The defense rests

  • SCOTT M. JOHNSON / Herald Writer
  • Sunday, October 15, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

By SCOTT M. JOHNSON

Herald Writer

SEATTLE – The second start of Brock Huard’s career was quite a sight to see, at least for those in the less-than capacity crowd at Husky Stadium. Now if only he could play defense.

Huard’s regular-season NFL debut at his college home went better than expected, and the second-year quarterback kept the Seattle Seahawks on pace with the Indianapolis Colts for 30 minutes. But a costly turnover and the Colts’ high-powered offense proved too much in a 37-24 Seahawks loss Sunday.

Huard completed 19 of 26 passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns in only his second game as a starting quarterback, but left the game late in the fourth quarter because of an injured right knee. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI last night or this morning to see if he will be available for this Sunday’s game at Oakland.

While Huard shined, the defense allowed a season-high 499 yards – including Edgerrin James’ club-record 219 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries. Peyton Manning threw for 281 yards to overshadow Huard’s performance. The Colts (4-2) were so dominant offensively that they didn’t have to punt until there were just over three minutes remaining.

Now Seattle (2-5) finds itself in the midst of a three-game losing streak and falling faster every week.

“We’re definitely not quitting out there,” linebacker Chad Brown said. “There is way too much football to be played. But things have not been going right, especially defensively. Offensively we scored enough points to win, but we need to do our part.”

On a day when the most obvious cheers came for Mariners’ updates on the scoreboard, the Seahawks’ offense stayed with the Colts for the entire first half. Huard completed 11 of his 13 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, and a 51-yard field goal by Rian Lindell as time expired pulled Seattle to within three points at 20-17.

The momentum that had been building hit a peak when kick returner Charlie Rogers took the opening kickoff of the second half 81 yards before getting pushed out of bounds at the Indianapolis 21. Just as quickly, the game shifted back to the Colts’ favor when Seattle running back Ricky Watters fumbled the football away on the next play.

“We were really feeling good right then,” Huard said of Rogers’ return. “Unfortunately, they got the ball right back, but that’s football. That’s the ebb and flow of the game.”

The Colts went 76 yards in 11 plays before Manning’s 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ken Dilger gave the Colts a comfortable 27-17 lead. Indianapolis went on to score 10 more points before Huard hit Karsten Bailey with 5:12 to go to stop the bleeding.

Trailing by 13 points, the Seahawks looked as if they might stage an improbable comeback when Fabien Bownes caught an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but two plays later Huard threw his first career interception to Chad Cota.

The onside kick served as a symbol for the Seahawks, who never had a chance against Indianapolis’ three-headed offense of James, Manning and Marvin Harrison (seven receptions, 134 yards).

“We could not get off the field,” coach Mike Holmgren said of his defense. “They just kept getting first downs. That’s why I went for the onside kick with 5 1/2 (minutes) to go. I didn’t think we could stop them.”

The Colts scored on seven consecutive possessions before Seattle’s defense forced a punt with 3:03 remaining in the game. Jon Kitna, who had earlier completed two passes in relief of a hobbled Huard, took over for good because the starter hurt his knee on the touchdown pass to Bailey. Like Huard, Kitna had impressive numbers (5-for-6, 57 yards), but couldn’t bail out the defense.

Seattle lost the time-of-possession battle by a margin of 36:09-23:51 and allowed Indianapolis to convert six of 11 third downs.

“We have to get off the field, especially after third downs,” strong safety Kerry Joseph said. “We need to get our offense the ball, so they can get in a rhythm.”

In what the Seahawks hope was a precursor of things to come, Huard got in a rhythm early on. It just wasn’t enough.

“We’re reeling as a team right now, and the worst thing is to fall apart,” Huard said. “That didn’t happen today. The guys were encouraging each other and pushing each other. We didn’t get down.”

As he has said on numerous occasions during a tough early season, Holmgren isn’t giving up on this team, either.

“The important thing is that the guys continue to believe in themselves, believe in what they’re doing and understand what we’re doing, and keep playing hard,” Holmgren said. “I suspect they will. They’re a pretty high-character group, and there’s no quit in those guys.

“Does it get any easier? No. Everyone’s a tough game for us.”

And it’s getting tougher to win every week.

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