1st blanking of the ***** since 1977

Kevin Lynch, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, September 27, 2004



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chart attached


Seattle -- Not so long ago, the ***** were inflicting on other teams the kind of pain and embarrassment they felt in their 34-0 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday. Now it's the ***** whose locker room is a morgue. It's the once-mighty ***** who are now in free fall.

This loss was a historic low for the ***** in several areas:

-- The team's NFL-record streak of 420 games without being shut out ended. Its last shutout occurred at Candlestick Park on Oct. 9, 1977, when the Falcons beat San Francisco 7-0.

-- It was the worst shutout loss in team history, the previous being a 31-0 whitewash against the 1961 Bears.

-- It was the *****' most lopsided defeat since losing to Jacksonville on opening day of the 1999 season, when the team fell 41-3.

-- The *****' lone first down rushing was the fewest in 35 years, since the Vikings held them without a rushing first down.

And they lost to a team that brings back memories of the ***** in more productive times, a team led by their former offensive coordinator, who runs the West Coast offense that Bill Walsh created when he was hired to coach the ***** in 1979.

From their experienced but still young quarterback to their talented secondary, their hounding defensive ends who were signed as free agents and their impressive depth, the 2004 Seahawks might as well have been the ***** of the '80s and '90s.

Conversely, the *****, who have been decimated by injuries and personnel decisions, finished the third week of the season as the league's worst team. They haven't won a game in nine months. The 34-0 drumming is also alarming in a league marked by parity.

For ***** coach Dennis Erickson, Sunday could not have been worse. The native of Everett, Wash., went home, where his father, Pink, died in April, and endured a horrendous defeat to the team he once coached.

"That is what I would say is just a flat ass-kicking," Erickson said in his opening comment to reporters after the debacle.

Erickson envisioned the ***** being just like the Seahawks are now when he was hired before last season.

"I've kept my eye on them because I used to coach here," the downtrodden coach said of the Seahawks. "They've just kept getting better, kept adding guys."

Two players they added, defensive ends Chike Okeafor and Grant Wistrom, contributed mightily to the *****' offensive anemia. Okeafor, whom the ***** failed to re-sign in 2003, had a fumble-causing sack and five tackles. Wistrom pressured quarterback Ken Dorsey constantly and finished with four tackles.

The *****, on the other hand, started defensive end Brandon Whiting, who admits he's not recovered from major shoulder surgery. Otis Leverette, Tony Brown and James Atkins, all signed just before the start of the season, were also in the defensive-line rotation.

There was no comparison between the two starting quarterbacks. Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck, a sixth-year player, was on his game, while Dorsey, a 23-year- old making his second NFL start, was off.

The difference was evident in the first quarter, with Dorsey attempting to throw a short pass in between defenders to wide receiver Cedrick Wilson. The pass was behind Wilson, who tipped the ball with one hand. The deflection landed in the arms of Seattle cornerback Ken Lucas, who returned the interception to the *****' 26.

Faced with a similar pass a play later, Hasselbeck zipped the ball to tight end Jerramy Stevens with linebacker Derek Smith hanging over him.

Hasselbeck completed 21 of 30 passes for 254 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Dorsey, starting for the injured Tim Rattay, went 19-for-32 for 153 yards and two picks.

Dorsey also fumbled twice and each time, the Seahawks recovered.

"You turn it over a couple times in a row, you get behind like we did, that's when that kind of (blowout) happens," Erickson said.

The loss could not be pinned on Dorsey alone. The offensive line, which was without left tackle Kwame Harris (ankle) and center Jeremy Newberry (knee surgery), was dominated by the Seahawks' defensive front.

The ***** managed only 48 yards rushing on 18 carries. Running back Kevan Barlow, who had romped for 114 yards last week, ran for 22 yards on 10 carries.

"Their front was good," Barlow said. "Better than I expected."

Defensively, the ***** kept prolific running back Shaun Alexander contained, but the secondary continued to have breakdowns that led to long gains. Wide receiver Bobby Engram found himself open for a 60-yard reception after safety Tony Parrish took a poor angle, and after cornerback Jimmy Williams bit on play action.

Hasselbeck also had ample time to throw out of the West Coast offense favored by Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, who was Walsh's quarterbacks coach from 1986 through '88 and later the *****' offensive coordinator.

With the 0-3 start, the ***** are just trying to keep from disintegrating.

Afterward, Erickson touted a theme of togetherness, a thought seconded by several veterans.

When asked if this is what happens occasionally to a young team, wide receiver Curtis Conway said, "No, that's an excuse. You can't sugarcoat anything. This is the NFL."



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Lack of drive
The ***** were shut out for the first time since 1977, an NFL-record streak of 420 games. Here's what they did -- or didn't do -- with the ball:

Punts...7

Turnovers...4

Missed FG (46 yards)...1

Four trips past midfield

Seattle 28 -- missed field goal

Seattle 28 -- interception

Seattle 37 -- fumble

Seattle 43 -- punt



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E-mail Kevin Lynch at klynch@sfchronicle.com