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Originally published December 30, 2009 at 8:00 PM | Page modified December 31, 2009 at 7:24 PM

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Seahawks' ill offense needs a diagnosis

If Seattle doesn't score at least 13 points in Sunday's finale vs. Tennessee, the Seahawks will finish with their fewest points in any season since 1992, when they set an NFL record for the fewest points in a 16-game season with 140.

Seattle Times staff reporter


Tennessee @ Seahawks, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 7


RENTON — T.J. Houshmandzadeh placed a punctuation mark after his team's fourth-quarter score in Green Bay last week.

Specifically, Houshmandzadeh pointed to his head coach Jim Mora after tight end John Carlson scored on a 16-yard pass, the team's first touchdown in six quarters of football.

"We could have been doing this the whole game," Houshmandzadeh said, recalling the moment during an in-studio radio appearance Tuesday on KJR (950 AM).

Well, why weren't they, then?

That's part of the biggest question posed by the current losing streak. Where are the points? Seattle has been outscored 106-24 in the past three weeks, the Seahawks' lowest output in any three-game span since the early 1990s.

That was a truly inoffensive era of Seahawk football when Seattle was rotating between quarterbacks like Kelly Stouffer, Dan McGwire and Rick Mirer. It was as close as the NFL gets to Russian roulette, just close your eyes and hope. The result was Seattle suffered through four of the eight lowest-scoring seasons in franchise history from 1991-1994.

But if Seattle doesn't score at least 13 points in Sunday's finale vs. Tennessee, the Seahawks will finish with their fewest points in any season since 1992, when Seattle set an NFL record for the fewest points in a 16-game season with 140.

These days have become so dark for Seattle's offense that it's possible to get almost wistful about the early months of this season when injuries had the Seahawks sifting through the practice squad and waiver wire to find a starting left tackle. At least then there was the hope things would improve once the line stabilized.

But Seattle has suffered only one injury to a starting lineman in the second half of the year, and even that broken thumb didn't sideline Chris Spencer, who switched from center to guard two weeks ago.

And yet the Seahawks averaged 11 points in the month of December. That isn't just the lowest average of any month, but it's close to half of the 20.3 points the team averaged the first three months of the season.

So what has happened?

"When the offense doesn't do well, you're just not moving the ball," Houshmandzadeh said after Wednesday's practice. "That's what it boils down to, and if you are moving it, you're making a mistake."

There have been plenty of those. Seattle has committed nine turnovers in the past two games, all by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

But assigning responsibility for the offensive struggles isn't quite that simple.

"You can point the finger at whoever you want to point it at," Houshmandzadeh said. "You can point it at me. I can take it."

But who does Houshmandzadeh point the finger at?

"I'm not going to say what I feel about that situation because I don't think it's right," Houshmandzadeh said.

Left unsaid is a general uncertainty over the level of confidence the players feel in the plays being called, and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp addressed the question of whether the offense has retained the confidence of its players in the face of the recent struggles to score.

"Most definitely," Knapp said. "A lot of it, too, is just growth with each other. What certain guys do well, a lot of times it doesn't occur until games, you find out what plays are good for certain individuals."

In Sunday's loss at Green Bay, the Seahawks' first turnover occurred on a naked bootleg Seattle called on third-and-1 with one receiver downfield — Carlson. Hasselbeck was picked off.

Four of the team's interceptions these past two weeks came in the second half with Seattle trailing by more than 20 points. At that point, the Seahawks offense has been reduced to heaving the ball deep downfield in hopes someone will make a play.

Instead, it has often been a defensive back making the play.

The result is the team's worst scoring drought of this decade, one the team will try to end Sunday in the season finale.

"Let's take a step back," Knapp said. "Let's get back to our completions, protecting the football and move down the field methodically."

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364

What's the point?
Seattle needs to score at least 13 points Sunday to avoid its lowest scoring season in more than 16 years:
Year Points Games Avg.
1992 140 16 8.8
1982 127 9 14.1
1989 241 16 15.1
1976 229 14 16.4
1991 276 16 17.3
1993 280 16 17.5
2009 267 15 17.8
1994 287 16 17.9
1980 291 16 18.2
2008 294 16 18.4

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