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Seahawks appear halfway to 4-12

11/2/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

SEATTLE -- No one could have forecast Seneca Wallace and Koren Robinson combining for the longest play from scrimmage in Seattle Seahawks history.

Their shocking 90-yard touchdown on Seattle's first offensive play Sunday made Wallace-to-Robinson the answer to a Seahawks trivia question.

The answers to more meaningful questions remain far more predictable for Seattle.

The Seahawks' 26-7 loss at home to the Philadelphia Eagles dropped their record to 2-6, but this feels more like halfway to 4-12.

"They're trying hard," coach Mike Holmgren said. "It breaks my heart."

The glass isn't half full or half empty in Seattle. It's lying on the ground in pieces.

Injuries prevented prominent starters Matt Hasselbeck, Nate Burleson, Deion Branch, Leonard Weaver, Lofa Tatupu and Patrick Kerney from playing for Seattle.

Of those, only Weaver, the fullback, and possibly Kerney, the Pro Bowl defensive end, appear likely to return this season and contribute near full capacity.

Bouncing back from 2-6 would be difficult even if Holmgren could somehow heal his injured charges. Recent history says this team is doomed.

Thirty teams started with 2-6 records from 2001 through last season. Twenty-five of them finished 6-10 or worse. Three made it to 7-9. Two made it to 8-8.

Ten of the 30 finished 4-12.

The Seahawks face a 10 a.m. PT start at Miami in Week 10. They return home to face the 5-3 Arizona Cardinals and 6-2 Washington Redskins, followed by a road trip to Dallas and a home game against New England.

Two and 11 is more likely than the Seahawks would ever admit.

None of them ever could have imagined this.

"Never in my wildest dreams," Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Trufant said. "For the six years I've been here, it's been nothing but great feelings around here. We've been winning a lot of games.

"This is different to a lot of guys on this team. We're just trying to figure this thing out."

A look at 10 signs pointing against a Seahawks comeback in 2008:

1. Even the positive developments recall negative ones.

Wallace's deep strike to Robinson comes to mind.

Injuries to six receivers and the starting quarterback made the play possible.

Robinson wasn't even in the league when Seattle called him for a tryout in September. Wallace, slowed by a calf injury much of the season, hadn't started a game since 2006. He completed only 13-of-29 passes. Poor protection and dropped passes compounded poor decision making from the 28-year-old backup.

2. An injured fullback is the Seahawks' most prolific receiver.

Eight games into the season, the starting fullback has more receiving yards in a game than any Seahawks receiver or tight end.

Fittingly, a foot injury sidelined Weaver one week after he caught four passes for 116 yards against the San Francisco 49ers.

That an injury would fell Weaver seemed about right for Seattle during this star-crossed season. The Seahawks made Weaver active for the game in part because teammates with more severe injuries filled five of the spots reserved for inactive players.

The top three Seattle wide receivers entering the season -- Deion Branch, Nate Burleson and Bobby Engram -- have combined for 220 receiving yards this season.

Fifteen players have caught passes for Seattle this season. Five of them aren't on the 53-man roster. Three more did not play against the Eagles.

3. One dropped pass can derail the offense.

Seahawks tight end John Carlson remains on pace to challenge a franchise record for receptions by a tight end, but he dropped a key third-down pass to kill a promising first-half drive after 12 plays.

The Seahawks aren't good enough to survive such basic mistakes. Every third-down conversion is precious. Every dropped pass threatens to send the offense into a spiral from which it cannot recover.

Carlson had two touchdown receptions in his three most recent games before Sunday. His overall production has slipped from 56 yards per game over the first three games to 19 yards per game over the subsequent four.

Carlson still leads Seattle in receptions with 22 and receiving yardage with 244. Bobby Engram leads Seattle's wide receivers with 15 receptions this season, three fewer than Denver's Brandon Marshall managed in the season opener.

4. The defense can't stop an unknown tight end.

Eagles tight end Brent Celek entered Week 9 with eight receptions for 83 yards this season. He had 24 receptions for 261 yards during his two-year NFL career.

The Seahawks made him look like Tony Gonzalez.

Celek caught six passes for 131 yards, breaking Keith Jackson's single-game team record for receiving yards by a tight end, set against the Washington Redskins on Sept. 17, 1989.

Poorly executed blitzes put pressure on Seattle's safeties in coverage. The Seahawks also suffered from miscommunication errors that gave Celek a free pass off the line of scrimmage, linebacker Julian Peterson said.

5. Recent first-round draft choices aren't producing.

The Seahawks' last four first-round draft choices aren't playing anywhere near an elite level.

Lawrence Jackson (2008), Kelly Jennings (2006), Chris Spencer (2005) and Marcus Tubbs (2004) are either struggling, inconsistent, periodically vulnerable or out of the league.

Even Trufant (2003) missed a tackle on an Eagles touchdown.

The Seahawks arguably got more from Robinson against the Eagles than from any of their other 10 most recent first-round choices.

The team used its 2007 first-round choice to trade for Branch, who has more games missed (12) than touchdown receptions (four) since the start of last season.

6. Even the running game is struggling.

Maurice Morris popped a 28-yard run from a passing formation. He gained 15 yards on his remaining seven carries. Julius Jones gained 26 of his 41 yards on two meaningless carries in the final five minutes.

Seattle's attempts to overhaul its running game during the offseason paid off for a while, but not so much now that opponents don't have to worry about a consistent passing game.

7. The simple things appear complicated.

The Seahawks had problems trying to substitute on special teams.

Their offensive linemen jumped early when Wallace fouled up a protection call.

Wallace spiked the ball to stop the clock on a third-and-8 play at the Seattle 45 with 14 seconds left in the first half. The plan had been to spike the ball only if the previous play gained a first down. The Seahawks had to punt.

And when Seattle lined up to go for it on fourth-and-10 midway through the fourth quarter, a false-start penalty persuaded them to punt.

"There were a couple of times where we looked sloppy and that, I can't tolerate," Holmgren said.

8. Holmgren can't even get the injury situation right.

The coach thought Tatupu would play Sunday. He expected Hasselbeck to return a week or two ago. Now he isn't sure what to expect.

"I really try to be honest with you guys about injuries and what is happening, but it must appear to you like I am crazy, because I think guys are going to play, and then they can't play," Holmgren said.

9. Opposing offensive linemen are scoring touchdowns.

Eagles guard Todd Herremans caught a touchdown pass.

That gives him one more than Engram, who led Seattle in receptions last season with 94.

No Seattle wide receiver has more than one touchdown this season. Carlson and Weaver have two apiece.

10. Holmgren is already searching for perspective.

The Seahawks are three games behind Arizona in the NFC West race with eight games to play, including two games against the Cardinals. But their mathematical chances appear better than their realistic ones.

"We have half the season left and I assured them that I will be here for them to do what I can do until the last play of the last game this year," Holmgren said. "I asked everyone to go along with me on that.

"The players and coaches, they are a good group of fellows, they really are, and hopefully we get some of the injured guys back and have a little more fun than we have had so far."