Gerard Ross, the latest player to be added to the active roster, switched jersey numbers, from 6 to 35, before the game.