First posted over at Field Gulls.
I played around with ESPN’s statistics page this morning. That Shaun Hill fumble we somehow didn’t get bothered me. To me that was a massive blow to our chances of coming back. Based on memory I’ve had way too many bad sights of the Seahawks refusing to recover fumbles, but maybe I’m only selecting the bad things. Forced fumbles and recoveries are a microcosm of a defensive play. It requires a lot of luck via bouncy oblong ball and some quick thinking is involved. I present to you our forced fumbles (including special teams) and recoveries from our SB season to now. Stats are all regular season and from 2007-2009 there are also some tidbits on how we did on ensuing drives.
2007 – 26 forced fumbles (3rd), 14 recoveries (t-10th), 1 touchdown (Leroy Hill against the Ravens), 53.8% recovery rate. 4 field goals and 1 offensive touchdown from ensuing drives and one kneel down.
2008 – 23 forced fumbles (t-2nd), 11 recoveries (t-13th), 2 touchdowns (Craig Terrill against the 49ers, Babs against the Rams), 47.8% recovery rate. 6 of the remaining recovered fumbles led to offensive scores on the ensuing drive (all touchdowns).
2009 – 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery, 50% recovery rate. The recovery went to waste when Hasselbeck threw into double coverage and got picked off. That remains our only takeaway on the season.
TOTAL: 68 forced fumbles, 40 recoveries, 4 returned for touchdown, 58.8% recovery rate in 4.125 seasons.
I’m willing to let the lack of FF in 2005 slide because for the most part we had the ball for a long time and the defense was hardly out there thanks to our effective, points-producing, clock-killing offensive drives when Matt Hasselbeck was healthy, Joe Jurevicius was my favorite receiver, and Shaun Alexander wasn’t getting tackled by the turf.
Those last two complete seasons bother me. For 2007 it was a combination of not recovering enough and not capitalizing on a turnover. Granted in 2007 we were interception gods but in the first 49ers game they fumbled 5 times and we recovered once. Seattle punted on the next drive. But Trent Dilfer was picked off twice and we got points out of it both times. The most painful failure had to be the Saints game where we were down 7-0 thanks to Boone Klutz, David Patten coughed it up, 3 or 4 Seahawks were there and none of them fell on the ball. Eric Johnson recovered for a first down when it should’ve been Seahawk football.
The 2008 season was bad in every form imaginable. Recovering less than half of the fumbles you force is inexcusable. JT O’Sullivan fumbles by himself and we can’t recover it.
Sunday’s Shaun Hill fumble that Patrick Kerney tried to pick up and score instead of fall on it that deep in SF territory down only 10 was a backbreaker and one of the most important and overlooked plays of the game. Even more than the 2nd Frank Gore TD. If Kerney doesn’t go for glory then we get the ball at the 23 yard line. Instead on the next possession Seneca Wallace threw an interception that sealed our hopes. Our win probability went from 20% on the fumble to 10% in a few plays. Whether we win the game or not after that (or even score) fumble recovery that wasn’t is obviously debatable but it would’ve changed the gameplans for both teams and who knows what happens there.
To be honest there wasn’t much point in this post other than some statistics I brushed upon without breaking down every little detail. There are way too many variables involved to do some serious statistical analysis. Not every fumble is going to be recoverable for the defense. It’s all a matter of some luck, reaction, hands that can actually recover a fumble, and Brian Russell Hustle (two recovered fumbles in his Seahawks career!!!!!) to get that crucial turnover. You don’t have to score every single time as a result, but eventually letting the other team off the hook that many times is going to cost you in the long run. Yesterday that could’ve been the difference between an ugly loss and a tough, gritty, brutal, ugly, but vital divisional road win.