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Originally published Friday, November 7, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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The 10 plays this season that have made the Seahawks, Huskies and Cougars fans shake their heads

A football was snapped into the facemask of Washington State's quarterback at Baylor in September and the Cougars lost a fumble. A Washington safety caught...

Seattle Times staff reporter

A football was snapped into the facemask of Washington State's quarterback at Baylor in September and the Cougars lost a fumble.

A Washington safety caught a ball he would have been better off dropping against Notre Dame in October.

And last weekend the Seahawks quarterback spiked a pass when he would have been better off just taking a knee.

Three months into this football season, the Seahawks, Huskies and Cougars have combined for a grand total of three wins. Last weekend, they lost by a combined total of 140-7.

But it isn't just the losses. It's the way they've lost, with a collection of mistakes that range from mindless to just plain unlucky. But they're all awful, and here are the 10 worst, arranged in chronological order.

Call it a timeline of ineptitude.

1. Rules are rules

Washington vs. BYU, Sept. 6

Fourth quarter, UW ball,

third-and-goal at the BYU 3

Quarterback Jake Locker ran the ball into the end zone with two seconds left, cutting Brigham Young's lead to 28-27. It's what he did with the ball next that hurt the Huskies. Locker threw the ball into the air as he prepared to leap and bump chests with teammate Devin Aguilar. Cue the flag, a 15-yard penalty and the collective groan from those at Husky Stadium when Ryan Perkins' 35-yard extra-point kick was blocked.

2. Minimum coverage

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Seahawks at Bills, Sept. 7

Third quarter, Buffalo ball,

fourth-and-seven at the Seattle 19

Ryan Denney is not an easy man to miss. The Bills' defensive end is 6 feet 7, tallest on the roster. But he managed to blend in with the scenery, checking into the game and surreptitiously hiding near the sideline as the Bills lined up for a field goal. That kind of deception usually isn't considered kosher in the NFL, but there was no penalty and no real excuse for no Seahawk seeing Denney. "He's not a little guy," coach Mike Holmgren said afterward. Buffalo's holder Brian Moorman took the snap, stood up and threw to an uncovered Denney for a touchdown.

3. Cougars naturally a disaster

Washington State at Baylor, Sept. 12

Boarding the plane

Washington State was only the second worst natural disaster in Texas that weekend, with Hurricane Ike bearing down. The game was moved to Friday, and the Cougars decided to travel the day of the game. Heck, why not? The Cougars were favored in the game and took their first lead of the season by scoring the game's first touchdown. After allowing Baylor to tie the game, the Cougars had a second-and-nine from the WSU 28-yard line. From shotgun formation, center Kenny Alfred snapped the ball while quarterback Kevin Lopina wasn't looking. The ball hit Lopina in the facemask, Baylor recovered, scored a touchdown two plays later and never trailed again.

4. The Willis weave

Seahawks vs. 49ers, Sept. 14

Third quarter, Seahawks ball, second-and-14 at San Francisco 25

Billy McMullen probably wishes he had a McMulligan on this one. His spacing was off as he lined up and 49ers cornerback Walt Harris deflected Matt Hasselbeck's pass in the air. Linebacker Patrick Willis intercepted and executed an 86-yard slalom run all the way to the end zone. Hasselbeck appeared in position to make a tackle only to have Willis cut inside of him as if he were a traffic cone, scoring to tie the game.

5. Mental block

Washington vs. Stanford, Sept. 27

Second quarter, UW ball,

first-and-10 at the UW 39

Hard to fault a quarterback for getting downfield to throw a block. After all, Matt Hasselbeck was known as Hassel-block for taking out two Rams defenders on a Seahawks touchdown run the week before. Washington quarterback Jake Locker's block against the Cardinal did more than just help spring Jordan Polk for a 26-yard gain. Locker broke his thumb, and hasn't played again this season. Washington has been outscored 192-55 since Locker's injury.

6. Cougs kick themselves

Washington State at Oregon State,

Oct. 11

Second-half kickoff

For two quarters, the Cougars played like an honest-to-goodness Pac-10 team. They intercepted Beavers quarterback Lyle Moevao four times and trailed 24-13 at halftime. Patrick Rooney booted the second-half kickoff a good 5 yards out of bounds, and the Cougars threw in a 15-yard personal foul penalty. Oregon State quickly scored the first of six unanswered touchdowns. Washington State has been outscored 169-0 in 10 quarters since they took the field for the second half at Oregon State.

7. Delaying the inevitable

Washington vs. Oregon State, Oct. 18

First quarter, UW ball, first-and-10 at UW 31

You'd think a team coming off a bye would be ready to run its first play. Well, after a week off, the Huskies took the opening kickoff and had the play clock run out before they snapped the ball. Tweet. Five-yard penalty for delay of game.

8. Picky, picky

Washington vs. Notre Dame, Oct. 25

Second quarter, Notre Dame ball,

fourth-and-19 at the UW 32

The Huskies have only three interceptions all year. They'd be better off if they had only two. On fourth down, Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen threw for the end zone. The ball was batted in the air and Nate Williams caught it, collided with teammate Mesphin Forrester and fell down at the 1. "It would've been nice to drop that one," coach Tyrone Willingham said afterward. Yes, it would have been. Washington effectively lost 31 yards of field position.

9. Fake punt triggers Doba vu

Washington State at Stanford, Nov. 1

Third-quarter, WSU ball,

fourth-and-six at WSU 31

On fourth-and-one, Washington State lined up to punt the ball only to be penalized for delay of game. That made it fourth-and-six, and now the Cougars started feeling frisky, calling for that staple of coach Bill Doba's era, the old fake punt. This one actually seemed to be pretty well conceived; the ball snapped directly to Louis Bland, who took off, only to collide with his own blocker, Xavier Hicks. Bland fell down 2 yards short of the first down. You'd think the Cougars would have been more likely to go for it on fourth-and-one instead of faking it on fourth-and-six. Then again, you'd think a ball carrier could avoid one of his own blockers.

10. The spike in the coffin

Seahawks vs. Eagles, Nov. 2

Second quarter, Seattle ball,

third-and-eight at Seattle 45

The clock was running inside of 20 seconds at the end of the first half, the Seahawks were trailing 14-7 and out of timeouts when Seneca Wallace hurried his team to the line of scrimmage to spike the ball and stop the clock. That was great, except it was third down. Coach Mike Holmgren took the bullet for calling a draw play and telling Wallace to spike the ball after the Seahawks picked up a first down. Except the Seahawks didn't pick up a first down. Apparently Holmgren needed to inform the quarterback who has been in the league for six seasons that he shouldn't spike the ball to stop the clock to make sure the opponent had enough time to try to block a punt.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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