By SCOTT M. JOHNSON
OAKLAND, Calif. – If the finger-pointing begins, they won’t be cast in Ricky Watters’ direction.
While the Seattle Seahawks dropped their fourth consecutive game Sunday, Watters was the offense’s lone bright spot. The veteran running back ran for 95 yards on 17 carries, which doesn’t include a 70-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second half that was wiped out by a holding call.
“That’s kind of what happens when you’re not playing up to your standards,” coach Mike Holmgren said. “We finally get one, then there’s a penalty. That was too bad. It would have given us a little boost, I think. Whether we could have capitalized on it later remains to be seen. Right now, the way we’re executing, those things happen to you. It’s our own fault.”
Watters’ solid play on a struggling offense is nothing new. It marked the third time in four games when he has averaged more than five yards per carry. The problem is, Seattle has been behind too often this season and can’t get him enough carries. Nonetheless, he has accounted for more than one-third of Seattle’s offensive production this season and is among the AFC’s leading runners with 569 rushing yards.
Watters had several dazzling runs Sunday and added two 28-yard pass receptions out of the backfield.
Having already lost starter Brock Huard, Holmgren opted to let Kitna play despite his concussion. Had Holmgren turned to “emergency” quarterback Matt Lytle, he could not have gone back to Kitna – by NFL rule. Teams are required to select two eligible quarterbacks and give a third the “emergency” designation, which means he can come into the game only after injuries to the first two and must stay on the field for the remainder of the contest.
“I thought about Lytle, but if I put him in in the third quarter, that was it,” said Holmgren, who eventually made the move in the final minute of the game. “We were running the ball OK, and I thought we could get away with that. Obviously, I was wrong.”
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