Not just another loss?

The Seahawks were beaten on the road again Sunday – this time 34-19 by the Saints – but they battled to the end and gave a glimpse that their season is not lost.

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NEW OLREANS – Before the S.O.S. groans begin, Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints was not a case of the Same Old Seahawks.

Yes, the Seahawks were slapped with a 34-19 loss by the defending Super Bowl champions at the Superdome. But this Seahawks’ team is not like the one that lost seven road games last season, and had no chance – and few answered – once it fell behind a string of oppressive opponents.

“We’re a different team,” running back Justin Forsett said. “With this team, the effort is going to be there.”

Despite the loss, which dropped the Seahawks back to .500 at 5-5, they retained sole possession of first place in the NFC West because the other three teams in the division also lost. And, the Seahawks play four of their final six games at Qwest Field – starting with next week’s matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs and then another home game against the Carolina Panthers.

“I like the way we’re fighting,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We’ve just got to find a way to play better.”

Especially in two keys areas, as the story of this game followed a familiar refrain from the Seahawks’ other losses. Defensively, they had problems getting the Saints off the field on third downs. Offensively, they continued to have problems in the red zone.

Each team scored five times in this game. It’s just that the Saints’ were all touchdowns, including four TD passes by Drew Brees; while the Seahawks had a TD and four field goals from Olindo Mare.

“They had better stuff than we did today,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said.

Brees was everything the Seahawks expected him to be, and more. He completed 29 of 43 passes to 10 different receivers for 382 yards – including two TD passes each to Marques Colston and Robert Meachem.

“I was really impressed with Drew,” Carroll said.

Hasselbeck was almost as impressive, despite playing with a cast on his left wrist to protect the bone that was cracked in last week’s game against the Cardinals in Arizona. He completed 32 of 44 passes to eight different receivers for 366 yards – including a 2-yard TD to Ben Obomanu.

But running back Marshawn Lynch lost two fumbles, the Seahawks settled for field goals twice after reaching the Saints’ 2-yard line and the defense allowed the Saints to convert 11 of 15 third-down situations.

The Seahawks, however, never gave up – or gave in, as was apparent in lopsided road losses at Indianapolis, Dallas, Houston and Green Bay last season.

“I like the way we fought,” Carroll said. “They got out to an early lead, but we hung in.”

If the Seahawks can cure their red-zone problems and become more consistent with their third-down defense, the NFC West is there for that taking.

“If we can get all three phases going at the same time,” strong safety Lawyer Milloy said, “we’ll be a dangerous team.”