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Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

Blanchette: These aren’t your dad’s, or even your Seahawks

SEATTLE – The last time Doug Baldwin returned punts was his sophomore season at Stanford, six years ago. Sometime before kickoff Sunday – he says it was 5 minutes – he drew the assignment for the Seattle Seahawks.

Hey, where’s Bryan Walters? We waived him? When? Saturday? Anybody ever run back punts? Baldwin? OK, it’s yours.

As the Seahawks tried to restart their campfire against the Oakland Raiders in the second half by rubbing sticks together, grizzled veteran guard J.R. Sweezy – in his third NFL season – got into his stance, looked up and down the offensive line and saw Alvin Bailey (zero NFL starts before Sunday), Garry Gilliam (also zero), Patrick Lewis (bingo) and Justin Britt (a rookie with seven). Eventually, injured backup center Stephen Schilling was sent in to relieve Lewis, just to help settle down Gilliam, who’d been penalized both for being an ineligible receiver downfield and illegal motion when he was an eligible receiver – and seemed on the verge of doing the Macarena in the middle of the snap count.

J.R., we’ll get you guys together for coffee and introductions midweek. For now, just call any of them “Big Fella.”

At Sunday’s performance, the parts of Kam Chancellor and Byron Maxwell were played by DeShawn Shead and Tharold Simon.

Legion of Boom? Try Legion of Whom?

It’s November, and these are your Seattle Seahawks. These guys and others like Brock Coyle and Marcus Burley and L.J. Fort, and if you’re wondering why the Seahawks seem to be cribbing special teams calamities from the Washington State Cougars, coach Pete Carroll says it’s because it’s “a circus out there just getting the guys in their spots and (moving) guys around.”

And on Sunday, the NFL’s lone winless team needed only to recover an onside kick that slithered through the hands of Seattle’s Cooper Helfet to have the Seahawks on the ropes. Except Jermaine Kearse managed to fall on it first, and the Seahawks prevailed, 30-24.

But, hey – try and find a better 5-3 bunch of defending Super Bowl champions in the league.

Weren’t Seahawks fans assured they could still be cooking their tailgate weenies over the glow lingering from last February’s nuking of the Broncos? Remember the “dynasty” stories gushingly written in the wake of all that swellness? Wasn’t trading Percy Harvin supposed to make everything all better again?

Aren’t the Raiders supposed to be so much chum for big fish like the Seahawks?

“No one really likes blowouts,” insisted Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, dismissing the notion that he and fellows should have turned a 24-3 halftime lead into a victory of similar proportions. “Those are for the fans more than anything.”

No duh.

“A competitor likes to be in tough situations,” he said, “adverse situations, especially with the young guys we have. And they were able to get some valuable, valuable, valuable experience. They did a great job being resilient.”

Well, yes, that’s all very admirable. But be resilient against the Cardinals and Niners and Packers and Broncos. Bury the pitiful Raiders.

And for a time, it seemed as if the Seahawks might. Marshawn Lynch bulled into the end zone through a monstrous pile (“I think maybe six of them was my own team,” he demurred) and Bruce Irvin turned a spectacular tip-drill pick into six points, and the romp looked to be on. Then Coyle, the rookie linebacker from Montana who was probably preoccupied with his first start, whiffed on a punt-team block – the Raiders smothering Jon Ryan’s kick and falling on it in the end zone a minute into the second half, and suddenly everyone watching on TV was back to waiting for commercials to fetch back-up beers.

Fatigue, unfamiliarity, nerves, communication issues – all become issues with wholesale lineup replacements. Nine Seahawks with Super Bowl chops sat Sunday, including two offensive-line starters. That’s why Russell Wilson spent most of the day being chased sideline to sideline, though it didn’t always account for his air-mailed throws.

Halfway through the NFL season, the Northwest football psyche is likely a bit panicked about a championship team scraping by the likes of the Raiders and, last week, Carolina – never mind the three losses.

“But there were about five games last year we could have lost,” Baldwin said, echoing a Carroll theme. “Just so many things happened that we were able to pull out those five close games. Could have gone the other way. Same way this year. We’re just battling for an opportunity to get in the playoffs again.”

What? The Seahawks don’t just pass go and collect those Super Bowl rings?

Bad news.

The good news is, help – or relative health – is on the way. Chancellor should be back next week, maybe Russell Okung and Max Unger on the duct-taped offensive line, too.

“Tom Cable said this was the most challenging game he’d ever coached,” Carroll reported.

Good lord, Tom. You were head coach at Idaho, for Pete’s sake.

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