An early seven-point lead in Tampa Bay evaporated Sunday as the Seahawks surrendered the lead and 31 consecutive points to the Buccaneers as Seattle lost 38-15.
After two lackluster weeks of quarterback play that saw Matt Hasselbeck commit nine turnovers, the 12-year veteran was on his way early to prove why first-year Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll decided to stick with him as the team’s starter under center against the Buccaneers.
Hasselbeck completed three of four first-quarter passes for Seattle and, on third-and-goal from Tampa Bay’s one-yard line, jogged into the end zone following a play action bootleg to the right with 2:59 remaining in the opening 15 minutes. An Olindo Mare extra point gave the Seahawks a 7-0 advantage.
Seattle’s day quickly turned sour, though. Hasselbeck hurt his left hip on the score and didn’t return to the game.
With Hasselbeck out, Charlie Whitehurst took over under center.
Prior to the injury, Seattle had four first downs and 68 total yards of offense. With Whitehurst in for the game’s final three quarters, the Seahawks picked up one first down and 106 total yards.
The team also added eight more points thanks to a Leon Washington 16-yard rushing touchdown with 10:22 to go in the game and a two-point conversion pass completion following the score from Whitehurst to wide receiver Ben Obomanu, but the game was long over as the Seahawks trailed 31-15.
While Whitehurst struggled for Seattle (6-9), Josh Freeman flourished for Tampa Bay (9-6).
Following a first quarter that showcased a Buccaneers offense that accumulated nine total yards of offense, no first downs and a field goal, Freeman went on to lead his unit to 430 additional offensive yards and five touchdowns with all five scores coming through the air.
Tight end Kellen Winslow and rookie wide receiver Mike Williams each hauled in two touchdown passes from Freeman while wideout Maurice Stovall caught the team’s final score from the second-year quarterback.
Winslow led all receivers with seven receptions for 98 yards.
The loss is Seattle’s third in a row and the fifth in the Seahawks’ last six games yet with a win at home next week against the St. Louis Rams will win the NFC West and earn a spot in the playoffs.
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