The playoff prayers of the Seattle Seahawks were answered Sunday, Oct. 12, and the answer was an emphatic "no." The Hawks lost every way imaginable to the Green Bay Packers, but the worst way was the final score: Pack 27, Seattle 17. The defeat leaves the locals 1-4 facing a remaining schedule with nary a single opportunity for a probable victory, not even the Dec. 14 date at St. Louis. Because the hapless Rams actually beat a highly favored Washington on the road Sunday, the inference to be drawn is that the Hawks very well could wind up 1-15.
Moving into the fourth quarter, Seattle had amassed exactly 85 yards of total offense. The Pack had three times that much but still led by just a touchdown. That was possible mainly because Green Bay had sustained drives with timely third-down conversions. The Hawks had disdained drives with untimely third-down contortions.
Explanations will dribble in for a few days. First excuse, of course, is that the Hawks were reduced to using their third-string quarterback, Charlie Frye. But Alibi Frye didn't lose the game. Coach Mike Holmgren blew what was once a 10-3 lead and winnable game by sticking with the run-reliant plan the Packers anticipated. The Pack only failed to stuff the run once, when, during the second half, Julius Jones galloped over the left side of the line for 50-plus yards. But a Seattle penalty nullified the run and demoralized what had been a boisterous fan base basking in ideal autumnal football weather at Qwest Field.
The base came alive one last time during the waning minutes, mainly because Frye showed he can throw, if permitted. His quarterback ratings during his years with the admittedly marginal University of Akron program were in the stratospheric 140 range. But Frye only threw 15 times the first three quarters, and when he finally was allowed to emphasize a passing game the Packers had a late 17-point lead.
The veteran Seahawk defense, said during preseason to be a major strength of the 2008 roster of Holmgren's Heroes, faced in Aaron Rodgers a quarterback nearly as banged up as Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck, the three-time all-pro who couldn't suit up against his former Green Bay team. Rodgers, though, had 208 yards on 21-for-30 passing and even scrambled his beat-up bod for another 23. The Hawk cobweb defense repeatedly allowed improbable receptions at critical times while watching the Pack's Ryan Grant trample for 90 yards on 33 carries.
But the game-breaker was Greg Jennings' 45-yard Green Bay pass reception with 5:54 left in the third quarter. Rodgers dropped the ball into a target the size of a grocery bag after Jennings had beaten Seattle's Marcus Trufant by two steps. Trufant was one of several Hawks identified by the TV game announcers as pro-bowl players. One wonders after having observed this disappointing edition of what was expected to be another playoff team whether any 2008 Seahawk could be considered an all-star. Only middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, with 10 tackles, seemed to play with the zeal required to be part of an elite team.
That's what the Seahawks had been until succumbing to what seems to be the local malady afflicting the moribund sports teams. The Holmgren of 2008 has been uncommonly placid during his public appearances with the press, obviously aware that his last lap as a Seattle mentor may well end with a sputtering lunge at the finish line.
Before the start of a season, reasonable people look at a National Football League schedule and imagine a rational set of assumptions about wins and losses. A month ago one might have made a prediction about a 9-7 or even 10-6 Hawk year, with yet another division win. But the Arizona Cardinals beat Dallas Sunday, and the perennially under-performing Redbirds are 4-2, with every reason to expect to represent the NFC West in the playoffs. The Hawks? They face consecutive road games, one in the forbidding Eastern time zone against 4-2 Tampa Bay, the next against a San Francisco divisional rival that already vanquished the Hawks in Seattle.
So it looks as though prayer may be all that some Seattle fans have to help them through a season seeming suspiciously similar to that of the Seattle Mariners, and one has no idea what hope or solace to offer the partisans who are atheists and agnostics.
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