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Monday, October 30, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Victory out of their grasp

Seattle Times staff reporter

Success grounds to a halt


In the Seahawks' four wins, they have held their opponent to 73 or less yards rushing. In their three losses, they have allowed no fewer than 143 yards on the ground. A game-by-game look (yards, date, opponent, score):

38

Sept. 10 at Detroit

Win, 9-6

65

Sept. 17 vs. Arizona

Win, 21-10

73

Sept. 24 vs. N.Y. Giants

Win, 42-30

143

Oct. 1 at Chicago

Loss, 37-6

59

Oct. 15 at St. Louis

Win, 30-28

175

Oct. 22 vs. Minnesota

Loss, 31-13

191

Oct. 29 at Kansas City

Loss, 35-28

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Somehow, the Seahawks took a one-point lead with 6 minutes, 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

But the way they were playing defense, it wasn't going to hold up. And it didn't.

The Kansas City Chiefs drove 80 or more yards twice in the second half, made a defensive stand when they needed it, and survived their own mistakes and three momentum-swinging plays by the Seahawks in the second half for a 35-28 victory Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

It probably shouldn't have been that close. But Seattle cornerback Kelly Herndon ran back a disputed fumbled snap on a field-goal attempt 61 yards for a touchdown. Wide receiver Darrell Jackson waited for what seemed like forever for a pass to fall into his hands for a touchdown, a play that saw Chiefs cornerback Ty Law fall down in coverage and the Seahawks take a 28-27 fourth-quarter lead. And wide receiver Deion Branch hustled to strip the ball from Kansas City defensive end Jared Allen after Allen picked off a Seneca Wallace pass with two minutes left to play.

That gave the far-too-fortunate Seahawks one last chance to drive for a tying score and possible overtime, but it all ended on a fourth-and-15 pass play to fullback Mack Strong that gained only 8 yards.

"In that situation, we have to take the shot down the field to try and get something," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "It's unlikely we're going to get the first down throwing the ball to Mack. There [Wallace's] instincts just told him throw the ball to the open guy.

"The outcome of this game wasn't because of Seneca Wallace. He kept us in it."

So did Herndon, who spurred a 10-point swing with his touchdown late in the third quarter when the Seahawks were trailing 27-14 and about to give up a 37-yard field goal. Replays showed holder Dustin Colquitt trying to shovel the ball off in what looked like a forward passing motion, but officials saw it differently.

Branch also kept the Seahawks in it when he forced a replay review. Branch said he wasn't surprised to see Allen trying to run with the ball even though all he had to do was go down to ensure a Chiefs victory.

"Just trying to make a play," Branch said. "He's a defensive lineman. He's trying to score a touchdown."

And Wallace did his part in going 15 for 30 for 198 yards, three touchdown passes and two interceptions.

Wallace gave the Seahawks a 7-3 lead when he found D.J. Hackett for an 8-yard touchdown in the first quarter, three plays after Julian Peterson sacked Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard and knocked the ball out for defensive tackle Russell Davis to recover at the Kansas City 7.

Wallace stabbed his fist into the air and screamed in celebration.

When Wallace led an eight-play, 71-yard drive for another touchdown, this one to Jerramy Stevens for his first touchdown of the season, the Seahawks led 14-13. And Wallace pump-faked before finding Jackson in the fourth quarter to give the Seahawks their last lead.

Wallace wasn't fantastic — his first interception was a slant pass thrown in the wrong place and he had his share of off-target throws — but he also wasn't the cause of the Seahawks' downfall.

That would be the Seattle defense, which surrendered 499 total yards, by far the most this season. The Chiefs, particularly running back Larry Johnson, wide receiver Eddie Kennison, tight end Tony Gonzalez and Huard, who entered the game with a sore groin that clearly caused him pain, could hardly be stopped.

Two third-and-sevens. Third-and-nine. Third-and-five. First downs for Kansas City on each play. And that was just the first half.

The Seahawks (4-3) suffered through their worst tackling game this season. Whatever the Chiefs wanted to do, run or pass, third-and-long or short yardage, they did with success.

"We have to work on our tackling. We have to play smarter," Herndon said. "We have to stop the big plays. We've been saying that for the past couple of weeks and we know what it is, we just have to fix it. This is not how we play defense."

Granted, the defense stuffed a few runs. But all the emphasis the Seahawks put on stopping long pass plays by their opponents during the previous week didn't pay off.

The Seahawks gave up a 51-yard pass play to Kennison to set up the winning touchdown. They allowed a 38-yard run by Johnson, part of his 155 yards. Huard hit Gonzalez for gains of 37, 31 and 25 yards.

"I don't know what more we can do than we're doing, but we're going to keep battling," Holmgren said. "We're going to keep talking about it. If we have to make some changes we will. If we can't make changes ... then we have to coach them better. And get them to be more aware and get them technically more sound."

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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