BY Doug Farrar 04:36PM 01/15/2011

Xs and Os: Running on the Bears

Seahawks displayed great power running on Oct. 17

Justin Forsett of the Seahawks runs for a TD against Chicago on Oct. 17, with Danieal Manning (38) and D.J. Moore (30) pursuing / Getty Images

When the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears last met in Week 6 , it was quite possibly the best power running game of Seattle’s season. With all the short-yardage and goal-line conversion issues Seattle’s offense has encountered in 2010, the Chicago game saw the best stats in Seattle’s favor. The Bears failed to convert any of their third-down attempts (though they did convert their one fourth-down attempt), and they were one for three in the red zone.

The Seahawks converted seven of their 18 third-down attempts, but they were 2-for2 in the red zone – rushing touchdowns by Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett. Lynch’s run was a one-yard blast behind Russell Okung’s dynamite block of Julius Peppers, but Forsett’s nine-yarder displayed all his best characteristics – patience, great burst, acceleration through the hole, and the ability to keep going after first contact.

The play, which came with 14:51 left in the first half, was a simple sprint draw with Matt Hasselbeck handing off to Forsett out of shotgun. The success of the play was based on two blocks that were carried out very well. First, tight end John Carlson (89) came all the way across the line from a right-side H-back look to pop Peppers (90) right off his feet. With his primary nemesis handled by Carlson’s block, Okung – who basically owned Peppers all day from a one-on-one perspective – was able to move to the second level and push middle linebacker Brian Urlacher back a few yards.

Meanwhile, Forsett sifted through the backfield, found a gap, and blasted through it, running free through to the second level and past Urlacher to the end zone. Two other things about this touchdown that are important to consider – first, the Seahawks had established enough of a passing game to have the Bears play a nickel defense in the red zone. Second (and this had a lot to do with the first point), linebacker Lance Briggs missed that first game with an ankle injury. That allowed Seattle’s blockers to key on one fewer impact defender, a fact that Hasselbeck alluded to on Monday.

“He’s huge,” the quarterback said of Briggs. “I think he’s arguably one of the best defensive players in the game. I think he’s a great player. Going into that game, we fully expected him to play. He didn’t play and that was a big deal. For us to sit back and say, ‘Oh, hey we beat them at their place, we can do it again,’ that would be a dangerous way to feel because Lance Briggs did not play in that game. He is a big, big time difference maker and a great football player. So as hard as this game is going to be, the fact that he’s back up takes it to a whole another level.”

Indeed it does, but the fact that Seattle’s offensive line is hitting a season-best run of continuity sets the tone on the other side of the ball. Add in the increased presence of fullback Michael Robinson, and it may be an even match even with Briggs in there. Carroll talked about Robinson’s importance to the team after Friday’s walkthrough.

The Seahawks will have to stick with the run in the red zone. It defined the first win against the Bears, and it could very well be the difference in a repeat performance.


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