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Thursday, November 14, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports

A Grip on Sports: It not only was a mistake-filled weekend, it was a lost one, as well

Seahawks players, including Shaquill Griffin (26), can’t mask the pain of a poorly played game. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
Seahawks players, including Shaquill Griffin (26), can’t mask the pain of a poorly played game. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It’s one thing to watch the local team lose to a better one. It’s another to watch them stumble and bumble their way to a loss that easily could have been a win. Or, in other words, give a game away. As happened more than once over the weekend.

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• Hey, today is the first day of autumn. Or fall. Whatever you prefer. Maybe fumble would be best though. Seems like a more appropriate moniker for what’s been happening around these parts.

The Cougars fumble four times, including three down the stretch in a still hard-to-fathom 69-65 loss to UCLA. Then the Seahawks hand a win to the beat-up Saints, most notably sue to Chris Carson’s fumble and the ensuing touchdown return.

If it wasn’t the turning point of the 33-27 home loss, it was certainly the turning-off point for at least a few fans. Why watch when the Hawks are heck-bent on helping New Orleans regain its self-esteem?

Personally, we sort of continued to watch as we visited with friends and family, visits punctuated by the occasional incredulous profanity from downstairs, where the younger generation was viewing the debacle.

Luckily, we’ve banned all discussion about Pete Carroll’s age in the house, so that never came up. Overtly.

Carson’s inability to hold on to the ball this season, now that was discussed. Often. As was the mystifying pattern of holding Russell Wilson in check until late in the game. Not by the opponent’s defense, but by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

The Wilson that emerges from his cocoon late in games is as pretty as any quarterback in the National Football League. But before then, well, there are a lot of ugly caterpillars, aren’t they?

• It’s been a half decade since Washington State has played a football game that resembled Saturday night’s. Yes, 2014. That’s when Mike Leach seemed to have ended another more-than half-decade of ugly defense and unfathomable offensive mistakes.

Which is why the second half meltdown was so surprising, even if it shouldn’t have been. At least part of it anyway.

The Cougar defense has been struggling this season with a lack of a push up front, some depth issues at linebacker and a secondary that could use more help from the front seven. Oh, and an inability to tackle.

Speed D is great (and better than the alternative) but only if defenders can take folks down when they arrive. Thus far, a third of the way through the regular season, the Cougars have struggled at that part for all but a few quarters.

Funny thing, though. Hold on to the football in the fourth quarter and the Cougars win. It’s that simple. The problems, they are still there. But the record is 4-0. And everyone, from Leach to Billy, the fourth-grader at Willard with the Gardner Minshew jersey, is still happy.

•••

WSU: Theo Lawson took time on Sunday to look back at the loss. That couldn’t have been fun. … He also voted in the Associated Press poll, in which the Cougars fell into the others-receiving-votes category. … The soccer team held off Pepperdine. … A South Carolina newspaper ended up having to apologize to the Hilinski family after a headline screw-up. … Is Saturday's game a must-win for the Cougars? … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Washington's win taught the Huskies a few things. … Oregon battled to get past Stanford. Maybe too much. … Oregon State plays the Cardinal next. … Colorado has a lot to celebrate after the win at Arizona State. … Utah drops in the polls after the loss at USC. … Did the win in Pullman herald a turnaround for UCLA? … USC is running low on quarterbacks. … The conference issued another report on an officiating decision. … Finally, basketball practice starts soon.

Gonzaga: One of the Bulldogs’ recruiting targets has decided to attend North Carolina instead. Jim Meehan has more in this story.

Seahawks: John Blanchette was in Seattle yesterday, took in the defeat and added some local context. … The Hawks' mistakes seemed to be as prevalent as the rain. More embarrassing, however. … There was one injury the Hawks certainly cannot afford. … The grades, other than the ones Russell Wilson earned, aren't good.

Mariners: Marco Gonzales had another strong outing but the M's lost to Baltimore.

Sounders: Yesterday's loss means a playoff berth will have to wait.

•••       

• The gumbo was excellent yesterday, as was the crawfish-turned-lobster pie. So was the sweet potato pie Kim made for dessert. The only thing that really stuck in the throat was the way the Hawks played. Until later …

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