A double loss for Seahawks

Posted Oct 18, 2009

Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu was lost for the season with a torn pectoral during a 27-3 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Qwest Field on Sunday.

The plan was to reach the bye week at 3-3 and then get healthy for the final 10 games of the season.

So much of the best-laid plans.

The Seahawks dropped a 27-3 decision to the Arizona Cardinals at Qwest Field on Sunday to fall to 2-4, and in the process lost middle linebacker and co-captain Lofa Tatupu for the rest of the season with a torn left pectoral.

“Unfortunately, Lofa’s out for the year,” coach Jim Mora said. “He’s a huge leader on this football team. Fortunately, we’ve got some guys that can step in and play, and we have good leadership on this football team.”

Most of Tatupu’s teammates were not immediately aware of the severity of his injury.

“That’s terrible, terrible news,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. “I don’t know what to say.”

Similarly, the Seahawks’ inconsistent offense had few answers for what the Cardinals defense threw at it all afternoon.

Forty-one points in last week’s shutout of the Jacksonville Jaguars; three points Sunday. Four touchdown passes by Hasselbeck against the Jags; the longest pass play against the Cardinals a 42-yarder from punter Jon Ryan to tight end John Carlson. A rushing total of 143 yards against the Jags; 14 against the Cardinals, the lowest in franchise history. One sack allowed against the Jags; five against the Cardinals, and nine hits of Hasselbeck.

Connect the dots between those contrasting numbers and it creates a situation that led Mora to offer, “What it boils down to right now is this: We’re an inconsistent football team, particularly on offense.”

There are reasons, of course, but Mora does not want them to sound like excuses. The Seahawks played Sunday without three starters on the offensive line, and with fourth-option Kyle Williams at the pivotal left tackle position.

“We’re trying not to use that excuse,” Mora said. “We’re trying not to adopt that philosophy that, ‘Hey, it’s going to take some time.’ We don’t want to be like that. We don’t want to use that crutch.

“The fact of the matter is that when you combine the issues that we’ve faced offensively, specifically on the offensive line and at quarterback early, with the fact that we’re doing some new things that are new to a lot of guys, it makes it tough.”

Making it even tougher on this Sunday was the fact that the Cardinals owned the first quarter – literally, and in all three phases of the game. Before the Seahawks had run their fourth offensive play, the Cardinals had a 17-0 lead.

The visitors took the opening kickoff and put together a 15-play, 80-yard drive that consumed almost 11 minutes and ended with Kurt Warner passing to Larry Fitzgerald for the touchdown.

The Cardinals then executed an almost-perfect pooch kickoff, which they recovered at the Seahawks’ 23-yard line. Three plays later, Tim Hightower scored on a 2-yard run.

On the Seahawks’ third offensive play, outside linebacker Clark Haggens got to Hasselbeck for a sack that forced a fumble, which teammate Bryan Robinson recovered at the Seahawks’ 23.

That set up a 29-yard field goal by Neil Rackers.

Warner finished with 32 completions in 41 attempts for 276 yards and two touchdowns – the second a 16-yarder to Steve Breaston that made it 24-3 in the third quarter. Fitzgerald caught 13 passes for 100 yards.

Warner saved his best for the biggest down, completing 6 of 7 third-down passes for 60 yards on the five scoring drives.
That against a Seahawks defense that ranked third in the league in third-down defense entering the game, and tried just about everything to slow the Cardinals – pressing Warner with four-, five- and six-man rushes and mixing man-to-man and zone coverage in the secondary.

“We didn’t get off the field on third downs,” Mora said after the Cardinals had converted 8 of 16, compared to 0 of 11 for the Seahawks. “They were better than us on that situation today, specifically on the first drive (4 of 4), and therefore they were able to put up the points.”

Just like the Seahawks jumped on the Jaguars 20-0 last week, they were jumped on this week.

“I didn’t get a sense of it before the game at all,” said Hasselbeck, who was playing his second game after missing 2½ games because of a fractured rib. “I thought we had a good plan, we just couldn’t get to the plan.”

Instead, the Seahawks played into the way the Cardinals wanted to play. They were bracketing Hasselbeck’s receivers with a cornerback and a safety, and that ploy worked because the Cardinals were able to get so much pressure on Hasselbeck – knowing that he had to pass to try and get the Seahawks back into the game.

It made for an afternoon of the inconsistency that Mora alluded to after the game.

Inconsistent? “Oh yeah, our team this year has kind of defined that,” Hasselbeck said. “Some weeks we play well, some weeks we don’t. You don’t know which team is going to show up.”

The Seahawks lost another game, and another key player. But Mora and his players will forge ahead. The plan is to get cornerback Marcus Trufant, left guard Rob Sims and linebacker Leroy Hill back during their bye week, and then focus on the game against the Cowboys in Dallas on Nov. 1.

“We need to get to 3-4,” Mora said when asked the obvious what-next question. “I don’t mean that to be glib, that’s just how you have to look at it. We’re 2-4 and we’re going to do everything we can to get to 3-4.

“Good things are going to happen for this football team.”