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Injury bug bites Seahawks' defense

Seahawks defensive end Patrick Kerney and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, a pair of Pro Bowlers, don't play against the Eagles.

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By Scott M. Johnson
Herald Writer
Published:
  • Seahawks safety Deon Grant intercepts a pass in the end zone intended for Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson in the first quarter. Seattle cornerback...

    Jennifer Buchanan/The Herald

    Seahawks safety Deon Grant intercepts a pass in the end zone intended for Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson in the first quarter. Seattle cornerback Marcus Trufant trails Jackson on the play.

SEATTLE -- The past week has shown the Seattle Seahawks that the injury bug does not discriminate.
And so Seattle's defense, which had spent most of the 2008 season trying to overcompensate for an injury-plagued offense, had to do some bandage control of its own. By the time Sunday arrived, two Pro Bowlers were not in uniform for what might have been the most important game of the season to date.
While the Seahawks started strong without defensive end Patrick Kerney and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, the final result -- a 26-7 loss to Philadelphia at Qwest Field -- was way off the mark.
"Not well enough," cornerback Kelly Jennings said when asked how his defense played without two of its most important players. "Our offense scored seven points, and if that's the case, we should be able to shut (the Eagles) out or only hold them to three. We didn't play well enough to win."
For most of the first quarter, Seattle's defense was up to the task. Using the missing players as inspiration, the Seahawks rallied together to hold the Eagles to 81 total yards and zero points in five first-quarter possessions. The Eagles had four three-and-outs and another possession that ended in Deon Grant's end-zone interception.
"We decided even before we walked out of the locker room that we were going to play with intensity," Jennings said. "We play even better when we play that way."
In the end, that wasn't enough. Philadelphia adjusted and started exposing the Seahawks' aggressive game plan. The final three quarters saw the Eagles pile up 338 yards, 17 first downs and -- most important of all -- 26 points.
"I thought we played pretty well," linebacker Julian Peterson said. "But we just didn't do enough to impact the game. We started off well, stopped them maybe four in a row. But we didn't get enough turnovers and they kept the ball moving on third down."
The Eagles' Donovan McNabb finished with 349 passing yards, making him the third opposing quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards in a game this season.
The Seahawks' Achilles' heel came when they would try to blitz McNabb. Too many times, the quarterback avoided the pass rush and struck for a big play.
"We put our secondary guys in a tough position when we bring guys and we don't get home," defensive tackle Craig Terrill said. "When we get one-on-ones, we've got to win up front."
The blitz was necessary because Kerney, the team's best pass rusher, was sidelined by a shoulder injury that he suffered one week earlier. Kerney hurt the same shoulder -- his left -- that required offseason surgery for a torn labrum. He was scheduled to spend the weekend in Alabama, visiting with Dr. James Andrews, and coach Mike Holmgren said that the nature of his latest injury might be known sometime this week.
Tatupu was out with a strained groin that he also suffered in the San Francisco game eight days ago. Holmgren said all last week that he expected the Pro Bowl linebacker to be available Sunday, but Tatupu was ruled out after a short morning workout with trainers.
"It was felt that he could have played, but he really ran the risk of hurting (his groin) more," Holmgren said after Sunday's loss to Philadelphia. "So he was inactive."
The short-handed Seahawks defense held up without two of its stars for the entire first quarter of Sunday's game, but in the end the unit couldn't keep the Eagles at bay.
"We've got enough guys who do a decent enough job that we can replace those guys, two Pro Bowlers," Peterson said. "I thought the guys played well, but we didn't make enough impact plays to affect the game."
Story tags » Seahawks

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