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Originally published November 7, 2010 at 6:34 PM | Page modified November 7, 2010 at 9:15 PM

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Steve Kelley

Seahawks show their vulnerability

Seattle not deep enough to handle the current rash of injuries

Seattle Times staff columnist

This was awful. Historically bad. Uncomfortable to watch. Embarrassing.

The 67,000 fans, who came looking to make the same difference they made the last time the New York Giants played at Qwest Field, deserve a refund for this loss.

This 41-7 Seahawks shellacking Sunday was the kind of defeat that can suck the air out of what once was an optimistic beginning.

It was a loss that felt too much like the truth; the second-worst home loss in franchise history.

This was a throwback defeat, to the last year of Mike Holmgren and the only year of Jim Mora.

This loss was horrible.

But was it really surprising?

The Seahawks were without starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who still was recovering from a concussion suffered a week ago at Oakland. His replacement, Charlie Whitehurst, was as raw as a rookie.

Hawks coach Pete Carroll says he wants his quarterbacks to play like basketball point guards. Unfortunately, Whitehurst was too much like Milwaukee Bucks point Keyon Dooling. Too many turnovers. Not many points.

Whitehurst wasn't ready for this big stage. He was 12 for 23 for 113 yards. He threw two interceptions deep in Giants territory. His passer rating was 44.3.

Let this loss be a lesson to all of you Hasselbeck haters. The Hawks can't win without a healthy Matt Hasselbeck. Period.

But this defeat can't be pinned only on Whitehurst.

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He didn't allow 298 total yards to the Giants in the first half. He didn't surrender touchdown drives of 63, 73 and 86 yards. This was a total team breakdown.

The Hawks were undisciplined and sloppy, and with a margin for errors as thin as a razor's edge, they can't afford nine penalties. They can't commit three turnovers.

"We have to figure out how to get ourselves back on track," Carroll said in his starkly honest postgame, midterm report. "We have to play a game of football that gives us a chance in so many different areas.

"It's a very difficult spot to be in because we're not sure that we can get this thing cranking the way we want to and how soon we can, until we go back to work and start working at it."

At the halfway point of the season, the Seahawks (4-4) aren't a very good football team. The reasons for worry that were there at the start of training camp — the offensive line, the lack of a pass rush, the wide receivers, the running game, the secondary — still fester.

In these past two games, at Oakland and home to the Giants, the Hawks have been beaten 74-10 and they've allowed more than 1,000 yards of offense.

That should be enough to scare the forever out of any coach, including the uber-optimistic Carroll.

"This is a big-time challenge for us and for me and for our coaching staff," Carroll said.

With eight games remaining, and for the third season in a row, the Hawks are severely battered. Once again, the curse of the VMAC is raising its ugly head.

Their inactive list was full of talent — Hasselbeck, Russell Okung, Golden Tate, Brandon Mebane, Colin Cole, Tyler Polumbus, Michael Robinson, Frank Okam.

I'd line up the players on that inactive list and play against any of the rest of the league's inactives.

After this defeat, the Seahawks look like a team in desperate need of a bye week, a luxury they no longer have.

At this point in their rebuilding program, the Hawks aren't deep enough or talented enough to absorb this many injuries, especially against a team as good as the Giants, probably the best team in the NFC.

"The challenge issued in the locker room to the fellows is that we have to hang together," Carroll said. "And we have to pull together and we have to get ourselves to the point where we can play good football and execute like we know we're capable of doing."

Geography is their great ally. The Hawks reside in the NFC West, where they still are tied for the lead with the St. Louis Rams.

"Is there hope?" Carroll asked.

"Of course there is," he answered.

Win four more games and the Seahawks can win the West. They can win, while they rebuild.

But a punishing loss this bad is a painful reminder of just how hard the job of rebuilding is and how far away from being a real contender the Seahawks still are.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com

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About Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
skelley@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2176

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