The Lesser of Two Evils

Dear Santa: I'm only putting one gift on my wish list this year, because it's so very important to me. I absolutely have to beat Kansas City on Sunday or it will just ruin my Christmas. I've been pretty good this year, at least in comparison to my defense. I understand how you might want to stiff those guys this year, but please, Santa, don't take it out on me. Us big guys have got to stick together. Thank you in advance,

—Mike Holmgren

After racing out to an 8-2 start, our boys in blue have dug themselves a big hole by losing to some of their weakest opponents during the easiest part of the schedule. After winning five in a row, the Seahawks have failed in four straight attempts to notch their first winning season since 1990. With two games against teams on the upswing remaining, only the future of the Kingdome looks bleaker.

Holmgren could use a little intervention from St. Nicholas this weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs, who lead Seattle by one game in the AFC West and are headed the opposite direction with four straight wins. The Seahawks are stumbling so badly they might not win another game this millennium. Thank you, ladies and germs. Boy, are my arms tired.

The last two weeks the Seahawks were playing opponents who are headed nowhere and had only two motivations: pride and spite, with spite being the more powerful. Dragging the other guy down to your level is the goal of all bad teams during the last few weeks of the season. The psychology of the losing athlete is very simple: My life is miserable and it would make me happy if I could watch you suffer for four quarters.

And suffer the Seahawks did, in excruciating fashion. Instead of padding their own AFC West lead, the Hawks handed over first place to the Chiefs by losing 19-16 to the San Diego Chargers at home (their second three-point loss to SD this year!) and then falling at Denver in overtime 36-30. Better yet, they lost with style.

Placekicker Todd Peterson should consider a sitcom career after his football days are over. What a sense of timing. Kramer and Costanza couldn't have set up a gag any better. Peterson breaks his own franchise record in the first half of the Charger game by connecting on his 16th straight field goal, then he misses three in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. The last one added a delicious bit of tragedy—the ball hit the left upright, hung in the air for a moment, and then fell harmlessly backwards. Pure genius.

By contrast, the Denver game last Sunday was a crowd-pleasing melodrama. The Seahawks scored 10 points in the final minute of regulation to send the game into overtime. They force the Broncos to punt in OT and start to move the ball downfield. Just 15 yards outside Peterson's field goal range, Kitna fumbled while being sacked and the Broncos' Glenn Cadrez returned the ball 37 yards for the game-winning TD.

This is a major-league choke that we're witnessing. You usually have to wait for baseball season to see a team disintegrate the way the Seahawks have over the last month. Nonetheless, the Hawks are still alive and with a win this week would reclaim the lead in the AFC West (by virtue of a 2-0 record against the Chiefs).

So get ready for the Showdown on King Street, the Gunfight at the K-Dome Corral. One game for almost all of the marbles. This is quite possibly the final Seahawk game in the Kingdome, so bring plenty of tissues.

On November 21, Seattle won at Kansas City 31-19. That was the high-water mark of the season for the Seahawks and their most recent victory. Since then all the weaknesses of the team's foundation have been exposed, the levee has ruptured, and Holmgren has been trying to organize a relief effort from temporary headquarters atop Cougar Mountain.

Symbolic of Seattle's rapid descent have been Kitna's recent struggles. Heading into the first KC game, Kitna was the fourth-highest rated QB in the NFL. Today he is sixth from the bottom. Much of that is his own fault, the growing pains of a young quarterback prone to locking in on receivers and other foolish mistakes. But much of it is the fault of a coaching staff and team that constantly puts Kitna in come-from-behind situations.

The Seahawks are hanging on to the edge of the cliff. Their season is a serial thriller that has to end soon. Don't miss this week's exciting episode, as two teams lock horns inside a stadium doomed to explode into a million pieces! It's the Seahawks versus the Chiefs, and somebody has to be the division champ. On Sunday we'll find out who's been bad this year and who's been badder.

 
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