SEATTLE (Sept. 24, 2006) -- Flat doesn't begin to describe the New York Giants' start to their supposed showdown with Seattle.
Flattened is more like it.
Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw five touchdown passes -- four in a first half in which Eli Manning had three interceptions. New York trailed 42-3 before rallying in the fourth quarter to a 42-30 loss Sunday.
"I don't know what it is. But it's not flat," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after his team followed a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit at Philadelphia last week with a 35-0 flop in the first half against the soaring Seahawks.
"A team that does nothing but preach and talk about turnovers, we turn it over like nothing matters, nothing counts," Coughlin said. "It cost us the game."
It all left New York's Jeremy Shockey irate -- at his coach.
"We got outplayed, and outcoached. Write that down," the volatile tight end said after he was told of Coughlin's frustrated outburst.
Shockey had four catches for 58, inconsequential yards.
When asked what he meant by "outcoached" Shockey said, "You saw the game."
The Seahawks (3-0) won their 12th consecutive regular-season home game and finally felt good about their previously sputtering offense, thanks to Deion Branch's debut.
The former Patriot and Super Bowl MVP caught two passes for 23 yards and ran a reverse 8 yards. He was part of the Seahawks' new, four-wide receiver scheme, an offensive makeover during the game's relatively few important parts.
"There was no way for them to prepare for that ... we were running routes we'd never shown," Hasselbeck said.
Whatever, Coughlin huffed.
"Our pass coverage was practically nonexistent ... Turn the ball over like that and not be able to stop them, not to get anything done until the second half," he said. "Makes no sense to me."
Made history, though.
New York (1-2) wanted to take Seattle's roaring, allegedly enhanced crowd out of the game early. The Giants did that by free-falling into the deepest first-half hole in their 82-year history.
"We just handed it to them," Coughlin said.
Manning was 2-of-7 for minus-1 yards and the two interceptions in a nightmare first quarter, when Seattle led 21-0. He was 20-for-26 for 238 yards after that.
"Yeah, it was hard to believe," Manning said of the start.
Hasselbeck's scoring throws to Jackson, Nate Burleson, Bobby Engram and even third-string tight end Will Heller -- plus Shaun Alexander's 2-yard score -- put the Giants behind 35-0 for the first time since Sept. 4, 1995, when they lost by that score to Dallas en route to a 5-11 season.
"You don't expect to be in that situation," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said.
The rout was so quick, so decisive, it rendered the incessant roaring of a Qwest Field-record crowd of 68,161 moot -- but not mute. The fans were mostly mocking the stunned visitors by the end of the third quarter, after the Seahawks completed a 17-play drive that ended with Darrell Jackson's second touchdown catch for a 42-3 lead.
Manning's initial mistake was not seeing Ken Hamlin lurking behind Plaxico Burress on New York's third play, after the Giants' Corey Webster had outfought Jackson for an interception to begin the game. Hamlin jumped in front of Burress, intercepted Manning's pass and returned it 37 yards to the New York 15.
Two plays later, Alexander scored on a 2-yard run. Alexander played only three quarters and gained 47 yards on 20 carries -- his third consecutive sub-100 yard day.
Rookie Darryl Tapp sacked Manning for an 11-yard loss to end the Giants' second drive. Burleson then made a twisting catch of a 12-yard throw for a 14-0 lead.
Manning's next error was a looping toss intended for Amani Toomer, who was briefly open on a corner route. Hamlin, roving in the middle of the field, raced under the pass and returned his second interception of the period 26 yards to the New York 27.
That became a 21-0 lead four plays later, when Hasselbeck found Jackson for an easy, 4-yard touchdown pass.
Just after Manning finally had positive passing yardage, early in the second quarter, Burress allowed a throw to clang off his hands and into the arms of Michael Boulware for another interception. The Seahawks converted that into a score when Heller ran past flat-footed R.W. McQuarters to become all alone for a 10-yard touchdown reception. That made it 28-0.
Jay Feely's 46-yard field goal to end the half kept the Giants from a halftime shutout.
Manning threw scoring passes of 13 yards to Toomer and 25 yards to Tim Carter in the fourth quarter to make it 42-17. McQuarters then returned an interception 27 yards for another touchdown with 9:30 left.
New York's final score came on a 9-yard scoring pass to David Tyree with 2:42 remaining.
"Right now," linebacker Antonio Pierce said entering New York's bye week, "we're a horrible team."
Notes: Alexander's touchdown gave him 102 for his career, most in Seattle history. Alexander has 91 career touchdowns rushing, tied for eighth in NFL history with Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis. ... Giants LB Carlos Emmons left with a pectoral strain and didn't return.