There is no answer for the Seahawks' season
Seahawks coach Jim Mora tried answering all the postgame questions, but the truth is, he doesn't have an explanation for all that is wrong with his team.
Seattle Times staff columnist
We came into the interview room to bury the Seahawks, not to praise them.
After this final loss, we came to listen to Jim Mora give his eulogy to a 5-11 season, his first as Seahawks coach.
For most of the past four months, Mora has tried to explain defeats. He has tried to find hope in lopsided losses.
Sometimes he has let the heat of the moment get the best of him, saying things he probably shouldn't, letting emotion overwhelm logic.
But during a lull in the questioning following Sunday's 17-13 loss to Tennessee, Mora pushed up the bill of his Seahawks cap to make sure nobody thought he was hiding under it. He gripped the lectern and asked for more questions.
"I'll keep answering your questions," Mora said.
At one of the bleakest moments in a dark season, Mora stood in front of all of Seattle and took responsibility for everything that had gone wrong.
Glancing occasionally at a Seahawks official standing to his right, Mora challenged reporters to ask him whatever was on their minds.
He was asked if he thought he would be retained next season.
"I haven't given it a second thought," he said. "I'm sorry."
He was asked the difference between quitting and despondency.
The Seahawks finished the season losing four straight. Nine of the season's 11 losses were by double figures. The Seahawks often gave the impression that they had lost their will. But Mora has steadfastly defended the resolve of his players.
"I think when you lose the way we've lost some of the games in the last few weeks, there's a perception that guys quit," he said. "I don't think guys ever quit at this level. I think, at times, maybe our team has gotten a little despondent is the word. A 'here-we-go-again' type of attitude that sometimes happens when you're struggling."
Mora admitted the team didn't have enough playmakers, saying, "It's hard for us to score easy. It takes a lot of work for us to score."
He was asked why he chose to punt at the end of the first half, rather than ask Olindo Mare to attempt about a 54-yard field goal. He admitted he heard the crowd's response as certain as a fog horn.
"The wind was swirling. It was fourth-and-10 and I did not want to give them the ball back," Mora said. "I heard the boos and I could understand that people would say, 'What the heck do you have to lose, go for it.' But in my mind, we're trying to win a football game."
Mora tried answering all the questions in a way New England's grumpy old man of a coach, Bill Belichick, never would. But the truth is, Mora doesn't have an explanation for all that is wrong with his team.
He was handed a losing roster and told to win with it. And a month before the end of the season, his president and general manager, Tim Ruskell, bailed on him, leaving only Mora to answer for everything that was broken with the franchise. Who could blame him if he got a little wiggy from time to time?
As he has all season, Mora worked the sideline Sunday like a politician. He punched players in the shoulder pads. Smacked them on their helmets. Clapped his hands and yelled in their faces, looking for his fire to be requited.
When Matt Hasselbeck chopped down Tennessee cornerback Cortland Finnegan with a textbook block on Justin Forsett's 17-yard run, Mora ran out on the field and slapped hands with his quarterback.
But Mora couldn't prevent the inevitable mistakes.
Sunday's here-we-go-again moment, came in the fourth quarter when Jeff Robinson's perfect snap clanged off the hands of punter Jon Ryan. By the time Ryan picked up the football and wobbled a 19-yard punt, the die was cast on another defeat.
Mora said that play was the season in microcosm.
The Titans took just five plays to go 28 yards for the game-winning touchdown, and this forgettable, regrettable season slowly faded to black.
Jim Mora tried to find a way to win this game, then he tried to find a way to explain the loss.
He was graceful in defeat. But once again he was defeated.
About Steve Kelley
Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
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