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Originally published December 29, 2009 at 9:00 PM | Page modified December 30, 2009 at 10:09 PM

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Danny O'Neil

Seahawks pile on Hugh Millen in weird radio free-for-all

Nate Burleson and two other Seahawks receivers lashed out at football analyst Hugh Millen on Tuesday during a KJR-AM radio show. It may have been the Seahawks' hardest hits in weeks.

Seattle Times NFL reporter

The offense may be skidding along at a scoring pace unseen in Seattle since the Dark Ages of the early 1990s.

The Seahawks can still take offense, though.

Particularly their top three wide receivers, who sounded off Tuesday when Nate Burleson brought Deion Branch and T.J. Houshmandzadeh along for his weekly radio show on KJR-AM.

They debated the nuances of two-man coverage, third-down bunch formations and stated that the team's execution and not its talent is the problem. Anyone who thinks the Seahawks have stopped fighting should take note at their targeting of KJR and Q13 football analyst Hugh Millen. And after Seattle's inoffensive performance these past three games, the Seahawks found a way to score some points even though it came courtesy of some cheap shots at Millen, a former Huskies and NFL quarterback.

"This is coming from a guy that's got 22 career touchdowns and 35 interceptions," Houshmandzadeh said.

Ouch. The stats were right, but that's not nice, and it's not like professional success as a player is a prerequisite for understanding offense. Mike Holmgren was a backup at USC and New Orleans coach Sean Payton was an Arena League player and NFL replacement player.

When KJR tracked Millen down via phone and patched him through, it felt like a professional wrestler being invited to Roddy Piper's Pit only to get clocked from behind by a steel chair as they debated the film-room minutiae of coverage schemes.

"I'll sit with these guys in a room any time with a laser pointer and talk coverages," Millen said when contacted later.

So it has come to this. In this last week of the NFL season, Seattle's receivers used a local radio station to fight back against criticism Houshmandzadeh admitted he hadn't even heard. It's desperate times for a team that has lost its last three games by an average of 27.3 points.

"The bottom line is are we winning? No," Branch said. "Do we have a good team? Yes, we have a good football team."

Now if the Seahawks could summon that sort of firepower on the field, they might really have something.

Seattle has scored a total of 24 points during its current losing streak, the lowest total in any three-game span since 1992.

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Burleson has missed the past two games because of an ankle injury and won't play this week. His absence has left Branch and Houshmandzadeh the target of criticism over quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's eight interceptions the past two games. The inability of Seattle's receivers to separate themselves from coverage, not the quarterback's accuracy, has been the most frequent explanation.

"I love Matt Hasselbeck to death, but guess what? When we lose, we all lose," Branch said. "Everybody that boards that plane, we all lose. ... The quarterback loses, the receivers lose. We all make mistakes."

Seattle's offense is missing plenty of things this year, but swagger and accountability are not among them. Not even in the midst of this season's struggles.

"First year was a little rocky, didn't go the way I thought it would," Houshmandzadeh said in closing. "But, hey, like you say, 2010 might be great, so hopefully we can finish '09, start '10 off with a win against Tennessee and it rolls into next year.

"Things have gone terrible. I played like trash in my opinion, and so when the season is over, I'm going home, I'm going to bust my hind parts and I'm going to be ready to do it again."

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

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About Danny O'Neil

Danny O'Neil will comment on issues, events and personalities in the NFL. His column will appear on Sundays during the regular season. He also posts most days on the Seahawks Blog.
doneil@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2364

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