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Originally published Monday, September 8, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Seahawks Notebook | Run game stalls early

The Seahawks rebuilt their running game this offseason. Restoring their running game apparently will take a little more time. That was certainly the...

Seattle Times staff reporter

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Seahawks rebuilt their running game this offseason.

Restoring their running game apparently will take a little more time. That was certainly the indication after a first half Sunday during which Seattle totaled 11 yards on 10 carries, and fullback Leonard Weaver had the longest run. It was 5 yards. The Seahawks finished with 85 yards rushing, which was less than their average of 102 last season.

Maurice Morris started the game, and his four carries in the first quarter netted 1 yard. Julius Jones, signed in the offseason, played all of the second quarter and had identical first-half stats to Morris: four carries, 1 yard.

Neither Morris nor Jones gained more than 2 yards on any first-half carry, which left the Seahawks running uphill against the Bills.

"Against this particular team, you have to be able to pass the ball to open up the run just a little bit," coach Mike Holmgren said. "Because they'll get nine, eight guys up in there."

Things got going in the second half, with Morris gaining 17 yards on his first carry of the third quarter and 13 yards the next time he touched it. Morris went down hard on that play and suffered a knee injury. He will be evaluated today.

Jones failed to get past the line of scrimmage on four of his 13 carries, and gained 38 of his 45 yards on two fourth-quarter carries.

Measuring one foot

Ryan Plackemeier tied a franchise record for punts in a game with 11, but it was not a career day for the Seahawks' third-year punter.

"I didn't help us out much today," he said.

He had two punts of 22 yards in the second quarter, the second one giving the Bills the ball at the Seattle 47-yard line in the final minute. That put Buffalo in position to drive for a field goal to end the half.

That's hardly what his coach wanted.

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"I didn't like how we did it today, necessarily," Holmgren said of the punting. "But he's a good punter."

Plackemeier was still recovering from surgery to repair a pectoral muscle when training camp began and did not play in the first two exhibition games.

"I don't want to use it as an excuse, but obviously I'm not back in a groove yet based on the way I'm hitting the ball," he said. "All I can do is keep working."

Plackemeier did have a 56-yard punt in the first quarter and placed a third-quarter kick at the Buffalo 2. But it was the pair of 22-yarders that stuck out.

"My drop wasn't consistent," he said. "If your drop's not there, you really don't give yourself a shot. Especially in that kind of wind. I just had to get the ball up in the air. Not hit it off the side of my foot and not pull it."

Job for Wallace

Nate Burleson began the game as Seattle's punt returner, but suffered a knee injury and was replaced by backup quarterback Seneca Wallace. Wallace fair-caught the first punt he fielded and was tackled for no gain on the only kick he returned.

Holmgren said with Burleson's injury, he will have to revisit who performs that job next week against San Francisco.

Out of pocket

Matt Hasselbeck was sacked five times Sunday, matching the most sacks Seattle allowed in any game last season.

"We just got a little jumpy, which can happen," Holmgren said.

Deflated pass rush

The Seahawks again failed to consistently pressure opposing quarterbacks on the road. Defensive end Patrick Kerney had Seattle's only sack, in the first quarter.

The Seahawks averaged 3.6 sacks in home games last season, two on the road. The lack of pressure in Buffalo was partly because of circumstance, with Buffalo leading by double figures in the first half.

"The game plan kind of changed after that," linebacker Julian Peterson said. "A little more running, a little more quick throws after that. They didn't have to press it to try and get anything long after awhile."

Notes

Logan Payne and John Carlson each caught the first passes of their NFL careers. Payne, a second-year receiver who began last season on the practice squad, caught two passes, including a 19-yarder in the second half that he fumbled out of bounds after he was hit. Carlson, a rookie from Notre Dame, caught four passes for 52 yards.

• Bills WR Lee Evans posted his 10th career 100-yard game, tying Peerless Price for fifth all-time on the franchise list. Evans caught four passes for 102 yards.

• K Brandon Coutu, RB Justin Forsett, OL Mansfield Wrotto, OL Sean Locklear, WR Deion Branch, WR Bobby Engram and DE Baraka Atkins were inactive. QB Charlie Frye was in uniform as the emergency quarterback.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com; Miguel Rodriguez contributed to this report.

Running in place
The Seahawks couldn't get any kind of a running game going in the first half. The Seahawks finished with 85 yards on 21 carries, but most of that was after the Bills led 34-10. In the first half, the Seahawks managed just six first downs, and gained 11 yards rushing on 10 carries. First-half totals:
Running back Att Yds Avg
Julius Jones 4 1 0.2
Maurice Morris 4 1 0.2
Leonard Weaver 2 9 4.5

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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