Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dolphins Withstood Seahawks' Frantic Rally

By Scott M. Johnson
For the Kitsap Sun
Sunday, November 9, 2008


The Seattle Seahawks aren't in the business of moral victories.

Apparently, they're not in the business of any kind of victory.

For the seventh time this season, and the fourth time in five road games, the Seahawks found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard Sunday afternoon.

At least this game, a 21-19 loss to the Miami Dolphins, held some drama at the end.

"You can say that we fought tough and lost, but nobody cares about that," linebacker Julian Peterson said afterward. "All they see is W's and L's. Right now, we're on the L side. And that's not the side you want to be on."

The Seahawks' latest loss, which might go down as the knockout punch to the chin of an already beaten fighter, came with its share of excitement but an all-too-familiar finish.

Four plays in particular seemed to cement the outcome and serve as trademarks for what might go down as Mike Holmgren's worst season as a head coach — ever.

After the Seahawks (2-7) rallied back from a 14-0 deficit and getting to within two points on a Koren Robinson touchdown with 2:57 remaining, a penalty on guard Mike Wahle wiped out what could have been the tying score on a two-point conversion.

On the next possession, during which the Dolphins were trying to run out the clock, Miami quarterback Chad Pennington fumbled the ball away to Seattle at the Dolphins' 25-yard line. But officials overturned the call after looking at a replay, leading to a Miami punt.

Less than two minutes later, after the Seahawks had moved across midfield, Seattle quarterback Seneca Wallace underthrew a pass to an open Bobby Engram downfield. Had the pass been on target, Engram may have scored the winning touchdown.

One play later, a fourth-down pass went off the hands of tight end John Carlson.

Instead — due in large part to four key plays but not exclusive to them — the Seahawks found themselves explaining another loss.

"Right now, our margin for error is very slim — to none," said Engram, who had five receptions for 53 yards. "We've just got to look at the film and take it like men."

As close as the Seahawks were at the end, the early moments of Sunday's game felt all too familiar.

The Dolphins jumped out of the gates, basically scoring twice on their first possession. Miami's Ted Ginn Jr. caught the opening kickoff, juked Seattle's Jordan Babineaux at the 15-yard line, and went the distance for what appeared to be a 100-yard touchdown.

But a holding call brought the return back, so Miami did it the hard way. The Dolphins methodically marched 90 yards in 11 plays, the last of which was a 39-yard touchdown pass from Chad Pennington to Ginn Jr. on a flea flicker.

The Dolphins went 76 yards on their next drive, scoring on another long play when running back Ricky Williams took a handoff from Ronnie Brown out of single-wing formation and went 49 yards untouched. It marked the third time this season that the Seahawks have fallen behind 14-0.

But unlike some recent losses, this time the Seahawks actually showed some fight.

Babineaux intercepted a Pennington pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown, marking Seattle's second defensive touchdown in as many road games.

After that, the Seahawks had a rare second half that saw them stay competitive. They kicked a field goal on their opening drive of the third quarter, then got the ball back with a chance to take only their third second-half lead all season. That drive also ended up with a field goal, putting Seattle within 14-13.

Then the Seahawks' defense fell apart after nearly three quarters of solid play. After Seattle had allowed just 101 yards on Miami's previous six possessions, the Dolphins marched 79 yards on a key drive in the fourth quarter. Miami (5-4) used 16 plays to give itself an eight-point lead, going ahead 21-13 on Brown's 16-yard keeper from the single-wing look.

The Seahawks' offense followed that with what might have been its most impressive drive of the season. Wallace completed a 15-yard pass to Engram, Julius Jones broke off a 33-yard run, and Robinson caught a 3-yard touchdown to cap off a 55-yard drive. That put Seattle within 21-19 with 2:57 remaining.

The two-point conversion was aborted because of a false-start penalty on Wahle, but the play was carried out because few players heard the whistle. Engram caught Wallace's pass in the end zone, only to find out that it didn't count.

"I didn't know" about the whistle, Engram said. "I was going to get (the ball). It was loud, and I thought it was a tie ball game."

Lining up from the 7-yard line, the Seahawks took another shot at the two-point conversion but came up empty when Wallace's pass to Carlson was broken up at the goal line.

While it looked like that might be the final shot, Seattle had several other chances in the final two minutes.

Pennington's near-fumble, which came at the two-minute warning, was recovered by Seattle's Darryl Tapp at the Miami 25. When that call was overturned, the Dolphins punted and Seattle took over at its own 23-yard line with 1:50 remaining.

"If that (fumble) is ours," Peterson said, "Olindo (Mare) hits the game-winner, and we go home — end of a perfect story. But for us, instead it was a tragedy."

The final scene looked promising, with Wallace completing three consecutive passes to put Seattle at Miami's 49-yard line. But his last four throws fell incomplete to finish off another Sunday of heartache for the Seahawks.

"It's a little bit like Ground Hog day," said Holmgren, whose only other 2-7 start came in 2000. "I think the team showed great heart after getting behind 14-0 (on Sunday). It was looking pretty bad, but they hung in there.

" We made it close at the end, but too little, too late."



Miami 21, Seattle 19

Next Sunday

Arizona (5-3 ) at Seattle (2-7)

Time: 1:05 p.m. TV: Ch. 13

Kitsap Sun
P.O. Box 259, Bremerton, Wash. 98337

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