The Cincinnati Bengals claimed that Chuck Knox ordered a fake injury to stop play in the first quarter, but they were not about to begrudge the Seahawk coach his due.
Reminiscent of the 1988 Seattle-Cincinnati playoff game in which Seahawk defensive linemen Joe Nash and Ken Clarke mysteriously collapsed six times - thus halting the Bengals' no-huddle offense - Jeff Bryant suddenly fell down on the Cincinnati side of the ball on a play Seattle appeared to want changed.
Bryant walked off on his own and returned for the next series.
``When he fell down, I turned to Joe Nash and said, `I guess it's his turn this year, huh?' '' Bengal center Bruce Kozerski said. ``He just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.''
Bryant, who was lined up for the rush before collapsing in a heap, denied the injury was a fake. He said he slightly pulled a stomach muscle.
``An old college injury,'' said Bryant, a nine-year NFL veteran.
The Bengals were not buying it.
``If you were standing right there and looking into his eyes, it was very obvious it was rehearsed,'' Kozerski said. ``They did it to us again. Give them credit for getting away with it twice.''
Coach Sam Wyche of the Bengals said referee Jerry Seeman told him after Bryant went down the first time that he would penalize the Seahawks if they made a pattern of it.
According to the NFL rule, though, referees cannot make an
on-field determination of whether a player is faking an injury, league spokesman Joe Browne said. The only recourse for a team that objects is to file a protest after the game with the league office, which then would investigate the incident and possibly levy fines.
Wyche said he does not plan to file a report because fake injuries are difficult to prove. Nor does he favor amending the rule to allow referees to make injury determinations on the field.
``There's no way they can do it,'' he said. ``It's a gray area.''
Bengal guard Brian Blados said the Seahawks are the only team that has faked injuries against them. Last night, the Seahawks failed to get the contested play reversed - they wanted running back Harold Green ruled as having fumbled - but at least there was no penalty against them.
``If Chuck Knox can get away with it, it's a good play,'' Blados said. ``You can say it's unsportsmanlike, but it works. I don't know why more people don't do it.''
Knox's job safe
-- No longer coach of the only winless team in the NFL, Chuck Knox may feel like a weight has been lifted off his slimmed-up shoulders. But Seahawk owner Ken Behring said Knox never was at risk of losing his job through an 0-3 start.
Said Behring, when asked after the game if Knox's position was being evaluated: ``No. We had two games that could have gone either way.''
After a 34-31 overtime loss at Denver last week that gave the Seahawks their worst start since 1977, Behring passed on his usual tour of the Seahawk locker room and declined comment.
Behring was back in the locker room last night and indicated he shared the view that the Seahawks could be leading the AFC West if not for negligent officiating in a loss to the Los Angeles Raiders and two missed field goals by Norm Johnson in a defeat at Denver.
``We're better than we've shown,'' Behring said. ``We could be 3-1, but we're not. So we'll go from there.''
Practice makes perfect?
-- The Seahawks announced the signing of two players to their practice squad: receiver Terry Obee and defensive end Robert Morris, a 10th-round pick of Seattle's in the 1990 draft.
Paul Tagliabue, first-year NFL commissioner who was in Seattle for his first Seahawk game, spoke on the subject of practice squads and other issues before the game. He said the agreement struck last week for practice squads - among the first between the league and players in the absence of a collective bargaining agreement - should not be construed as a step toward a comprehensive labor agreement.
``The issue of practice players is so different from the issue of free agency that it doesn't really have much impact on my outlook,'' Tagliabue said.
-- Punter Rick Donnelly was as surprised as anyone at the Kingdome that he got off a punt on the run while being chased by two Bengals. Donnelly scooped up a low snap from center, bobbled the ball, regained control, started running, and kicked a 40-yarder.
``I didn't know if I was going to get it off or not,'' Donnelly said.
Unfortunately for the Seahawks, the coverage was disjointed; and Cincinnati's Mitchell Price returned the punt 66 yards for the only Bengal touchdown.
``I really didn't expect him to punt the ball when he did,'' Price said. ``I don't think they expected him to punt it when he did. They didn't cover it.
I just saw two or three players. I was able to make them miss and get to the sideline, and then it was all daylight.''
22-yard broken play
-- Seattle's longest run from scrimmage, a 22-yarder by John L. Williams, came on a broken play. Williams started left, saw nothing there and reversed his field. A block by quarterback Dave Krieg on Bengal safety David Fulcher helped Williams break into the clear.
``If you call that a block,'' Krieg said. ``I got in the way of Fulcher a little bit.''
-- The Seahawks still are scratching their heads over the official ruling that Cincinnati running back Harold Green was down before he fumbled in the first quarter. Replays clearly showed that linebacker Terry Wooden stripped the ball while Green still was off the ground and moving forward.
The official explanation was that Green had been ruled down by contact. Such plays are not subject to review by instant-replay officials.
Also contributing to this report: Times staff reporters Gil Lyons and Gordon Wittenmyer.
HAWKS' NEXT FOE: PATRIOTS
Who: New England Patriots.
What: AFC matchup.
When: 10 a.m. Sunday.
Where: Foxboro Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.
Radio: KIRO radio (710 AM).
Sunday: N.Y. Jets beat Patriots 37-13.
Top players: Defensive linebacker Chris Singleton, offensive lineman John Stephens.
Coach: Rod Rust (1-3) in first full season as leader of Patriots.
Series: Patriots lead all-time series 6-3. Seattle won last season's game 24-3.