Seahawks’ D too much for BearsBy RICK GANO, AP Sports Writer Monday, Dec 19, 2011
CHICAGO (AP)—Seattle’s defense clamped down in the second half, pressured Caleb Hanie into a game-turning mistake and simply shut down and shut out the struggling Chicago Bears over the final 30 minutes.
“We really cut the defense loose,” coach Pete Carroll said after the Seahawks finished with four interceptions, a fumble recovery and four sacks in a 38-14 victory Sunday.
The Seahawks trailed 14-7 at the half, then outscored the Bears 31-0 in the final two quarters.
“To come back in the second half, shut them down and not give a point up,” Carroll said. “Hanie was running all over the place and until we slowed that down, we really weren’t in control of the football game. So the halftime adjustments and the guys actively carrying those onto the field were very important.”
Defensive end Red Bryant, all 323 pounds of him, returned an interception 20 yards for a TD early in the third quarter when the Seahawks scored twice in a span of 50 seconds and went ahead to stay.
“That’s a fat kid’s dream right there,” Bryant said. “It’s not every day as a defensive lineman you get an opportunity to get an interception. To get in the end zone off one, so many emotions go through your head. …”
With the game tied at 14, Seattle’s K.J. Wright hit Hanie as he tried to roll and he ended up throwing the ball right to Bryant.
“K.J. did a great job of getting to the quarterback and then he just threw the ball up and I just happened to be at the right spot at the right time,” Bryant said.
“The guy got a little more of me than I anticipated and I forced a throw right to the defensive tackle (end),” Hanie said.
Brandon Browner picked off another of Hanie’s passes in the final quarter and took it 42 yards for another TD and the Seahawks evened their record at 7-7.
Marshawn Lynch broke 1,000 yards rushing for the season and scored for the 10th straight game with two TD runs and Tarvaris Jackson also had a strong second half, completing 15 of 19 for 176 yards over the final two quarters.
But it was the defense that played the biggest role in keeping the Seahawks’ wild-card hopes alive. Seattle has won five of six and the victory came on the field where they were beaten in the divisional playoffs last January.
“Our game plan every week is to get heat on the quarterback and make him make mistakes,” said the Seahawks’ other defensive end, Chris Clemons, who had two sacks.
Chicago (7-7) lost its fourth straight and played most of the game without wide receiver Johnny Knox, who was carted off the field after injuring his back while scrambling for a fumble early in the game.
Knox is scheduled for surgery Monday to stabilize a vertebra in his back. The Bears said the prognosis for Knox is good and it is not considered career-threatening.
Knox’s injury was the latest setback for the Bears over the past month. Quarterback Jay Cutler (broken thumb) and running back Matt Forte (sprained knee) have been sidelined and this week receiver/special teams player Sam Hurd was arrested on federal drug charges and subsequently cut by the team.
“It has been a tough week,” Chicago defensive back Charles Tillman said.
Things could get a bit more difficult because now the Bears head to Lambeau Field to play the rival the Packers, who suffered their first loss Sunday at Kansas City.
But with Hanie struggling the way he has, the Bears are going to have a difficult time winning another game this season.
“When Jay went down, I thought we were missing a key piece on our football team, but when you look back, we had some opportunities. To go on a four-game losing streak, no, that wasn’t a part of my mindset,” coach Lovie Smith said.
“We’re better than that. We’ve lost a lot injury-wise, but every team in the league will talk about injuries and the people they’ve lost.”
Jackson came out on the first possession of the third quarter and drove the Seahawks 80 yards. He threw a 33-yard pass to Golden Tate, who broke two tackles on the play, and then hooked up on a 43-yarder to Ben Obomanu, setting up Lynch’s 3-yard TD run to tie it at 14.
After Bryant’s return, Seattle got a 33-yard field goal from Steve Hauschka and then iced the game early in the fourth on Jackson’s 2-yard TD pass to Michael Robinson. That score was set up by Leon Washington’s 36-yard punt return.
Hanie threw a 25-yard TD pass to Kahlil Bell with just under 2 minutes left in the half for a 14-7 lead.
But then he made the mistake by throwing the ball right to Bryant and the Bears never recovered.
“It’s hard when you don’t get more production from the quarterback position,” Smith said. “Caleb’s been our guy, great opportunity, but we haven’t played as well as we need to.”
Hanie, who was replaced late in the game by Josh McCown, was10 of 23 for 111 yards.
Notes: Seahawks receiver Mike Williams broke an ankle when he was tackled after a catch in the third quarter. … Bears safety Chris Conte left after injuring a foot injury trying to make a tackle late in the first half.