If winning seems out of the question for the Seattle Seahawks, maybe they’ll settle for redefining the sports metaphor.
If you can swallow the spin, that is.
Steve Bono threw three touchdown passes to pace Kansas City to a 35-17 National Football League victory Sunday at the Kingdome, sending the Seahawks to their third straight loss to open the 1996 season and sending a sorry little audience of 39,790 to the exits early.
Still, Seattle coach Dennis Erickson felt his team “played better than the score indicated.” And Seahawks guard Ed Cunningham was even more upbeat.
“We had them on the ropes,” he insisted.
Once upon a time, “on the ropes” meant “ready to be knocked out.” When the context was restored to Cunningham’s remark, however, it was apparent he was talking about a point in the game when the Seahawks were 11 points in arrears.
Those would have to be some very treacherous ropes.
If the Seahawks made any strides in Week 3, they were well-camouflaged against the Chiefs - one of the NFL’s upper-crust teams who made what they felt was a premature exit from the playoffs last season.
Seattle dropped into a two-touchdown hole before the game was 11 minutes old, then stirred up some brief drama before succumbing to a combination of unfortunate penalties, untimely breakdowns and unseemly gaffes.
“We could not take advantage of the opportunities we had,” said Erickson. “We went into the game with the idea that if we could get turnovers and not make mistakes ourselves, that we had a chance to win. We had those opportunities and didn’t do anything with them.”
Opportunities for what exactly? Well, to make it close is all.
For it was already 28-10 when Steve Broussard took a Kansas City kickoff back 86 yards to the Chiefs 11-yard line early in the third quarter. But to a team desperate for momentum, it was hardly a trifle.
Three plays and a false-start penalty later, the Seahawks were back on the K.C. 22, and kicker Todd Peterson capped the perfect un-drive by pushing a 40-yard field-goal attempt wide to the right.
The Hawks looked like a different team on an 80-yard march later in the quarter that ended in quarterback Rick Mirer’s 1-yard sneak and cut K.C.’s lead to 28-17. And when Michael Sinclair popped the ball loose from Bono on a sack early in the fourth quarter and Phillip Daniels recovered at the Chiefs 38, Seattle had the makings of some minor intrigue.
But on third down at the 7, the Seahawks barely got the ball snapped before the play clock reached :00 - and with James Hasty blanketing wide receiver Joey Galloway, Mark Collins stepped up to intercept an ill-thrown pass by Mirer in the end zone.
Both Erickson and Mirer complained that problems with the helmet mikes delayed the call on that particular play.
“We can’t get the play in and we can’t get the right people in the huddle,” said Mirer. “That’s a critical time and a chance to get the thing close and make it interesting. It’s a shame when we do get a drive and get it going and that happens.
“The other times, we just didn’t get a drive going. We had one first down for the longest damn time. We were up against something we can’t defeat if we don’t work better with ourselves.”
Mirer, benched at halftime of last week’s loss to Denver, received Erickson’s vote of confidence and went the distance in this one - completing 15 of 31 passes for 159 yards. But he couldn’t take the Seahawks anywhere unless the running game took them there first - and with the Chiefs holding running back Chris Warren to just six yards on 14 carries, that wasn’t often.
The teams’ first possessions were instructive.
Seattle lost five yards on three plays before punting, whereupon Bono - who completed 18 of 27 passes for 185 yards - marched Kansas City 43 yards in seven plays for a touchdown, connecting with Chris Penn on a 9-yard lob to the corner.
Later in the first quarter, he found Dale Carter - K.C.’s starting left corner who doubled at wide receiver this game because of an injury to Tamarick Vanover - behind Selwyn Jones for a 46-yard scoring pass.
Seattle whittled that down to 14-10 less than 2 minutes before halftime, then broke down badly as Bono took the Chiefs 81 yards in just 87 seconds - the big play a pass-interference call on Jones on a deep pass to Lake Dawson.
Then the Chiefs took control of the game for good with a 76-yard drive to open the second half - again abetted by a Seahawks penalty when tackle Glenn Montgomery jumped the snap and barreled into Bono, earning a 15-yard personal foul penalty. Marcus Allen got the final two yards for the first of two touchdowns that moved him ahead of Jim Brown for second on the NFL’s all-time list. The 15-year NFL veteran also surpassed 11,000 yards career rushing hards with a modest 52-yard day.
“Jim Brown may have been the greatest back ever to play the game,” said Allen. “He only played nine seasons. If he played more, he could have scored 40 more touchdowns. But it is nice when I think about it.”
Nice doesn’t describe much of what happened to the Seahawks - or what confronts them after this woeful start.
“It’s past the point of anger and disappointment,” said linebacker Winston Moss. “I don’t know how we can turn it around. But you can’t quit, you can’t hide, you can’t run away from it.
“It seems like we’re really down right now and everyone wants to step on us.” , DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos (1 Color)