It could be worse

  • SCOTT M. JOHNSON / Herald Staff
  • Sunday, December 3, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports


Herald Staff

ATLANTA – The half-empty Georgia Dome had about half that when the third quarter began. Those still remaining in the stands used the final 30 minutes to boo the home team incessantly.

All the while, the Seattle Seahawks were enjoying their most one-sided victory of the season. They also had to have been relieved they weren’t playing for the Atlanta Falcons.

“We appreciate what we have here,” said Seahawks rookie receiver Darrell Jackson, who caught five passes for 98 yards and the game’s first touchdown. “We’ve got great team chemistry, but we just haven’t been clicking. When we click, it’s going to be over.”

Things have been bad for the Seahawks this season, there’s no doubt about that. But never this bad. The Falcons (3-11) head into their bye week with 10 losses in their last 11 games, with a world of controversy surrounding their quarterback and coach, and some inner bickering beneath the surface.

The Seahawks, on the other hand, might be the most jovial 5-8 team in the history of the NFL. After their 30-10 win over the Falcons at the Georgia Dome, the locker room was filled with joyous celebration and good-natured fun.

“Nobody’s going in the tank or anything,” defensive lineman Antonio Cochran said. “We’re staying positive.”

There was reason for optimism, especially since coach Mike Holmgren gave young players more snaps than he has in any game all season. All the while, the Seahawks breezed to their most lopsided win in 13 months.

The 20-point spread equaled the biggest in Holmgren’s 29-game tenure in Seattle, matching the difference in a 27-7 win over Green Bay in November 1999.

Seattle’s afternoon got off to quite a start on both sides of the football. First, quarterback Jon Kitna completed seven consecutive passes, including a 6-yard touchdown to Jackson, to lead the Seahawks on an eight-play, 82-yard scoring drive to open the game.

Two plays into Atlanta’s first offensive series, the Seattle lead ballooned to 14-0, thanks to George Koonce’s 27-yard interception return for a touchdown.

By the time the game was officially over, the Seahawks added a touchdown from Ricky Watters as well as a career-high three field goals from rookie Rian Lindell. Atlanta, which turned the ball over four times, did not get closer than the Seahawks’ 15 until they scored their only touchdown early in the fourth quarter. By that point, the outcome had already been decided.

“Both sides, we’re disappointed with our records, but you appeal to their professionalism and how they want to attack things in the final four games of our season,” Holmgren said, “and I was very pleased with our players’ approach. They got after it early, scored on the first drive, which kind of set the tone.”

The game was never in doubt after the early 14-0 lead, and Seattle’s advantage got as big as 27 points.

The Atlanta offense struggled in rookie Doug Johnson’s debut as a starting quarterback, but the way the game was going, former starter Chris Chandler probably wouldn’t have fared much better. The Seahawks converted three of the turnovers into points and were much more efficient than their opponents. Kitna completed 25 of 34 passes for 252 yards, while the defense matched season-lows in rushing yards (97) and points (10) allowed.

Afterward, there were nothing but smiles in the Seahawks’ locker room. Six players saw their most extensive action of the season, while a group of Seattle rookies who played college football in the deep south got to play in front of friends and fans.

Jackson, a University of Florida product, had to get 17 tickets for the game. Rookie running back Shaun Alexander, a University of Alabama rookie who played sparingly until the final minutes, had perhaps the biggest fan base even though he claimed afterward that he purchased only six tickets.

“I don’t have a posse,” Alexander said with a big smile. “I don’t need one.”

In the other locker room, where things were much more subdued, Atlanta running back Jamal Anderson was the last player in the locker room. Unlike Seattle’s players, he wasn’t talking about good chemistry or staying positive.

“I want to apologize to the people that came out and watched us play today,” said Anderson, who got knocked out of the game in the first half due to a minor knee injury. “That was embarrassing.”

” … Every time I play, there’s a certain attitude and enthusiasm. I will not let anybody make me look bad, that’s just my attitude. Unfortunately, that’s not the attitude of everyone in this locker room.”

After he finished speaking, a dejected Anderson threw a backpack over his shoulder and limped out of the locker room. His two-man posse, each wearing Anderson jerseys and helping carry his things, wasn’t far behind.

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