I missed my daughter’s soccer game for this? Seahawks look awful

  • Larry Henry / Sports Columnist
  • Sunday, September 23, 2001 9:00pm
  • Sports

SEATTLE – If I were to write only about what the Seahawks did well Sunday, this would be the shortest column in the history of newspapering.

Come to think of it, that’s not a bad idea. The defense did a decent job.

There you have it.

That’s it? you ask. That’s the only good thing to come out of the 27-3 throttling by the Philadelphia Eagles?

No, the only really good thing to come out of it is that it’s over and done with. It’s better just to forget the whole thing.

And to think, I missed my daughter’s first soccer match for this abysmal display of football. I trust her team scored more goals than the Seahawks did points.

You want more? You must have a masochistic streak.

OK, let’s talk about the offense. What offense? you ask.

Good point. It has yet to score a touchdown in eight quarters.

It’s the quarterback’s fault. That’s always the case, isn’t it? He takes the snaps, runs the ball, throws the passes, does the blocking and the pass-catching.

Blame it all on Matt Hasselbeck.

The guy’s a bum. Or so you would have thought.

Dil-fer. Dil-fer. Dilfer.

That’s what many of the fans were chanting in the third quarter with the Hawks trailing 17-3 and nothing much going right.

Hasselbeck’s second game as a starter in the NFL and already they want him benched for Trent Dilfer.

Coach Mike Holmgren heard the critics’ chorus. And paid it no heed. “I will be the only one that ever makes that decision,” he said, “certainly not the crowd.”

Actually, the booing started in the first half. Whether it was meant for Hasselbeck or the offense in general is anyone’s guess.

It seemed like old times, though. If you’d closed your eyes and let your imagination run wild, it could have been any one of a long line of Seahawk quarterbacks getting the business. Dave Krieg. Kelly Stouffer. Dan McGwire. Rick Mirer. Jon Kitna.

They all went through it. And now it’s Matt Hasselbeck’s turn.

Hasselbeck is Holmgren’s boy. He brought him in here and signed him to a nice contract. He thinks he has what it takes to be a big-time quarterback. And he’s not about to pull him after two games.

Would you? Don’t answer that.

Hasselbeck wasn’t very good Sunday. But neither was anyone else on offense.

That’s not true. Ricky Watters ran decently (81 yards on 17 carries). And he didn’t do that all on his own. So he got a block or two.

What Hasselbeck didn’t receive was much protection. The Eagles threw everything but the Liberty Bell at him. They came at him with blitzes. They came at him when there were breakdowns in the blocking. They came and they worked him over thoroughly, sacking him seven times. And he kept getting up. Which perhaps says something about his toughness.

His passing numbers were awful. Nine completions on 24 attempts for 62 yards. To give some perspective, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb completed seven passes for 61 yards during one drive in the fourth quarter.

Hasselbeck didn’t always throw catchable balls. And sometimes when he did, they were dropped.

Nobody had to tell him he didn’t play well. Most quarterbacks are their own toughest critics. Hasselbeck is apparently one who can look in the mirror and say, “you stunk big boy.”

It was a team effort.

“The passing game today hit rock bottom,” Holmgren said, hardly understating the performance. “The silver lining is that we have only one way to go. We will improve.”

It won’t take much to do that.

Is Hasselbeck up to the challenge? The coach, of course, thinks so. “Our quarterback had a poor day today,” he said. “He is going to be better next week. It is not time to panic. It is time to get better. Understand and try to identify some of the problems and fix them to the best of your ability.”

One problem the Hawks are sure to keep encountering: the blitz.

From where I sat, it seemed as if Hasselbeck had people chasing him in the backfield all afternoon. Some of that was due simply to breakdowns in the blocking. Sometimes he did the smart thing and threw the ball away. Sometimes he didn’t have a chance to throw and ended up getting sacked.

“It is kind of sickening,” he said.

That’s the Eagles style, to send people crashing through the line. The Seahawks knew it. They just didn’t handle it.

They’d better get used to it.

And Matt Hasselbeck had better get used to the critics.

He’ll have other days like this and the chorus will demand his ouster again. It goes with the job.

As his coach told him, the backup quarterback is the most popular guy on the team. And Matt Hasselbeck is no longer the backup quarterback.

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