This is the unedited version of my game story that will run in Monday's News Tribune:
By Frank Hughes
The News Tribune
The homespun voodoo that seemed to besiege the New Orleans Saints this entire season seeped its way into Qwest Field on Sunday night, a bizarre mysticism wreaking havoc with the Seattle Seahawks in a 28-17 loss before 68,296 fans and a national television audience.
From poor execution from the team's new long snapper to an overhead camera almost concussing Matt Hasselbeck to a blocked field goal attempt to ineffective fumble recovery skills, Murphy's Law was in regal form for the Seahawks, the first victims of the previously winless Saints (1-4).
Not that the Seahawks can in any way blame this loss, their second straight, on cosmic intervention. No, just as they were in Pittsburgh, the Seahawks were soundly dominated in every phase of the game, looking at times either ill-prepared or disinterested. They fell behind 21-0 before finally asserting their presence, by which time it was far too late.
"It's too hard to come back, as a rule, when you dig a hole like that for yourself," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "We are all very disappointed in the outcome."
At a time that the Seahawks (3-3) could be running away with a division in which the quarterback situations of their rivals can best be described as ambulatory, they instead are struggling to generate a consistent personality.
With so many expectations placed on this team, the fans are beginning to get restless, running back Shaun Alexander bearing the brunt of the displeasure.
Lambasted last week for what is perceived to be a soft running style, Alexander was booed on multiple occasions while he once again was unable to find any hint of success (14 rushes, 35 yards). At one point, a fan tossed a bottle of beer onto the field to express his frustration.
But Alexander's current shortcomings notwithstanding, he certainly was not the only culprit in this demoralizing outcome, only the most visible.
There was miniscule pass rush, which enabled Saints quarterback Drew Brees, he of the 1-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio, to dissect the secondary for 246 yards and two touchdowns.
There was little pass blocking, which enabled the Saints' rush, last in the league with just one sack, to quintuple its output on Sunday.
And the special teams has become a liability that on Sunday initiated the poor result.
The ending was fitting, the Seahawks driving with less than four minutes to go. Hasselbeck, under pressure, heaved a pass long and high, ostensibly for Nate Burleson. Noboby in a blue uniform was around the pass, however, leading to an interception by Josh Bullocks and a collective 'What happened?' from everybody else.
It was perhaps a metaphor for the season thus far.
"We are definitely a better football team than that," Julian Peterson said. "We just have to find a way to put four quarters together, and so far this season we haven't been able to do that."
The Seahawks were immediately betrayed by the newest member of their team, long snapper Boone Stutz, who replaced Derek Rackley on Tuesday because Rackley's velocity was subpar.
Seattle's first possession led to a punt, but Stutz's snap barely got off the ground, the ball zipping between Ryan Plackemeier's feet. After a mad scramble, Pierre Thomas recovered the ball in the end zone. Just like that, Seattle trailed 7-0.
"It was a freak accident, one of those things," Stutz said.
On Seattle's next possession, Hasselbeck was forced to call a timeout on third-and-9 from his 24. As Hasselbeck walked to the sideline, the overhead camera used by NBC descended to the field on its wires, nearly hitting Hasselbeck.
Then, as the camera operators tried to lift the heavy device back into the air, it nearly swept through the Seahawks' huddle, forcing a stoppage of play. Not surprisingly, Hasselbeck's ensuing pass was off target.
"I guess it just wasn't our day," Hasselbeck said.
Before the first quarter ended, another odd play victimized Seattle. In the middle of a New Orleans drive, Drew Brees hit wide receiver David Patten, who subsequently fumbled into a secondary filled with only Seahawks players.
As linebacker Leroy Hill alternated between trying to pick up the ball and trying to smother it, tight end Eric Johnson sprinted into the fray, slipped between everybody and got the loose ball.
It enabled the Saints to then complete a 13-play, 86-yard drive that consumed seven minutes and gave New Orleans a 14-0 lead, reviving memories of the energy-sapping drives by the Steelers last week.
As if that wasn't enough karmic oddity, the Seahawks invented more. Their 12-play drive stalled on the Saints' 26, forcing a field goal attempt and their first opportunity to score in five quarters.
But Bullocks leapt between two Seattle blockers to get a hand on Josh Brown's attempt. Six plays later, New Orleans scored again to take a 21-0 lead, Seattle dizzy with the turn of events and unable to mount a sufficient comeback.
"Being down 21-0 is not really the way you want t start the game," Hasselbeck said.
And being down 28-17 is not the way they wanted it to end.