Saturday, January 8, 2005
Dropped balls, flags hurt Seahawks
By John Clayton
SEATTLE -- The subject of dropped passes naturally filtered into the locker room following the Seahawks' 27-20 playoff loss to the Rams.
By media estimates, the Seahawks dropped five passes Saturday. Darrell Jackson had a ball slip from his hands in the first quarter into those of Rams cornerback Travis Fisher. Trying to tie the score in the final two minutes, Jackson, who led the Seahawks with 12 catches for 128 yards, let one slip through his hands. And on the Seahawks' final play, a fourth-and-goal from the Rams 4-yard line, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck bought enough time with his feet to fire a low pass to usually sure-handed third receiver Bobby Engram.
The ball went off his hands.
A year ago, the Seahawks were the No. 2 team in the NFL with dropped passes. According to Stats. Inc., the Seahawks were tied for second with 38 this year. For the past few years, Jackson and Koren Robinson have been the top droppers in football despite their productiveness, and Jackson finished this season tied for second with 11. Robinson was next with 10, and that's despite being suspended for four games and being deactivated in others for violations of team rules.
"My mom told me not to talk to you'all," Jackson said in describing a one-week period in which he didn't talk to Seattle reporters. "Everybody has been criticizing us for dropping ball. We're receivers. We are going to drop balls here and there. Dropped balls haven't caused us to lose games."
The spin Jackson put on Engram's missed reception in the end zone that sealed the Rams victory was that it would have been a great catch if he made it.
"I don't know. I was trying to get my hands down there and give myself the opportunity," Engram said. "Everything happened pretty fast. If I had to do it over again, I would try and find a way to catch it."
Mistakes killed the Seahawks. Their defense was flagged five times for illegal contact plays involving Rams receivers. Robinson made some important catches, but twice the ball came out of his hands for fumbles though there was no lost possession. And then there were the dropped passes.
"In a sense it does symbolize the season," Engram said. "That's a pretty good analogy. It's been a battle all year and the guys on this team have been great. It's just been a crazy year, a lot of ups and downs. We just have to find a way to win games like this. I think that is part of us continuing to mature and finding a way to win big games."
Now, an offseason of uncertainty begins. Will coach Mike Holmgren be back for his final two years after failing to win a playoff game in three tries in six years? The Seahawks have nine starters unsigned, including quarterback Hasselbeck, halfback Shaun Alexander, left tackle Walter Jones, cornerback Ken Lucas and others.
"I just talked to Paul Allen and Bob Whitsitt earlier, and said I probably was going to cry for three days, and then I'm going to sit down and pray for answers," Alexander said. "I think the Lord is going to tell me where to go and then, whatever he says, they will give me the deal that I am supposed to get."
For the Seahawks, it was the season that just slipped away.
|2004 SEASON STATISTICS|
John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.