Notebook: Seahawks Must Regain Stride Soon

The Seahawks are limping toward the finish line and injuries aren't the only problem. Many of their best players simply aren't enjoying top-notch seasons. "I have said this since I've been in coaching and I believe it with all my heart," coach Mike Holmgren said. "In the NFL, for a team to reach its goals, their best players have to play at their best."

From Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander to Walter Jones and Lofa Tatupu, the Seahawks' Pro Bowl-caliber players aren't living up to established levels. A few guys are living up to their billing -- Julian Peterson and Josh Brown come to mind -- but it hasn't been enough to keep Seattle afloat in the face of injuries.

"The fact is, every team counts on a core group of players to play at their best," Holmgren said. "Every team - not just the Seahawks. You need that to happen to maximize your goals."

The Seahawks have lost back-to-back games for the second time this season. Their 24-14 home loss to San Francisco last Thursday affirmed growing suspicions about this team. Seattle still leads the NFC West by two games, but the 49ers aren't dead yet.

If the Seahawks lose to San Diego and Tampa Bay, the 49ers could win the division by closing with victories over Arizona and Denver. "We've gotta get our swagger back as a team," Hasselbeck said. "That doesn't come from talking about it. It comes from being confident in your assignments and being confident in what you do."

Continuity is a big part of the Seahawks' problems on offense. The team is averaging only 3.6 yards per carry on first down, off from 4.4 yards last season. Receivers, running backs and tight ends have combined to drop 38 passes in 14 games, up from 22 all last season.

Losing Hasselbeck and Alexander for long stretches also hurt continuity. Leading 2005 receiver Bobby Engram has also been out. Those players have returned recently, only to have Darrell Jackson start missing games with a turf-toe injury. Jackson was leading the NFL in touchdown receptions at the time of his injury.

"We are getting healthier, but when we get a couple guys, we lose a couple guys and with all that, it's led to an inconsistent play," Holmgren said. The team doesn't not plan to make personnel changes. That is mostly because injuries are already dictating who plays for Seattle.

"We are going to do things the way we believe they have to be done, then hopefully hit it," Holmgren said. "Hit it at the right time." That seems unlikely at this point, particularly with the Chargers coming to Qwest Field on Sunday. But with upsets becoming the norm around the league, Seattle can't be counted out just yet.

"There is still a lot of fight left on the football team," Holmgren said. "We are 8-6. We still can win the division. We are all kind of frustrated and angry to a certain extent, players and coaches, on how we've been performing.

"We're going to keep working hard to reach our first goal, which is the playoffs. It's still within our reach."

PLAYER NOTES

--K Josh Brown has not attempted a field goal over the last two games. He has been one of the Seahawks' key weapons this season, but Seattle wasn't close enough in the final minutes of its two most recent games for Brown to have a shot at another game-winner.

--WR Darrell Jackson will not play against the Chargers, coach Mike Holmgren said. Jackson has a turf-toe injury.

--C Robbie Tobeck will not play against the Chargers, coach Mike Holmgren said. Tobeck has a hip problem.

--LG Floyd Womack could return against the Chargers. He missed the San Francisco game with a groin injury.

--DE Joe Tafoya returned from a calf injury to play against the 49ers. He should be available again this week. At his best, Tafoya is a strong special-teams player.

--WR Nate Burleson will continue to return kicks and punts even though his role in the offense has increased. Burleson is getting more reps because Darrell Jackson is out with a turf-toe injury.

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