Seahawks Look Forward as Odd Season Ends

Seahawks Look Forward as Odd Season Ends

The Seattle Seahawks pieced together one of their most unusual seasons under coach Mike Holmgren, little of what they had planned coming to fruition, including their season-ending 42-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field.

The erratic Seahawks won their fourth consecutive NFC West division title with a 10-6 record, but lost easily winnable games to Arizona, Cleveland, Carolina and Atlanta that could have made their season special while giving them another home game in the playoffs.

They advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the third consecutive season, but they were not able to get to the Super Bowl, as they did two years ago, perhaps a sign that the window is closing on this core group of players.

They were excellent at home (7-1), which has become an established rite, but they again struggled badly on the road (3-5, 3-6 including the playoff loss), a consistent trait of Holmgren-coached Seahawks teams, particularly on trips to the East Coast.

And so they once again are left with a vacant feeling, wondering why exactly they can't rekindle that formula that allowed them to become an elite-level team.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Two things were the primary reasons for the Seahawks' success this season: Their revamped defense and their passing game. The Seahawks added free agents Patrick Kerney, Deon Grant and Brian Russell last offseason, and those acquisitions helped make the Seahawks one of the best defensive units in the league, holding opponents to just 18.2 points a game.

Kerney was the runner-up to Bob Sanders as the defensive player of the year, orchestrating 14.5 sacks, one shy of the league high. He also had five forced fumbles.

Grant and Russell joined first-time Pro Bowler Marcus Trufant (seven interceptions) in a secondary that rarely was beat by the deep pass, an Achilles' heel of recent Seahawks' secondaries, and linebackers Julian Peterson and Lofa Tatupu headed a stout defense against the run, and Tatupu was named All-Pro for the first time.

Meanwhile, the passing game became the featured part of the offense in the ninth game of the season, which enabled the Seahawks to reel off five consecutive wins, enough to win the division title. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck showed he was in his prime, earning his third Pro Bowl appearance and his second-highest passer rating while regularly finding veteran Bobby Engram, who led the team in receiving.

WHAT WENT WRONG: The team's offensive line never properly jelled, leaving the Seahawks with an unimposing running game -- the reason Holmgren switched philosophies midway through the season. The Seahawks have an odd mix of too-old and too-young along their line, left guard Rob Sims and center Chris Spencer often missing assignments because of inexperience, right guard Chris Gray physically overmatched because of his age.

Meanwhile, running back Shaun Alexander, the 2005 MVP, took a precipitous drop in his production, many observers saying Alexander lost a step or two.

Alexander declares that a cracked bone in his left wrist and a sprained left knee are the sole reasons for his rapid decline. But whatever the case, Alexander suffered the worst season of his career as a full-time starter, averaging less than four yards a carry for the second straight year.

Without a productive running game, the Seahawks became inconsistent, dropping games to teams with losing records using backup quarterbacks.

PLAYER NOTES

--WR Deion Branch on Saturday suffered what coach Mike Holmgren said is likely a serious knee injury. Branch will get an MRI, the results of which will determine what course of action will be taken.
--RB Josh Scobey suffered a broken fibula on the opening kickoff and will have to have surgery.
--TE Marcus Pollard dropped two passes -- one a touchdown -- and fumbled the ball after another reception, prompting coach Mike Holmgren to say that Pollard's career in Seattle likely is over.
--WR Ben Obomanu replaced both Deion Branch and Josh Scobey, becoming the team's fourth receiver in four-receiver sets and filling in for Scobey on special teams.

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