Seahawks fall flat in Tampa

  • Sun Oct 19th, 2008 10:58pm
  • Sports

By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer

TAMPA, Fla. — The Boston Red Sox weren’t the only team to see their season come to an end in this part of the country on Sunday night.

Across the bay from St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field, the Seattle Seahawks saw their 2008 campaign continue to spiral down the drain. The 20-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium served as another humiliating road defeat and the Seahawks’ third consecutive loss overall. And, quite possibly, it could be the proverbial nail that seals the coffin shut.

In a sense, Red Sox fans had it easy. The Seahawks (1-5) still have 10 games left, so the suffering will drag on.

“It’s mind-boggling,” offensive lineman Chris Spencer said after the team’s latest defeat. “On paper, we’re supposed to be a really good team. To be 1-5 right now, that’s hard to swallow.”

Those area sports fans who skipped the baseball game to attend Sunday night’s NFL matchup were undoubtedly kicking themselves. The game had about as many highlights as a good night’s sleep, and the Seahawks were the ones looking lost in hibernation.

Sunday’s game had all the elements of recent Seattle losses, from Kelly Jennings giving up a long touchdown to Mike Wahle getting called for a costly penalty to shoddy play at the quarterback position. The Seahawks struggled to convert third downs (2-for-10) and stop the Bucs on third down (10-for-18).

And, it was yet another subpar performance on the road.

Playing in front of a surprisingly attentive crowd — most of the area was watching Tampa Bay’s Rays hold off the Red Sox in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series — the Seahawks continued their pattern of futility.

Afterward, the words were all too familiar as well.

“We’ve got to play better football — all around,” linebacker Leroy Hill said. “It isn’t magic. It isn’t rocket science. We’ve just got to play better ball.”

“It’s nothing we could have imagined,” defensive tackle Craig Terrill added of the team’s surprising start. “It’s unchartered water for us.”

Seattle sits at 1-5 for the first time since 2002, matching the fourth-worst start in franchise history. No team over the past 22 seasons has rallied from a 1-5 record to make the playoffs, and only three have gone on to finish at or above .500.

The Seahawks sit alone in last place in the NFC West, three games behind Arizona (4-2).

The blueprint for the first six games has been all too familiar, and Sunday night was more of the same.

Jennings fell down as a Jeff Garcia pass arrived at the 5-yard line, allowing receiver Antonio Bryant to corral the ball and jog into the end zone untouched for a 7-0 lead.

While Wallace struggled — he was 4 of 10 with an interception and produced just 26 total yards in the first half — Tampa Bay (5-2) sprinted out to 17-0 halftime lead. The Seahawks finished the first half with 44 yards and one first down.

Wallace didn’t play well in his first start since 2006, but he was hardly alone in his struggles. Seattle’s run game took awhile to get going, while the defense had its share of troubles in the first half.

Even when the Seahawks seemed to get a break, their spirits got broken.

Such was the case on a 20-yard run by T.J. Duckett, which seemed to breathe a little life into the offense until it was called back because of Wahle’s holding penalty.

On the opening kickoff of the second half, the Buccaneers fumbled the ball … but recovered it.

After Maurice Morris broke off a 45-yard run midway through the third quarter, Wallace threw three consecutive bad passes before Olindo Mare missed a field goal for the first time this season.

It was that kind of day for the Seahawks.

And, of course, it’s been that kind of year.

“I know we have talent,” said Seahawks wide receiver Koren Robinson, whose Seattle teams went through similar struggles when he played with the Seahawks earlier this decade. “We’ve got more talent than we did back then. It’s frustrating when you have the pieces and you’re not getting the job done.

“Everyone’s busting their tail to get it fixed, but we just can’t get over that hump. Something has to change, and we’ve got to get it changed soon.”

The Seahawks want to turn things around before it’s too late.

Then again, that bridge might already have been crossed.