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Originally published Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 1:28 PM

Browns edge Seahawks in ugly battle, 6-3

Seahawks offense, missing four starters, gains just 137 yards Sunday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Worst QB ratings

Seattle's Charlie Whitehurst had the second-worst QB rating of any quarterback who started Sunday.

22.3

Kyle Boller,

Raiders

Made his first start and was benched after three first-half interceptions.

35.0

Charlie Whitehurst, Seahawks

Completed just 12 of 30 passes, with an interception, vs. Cleveland.

38.1

Curtis Painter,

Colts

Third-year quarterback can't replace Peyton Manning for winless Colts.

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CLEVELAND — Three minutes and 80 yards separated Charlie Whitehurst from fourth-quarter redemption.

That's where things stood when the Seahawks and their quarterback got the ball at their 20-yard line late in Sunday's game. Their last chance, as it turned out, was every bit as offensively inept as the preceding 57 minutes with one dropped pass, a completion nullified by a penalty and the only first down coming by virtue of pass interference.

The drive ended after Whitehurst threw into double coverage on fourth-and-15. His pass to Mike Williams was tipped by Browns cornerback Joe Haden on a play that summarized Seattle's 6-3 loss at Cleveland Browns Stadium. While the game was never out of Seattle's grasp, the Seahawks never did get their hands around it either, turning the ball over on downs 74 yards away from that go-ahead touchdown.

"At the end is kind of when the disappointment hits you," Whitehurst said. "We lost a football game that was there to take."

That Seattle had a chance was amazing considering just how poorly its offense played — which was skid-row, searching-for-loose-change poor. The Seahawks defense allowed just six points despite being on the field for almost 43 minutes, defensive lineman Red Bryant blocked two Cleveland field-goal attempts, and the Browns never got the ball inside the Seattle 30 until the final five minutes of the game.

The Seahawks brought their hard hats to this Rust Belt city. Their defense packed a lunch.

"I have never been part of something like that," Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy said. "I don't remember ever playing in a game and not scoring a touchdown."

But Seattle's offense was a no-show, too.

"We just got nothing done," coach Pete Carroll said.

Not in the first half, when the Seahawks never drove inside the Cleveland 30. Not in the second half, when they had first-and-goal at the Browns 2 and settled for a field goal. And not on Seattle's final drive of the lowest-scoring game in franchise history.

The closest thing Seattle had to a touchdown was Leon Washington's 81-yard punt return midway through the third quarter, which was nullified by a questionable block-in-the-back penalty.

The Seahawks were missing starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who tested his injured pectoral muscle before the game, but was not active. They also didn't have running back Marshawn Lynch, in uniform but unable to play because of back spasms. Starting center Max Unger and tight end Zach Miller also missed the game.

But this game was a referendum of sorts on Whitehurst. Last year's backup won the Week 17 do-or-die finale at home against the Rams, but he never got a chance to compete for the starting job against Jackson this season.

Whitehurst is the quarterback some Seahawks fans have been screaming to see since Seattle failed to score a first-half touchdown in the season's first three games. Whitehurst is the one who came in to lead three scoring drives two weeks ago at the New York Giants, including the go-ahead touchdown in the final three minutes.

Whitehurst completed 12 of 30 passes Sunday for 97 yards and was sacked three times. Just four of his completions were to wide receivers. Only one was for more than 11 yards.

"We didn't give him much of an opportunity to get going," Carroll said.

But with three minutes left, the Seahawks and Whitehurst still had a chance.

They didn't even get halfway there, turning the ball over on downs after another incomplete pass that turned out to be a fitting epitaph for this road loss.

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

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