Originally created 10/24/06

Playing dumb

Donovan McNabb and Jake Delhomme have been around long enough to know what they shouldn't do. They did it Sunday, and their teams lost.

Mike Holmgren and Tim Ruskell combined to get the Seahawks to the Super Bowl last season. But for lack of a backup quarterback, Seattle will have trouble getting back this season. A Damon Huard, Charlie Batch or a Trent Dilfer would be nice. But not a Seneca Wallace.

The Eagles and Panthers lost because experienced QBs made rookie mistakes.

We're not talking about McNabb's two interceptions, returned by Ronde Barber for Tampa Bay TDs. Those things happen.

In McNabb's case, it was clock management at the end of the half that cost the Eagles three points in a game they lost by one on Matt Bryant's improbable 62-yard field goal. In Delhomme's case, he forced a ball that was picked off with Carolina in range of at least a late game-tying field goal.

The Seahawks? Wallace is not Huard, Batch or Dilfer, whom the Seahawks let go to Cleveland after the 2004 season..

Here's a case-by-case look:


The Eagles' quarterback won't get any MVP votes for his work Sunday.

There were the two Barber interceptions, although McNabb was still able to rally Philadelphia from a 17-0 deficit in the third quarter to a 21-20 lead before Bryant's 62-yarder on the final play.

McNabb's biggest mistake, at the end of the first half with Tampa Bay leading 7-0, was more subtle. With 10 seconds to go and no timeouts left, the Eagles reached the Tampa Bay 6 and McNabb spiked the ball.

Now there were 8 seconds, time for one shot at the end zone and then a chip-shot field goal by David Akers. Instead, McNabb managed to complete a pass to tight end L.J. Smith, who was tackled at the 2.

Clock runs out. 7-0 instead of 7-3.

Rookie QBs occasionally make that mistake. Guys like McNabb? Throw it anywhere but to a receiver who will get tackled in bounds. It turns out that was the fourth time in 19 games McNabb has done something like that.

"He saw something there that turned out not to be there," coach Andy Reid said. "I'm banking that he learns from it and we move on and we'll score in those situations or throw the ball away."


With his Panthers trailing the Bengals 17-14 and just more than five minutes left, the Panthers got the ball at their own 19. Delhomme, with the help of a 15-yard face-mask call on Madieu Williams, moved Carolina to the Cincinnati 10. Easy range for a game-tying field goal by John Kasay.

On second down, Delhomme tried to force a pass to Keyshawn Johnson at the back of the end zone between two defenders. Kevin Kaesviharn intercepted. For all intents and purposes, game over.

Delhomme has always been a gambler, and most of his gambles turn into wins. He's one of the better clutch QBs in the NFL.

"Disappointing is an easy word, but the way you feel inside is a whole lot more than just one word," Delhomme said.


Holmgren and Ruskell, the general manager of the Seahawks, went into this season hoping Matt Hasselbeck could stay healthy.

And maybe they had faith in Wallace. But it hurt the Seahawks against Minnesota.

On the first series of the second half with the score 10-10, Hasselbeck hurt his knee. He was replaced by Wallace, who is a Pittsburgh-style "slash quarterback" - he was used at wide receiver last season. But until Sunday, he had thrown just 25 passes in three-plus seasons with the Seahawks.

On Sunday, he threw two interceptions, one on his second pass. The Seahawks basically unraveled and lost 31-13. No, Wallace didn't miss any tackles on Chester Taylor's 95-yard TD run, but he also wasn't about to rally the Seahawks from the 14-point hole it created.


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