SEATTLE – Following a one-sided loss on the road two weeks ago, Seahawks players, as well as their head coach, talked about the critical nature of the team’s next two games.
Win the next two, they said, and Seattle would be 3-3 heading into its bye week and in good position to make a run at the division title. But after winning the first of those two critical games last weekend, the Seahawks came up short – way short – on Sunday in the second, a 27-3 loss to Arizona.
Now critical might better describe the condition of the Seahawks’ playoff hopes. Seattle will head into its bye week with a 2-4 record that includes two home losses, and after the bye, four of the next five games are on the road.
And if a 24-point loss at home to a division rival wasn’t painful enough, the Seahawks also lost middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu for the season with a torn pectoral muscle.
“I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that this one was especially difficult,” Seahawks coach Jim Mora said. “This was a big game for us. We felt like we had a chance to get to 3-3 at the bye, but it didn’t happen, so we have to figure out why.”
There were plenty of reasons why, but none was bigger than Arizona’s fast start that found the Seahawks trailing by 17 early in the second quarter. After a long touchdown drive to open the game, Arizona got the ball back when it recovered a pooch kickoff that landed in no-man’s land. That led to a 14-0 lead, and when Seattle finally got its offense on the field, it wasn’t for very long. Matt Hasselbeck was sacked and fumbled on the third play of the drive, setting up an Arizona field goal.
And just like that, a team that had seven days earlier won 41-0 on this same field was down 17-0 with 13:38 still left in the first half.
“I think what it boils down to right now is this: We’re an inconsistent football team, particularly on offense,” Mora said.
The offense indeed struggled mightily Sunday, finishing with just 128 total yards, which is tied for the seventh-lowest total in franchise history. The Seahawks rushed for just 14 yards, a franchise record for rushing ineptitude, and the patch-work offensive line, which had so far this season done a decent job protecting the quarterback, was dominated by the Cardinals pass-rush all day long, allowing Hasselbeck and his fractured ribs to be sacked five times.
“Some weeks we play well, some weeks we don’t,” said Hasselbeck, who finished 10 for 29 for 112 yards with an interception. “You don’t know which team is going to show up. I didn’t get a sense of it before the game at all. I really felt like we were ready, I thought we had a good game plan. We really couldn’t get to the plan because we were down 14-nothing.”
The Seahawks’ only score on a dismal day required a bit of trickery to set up. Trailing by 17 and facing fourth-and-3 from their own 38-yard line in the second quarter, the Seahawks faked a punt. Punter Jon Ryan, one of the few players to have a good game for the Seahawks, threw a pass over the middle to tight end John Carlson, who picked up 42 yards. Late in the third quarter that play still accounted for more than half of the Seahawks’ total offense.
That fake punt and subsequent field goal hardly sparked the Seahawks offense. Seattle punted on each of its five first-half possessions from that point on, and picked up only one first down in the process.
Things didn’t improve any for Seattle in the second half, and the Seahawks finished with their lowest point total at home since 2002, and their most lopsided loss at home since 2004. Despite all of that, the Seahawks insist that the season is far from over.
“We don’t have any quitters, nobody is going to pack it in right now,” receiver Nate Burleson said. “All we’ve got to do is start playing well, and if you can play well late, in this league that’s very important.”
Cardinals 27, Seahawks 3
Ari—Fitzgerald 2 pass from Warner (Rackers kick)
Ari—Hightower 2 run (Rackers kick)
Ari—FG Rackers 29
Sea—FG Mare 28
Ari—Breaston 16 pass from Warner (Rackers kick)
Ari—FG Rackers 31
|Total Net Yards||344||128|
|Time of Possession||42:50||17:10|
RUSHING—Arizona, Hightower 13-32, B.Wells 12-29, Leinart 1-1. Seattle, J.Jones 5-5, Forsett 2-4, James 3-3, Hasselbeck 1-2.
PASSING—Arizona, Warner 32-41-1-276, Leinart 2-2-0-16. Seattle, Hasselbeck 10-29-1-112, Ryan 1-1-0-42.
RECEIVING—Arizona, Fitzgerald 13-100, Breaston 7-77, Boldin 6-54, Hightower 4-26, Urban 2-18, Patrick 1-10, B.Wells 1-7. Seattle, Houshmandzadeh 4-34, Carlson 2-55, Burleson 2-40, Branch 2-9, Forsett 1-16.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.
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