The Seattle Seahawks finally got a little better, just in time to play their way out of post-season contention. A club that last week couldn'êt run well enough to catch a parked bus lost its nominal featured back early during the Sunday defeat against division-leading Arizona then put up better rushing numbers with subs than it had all season.
Here again, it wasn'êt enough. The 31-20 finish means Seattle is stuck at 3-6. The Cardinals are 6-3 but even if the Seahawks were to find a miraculous means to tie Arizona with, say, a 9-7 record, their rival would win with a tie-breaker by virtue of two wins against Seattle. More to the point: To get to 9-7 the Hawks would need to win six of their remaining seven and 'êZona would need to go 3-4. If you feel this can happen, stop the next 20 (or 200) folks you meet and they'êll probably be glad to bet you.
The unfortunate part is that the Seahawks for much of the game looked like competent NFL playoff contenders. Early on they followed arguably their best defensive play, a goal-line stand, with a long pass that may have been their best offensive effort of the season. Their foes didn'êt even take the lead until 11:20 remained and the Hawks were still in a position to make it interesting with two minutes left. But Matt Hasselbeck'ês short pass to Justin Forsett three yards from the goal line wound up with the Cardinals. A club up at one time 14-0, then, was later outscored 31-6.
The result means the remainder of the Seahawks'ê season will be about looking at the talent that might figure in next year'ês campaign.
As such, there could be at least one player to watch. Forsett, picked in the seventh round of last year'ês draft, often ran in a fashion more reminiscent of Dorsett (Tony, the Hall of Fame runner who could have been the Hawks'ê first-ever draft pick). Forsett'ês 123 yards (he came in early for injured Julius Jones) included a few spectacular romps and were the main reason the Seahawks mounted a 164-yard ground game.
But the Seahawk secondary wasn'êt much of a match for the Cards'ê Kurt Warner-led offense. The star thrower had 29 completions for 340 yards and a pair of touchdowns, his quarterback rating an enviable 120.4: an 'êA'ê grade compared with Hasselbeck'ês 59.4. Warner usually had plenty of time untouched in the pocket to contemplate his options. At one point he led scoring drives during five of six possessions.
The Hawk schedule shows three games remaining against terrible (which is to say, worse than Seattle) teams: Tampa and Tennessee at home and St. Louis on the road. A 6-10 season could help the Hawks to better draft options next spring and also bring a weaker schedule next season.
What the team needs beyond a few more 2009 wins is a reassessment of top-level management, namely Tim Ruskell, whose title is president of football operations and general manager. He was brought in six months before the 2006 Super Bowl run, after which the club stumbled and slumped through the ensuing four seasons. Post-game commentary Sunday among experts and fans was reminiscent of what was heard here more than a year ago from denizens of Mariner nation, who demanded and got the dismissal of ineffectual M'ês G.M. Bill Bavasi.
Maybe a respectable seven-game run by the Hawks would be enough to salvage Ruskell'ês job for another year. After all, Qwest Field will be packed Dec. 6 against San Francisco even if the Seahawks arrive home from the road 3-8. A final record of, say, 7-9 would go a ways toward convincing some that the Hawks actually had gotten better. Many, though, are pretty sure that team owner Paul Allen defines 'êgetting better'ê as something other than merely running well enough to catch a parked bus while blowing a 14-0 lead and, with it, any hopes for the postseason.