The Seattle Seahawks thought they were going to be battling the Green Bay Packers for the second seed in the NFC in the final weeks of the season. Instead, after unexpectedly losing to Carolina on Sunday, they will be fighting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to maintain the third spot and the right to host the sixth seed.
The Seahawks currently have
the same record (9-5) as Tampa Bay, but because the Seahawks defeated the Buccaneers
in the first week of the season, they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. If the
Seahawks win their two remaining games, against Baltimore and at Atlanta, they
won't have to worry about what Tampa Bay does in its final two games.
More than that, though, the Seahawks need to address issues in their running game
that have plagued them all season.
Against Carolina on Sunday, in a windy game in which some semblance of the threat
of a run could have helped tremendously, the Seahawks gained only 44 yards on
14 carries -- 11 of which came on a scramble by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck --
and forced coach Mike Holmgren to go with Hasselbeck through the air because the
offensive line made mistake after mistake.
"We've had trouble all season," Holmgren said. "We're going to
keep trying, but to think that we are going to all of a sudden become this power
running team is a little foolish."
Running back Shaun Alexander says he doesn't think so. "We have work to do,"
Alexander said. "I think this loss is actually good for us because we have
to get things fixed. We have all been saying it but when you lose it kind of brings
more attention to it."
Of course, the Seahawks have been saying similar things all season, and they have
yet to fix the glaring problems. Most notably, left guard Rob Sims regularly gets
beat, particularly in short-yardage situations and on third downs. Fifteen-year
veteran Chris Gray also regularly gets bull-rushed and beaten.
So why does Alexander think that now, with only two games left in the regular
season, that things are going to dramatically change from what they have been
"We do have a veteran team," Alexander said. "We all just have
to decide what to do and then do it. That is the good thing about losses, it kind
of wakes everybody up."
Hasselbeck said that the team's mistakes are fixable, if only the team chooses
to focus on its problems in the final minutes rather than wait for the playoffs
to start in a few weeks. "The mistakes we're making are simple mistakes,"
Hasselbeck said. "We were talking about their blitz. (Carolina) was bringing
four guys or five guys and some teams don't even call that a blitz, which we have
to handle better. When there are plays to be made we have to play better. It's
a group thing. Every guy's got to look at themselves and ask what they could have
"At this point, our seed is still unchanged but we've got to get our act
together if we want to achieve our next goal. We're not in this to go part of
the way there, we're in it to go all the way there."
--WR Bobby Engram, in his 12th season, achieved his first 1,000-yard season
of his career, catching nine passes for 84 yards. He needs only three receptions
to tie his career high of 88 catches.
--DE Patrick Kerney, who was leading the league with 13.5 sacks, was held without
a sack or a quarterback hurry against Carolina. He was double-teamed for much
of the day.
--New LS Jeff Robinson did a fine job in windy conditions, the first time in
two months the team's snapping has not been an issue.
--QB Matt Hasselbeck was sacked three times by the team with the lowest sack
total in the NFL.
--S Brian Russell was a game-time decision because of an injured abdomen but
played and had five tackles.