Coach Mike Holmgren surrenders in Pittsburgh

Behind 21-0 and seemingly incapable, the Seahawks pretty much just gave up.
Behind 21-0 and seemingly incapable, the Seahawks pretty much just gave up.

The hacks and homers like to boast of their local teams: "There's no quit in these guys." Here's proof that even a hack can harbor the opposite belief: Pertaining to the Seattle Seahawks, 21-0 losers at Pittsburgh on Sunday, Oct. 7, there's quit in these guys.

When the Hawks offense finally got the ball after the half-time break, the third quarter was two-thirds over. What Seattle fans soon would come to understand was that, even with nearly 20 minutes left, the game itself also was over. It was over on offense, defense, special teams, coaching, game plan, blocking, passing, running, receiving ...

It was at least nine-thirds over, then, even though at that point the Steelers only led 14-0. The Seattle offense ran a coupla plays and punted, and that was the third quarter. The Hawks, shut out for the first time since 2000, managed 144 total yards for the game, at times looking as bad as the 1979 Seattle team that was blanked at home by the Rams. That afternoon the "esneffo kwaH," as some of us witnesses called it, registered minus seven yards.

Losing isn't a big deal, especially this time of year to a good (albeit, decimated) Steeler team on the road. We even indicated here a week ago that a loss at Pittsburgh wouldn't be a surprise.

The surprise came during a possession with seven minutes left, when the Hawk offense attempted to run out the clock. It's a wise strategy when you're up by three touchdowns but Seattle was down 21-0. One imagines coach Mike Holmgren concluded that no National Football League team has ever scored three touchdowns during the final seven minutes (teams have put up that many points in little more than seven seconds), so the order went out to give up and head home. Could be that the coach and his minions didn't remember Sept. 24, 2006, when the New York Giants, behind by a "comfortable" margin at Qwest Field, put up four TDs during the fourth quarter and threatened to win before succumbing 42-30.

As if it needed belaboring, the key stat of the Pittsburgh game was possession time: The Steelers had the ball for 40:45 and Seattle had it for about a minute and a half. When the other team's offense controls the ball to that (nearly unheard of) extent, it obviously means the other club's defense is overworked. Much was made about the hot weather, but c'mon. The high 80s in October isn't exactly August in Baghdad, and it's not as though the weather suddenly was mild when the Steelers had the ball.

The other main talking point during the previous week was about the splendid season Hawk quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was having. "Was" is now the operative word. Against a depleted Pittsburgh secondary, the QB couldn't find primary receivers and struggled to even complete passes to short-yardage guys. Leading Seattle receiver was running back Shaun Alexander, with three grabs for seven whole yards. He had another 25 in 11 carries, amassing one of his worst efforts in memory.

Holmgren, almost as though he'd anticipated this pratfall, compared the letdown to the 37-6 collapse the team had against the Bears in Chicago Oct. 1 last year. He credited the opponent without singling out quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the most stellar Steeler with 18 completions in 22 tries for 206 yards and a touchdown.

Maybe Holmgren et al can get well at home Oct. 14 against the 0-4 New Orleans Saints. One problem is that, while the 'aints are winless, they still have folks in their home town willing to say "there's no quit in these guys." Gonna be hard to say the same with much conviction in Seattle this week - maybe this whole season.


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