Skies darken above Hawks headquarters

  • By Scott M. Johnson / Herald Writer
  • Monday, November 15, 2004 9:00pm
  • Sports

KIRKLAND – The gloom of another Seattle fall day painted the perfect backdrop for the glum feeling of another Seahawks post-mortem Monday.

The day after the Seahawks dropped an important 23-12 game to the NFC West rival St. Louis Rams, Seattle was dealt a couple more doses of bad news.

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was hobbling around the team’s complex with a sore right knee, and wide receiver Koren Robinson is awaiting word on a possible four-game suspension that could begin as soon as this Sunday.

Hasselbeck’s swollen right knee will likely cost him practice time this week, but coach Mike Holmgren is holding out hope that he’ll be available against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Asked whether Hasselbeck is in danger of missing Sunday’s game, Holmgren said: “I wouldn’t think so, but he’s not going to be moving very well.”

Robinson is still waiting to hear from the league office on his fate. While the team had no official statement regarding Robinson’s situation, he was not at the practice facility Monday.

ESPN.com reported on Monday afternoon that Robinson will have his case heard today, with a decision from the NFL possibly due later in the day. He is appealing a possible suspension for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse and personal conduct.

If Robinson were to be suspended this week, Jerry Rice would be the most likely replacement in the starting lineup because the coaches like Bobby Engram in the slot position.

Hasselbeck’s situation is also unclear, although he hopes to play Sunday. He banged his right knee against that of teammate Shaun Alexander on the opening offensive play of Sunday’s 23-12 loss to St. Louis and hobbled around at times throughout the afternoon.

Although he stayed in the game, Hasselbeck saw his knee worsen overnight.

“I am going to work hard this week and try to get better and hopefully be ready to go,” he said while wearing a wrap on his right knee Monday.

Even with Hasselbeck and Robinson on the field in Sunday’s loss to the Rams, Seattle’s offense failed to get in the end zone. While the team still is in a decent position to win the NFC West, the disappointing feat has fans and media in a state of near panic.

Just how bad have things gotten?

One St. Louis columnist called the Seahawks the “phony-baloney pretenders from Seattle.” Another wondered in print why Holmgren was still employed.

And that’s not even including the local fallout, which has been fierce and widespread.

While Holmgren himself was visibly upset Monday with his team’s performance the previous day, he restrained himself from following the herds of Chicken Littles that think the end is near.

“I’m very, very upset,” Holmgren said during his Monday press conference. “The importance of that game, and how we played in the game, it really upsets me a lot. We had good practices, (and) I didn’t understand why we had to function that way when we got into the actual game.

“I’ve said that, now the fact is that we have seven games left – five games at home. There are a whole bunch of teams (five in the NFC) clustered at 5-4. This thing is far from over.”

Despite the optimism, Holmgren showed some bite during his weekly Monday press conference. He was particularly bothered by a question about the Rams being more prepared for Sunday’s game due to an intense, mid-week practice in pads after a blowup by head coach Mike Martz.

“So, I should do that and we should win?” Holmgren asked rhetorically. “I can do that, too, you know. No. That had nothing to do with anything.”

One possible solution would be to make lineup changes, but Holmgren said he doesn’t expect to do that.

“I’m certainly not going to come in here and say, ‘OK, I’m benching my starters, and we’re going to play the other guys,’” he said. “I would never do that. And if you ever do make a change at a position, you better make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and not some emotional haywire thing.”

Now in a first-place tie with the Rams, and technically a game back because St. Louis holds the tie-breaker, Seattle isn’t giving up despite the disappointing loss.

“We’ve got a lot of great talent on this team and a lot of pride,” cornerback Marcus Trufant said. “We’re going to go out there every Sunday and fight. We don’t want people to say it’s the same old Seahawks, whatever that means. We just want to go out and try to win ball games.”

One thing that seems to be missing from the days of Seattle’s 3-0 start is the swagger that the Seahawks carried onto the field. They’ve been playing on their heels too often in recent weeks, even in close wins over San Francisco and Carolina prior to the loss at St. Louis.

“Sometimes we come out, and it seems like we do (have swagger), and other times we come out and it seems like we don’t have that same swagger,” free safety Terreal Bierria said. “But I think there’s going to be a conscious effort to get it back.”

With the news continuing to get worse, the Seahawks are finding it harder and harder to get that swagger back.

“Hopefully everybody still has the confidence that we can still accomplish all of our goals this season,” fullback Mack Strong said. “I don’t think there’s a guy on this team that doesn’t believe that. We’ve had some setbacks, we’ve lost some tough ball games, and hopefully those can be turning points and learning opportunities for us.”

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