By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — If the 2008 Seattle Seahawks have done anything right, it’s been getting that pesky question off the table.
No longer are the Seahawks being asked about their road woes. This season, Seattle has been just as bad at home (1-5) as it has on the road (1-5).
“You expect to win at home,” said offensive lineman Sean Locklear, who is likely to make his first start at left tackle today while Walter Jones rests a leg injury. “We’ve been winning at home since I’ve been here. With as many games as we’ve lost this year, it’s frustrating. But just look at all the (injuries) happening around us.”
The invincibility that Qwest Field gave the Seahawks has eroded away during a season that has crumbled to rubble. Even the fan base has not been able to affect a game like it has in the past, as evidenced by three consecutive home games that have resulted in just one false-start penalty against the opposition.
“We haven’t been ourselves on the defense,” safety Deon Grant said when asked about the difference from previous seasons. “We’ve got to make sure that we put that energy back out there so the crowd gets into it like they used to. We’ve just got to get back on our game.”
The Seahawks like to post a statistic on the Jumbotron on game days that boasts a league-high 77 false-start penalties by opposing teams since 2005. But only nine of those have come this season, and at least three teams — the New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Rams — have forced more opponents’ false starts since the beginning of 2006.
The atmosphere at Qwest Field took another hit in the last home game, a Nov. 23 loss to Washington that was preceded by complaints from the visiting team about how noise is pumped into the stadium. At one point in the first half, a Washington executive complained about speakers on the east sideline and asked that they not be pointed toward the field.
The Seahawks eventually complied with his request, and the crowd noise was essentially a non-factor in a game that included just two false-start penalties — both by the hometown team.
“You can still feel the energy,” defensive tackle Rocky Bernard said. “But teams have been doing a good job of recognizing that and preparing for what it will be like. It’s something they really work on during the week.”
The Seahawks (2-10 overall) already have more home losses this season than they did in the past three seasons combined. A loss today, and Dec. 21 home defeat against the New York Jets, would give Seattle as many home losses in 2008 as it has had in the previous five years combined (the Seahawks were 33-7 at Qwest from 2003 through 2007).
“We haven’t lost very many at home since I’ve been here,” said Bernard, who joined the team in 2002. “But we’re still working. Everyone’s still pushing hard.”
Despite the mortality the Seahawks have shown at their home stadium, there is no place they would rather be on a Sunday afternoon.
“The one thing that has made this season enjoyable is playing in front of our fans,” Bernard said. “You go out there on Sundays, and the fans are still into it. You go to a lot of other cities, people would be booing and criticizing. The fans are behind us. We still feel them.”