If it seemed like the Seahawks' defense had a pretty good idea what A.J. Feeley and the Eagles' offense were going to do yesterday, well, that's because they did.
"We see this (West Coast) offense for 2 months in (training) camp,'' said middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu. "Then all year long (in practice). So we have a good feel for it and for the tendencies.''
Couples that have been married 20 years don't have as good a feel for one another as Tatupu and his defensive teammates had for the Eagles' offense. They had a road map to most of Feeley's passes, intercepting him four times, including three by Tatupu.
The last of Tatupu's picks came with 14 seconds left in the game after a 64-yard Brian Westbrook punt return gave the Eagles the ball at the Seattle 14-yard line. It preserved a 28-24 victory that put the 5-7 Eagles' playoff hopes on life support.
"We did a good job of just watching film and breaking down formations,'' said linebacker Julian Peterson, who had the Seahawks' other interception. "A lot of times, from seeing the formation, we kind of knew what was coming at us.
"We would talk before the snap, (saying) this guy is coming inside. Pass him along. Guys were just in position to make plays and I thought we did a good job of doing that.''
They had the perfect mark in Feeley, an interception-prone passer who has had eight passes picked off in 103 attempts this season. In last week's loss to the Patriots, he threw an interception on his second pass of the game. Yesterday, he didn't even wait that long.
On the first play of the game, with the Eagles in a three-wide-receiver set, Feeley tried to hit tight end L.J. Smith down the middle but was intercepted by Tatupu, who returned it 33 yards to the Philadelphia 18. Four plays later, Shaun Alexander scored on a 2-yard run to give the Seahawks a 7-0 lead.
"They went empty (backfield),'' Tatupu said. "They thought they had a mismatch on a shorter linebacker (Tatupu is just 6-foot) with L.J. Smith. I stayed with him. I had help over the top. So I knew I could be aggressive on it. When I turned in, the ball was right there.''
Two possessions later, the ball was right there again for Tatupu. Feeley telegraphed a third-and-6 pass to wide receiver Greg Lewis that Tatupu correctly read and slid in front of. He returned that one 49 yards to the Eagles' 8. Three plays later, quarterback Matt Hasselback found wide receiver Bobby Engram for another touchdown.
"It was a route we were familiar with,'' Tatupu said. "He tried to force it in there. As soon as I saw my guy go in and I realized (Feeley) wasn't looking at him, I just tried to jump out on (Lewis). That was his primary read. I just sat on it.''
The difference between Tatupu and say, the Eagles' linebackers, who dropped two would-be interceptions, is that Tatupu hung on to his chances. He also had a team-high 11 tackles.
"Lofa had one of the great games I've ever seen a linebacker have,'' said Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren. "He has good instincts and our coaches do a nice job of sending him in the right direction.
"He has great ball skills. He can catch the ball. He can make those kind of plays that a lot of guys can't.''
Feeley has averaged an interception every 12.9 pass attempts since replacing injured Donovan McNabb 2 weeks ago.
"He's a gunslinger,'' Tatupu said. "He's going to take his chances. He's got a mental clock in his head. The West Coast is built on timing. Timing is everything. There were times when I felt I could take a shot (at an interception) today. And it paid off.''
After Westbrook's late punt return, it looked like Feeley and the Eagles actually might survive this bad-awful day. But after a sack by Peterson and a 4-yard run by Correll Buckhalter put the Eagles in a third-and-7 at the Seattle 11, Feeley's pass down the middle for Reggie Brown was picked off by Tatupu, who appeared to be directly in the quarterback's line of sight.
"I came back underneath,'' the linebacker said. "I had to release from (Westbrook). I wasn't going to go far from him. But as fate would have it, I ended up in (Feeley's) throwing lane. I'm just glad I didn't drop the ball.''
To Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg for their decision to throw the ball on third-and-1 from their own 42 early in the fourth quarter. Two Brian Westbrook runs had netted 9 yards. Then, on third down, they had A.J. Feeley try to hit tight end L.J. Smith. Smith was covered, the pass went incomplete and the Eagles were forced to punt. Westbrook had just seven rushing attempts on the Eagles' final eight possessions.
DID YOU NOTICE:
-- Defensive end Trent Cole and cornerback William James both got caught inside on Shaun Alexander's 2-yard touchdown run around left end in the first quarter.
-- The Eagles blew two golden takeaway opportunities in the first quarter. Takeo Spikes dropped an interception right after A.J. Feeley threw his first pick. Three plays later, Shaun Alexander scored to give the Seahawks a 7-0 lead. On the Seahawks' next possession, Matt Hasselbeck fumbled. Defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen dived on the loose ball at the Seattle 25, only to have it squirt free. Seattle recovered.
-- A fake end-around to Brian Westbrook helped freeze linebacker Lofa Tatupu on Correll Buckhalter's 30-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
-- How disorganized the Eagles' defense appeared to be on a third-and-10 play at their 23 in the second quarter.
-- Nate Burleson completely undressed Lito Sheppard on his 43-yard touchdown catch-and-run in the second quarter. Running back Maurice Morris would do the same thing to Sheppard's secondary mate, Sheldon Brown, a little later on a 45-yard scoring run.
-- How easily Leroy Hill slipped off an attempted block by Shawn Andrews on a second-quarter screen to Westbrook. The play went for 5 yards and a first down, but might have gone for a big gain if Andrews had been able to execute the block.
-- Seahawks defensive tackle Rocky Bernard slipped underneath Shawn Andrews and tackle Jon Runyan to get penetration and foil Brian Westbrook's fourth-and-goal run from the 1-yard line at the end of the first half.
-- The nice play by linebacker Chris Gocong on a fourth-and-3 bootleg by Matt Hasselbeck early in the fourth quarter. Hasselbeck was going to throw to wide receiver Bobby Engram, but Gocong forced him to get rid of the ball early for an incompletion.
-- The Eagles have 22 giveaways this season, including 15 in their last five games. Their turnover differential dropped to minus–9.
-- The Eagles, who had converted eight of nine red-zone opportunities into touchdowns in their previous three games, were 0-for-3.
-- David Akers, who missed a 48-yard field goal attempt, has missed six of his last 19 attempts.
-- Sheldon Brown's third-quarter interception was just the Eagles' second in the last seven games. With two takeaways against the Seahawks, they have 13 in 12 games. The fewest they've ever had under defensive coordinator Jim Johnson was 26 in 2003.
-- In the last five games, the Eagles' opponents have converted 24 of 37 third-down opportunities of 6 yards or fewer.
-- In the last seven games, the Eagles have given up 11 touchdown passes.
-- Brian Westbrook has just one fumble in his last 940 rushing attempts and has fumbled just five times in 1,278 career touches from scrimmage.
-- With 29 touches against Seattle, Westbrook now has 287 this season. He's on pace to finish with 391 touches, which would be 69 more than last season when he had a career-high 322. In the last five games, he's averaged 28.4 touches per game.
-- A.J. Feeley has 29 interceptions in 665 career pass attempts. That's one interception every 22.9 attempts. By comparison, Donovan McNabb has averaged an interception every 46.0 attempts.
-- The Eagles converted just four of seven third-down opportunities of 4 yards or fewer against Seattle. In the previous four games, they were 17-for-24 on third-and-4 or less.
-- Punter Sav Rocca has just a 32.5-yard net average in the last five games.
-- Correll Buckhalter's 35-yard kickoff return was the longest by the Eagles this season.
-- The Eagles have scored on their first possession just three times in 12 games.
Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org