Ho-hum Seahawks merely a distraction in Tampa Bay
Inside an NFL stadium Sunday, America's passion deferred to America's pastime. This Seahawks-Bucs game was merely a diversion for fans apprehensive...
Seattle Times staff columnist
TAMPA, Fla. — Inside an NFL stadium Sunday, America's passion deferred to America's pastime. This Seahawks-Bucs game was merely a diversion for fans apprehensive over their baseball team's World Series hopes.
Late in the second quarter, with Tampa Bay casually swatting at a Seahawks team that looked about as dangerous as a gnat, the crowd of 64,811 chanted "Let's go, Rays! Let's go, Rays! Let's go, Rays!" upon learning their team had tied the Game 7 showdown with the Boston Red Sox.
The Bucs took a 17-0 lead 20 seconds later.
Early in the fourth quarter, with the game before them providing the intrigue of a nap, the crowd's attention again wandered to the Rays, who had just taken a 3-1 lead. The "Let's go, Rays!" chant started again, only louder this time.
And so, as everyone at Raymond James Stadium dallied through The Game That Didn't Matter, the Seahawks' inescapable reality became clear.
They've plummeted to afterthought status.
They're just any ol' bad team.
Their struggles are quickly transforming from an outrageous surprise to an accepted dilemma.
You kept waiting for signs of life. No life. You kept waiting for a reason to believe this team hadn't already flushed away coach Mike Holmgren's final season. No reason. You kept waiting to see the real Seahawks, or maybe we should call them the old Seahawks.
There was zero conflict in this game. The Seahawks just took their beating, packed up their predicament and boarded a flight home to Seattle.
A sobering fact: Seattle is looking up at the St. Louis Rams in the NFC West this morning. The same Rams who were outscored 147-43 in their first four games have twice as many victories as the 1-5 Seahawks.
Think about that. You can look at it two ways: Either the Seahawks reside in the pit of all pits, or this lost team will beat the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.
Then again, it took a coaching change for the Rams to improve from terrible to functional. That won't happen here. So you look to Holmgren, 10 games away from a bitter ending, for bright ideas to fix this downfall.
But the coach is mystified.
"It's just hard," he said softly.
The biggest problem is a nightmare he never envisioned. The man known for offensive precision is fighting just for first downs now. Without Matt Hasselbeck for a second straight game, the Seahawks endured sketchy quarterback play. Seneca Wallace had an 8.3 quarterback rating during a horrendous first half. It took everything he had to rally for a 55.2 overall rating by the end.
Sadly, though, the Seahawks can't expect to be explosive once Hasselbeck heals. Holmgren is the first to tell you that his team's issues are so much deeper. The Seahawks are 1-3 with Hasselbeck, mind you, and their receiving corps remains a group held together by duct tape. And their defense continues to give up big plays.
"It's not just that," Holmgren said of missing Hasselbeck. "If it was just that, it wouldn't be as difficult."
Of his offense, Holmgren added: "Unfortunately, right now, that's the way it is. Our confidence on offense isn't where it should be."
Unfortunately, right now, the offense has the confidence of cornerback Kelly Jennings in a one-on-one situation.
Even when the Seahawks have opportunities, they make costly mistakes. After Josh Wilson's 61-yard kickoff return late in the second quarter, Seattle fumbled a chance to get back in the game when center Chris Spencer hurriedly snapped the ball. Holmgren said Spencer was trying to call some protection schemes, got flustered by his noisy surroundings and snapped the ball early. Naturally, Wallace was too surprised to hold on, and the Bucs recovered the football.
Those kinds of plays are torturous for languishing teams. If the Seahawks weren't upset enough over being outgained 266-44 in the first half, then they had to look at a near interception by Leroy Hill and a returnable fumble recovery that was whistled dead as proof that they're burdened both by bad execution and luck.
"Plays that we used to make," left tackle Walter Jones said, shaking his head, "we're just not making those plays."
Said linebacker Leroy Hill: "Obviously, the ball ain't bouncing our way. We've got to play better football, all around. It ain't magic. It ain't rocket science. We've just got to play better football."
It's been that kind of season. The Seahawks are just a bad team, no getting around it, no intense analysis is necessary. Somehow, this season has gotten away from them. Without a miracle, they won't be turning it around, either.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.