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East Coast not kind to Seahawks

Scott M. Johnson Everett Herald

PHILADELPHIA – Kind of funny how these things pop up now and again.

Like a Terrell Owens outburst. Or a Lawrence Phillips arrest warrant.

Just when you think their problems are behind them … bam! And the cycle continues.

After the Seattle Seahawks had finally put to rest all that talk about their East Coast struggles, they go and lose four in a row – the last two of which came at the beginning of this season.

And now, after the Seahawks made their 2,800-mile journey to Philadelphia for tonight’s game against the Eagles, the question rears its ugly head again.

Is a trip to the Eastern Time Zone going to throw off the NFC’s hottest team?

“There are a lot of things you’ve got to put to rest: playing the St. Louis Rams, going to the East Coast, or whatever,” fullback Mack Strong said. “If we can go there and play well, we can put that to rest.”

Despite the outward appearances, there is no curse, no mental block and no Bermuda Triangle-like obstacle that keeps the Seahawks from winning on the East Coast.

But there are factors that make it more difficult to win in a different time zone.

“You’re being taken out of your element,” defensive tackle Rocky Bernard said. “For some reason, on the road, it’s always tough. Around here we’ve always struggled on the road. We’ve just got to go in there and get it done.”

Seattle’s current four-game slide in contests played in the Eastern Time Zone is nothing compared to 2003. That year, the Seahawks had a perfect 8-0 record at home but barely made the playoffs because of a 2-6 mark on the road. Their only two road wins came in West Coast cities – Arizona and San Francisco – while Seattle went through one streak of six consecutive losses away from its home stadium.

Back-to-back wins over New Orleans and Tampa Bay to open the 2004 season ended talk of an East Coast jinx, and yet the road woes have quietly returned.

Seattle lost at New England in October 2004, lost a road game against the New York Jets last December, and dropped games at Jacksonville and Washington earlier this season. While the Seahawks have four road victories in between – at San Francisco twice, at Minnesota and at St. Louis – they still haven’t won a game in the Eastern Time Zone since that 10-6 win over Tampa Bay on Sept. 19, 2004.

“It isn’t an issue unless you make it an issue,” Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. “It’s kind of like playing in hot weather or cold weather: if you allow yourself to be distracted by it, then you’ll be distracted.”

The Seahawks are scheduled to travel about 17,400 miles this season. That’s quite an adjustment for, say, linebacker Kevin Bentley, who logged just 5,200 miles as a member of the Cleveland Browns last season.

“My three years in Cleveland, our longest trip was to San Fran, when we left on a Friday to get acclimated. That was it in three years,” Bentley said.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve been to Jacksonville, to Washington, now we’re going to Philly. And it’s not like St. Louis is close. I’ve had a lot of long trips this year. I didn’t know they traveled this much.”

Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren hopes that tonight’s game in Philadelphia will have a different result.

“It’s on the road, Monday night, hostile environment, and it’s against a good team,” he said. “So these are all measuring sticks. We’ve had a few already.”

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