One imagines it's appropriate given the emphasis of the past week that many Seattle Seahawks partisans seemingly received the answer to their prayers: The man known to online wags as "Jesus" came into Sunday's 38-15 battering at Tampa Bay.
Actually Charlie Whitehurst's nickname has become "Clipboard Jesus." This owes to the typical sideline image of the season-long back-up guy to Matt Hasselbeck, who left Sunday's game with yet another injury, a hip glitch expected to keep him from playing next week.
Whitehurst, the hirsute would-be Seahawk hero, looks for all the world as though he plays Christ in a community-theater production. He also seemed amateurish in the QB role. While Hasselbeck actually scored the Hawks first-quarter touchdown on a short run, Whitehurst did nothing to make anybody think he'd divine a win next week, when a Seattle game finally matters.
Yes, as fans now are only too aware, the 6-9 Hawks have finally run out of "meaningless" games. On Jan. 2 either the visiting St. Louis Rams (7-8) or Seattle will finish the season without a winning record and "win" the National Football Conference West Division "championship," hosting a playoff game a week later.
It will be the pro-sports-industry equivalent of filmdom's Razzies, the pre-Oscar event in which the winners are picked from among the losers.
Hawk mentor Pete Carroll has been defending his team's ridiculous predicament and why not? The rules say a 7-9 team can proceed to the playoffs — maybe even win a Super Bowl. Never mind that Seattle has lost seven of the past nine, getting its victories during that span against Carolina and Arizona (combined records: 7-23). Carroll conceded that, after the Tampa fiasco, "you wonder how it's gonna happen" as far as a win against the Rams.
The Sunday game was pretty compelling, actually. Unfortunately the reference is to the Rams-49ers match-up, which eliminated San Francisco when St. Louis triumphed 25-17. One can't assume that the Seahawks, knowing when they took the field that the Tampa game essentially meant nothing, simply gave up against the Bucs. Given the talent gap between the 1976-expansion siblings, it's doubtful many Seattle fans expected a rare road win.
The gap is apparent given the lopsided stats, mainly the fact that Tampa had 439 total yards to Seattle's 174.
As for the Seahawks' "savior," Clipboard Jesus put up nothing worthy of hosannas. Whitehurst threw for just 66 yards and had a less-than-worshipful QB rating of 68.3. He frequently was flushed from the pocket, showing about as much mobility as Hammering Man.
In short, if you're connected in any way with the St. Louis Rams, the Seattle match-up is exactly what you want. The Rams can pass and run (especially against a second-tier defense) and lately the Seahawks can do neither. Sam Bradford, the Rams' rookie quarterback, is the main reason for the team's first turnaround in years.
Even with the injury that promises to keep Hasselbeck of the practice field this week, there's no definitive word yet about the Hawk starter at quarterback next Sunday. This much is clear: By then a new year will have arrived and the time known to worshippers of football and other matters as the Season of Miracles will have expired. This seemed to be sensed by three-quarters of the respondents to a post-game KCPQ-13 TV poll, who said they think the Rams will win.
Maybe not. In a week, a 7-9 loser may have become a big winner, so there's obviously an occasion for one more miracle, albeit maybe the most dubious one in league history.
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