Too many mistakes to win

Posted Dec 20, 2009

The opponent was 1-12, but the Seahawks let the Buccaneers hang around – and let a winnable game slip away in a disappointing 24-7 loss

They ran for 80 yards in the first quarter. They also did not allow Matt Hasselbeck to be sacked, and rarely touched, in the first 15 minutes.

Another blowout victory at home against another one-win team for the Seahawks?

Not exactly. On this Sunday, it was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who hung tough at Qwest Field and rallied for a 24-7 decision over a mistake-prone Seahawks team that fell to 5-9 and has a much better idea what rock bottom looks and feels like.

“Tough loss. Disappointing loss,” coach Jim Mora said. “We’re at a stage of trying to build something that was broken. And it’s not easy.

“We’re going to get it right. We won’t rest until we do.”

There was enough in this one to keep anyone – and everyone – up all night. For the obvious reasons, and then some.

The Bucs came into this game 1-12 and having scored seven or fewer points in three of their past four games. Oh, and then there was that cross-country trip from Tampa to Seattle.

But it was the Bucs who ripped off 24 unanswered points, and scored on their first four possessions in the second half.

Josh Freeman was the rookie quarterback in this game, and had thrown eight interceptions in the past two games. After serving up pick No. 9 on the Bucs’ first possession, however, Freeman finished with 16 completions in 26 attempts for 205 yards and touchdown throws to running backs Carnell Williams (22 yards) and Derrick Ward (6). Freeman sustained those scoring drives by hitting tight end Kellen Winslow six times for 93 yards and No. 3 wide receiver Sammie Stroughter four times for 46 yards.

“I always think it is important how people respond,” Freeman said. “Today, after playing probably our worst game of the season offensively last week (in a 26-3 loss to the Jets), the guys responded. Whether it’s the O-line, whether it’s the running backs, we came out today and found a way to get it done.”

Hasselbeck was the veteran QB in this game, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and the calming influence for the entire team in this turbulent season. But he turned the ball over five times – four interceptions and a fumble at the end of a scramble that he was still trying to come to grips with well after the game had ended.

“I’m just angry about how today went, how everything is going,” Hasselbeck said. “It’s something I’ve got to fix. That’s what I’ll do. I’ve just got to be better for my teammates. I just really feel like I let a lot of people down today.

“It’s my fault. It’s on me.”

Unlike the outcome of this game, Mora saw that assessment coming.

“Knowing Matt the way I do,” said Mora, who stepped to the podium before Hasselbeck, “he’ll walk in here in a few minutes and probably take the blame for that game. And he shouldn’t. The guy is doing an excellent job of leading this football team on the field. He doing all he can do.”

The coach was right. There was enough blame in this game to spread to every corner of the roster.

The defense allowed the Bucs to convert on seven of 16 third-down conversions – a rate of 44 percent that was in stark contrast to their 28.6 percent showing in their first 13 games.

“We’ve got to do our part, too,” said middle linebacker David Hawthorne, who finished with a game-high 10 tackles. “We’ve got to get off the field. We had a bunch of opportunities to do that and we let some things get by us. We blew a couple of assignments and that’s the result.”

After rushing for those 80 yards in the first quarter, the Seahawks had 48 the rest of the game. They also had a pass picked off in the end zone, botched the snap on a field-goal attempt and had three of their last five possessions end with interceptions.

“Any time you’re in the red zone, you’ve got to score – you’ve at least got to go get three (points),” left guard Rob Sims said. “When you don’t get that and you’re on the sideline and you’re looking up at the clock and you’re looking up at the score, you’ve got to score. You’ve got to help the defense out.

“It’s frustrating, because we were moving the ball. It’s frustrating. It’s real frustrating.

The insulting loss also came with injuries. Snapper Kevin House was taken to the hospital with a shoulder injury, leaving cornerback Kelly Jennings to snap on a fourth-quarter punt. Rookie linebacker Aaron Curry got a stinger. Wide receiver Ben Obomanu pulled a hamstring. Leading rusher Julius Jones dinged some ribs.

In the past two weeks, the Seahawks have been outscored 58-14 by the Texans and Bucs – with both scores coming on TD passes from Hasselbeck to tight end John Carlson, who had seven receptions for 86 yards in this one.

The contrast is staggering for a team that beat the Rams (now 1-13) in their season opener 28-0; the Detroit Lions (then 1-6, now 2-12) in Week 9 32-20; and the Jacksonville Jaguars 41-0 in Week 5.

The concept is baffling for Mora, who is 5-9 for the first time as a head coach.

“This is all new to me,” he said. “I’m trying to fight my way through it just like everybody else.”

The fight continues with a post-Christmas trip to Green Bay, where the Seahawks will take on a Packers team that lost a last-second decision to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

“I think the biggest thing is, guys just need to recognize the importance of the future,” free safety Jordan Babineaux said. “For us, our future is right now.”