Football has been described as 'êa game of inches,'ê but partisans of the University of Washington Huskies and Seattle Seahawks now know only too well that, as the name would indicate, it'ês a game of feet.
Actually, one needed only be witness to the Huskies'ê Saturday soiree with the University of Arizona to observe 'êfoot'ê ball. Late in the game, after the Dawgs had given up hundreds of yards of offense and had fallen behind by as many as 13 points, a highly improbable carom from a UA Wildcat'ês foot bounced up and into the possession of a Husky defender, who hustled into the end zone to put his club up with 2:37 left in a game the Dawgs would claim 36-33.
The next day, 'êfoot'ê ball was best demonstrated by the Seahawk'ês quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck. For three weeks the all-pro QB has been healing from broken ribs that rendered him unable to run and breathe at the same time. He was scarcely mended when he took the field against Jacksonville. To the amazement of fans, though, Hasselbeck ran and slid for first-down yardage and wound up with 23 of his team'ês 143 ground yards before Coach Jim Mora wisely pulled him late in the game.
Oh, and Hasselbeck (18 for 30, 241 yards) also threw for four touchdowns: not bad for a man thought to have been seen limping and wheezing to Qwest Field from an emergency room on Pill Hill.
By the time sub Seneca Wallace came in, the Hawks, 1-3 and running out of playoff ambitions as the day began, were up 34-0 on the surprisingly ragged Jaguars. The Seattle defense bedeviled the Jag offense all day, benefitting from a pair of turnovers and nine Jacksonville penalties (the Hawks were flagged just once).
Both games were precisely what the fan base needed. For the Seahawks the 41-0 outcome means a confidence builder prior to a winnable home game against division foe Arizona this Sunday. After that a bye week would enable a potential 3-3 team to rest up for the challenges it faces in November.
The Huskies, by virtue of the fluke win against what probably was a better team, are partly paid back for the game that may have been stolen from them by officials at Notre Dame a week earlier. A day before the Arizona game, UW officials received word from Pac-10 conference reps that critical calls against the Dawgs were blown by game referees. Particular plays were not cited. But die-hard partisans and radio squawk jocks spent much of the week after the loss in Indiana alleging there had been no basis for officials to negate an apparent late-game touchdown romp by Husky running back Chris Polk.
Not that the league officials'ê act of contrition means much. The Dawgs now need to ponder whether they can win a road game, starting Saturday against Arizona State. The 3-3 team has had all its triumphs at home and would probably need at least one victory elsewhere in order to reach the six-win threshold required for bowl-game consideration.
The math just got easier for the Seahawks. With the conference-rival 49ers having been trounced at home Sunday, the 2-3 Hawks are within sniffing distance of a lead in the malodorous NFL West Division, which once again can probably be won with a smelly 9-7 record.
In any case, fans of either or both teams must feel relieved that progress finally is being measured in feet instead of inches. It could be a lot worse. Supporters of the 1-and-5 Washington State Cougars are aware that they still have miles to go to get back to respectability.