PHILADELPHIA -- Mike Holmgren confronted his defense last week. They definitely got the message, making a cross-country trip to Philadelphia for a Monday night game in the snow nothing more than a romp through the Linc.
Using big plays on defense, including interception returns for touchdowns by Andre Dyson and rookie Lofa Tatupu, and smaller ones from their top-ranked offense, the Seattle Seahawks routed the Eagles 42-0.
"I challenged them during the week, our young guys, and they really stepped up," Seattle's coach said. "Tonight, they really had fun. They got to turn those things into touchdowns.
"We gave up a lot of yards to the Giants and San Francisco, and I feel we're better than that. We weren't giving up a lot of points, but I thought we hit a bit of a leveling and I kind of pounded them a bit. If they played tonight like that because they are mad at me, that's fine."
Of course, these aren't the same Eagles who made the last four NFC championship games. Philadelphia (5-7) has been torn apart by injuries and the Terrell Owens affair and played its worst game since becoming an NFC force in 2001.
Certainly a better fight was expected. Yet the Seahawks (10-2) dominated from the outset, winning their eighth straight game, tying a team record set in 1984. They gained only 194 yards overall -- the Seahawks were averaging 386 -- but didn't need to do much after taking a 35-0 halftime lead.
"I've never been ahead like that against a good football team," Holmgren said. "It was kind of new territory."
Seattle, which got two short touchdowns runs from NFL rushing leader Shaun Alexander, sort of sneaked its way to the top of the conference and barely survived the New York Giants last week. In the Monday night spotlight, though, the NFC West champions filled the scoreboard.
"We just jumped on them and didn't let them breathe," said Dyson, who was on crutches and wore a protective boot on his left ankle after spraining it returning Ryan Moats' fumble 25 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second half.
Dyson was carried off the field by several teammates, but Holmgren said he didn't think it was serious.
"I think we showed a lot of people about this team," Alexander added.
It was Philadelphia's worst loss since a 38-0 flop against Seattle to open the 1998 season. Indeed, as Dyson scored on his fumble return, the Linc pretty much emptied out. The majority of fans stayed that long only because the Eagles retired Reggie White's No. 92 at halftime.
The Eagles, who had six turnovers, were shut out for the first time since 2003 when Tampa Bay beat them 17-0 in the first game in the new stadium. It was the Eagles' worst home loss since they were beaten 49-0 by Green Bay in 1962.
"Embarrassing may be a good term for it," DE Jevon Kearse said. "It was embarrassing and everything else bad that goes with it."
And, they lost running back Brian Westbrook with a sprained foot. He will have an MRI on Tuesday.
It didn't take long for Seattle's powerful offense to begin the scoring. Well, it actually took more than eight minutes on the opening drive, a relentless march featuring four third-down conversions and 16 plays. Matt Hasselbeck, flushed to the right, found Bobby Engram wide open in the end zone for an 11-yard pass after Philadelphia's Jeremiah Trotter and Quintin Mikell collided.
Three plays earlier, Trotter's illegal contact penalty negated Mikell's interception in the end zone.
When the Eagles staged their own productive drive, it ended ignominiously as Mike McMahon stared straight at receiver Greg Lewis. Dyson read the pass perfectly, picked it off and raced 72 yards down the left sideline for a 14-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter, McMahon threw directly to middle linebacker Tatupu, who went 38 yards to make it 21-0. It was the first time in 30 years the Eagles have allowed two interception runbacks for scores in a game, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
"Maybe it was a little reaction, but it wasn't the greatest decision on the QB's part," Tatupu said. "But he has a strong arm and he thought he could force it in there and I just undercut it at the right time.
"It was a great game all around. It just proved we are coming together at a time when we need to come together."
Alexander got his first TD of the night on a 2-yard run one play after Koy Detmer, in for the inept McMahon, had his pass tipped by the omnipresent Tatupu and picked off by Michael Boulware. He added his league-leading 22nd touchdown of the season with a 1-yarder set up by Hasselbeck's 42-yard pass to D.J. Hackett.
Alexander finished with 49 yards rushing, the first time in more than a year he had fewer than 60 yards. But he didn't play in the second half.
"I was begging to stay in there," he said jokingly.
Owens finished his team suspension for conduct detrimental to the franchise. He was deactivated before the game, as he will be for the rest of a season spiraling out of control.
- Seattle holds the NFL record for interception returns for TDs with four against Kansas City on Nov. 4, 1984.
- The Eagles last allowed two interception returns for TDs on Nov. 3, 1975, against the Los Angeles Rams.
- McMahon and Detmer each threw two interceptions; Moats and Detmer lost fumbles.