The can't-stand

The Seahawks look like zombies again.
Crosscut archive image.
The Seahawks look like zombies again.

Chapter Two of the open-ended Stephen King novel with the working title 2008 Seattle Seahawks Season commenced Sunday, Sept. 14, with yet another chilling development: Seneca Wallace was seen limping into a Qwest Field tunnel toward the team locker room. His absence, due to, of all things, a warm-up injury, meant a club with casualties akin to those left by Hurricane Ike suddenly had one fewer back-up quarterback and no emergency sub at wide receiver.

The end of the chapter, after an overtime field goal three-odd hours later, was even scarier: San Francisco 49ers 33, Hawks 30. The Niners had been a touchdown underdog coming in and a laughable loser for much of the decade. But the Seahawks are so bunged up right now that it's a wonder they can field 11 guys each on the three units: offense, defense, and not-so-special teams.

Receivers have been disappearing like victims in a horror movie. A few plays into the game, Logan Payne left in pain, the kind sustained when a defender nearly smacks your leg in half. Payne is — or was — a wide-out. He's greener than a ripe lime, but that's what's left of a beat-up Seattle receiver corps so diminished that some fans feared the team might have to send out crash-test dummies the second half.

And yet, even King novels have their levity. Who better to provide it than the slapstick act known as the San Francisco 49ers? The Bay Area Bummers came to Seattle 18-47 since 2004, their main problem often having been moving the ball like somebody got it at a bowling alley. Sunday wasn't much of an exception, at least during the first quarter. The Hawks led 14-0 early, with the loud crowd drowning out the commands of J.T. O'Sullivan, the anonymous seven-team-vet signal-caller brought into battle for the Niners. O'Sullivan was sacked eight times. But it didn't matter because his opponent proved inept in many ways, especially in pass-coverage during a few heroic San Francisco touchdown drives.

The loss leaves Seattle at 0-2 in an Arizona Cardinal-led National Football Conference West Division so weak that the Washington Huskies might even be competitive. One intended to type "the Hawks face the hapless St. Louis Rams at Qwest Sept. 21," but it actually should read the other way. The Rams have scored just 16 points during their two losses, but hey, eight points next Sunday could be just enough to beat the Seahawks. After that one, the Hawks enjoy an off week, the hope being that enough personnel will be healed well enough to field a team when the season resumes Oct. 5 on the road against the Super Bowl champ New York Giants. Given how Mike Holmgren Seahawks teams "play" in the Eastern time zone, one could pretty much notch that one in the "L" column, along with later games at Tampa Bay and maybe even Miami.

Against the 'Niners, the home-field advantage might have saved the Hawks. Fan exuberance helped prompt several 49er breakdowns early and late in the game. At times, the Hawks also seemed in need of being saved from a dubious officiating crew, especially with a second-quarter call that overruled what appeared to be a clean play resulting in an end-zone interception by Seattle safety Deon Grant. A lengthy deliberation among referees led instead to a penalty ruling against the home team: the 49ers scored a touchdown. The half ended with Seattle up 20-13.

Seattle's most dependable pass-catcher is turning out to be rookie John Carlson. The Notre Dame product had four grabs during the opening loss against Buffalo and another six against San Francisco. Michael Bumpus, a fleet receiver from Washington State, gave the Hawks decent field position on a couple of punt returns. Julius Jones, the offseason pickup from Dallas, carried for 127 yards in a performance reminiscent of a journeyman Shaun Alexander effort. A couple of pump-fake draw plays assisted by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck were particularly effective, but Hasselbeck remains only semi-mobile from injuries and he struggled to complete half his passes.

It appears, then, that after just a pair of games the story of the 2008 Seattle Seahawks is destined to go onto the book shelf next to those similar recent Stephen King creepy creations, the ones about the other local sports organizations.


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