Rookie Josh Freeman shook off his ninth interception in just over two games to throw two touchdown passes in the second half, rallying the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 24-7 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Tampa Bay's 26th-ranked defense forced five turnovers by Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, as the Buccaneers (2-12) won for just the second time in 17 games.
With maybe 500 angry Seattle fans watching by the end, the young Bucs triumphantly pointed to the sky after the team's first win away from Tampa in 10 tries, since Nov. 23, 2008, at Detroit.
Tampa Bay's last road victory against a team that wasn't winless was Nov. 2, 2008, at Kansas City.
The 21-year-old Freeman completed 16 of 26 passes for 205 yards, after starting 2 for 6 with the interception.
Hasselbeck had his first four-interception game in over five years and just the second of his career for the Seahawks (5-9), who have been held to fewer than 10 points four times in a season for the first time since 2001. That was Hasselbeck's first as Seattle's starter and just before the franchise turned into a perennial playoff team that made a Super Bowl appearance in the middle of this decade.
Those days seems like centuries ago.
"We are what we are," downcast coach Jim Mora said.
Seattle's dismal week began with a desperate Mora pleading that he needed tougher "dirtbags" amid a league-wide perception that the Seahawks were soft. Then came Saturday night's news that local favorite Mike Holmgren would not be returning as an executive to save the franchise.
On Sunday, a screaming woman in a lime green Seahawks jersey was holding a sign proclaiming "Let's Go Dirtbags!" A man had "Dirtbags" written on the side of his closely shaved head - while wearing an enlarged picture of Mora's face.
They had to be booing through all of Seattle's turnovers plus a chip-shot field goal blown early with a bad snap. It got so bad for the Seahawks, they were forced to use little cornerback Kelly Jennings as their long snapper for punts in the second half, when regular snapper Kevin Houser got hurt for the second time in the game. Jennings' appearance was a comical sight, with the Buccaneers anxiously pointing at the tiny lineman wearing No. 21 amid giants, as if a trick play may be coming.
The Seahawks have way too many issues for that.
Hasselbeck threw four interceptions for the first time since Oct. 24, 2004, facing a defense that had been plagued by big passing plays all season. His third turnover in 2½ quarters came when receiver Deion Branch fell making his break on an in route. Tanard Jackson intercepted the pass, and on the next play Carnell Williams took a screen pass from Freeman and went 22 yards for Tampa Bay's first touchdown in 12 quarters, since the second half in Atlanta on Nov. 29.
The Buccaneers had a 13-7 lead midway through the third quarter, and boo-filled Seattle had its lowest moment of an already sunken season. Until five minutes later.
A 33-yard punt return by rookie Sammie Stroughter set up the Buccaneers in Seattle territory for the fourth time. Freeman completed a third-and-7 pass to Stroughter. Then on third-and-goal he faked left and deftly plopped a screen pass right over Seahawks end Patrick Kerney for a 6-yard touchdown. After Freeman ran in a 2-point conversion, Tampa Bay had a 21-7 lead. Boos drenched the home team like cold winter rain.
The Seahawks outgained the Buccaneers 234-117 in the first half and had 13 first downs to Tampa Bay's four - yet led only 7-3 at halftime because of Hasselbeck's turnovers.