Good news: It can never again be written that quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, despite five years in the NFL, has never thrown a pass in a regular-season game.
Bad news: Few want to see him try it again.
The whole Sunday afternoon was unfair.
Not only unfair, but for a league as committed to parity as the NFL, seeing a Super Bowl-contending team playing what appeared to be a Division II college team was unpleasant.
At least with college, you get a nice marching band.
In poking about the Seahawks’ carcass after a 41-7 loss to the New York Giants, the easy conclusion was that the plethora of injuries, led by the concussion-induced absence of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, forcing backup Whitehurst into his first career start, doomed the locals.
Giants safety Antrell Rolle disagreed.
“It doesn’t matter who was in there,” he said. “The quarterback could have been Hasselbeck, it could have been whoever.
“It was going to be the same outcome.”
The evidence tends to support Rolle’s argument. The Seahawks fully healthy would have been no match for the Giants, easily the most balanced, formidable team Seattle has seen in a schedule heavy with lollipops.
It’s true that at midseason, the 4-4 Seahawks are tied for the division lead. But in the context of being the world’s tallest midget, it means nothing. Coach Pete Carroll knows it better than anyone.
“It’s a very difficult spot to be in,” said Carroll, his usual ebullience gone. “We’re not sure that we can get this thing cranking the way we want to, and how soon we can . . . (pause) until we go back to work.”
Carroll’s pause came after he seemed to realize he was being too honest. The author of “Win Forever” tried to modify his thought, but even he couldn’t spin what was obvious to all: “Win Just Once More” seemed to be at least a reasonable chapter heading for the remainder of the 2010 season.
In consecutive weeks, the Seahawks endured two of the dozen biggest margins of defeat in their history. If the Giants hadn’t taken four consecutive knees on their final possession inside the Seattle 10-yard line, a 41-point margin would have been worst home defeat in club history, and second only to a 51-7 loss at Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, 1980.
The only worse home loss was a 41-3 defeat to the New York Jets in the 1997 opener, featuring the debut of Dennis Erickson, a college coach in his first pro game.
After the 33-3 loss in Oakland a week ago, the naïve optimism surrounding the Seahawks’ 4-2 start has vaporized. It was replaced by the echo of boos that chased the team off Qwest Field by the few thousand fans who curiously chose to linger despite a game dead to them by the 21-0 first-quarter deficit.
As the injury list grew during the week, it was plain even to diehard fans that a bad outcome was likely. Even so, the apparent helplessness was appalling.
Even Carroll was having a hard time finding words to explain Whitehurst.
“He survived,” was how his description began. “He made it through. He was unable to make anything other than the one big play (a 36-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to Ben Obamanu).
“He has started to put it behind him, so we’ll see what happens and how he can grow.”
What was remarkable was that the offensive line, missing three starters, did not allow Whitehurst to be sacked. Granted, the offense had only 37 scrimmage plays and 17 minutes of possession, but Whitehurst often had time against one of the game’s most fearsome pass rushes. He simply couldn’t hit the targets.
Perhaps the worst came in the first quarter when the Seahawks, on third-and-one and their own 30, tried trickery. Handing off to running back Leon Washington, who threw the ball back, Whitehurst had two open receivers, one short and one deep, and threw between them into emptiness.
“It was a bad throw,” he said. “There was some stuff out there, we just didn’t get in the rhythm. I had a lot of time, I don’t think I was hit but once.”
It was impossible not to feel bad for a guy who had waited five years for this chance, then threw two red-zone picks and was 10 for 21 and 69 yards through three quarters.
“It was tough on us all day,” he said. “They’re a good football team, and we have a little ways to go.”
Whitehurst was being careful, because the often-shuffled, partly broken Seahawks roster must go a long ways, with stops in Arizona and New Orleans the next two weeks. When an offense strung together on the seasonal fly loses even one key player, matters become difficult. With so many either so new or so hurt, there’s no veteran savvy to call upon.
“We’ve seen the upside of our team,” said Carroll, “and we’ve also seen the downside.”
After a combined 74-10 score the last two weeks, the downside has some serious momentum.
It’s not lose forever. But adding in the previous two seasons, it just feels like it.