The bottom has fallen out of the defense in recent weeks. When the Bills won in Seattle by a 38-9 score two weeks ago, Buffalo's Willis McGahee became the first Bills player since Roland Hooks in 1979 to score four rushing touchdowns in a game. Monday night, Cowboys rookie Julius Jones ran roughshod for 198 yards against Rhodes' unit.
What might Daunte Culpepper, Randy Moss and the Vikings do against this fading defense? Culpepper is completing 70.2 percent of his passes with 30 touchdowns. He teamed with Moss to torch Seattle's defense during a 34-7 victory last season.
The Seahawks are without starting OLBs Chad Brown (knee) and Anthony Simmons (wrist). Their top backup to those players, D.D. Lewis, is out for the season. LB Tracy White is bothered by a hamstring injury that has kept him out of recent games.
Up front, DT Rocky Bernard (knee) and DT Marcus Tubbs (ankle) have been declared out for the Minnesota game. Both were injured in the 43-39 loss to the Cowboys on Monday night. DT Cedric Woodard (knee) was also injured in that game; he's questionable. DT Rashad Moore remains limited by a bum shoulder, but now he'll have to start.
Moore and Woodard were the starters to open the season. Tubbs had replaced Moore in recent weeks. Bernard was a top reserve. DE Brandon Mitchell and DE Antonio Cochran will have to play some on the interior.
The Vikings like to throw the ball, but they're also averaging 4.8 yards a carry.
"The biggest thing with our defense is injury," coach Mike Holmgren said flatly. "I'm telling you that and you don't have to write a word of it. Honestly, I don't expect you to. But the fact is, that's what it is."
Seattle's defense has gone from a No. 1 ranking after a 3-0 start to a No. 20 ranking this week.
"We're giving up more yards now, but goodness gracious, it's ridiculous what has happened to decimate that group," Holmgren said. "And I'm not even talking about (Grant) Wistrom, because we got Wistrom back."
Holmgren cited a back injury in explaining why rookie SS Michael Boulware will replace Terreal Bierria in the lineup this week, but that was being kind. Bierria has been burned repeatedly in coverage this season, and now even his run defense has fallen off. Boulware, who has four interceptions, will be thrown into a tough situation.
"If we can score enough points and help them out a little bit on that side of the ball, then we have a chance to win some more games," Holmgren said.
LOSSES TOUGH ON HOLMGREN
The tough losses are starting to take a toll on Holmgren. The first killer was a disputed 2003 loss to Baltimore in which an officiating error gave the Ravens extra time to force overtime with a field goal. This year, there was an October loss to the Rams in which the Seahawks blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead, followed by the recent Monday night loss in which Dallas overcame a 10-point deficit in the final two minutes.
"There are some coaches that I admire greatly that seem to be able to, you know, whatever happens, happens, and off we go to the next (game)," Holmgren said. "Unfortunately, I'm not like that. And I think I've been at it awhile now, so it's starting to ... you take too many body blows, you know, boom-boom, pretty soon, you can't take so many anymore."
Terrill worked with the starters in practice Wednesday, but he's probably a long shot to play extensively. DE Brandon Mitchell and DE Antonio Cochran have started on the inside in the past. Both are veterans with much more talent than Terrill.
BY THE NUMBERS: The Seahawks have outscored their opponents by a total of seven points since Holmgren arrived as coach in 1999. The point total is Seahawks 1,996, opponents 1,989.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Coming into this season we had high expectations and we put the team together a certain way, and we're all struggling with it a little bit with where it is right now. I'm as disappointed as anybody at some of the things that have happened." — Holmgren.