The Lesser of Two Evils

As of last night, our boys in blue are standing alone atop the AFC West. In fact, the Seahawks would go down in history as the last-ever AFC West champions if the world came to an end today. So don't waste any money on Lotto tickets.

A nationwide audience that never saw the Seahawks on TV during the Tom Flores/Dennis Erickson era saw an exciting Seattle win that wasn't secured until the Oakland Raiders' Mike Husted missed a 61-yard field goal attempt as time expired. That local fans also got to watch the broadcast was due to an ironic twist: The game was made a sellout by fans of the hated Raiders, who bought up those last few really bad seats in the Kingdome.

No matter where you go in Seattle, you'll find Raiders fans. They're in every major port city, like wharf rats. Their mercenary loyalties made at least some sense during the 1970s and 1980s, when the hated Raiders won three Super Bowls. The hated Raiders used to be a dynasty. But then again, so did the Soviet basketball team. And both have been equally fearsome during the 1990s.

Raider fans were flustered even before Sunday night's kickoff. They were unable to decorate any signs for the big game because WTO=BAD (the official protest group of the WTO's Seattle Ministerial Conference) has hoarded all of the spray paint, felt pens, ink markers, and ram's blood in the greater Puget Sound area. Giant puppet supplies are also impossible to find. Many local schools have scrambled to locate enough slates and chalk so that students won't have to share during art class.

In Week Three, the Seahawks had jumped on the Pittsburgh Steelers early and coasted to a 29-10 win. Thanks to a defensive TD and a punt return for another touchdown, the Seahawks were up 14-0 before the offense took the field. Seattle benefited from Pittsburgh's attempt to accomplish something unheard of since the 15th century: winning football games without a guy who can throw the football. Kordell Stewart may be the "best athlete available," but he's about as effective as Carl Lewis in the pocket.

The Seahawks have the opposite problem. Despite their 3-1 record, they will remain just another good team headed for a quick exit from the playoffs until they can both run the ball and stop the run consistently. The hated Raiders pounded out 166 yards on the ground (124 in the first half)—more than twice Seattle's total of 75 yards. That shouldn't be happening with the caliber of talent playing defense for the Seahawks this season.

Instead of the running game taking pressure off a young quarterback for Seattle, it's the young quarterback who's taking pressure off the running game. Take away one really bad interception on Sunday night and Jon Kitna looked like a solid NFL quarterback. Protect him with a better running game and he could be outstanding.

One month into the season, it appears the Seahawks will be scrapping with the hated Raiders for the division title, as the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs are predictably mediocre and the Denver Broncos surprisingly, seriously bad.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I slightly overrated the 0-4 Broncos before the season began. When I wrote my preview column a month ago, I knew that the Broncos had chosen to celebrate their Super Bowl victory with a trip to Disneyland. However, I was unaware that the team's starters have refused to leave the park until Michael Eisner brings back Captain EO and the Mission to Mars.

Those five bells in the background tell us that bulletin #3 on the holdout front just hit the wires. And here's the latest: Joey Galloway still wants more money. Last week the Seahawks withdrew the contract extension offer that would have made Galloway the second-highest-paid receiver in the NFL. Galloway's agent claims that Joey is delighted with the team's success during his absence and denies rumors that the former Ohio State star has kicked holes through 17 televisions so far this season.

The Seahawks are taking some time off during their bye week, but that doesn't mean local sports fans will lack the opportunity to view culturally acceptable violence. The first-ever Mano-a-Womano boxing match will be held Saturday night at Mercer Arena. Though it goes without saying that men and women are equal in every way, such that it's impossible to predict who will win the first officially sanctioned battle of the sexes, I will offer this bit of advice for those inclined to wager on the event: Bet on whichever boxer has more Y chromosomes. That fighter will be less in touch with his or her feelings and more in touch with the opponent's chin.

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