SEATTLE – Six games into the season, the Seattle Seahawks were on a roll and in first place.
Two weeks later? Let’s just say things have taken a drastic turn for the worse.
Fourteen days after walking off the Qwest Field turf with a 4-2 record and sole possession of first place in the NFC West, the Seahawks trudged off the same field Sunday having been soundly beaten for the second straight week, this time in the form of a 41-7 loss to the New York Giants.
This loss, Seattle’s most lopsided at Qwest Field and the team’s worst at home since 1997, comes on the heels of last week’s 33-3 loss in Oakland. So for those too exhausted from watching losing football to do a little addition, that means the Seahawks have been outscored 74-10 in the past eight quarters since beating Arizona here two weeks ago to take over first place.
In those two losses, Seattle has been outgained by more than 700 yards (1,032-324), lost the turnover battle 4-1, and in general looked nothing like the team that appeared to be the class of a flawed NFC West through six games.
“For the second week in a row, we go out and throw out a miserable performance,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “And it put us in a situation where, at the halfway point of the season being 4-4, we have seen the upside of our team and we’ve also seen the downside.”
The upside is a team that wins with an aggressive defense, an offense that takes care of the ball and picks its spots, and a special-teams unit that is among the best in the league. The downside, on the other hand, is what has been on display over the past two weeks: a defense that gives up big plays and an offense that struggles to cross midfield, let alone score points.
Sure, the Seahawks came into this game with the odds against them – Charlie Whitehurst was making his debut at quarterback in place of an injured Matt Hasselbeck, three starting defensive linemen were out, as was the starting left tackle and his backup, forcing a guard to slide over to tackle – but Sunday still turned out a lot worse than most anyone could have expected.
“It’s embarrassing, first and foremost,” tight end John Carlson said. “We put a lot of work into our craft and what we present on the football field on Sundays, and to come out and play like that, that’s embarrassing.”
The game turned from a struggle to downright embarrassing in the span of a few first-quarter plays. New York led 7-0 after scoring on its second possession, but Seattle was still in the game until the Giants scored two more touchdowns in a matter of seconds.
After an illegal contact penalty on Earl Thomas kept a drive alive, Eli Manning made Seattle pay with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks. Leon Washington, who has been spectacular as the Seahawks’ kick returner this season, fumbled the ensuing kick, giving the Giants the ball at the 4-yard line. Ahmad Bradshaw scored on the next play, and suddenly a manageable deficit was turned into a 21-0 hole from which the Seahawks could not recover.
The Seahawks did finally drive into Giants territory after falling behind by three touchdowns, but both of those possessions ended with Whitehurst interceptions. Whitehurst, who had never thrown a regular-season pass before Sunday, completed 12 of 23 passes for 113 yards and one touchdown. That touchdown, a 36-yarder to Ben Obomanu in the fourth quarter, allowed the Seahawks to at least avoid the indignity of their first home shutout since 1992.
The news isn’t entirely bad for Seattle, however. For everything that has gone wrong over the past two weeks, the Seahawks are still tied for first place in their division with St. Louis, a game ahead of Arizona. Hasselbeck should return when the Seahawks travel to Arizona next weekend, and left tackle Russell Okung could return as well.
With no one running away with the division, there is still time for the Seahawks to turn things around. Although with as many problems as they have right now, the Seahawks aren’t too concerned with the rest of the division.
“I couldn’t care less about anybody else,” safety Lawyer Milloy said. “What we’ve done the last two weeks, we definitely can’t be proud of, but this is the league, and no matter how bad it looks right now, we’re 4-4.”
And following a second straight blowout, the Seahawks now just have to hope that they’ve already hit rock bottom.
“The only way to go is up,” defensive tackle Junior Siavii said. “We’re down right now, we’ve just got to re-group and take it on to Arizona. That’s the only way, we’ve got to beat Arizona and get on track.”