Two teams of West woe

  • SCOTT M. JOHNSON / Herald Writer
  • Saturday, November 4, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

By SCOTT M. JOHNSON

Herald Writer

SEATTLE – More than 50,000 motorists are expected to slow down and take a peek at the car crash going on at Husky Stadium this afternoon, further proof that even the most gruesome displays can draw a crowd.

When the Seattle Seahawks (2-7) and San Diego Chargers (0-8) square off, the only thing at stake is a one-week reprieve from yearlong embarrassment. This game is the NFL equivalent of the Clippers vs. the Mavericks. It’s like a boxing match between Dennis Miller and Howard Cosell.

“We’re struggling, they’re struggling,” Seahawks wide receiver Sean Dawkins said. “They’re trying to find their first win, and we’re trying to find a win we haven’t had in a long time.

“It’s definitely a motivation to play real good ball and not be the first team to give them a win. I feel sorry for them because I’ve been through something like that. I know what it feels like. But I don’t want to give them their first win.”

For San Diego, the pressure is mounting. After this game, the Chargers face Miami and Kansas City on the road, with a game at Denver in between. There is the very real possibility that San Diego could go 0-12 if it doesn’t win today.

“Any week would be a good one to get a win,” San Diego quarterback Jim Harbaugh said. “We know (the Seahawks) are capable of beating us because they’ve already beat us.” Harbaugh paused and chuckled before adding, “We’re not taking anybody lightly.”

With a five-game losing streak of their own, the Seahawks also promise not to look past the struggling Chargers.

“It’s not like we’re 9-0 playing an 0-8 team,” Seattle offensive lineman Pete Kendall said. “We can’t afford to put any extra pressure on ourselves.”

Surprisingly, a game between two teams struggling this badly hasn’t been played in Seattle for a while. Five years ago today, the 2-6 Seahawks and 3-5 New York Giants faced off in a battle of sinking teams that appeared to be destined to finish in their respective cellars. Seattle won that game 30-28 and went on to go 6-2 over the second half of the year.

Defensive end Michael Sinclair, one of only five current Seahawks who were on that ‘95 team, can look back on that season for motivation. While some outsiders have questioned whether Seattle veterans are playing out the string, he hasn’t given up on 2000.

“I don’t think anybody’s throwing in the towel or waving the white flag,” Sinclair said. “That ‘Let’s just play for pride,’ I never could understand that. That’s high school; Pop Warner. Play for pride?”

For further inspiration, some Seahawks are looking back no further than 1999.

“It reminds me of last season when the Jets were down,” Dawkins said, referring to a 1-6 start by New York before finishing with an 8-8 record. “They were winning, then Vinny (Testaverde) went down. (Ray) Lucas came in and then the last six games they just won. It’s good morale going into the next year. I want to try to do something like that.”

Getting a victory today isn’t as easy as it might sound, and not just because the Seahawks have played so poorly themselves. For all of the Chargers’ offensive problems, San Diego still boasts one of the league’s best defenses – especially against the run.

That means Seattle’s defense will need to play like it did in an earlier meeting this season, when the Chargers were held to four field goals in a 20-12 Seahawks victory.

“They’re not a team that’s going to give up 14, 17 points,” Kendall said. “You’ve got to go in there thinking that if you get 20 like we did last time, you’re going to feel good about that. They’ve got a tough defense.”

The Chargers don’t always play like an 0-8 team. And a few breaks have also kept the Seahawks from being a .500 team. But this afternoon, the two wounded teams will try to put one another out of their misery.

“There’s just that extra oomph that we’re not giving to get over the hump and win the game,” Dawkins said. “We’re not two bad teams, I don’t think. We don’t have that tradition of Cincinnati or something like that. It’s just a down year.”

Or two down years. The kind that might make some motorists cringe.

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