Hawks need boost today from home field
The Seahawks will hear what may be their only edge against the Eagles today. Every seat at Qwest Field is sold, and the stadium will be drowned by the noise of a city desperate for any type of sporting success.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Philadelphia @ Seattle, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 13
The Seahawks will hear what may be their only edge against the Eagles today.
Every seat at Qwest Field is sold, and the stadium will be drowned by the noise of a city desperate for any type of sporting success.
Home field is still an advantage for the Seahawks, even if their record doesn't show it.
"Are we good enough to take advantage of the advantage?" coach Mike Holmgren asked. "We'll see. But it's still a difficult place for an opponent to play. That will never change."
It's this particular edition of the Seahawks that is different. The team that lost only seven home games in the past five seasons combined is 1-2 at Qwest Field this season and a touchdown underdog at home for the first time since moving into the stadium in 2002.
Seattle will be missing starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for the fourth consecutive game, and Philadelphia will have Donovan McNabb on the field after starting backup quarterbacks in two losses to Seattle over the previous three seasons.
Throw in the fact that Seattle gained only 39 yards rushing last week in San Francisco, and the Seahawks are well aware of the hole they're trying to climb out of, even if they are only two games out of first place in the NFC West.
"We know we're running uphill," Holmgren said.
Maybe that incline explains last week's rushing performance in which the Seahawks averaged 1.4 yards on 28 carries and finished with their fewest rushing yards since last year's loss in Pittsburgh in Week 5.
"[Thirty-nine] yards — you didn't like that?" Holmgren asked rhetorically. "I didn't either."
It's imperative to run the ball better, Holmgren said. It just won't be easy. San Francisco is below average in rushing defense, ranked 19th. The Eagles are ninth.
"It's a big chore," Holmgren said.
"These guys are good, and they're very physical up front."
Seattle beat Philadelphia twice in the past three seasons, but McNabb was injured both games. In 2005, the Seahawks shut out Mike McMahon. Last year, it was A.J. Feeley who threw three interceptions to Lofa Tatupu and one to Julian Peterson.
Now the roles are reversed. The Seahawks and Holmgren are starting a backup quarterback while Andy Reid has McNabb.
"He is playing as well as he has ever played," Reid said of McNabb. "Maybe even a little bit better."
The Seahawks will start backup Seneca Wallace, whose decisions improved in last week's victory over San Francisco, but his mobility will be tested by Philadelphia's pass rush.
Hasselbeck isn't the only absence. Defensive end Patrick Kerney, who leads the Seahawks with five sacks, is having his shoulder examined in Alabama. And defensive captain Lofa Tatupu didn't practice this week because of a groin injury that knocked him out of last week's game in San Francisco.
But one thing hasn't changed: The advantage Seattle gets from its home crowd.
"Our fans have done a great job," defensive tackle Craig Terrill said. "Obviously, this isn't the kind of year that we've had the past several years, but the fans have been here all through it. Loud."
The support only makes the lack of success more jarring for the team whose streak of four consecutive division titles appears in danger.
"That's frustrating," tackle Sean Locklear said of the two home losses.
"That's something we take into consideration because it's a tough place to play. Other teams know that, too."
But they also know that the Seahawks have taken a tumble in the standings. So while home field may still give Seattle an edge, the Seahawks just aren't playing as sharp.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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