Blue-State Hawks

A conservative coach goes radical in St. Louis.

Sources have said that at 3:30 p.m. EDT Sunday, Oct. 2, President Bush told aides he was "within a 47-yard field goal" of nominating Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren to fill the O'Connor Supreme Court vacancy. But when Mediocre Mike (record during Hawks tenure: 53-51) wouldn't pass the ball to better the team's field-goal position late in the game against Bush's hometown Washington Redskins, W apparently turned away from his TV set and said to Karl Rove: "Sorry but this guy's even too conservative for me, boss. Get Harriet in here."

So despite the wide belief that Holmy would look much better in a roomy black robe than a tight white polo shirt, he remains the Hawk mentor, mollified by the Sunday, Oct. 9, 37-31 win over the division-rival St. Louis Rams. How'd the decimated HolmHawks win on the road, against the Rams, yet? In slammer slang, the Seattle team had pretty much been the Rams' bitch since the Hawks joined the NFC West.

Victory happened because Holmgren suddenly has become the Jim McDermott of the gridiron. With neither of his two starting receivers, he nonetheless ordered quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to pass a radic-lib 38 times in a game some figured would feature Shaun Alexander carrying it every down. Alexander still had 119 yards and two scores on 25 carries. Hasselbeck has seldom been more effective: 27 for 38, two scoring passes, no picks, and 316 yards. He and Alexander became the all-time leading Seahawks for 300-plus-yard passing and 100-plus running games.

Yes, and they weren't even the big stars. Joe Jurevicius, so reliable that one wonders why he hasn't started all year, had nine grabs at wide-out and also showed he knows how to run the sideline. Rookie middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu (scary thought: He might've been playing his senior season at NFL-caliber USC when the Trojans come to Husky Stadium Saturday, Oct. 22) is a holy terror as a tackler and he also had a critical interception.

Otherwise, Hawk players limped or were carried from the field so often that one wondered whether game footage would be thrown in with the natural-disaster reports during the evening news. Luckily the 3-2, division-leading Hawks have the luxury of a pair of home games now before a bye week. With the club playing loose and liberal football, it would be interesting to see how they do with healthy players against Houston, Dallas, etc. During the aftermath in St. Louis, Holmgren would only go so far as to say his quarterback "had a pretty good game." Maybe he's pissed at Captain Matt because the QB, bummed by the Redskins letdown, told reporters who questioned the late-game play calling: "I just do what I'm told." Holmgren, the Teller, has always acted as if the team is his personal plaything. Nice that he lets thousands of championship-starved fans watch.

This is, by many accounts, the coach's ultimate show-it year. The show-to guy is owner Paul Allen, who no doubt witnessed the game Holmgren basically gave to the Redskins. Allen and others anticipate the Hawks being favored in each of their next five games. But given Middlin' Mike's apparent pathological need to break even, few would be surprised if the Hawks are 5-5 rather than 8-2 as of Sunday, Nov. 20.

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