Lofa Tatupu’s NFL career has been nothing but playoffs and Pro Bowls.
Until this season, that is.
Entering Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams, the Seahawks middle linebacker is well aware that the playoffs will not include his 2-11 team for the first time since 2003, and Tatupu doesn’t think he’s played well enough to warrant a fourth consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl.
“That’s a bonus,” Tatupu said of the Pro Bowl recognition. “What hurts the most is not making the playoffs.”
Coach Mike Holmgren always has maintained there’s a correlation between Pro Bowl recognition for players and the success of their team.
Last year, the Seahawks were the only team in the league to have four defensive players voted to starting berths in the all-star game — defensive end Patrick Kerney, outside linebacker Julian Peterson, cornerback Marcus Trufant and Tatupu.
This year, the Seahawks rank last in pass defense and are the only team in the league to allow more than 45 pass plays of 20-plus yards (48). Last week’s loss to the New England Patriots assured the worst record in Holmgren’s 17 seasons as a head coach and the team’s most losses since that infamous 2-14 season in 1992.
Could this also be a gutter-ball season for the Seahawks as far as Pro Bowl berths?
Left tackle Walter Jones will generate some votes, even in an injury-interrupted season, because he has been to eight Pro Bowls. Trufant went for the first time last season when he had a career-high seven interceptions, but he has just one this season — in part because opponents have been throwing away from the receiver he is covering. Kicker Olindo Mare is having an impressive season, but he has not gotten enough field-goal attempts (19 of 21).
Even if Jones were to garner alternate status, he could make a ninth trip to Hawaii because Washington Redskins tackle Chris Samuels’ season ended Sunday when he tore a triceps. Samuels, a five-time Pro Bowler, made several midseason All-Pro teams.
Jones is tied with former defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy for the most Pro Bowl berths in franchise history. Jones has taken his entire family to Hawaii in the past, including siblings, and their spouses. The group got as large as 30.
“It gets crazy, but it’s one of those situations where I wanted them to experience that, too,” Jones said.
“I think they look forward to it more than I do.”
The Seahawks players and coaches will cast their Pro Bowl votes Thursday and Friday. Fan balloting has been under way for for the past month. Each segment counts one-third toward determining the NFC and AFC squads, which will be announced Tuesday.
The last time the Seahawks did not have a representative in the Pro Bowl was 2000. The only other times they were blanked came in the franchise’s infancy — 1976, 1977 and 1980.
Asked how disappointing it will be to watch the Pro Bowl rather than play in it, Tatupu offered, “I don’t care. I’m going to be crying at home when I watch the playoffs. No one cares about the Pro Bowl.
“It’s an honor. It’s nice. But it’s one I don’t feel I deserve this year. I’m really crushed by the fact that we didn’t make the playoffs.”
HAWK TALK: Tatupu has 41 tackles in his past five games, the same number he had in the first seven games while playing with knee and hand injuries. He also has moved past sidelined linebacker Leroy Hill for the team lead, 82-81. Tatupu is looking to become the first player to lead the team in tackles for four consecutive seasons. … The Denver Broncos signed guard Pat Murray off the Seahawks practice squad.