Hawks' win on track-meet performance

The offensive coordinator and Matt Hasselbeck had trouble running the offense, but Leon Washington ran just fine on kickoff returns.

The offensive coordinator and Matt Hasselbeck had trouble running the offense, but Leon Washington ran just fine on kickoff returns.

Two-hundred yards in 20-odd seconds: Great track meet, right? But Leon Washington, of course, is a football player, even if he looked more like an over-dressed Olympic sprinter Sunday as his pair of second-half, field-length kickoff returns secured the Seahawks a win the rest of the Seattle team didn’t really deserve.

The 27-20 win against San Diego came despite Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers looking masterful, completing 29 for 53 for 429 yards, most of it during a second half when Rivers led his team back from a 17-0 deficit and into a 20-20 tie. The Hawks would have seemed to have every advantage, benefiting from five San Diego turnovers. But the Seattle offense — the Don’t Know “O,” it could be called – was strapped by dubious play-calling and often pathetic execution by Matt Hasselbeck and his minions.

The win leaves the Hawks at 2-1 and tied with Arizona for the NFC division lead going into next week’s trip to St. Louis. The game was full of thrills, not least of which was the Earl Thomas pick-off of a Rivers pass at the goal line on San Diego’s final play.

By any measure, though, this is a Hawks club that can’t afford to keep failing to capitalize on opportunities. And Hasselbeck, who just turned 35, is really showing his wear. Maybe offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates bears the main blame, calling for improbable running plays when passes would be more appropriate, passing on short yardage when the ground game would be better.

Toward the end of the first half, it seemed as though the Mad Hatter was in charge of clock-management. Hasselbeck inexplicably called an apparently unnecessary time-out one play after the two-minute warning. It may ultimately have cost the team a score, as time ran out with the offense in disarray at the Chargers’ goal line.

Apologists say the “O” just needs to get its shifts together; they note that the season is just three weeks spent. Yes, but a playoff-bound team just doesn’t risk blowing home games after leading by 17 in the third quarter.

Back to the track meet: Washington was thought to be, if not washed up, at least a few steps slower and expendable after a broken leg mended. Sunday the ex-Jets star was a few steps faster than the San Diego special-teams, scampering 101 yards to open the second half with a touchdown and galloping for another 99 late in the game.

“What a way to win a game,” Washington later said, adding that the Hawks played “total team football today.”

Well, not exactly. Washington got a few good blocks during his record-setting runbacks but it was more like total one-man-team. Fans, in any case, hope Washington was prescient when he assured a TV interviewer that “the best is yet to come.”

If so, Hawks fans are in for some terrific track meets.


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