Raiders splash Watters

  • Scott M. Johnson / Herald Writer
  • Sunday, September 30, 2001 9:00pm
  • Sports

By Scott M. Johnson

Herald Writer

OAKLAND, Calif. – Through all the tribulations that have been the Seahawks offense, running back Ricky Watters has been the rock of the unit. So suffice to say, a shoulder injury that knocked Watters out during the first quarter of Sunday’s game felt kind of like an avalanche.

Watters’ injury marked the beginning of the end for the Seahawks on Sunday, and now his streak of 115 consecutive games – the longest current streak among current NFL running backs and the second-longest all-time – is in jeopardy.

“To this point, he’s been our No. 1 offensive player,” coach Mike Holmgren said. “Shaun (Alexander) came in there and did OK. But you lose your No. 1 player, it has an effect.”

Alexander, the Seahawks’ top draft pick from 2000, saw the most extensive playing time of his career in Watters’ absence. He led the Seahawks with seven receptions and scored on a 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, but didn’t make anyone forget about Watters.

Alexander fumbled on his second carry of the day, and Oakland’s Eric Allen scooped up the ball and ran 26 yards for a touchdown. He finished the day with 18 rushing yards on 10 carries.

“There’s no excuses,” Alexander said. “Everybody’s a professional out there. You’ve got a job to do, and you just go out and do it.”

The fumble was Alexander’s first this season, but he’s only carried the ball 17 times.

“Fumbling is a part of the game,” Alexander said. “You never want to do it, and you try not to do it a lot. But when you do it, you’ve got to get back up and help your team. If you get knocked around, you’ve got to keep on getting back up. That’s just a part of the game.”

Alexander’s season statistics hardly look like those of a No. 1 draft pick. He’s now carried the ball 17 times for 27 yards, an average of 1.6 yards per carry.

Needless to say, the offense needs Watters. Holmgren described his injury as a bruise, but his status for Sunday’s home game against Jacksonville is still to be determined.

Crumbling wall: The Seahawks offensive line continues to struggle, no matter what defenses throw at them.

Last week against Philadelphia, the Eagles confused Seattle with their blitz package. On Sunday, Oakland didn’t blitz nearly as often, but got to Seahawks quarterbacks four times on blitzes.

“They threw a lot of guys in there and gave us different looks,” rookie guard Steve Hutchinson said. “We had them accounted for most of the time, but we just have to be more firm.”

Seattle has allowed 19 sacks in the past three games, which has been a major reason for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck’s struggles.

“Everyone’s (blaming the offensive woes) on Hasselbeck, but the guy can’t even drop back,” center Robbie Tobeck said. “He’s getting hit every time. It’s me or it’s another guy or it’s another guy. We take turns being bad. It’s just not acceptable.”

Quarterback Brock Huard, who came on in the fourth quarter because of injuries to Seattle’s top two quarterbacks, stuck up for the offensive line.

“It’s a tough position to be in when the defense knows you’re throwing it every down,” Huard said. “They’re trying their darnedest to block their tails off, and then a couple of them were getting IV’s (due to the heat).”

Dating back to the final game of last season, the Seahawks have allowed 24 sacks in their past four games. This season, the Seahawks are on pace to give up 101 sacks, which would shatter the team record of 67.

Could have used him: Jerry Rice, whom the Seahawks courted as a free agent this offseason, showed why he was so coveted at the age of 38.

Rice caught five passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns – all in the first half. His TDs, from 33 and 14 yards out, were the first and second of Rice’s short career in an Oakland uniform.

“I now feel part of the Raider Nation,” Rice said. “It felt good to go out there and put points on the board.”

Part of the reason for Rice’s success was the play of rookie cornerback Ken Lucas, who seems to have gotten worse in each game this season.

“My job was to stop him, and I didn’t do a good job today,” Lucas said. “It’s a learning experience.”

Lucas may get bumped out of the starting lineup this week, at least if Shawn Springs returns from a hamstring injury that has been lingering for almost two months.

Robinson shines: Granted, most of the catches and yardage came during mop-up duty, but Seahawks rookie Koren Robinson had the first productive game of his NFL career Sunday.

Robinson caught five passes for 78 yards, including two first-down conversions in the second half.

Quick slants: Raiders defensive end Trace Armstrong, who had 5.5 sacks in his last two meetings with Seattle, did not make a single tackle. He left the game in the second half with an injured Achilles tendon. … Oakland running back Tyrone Wheatley had the two best games of his career against Seattle last season, but he was held to 31 yards on eight carries Sunday. … Seattle’s inactives were cornerback Shawn Springs, cornerback Harold Blackmon, linebacker Orlando Huff, tight end Russell Stewart, wide receiver James Williams, and offensive linemen Dennis Norman and Pork Chop Womack.

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