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Hawks' Moon Loses Starting Job

Warren Moon, who turned 42 last week, was benched Monday as the starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks and replaced by Jon Kitna.

Kitna, 26, has played in one quarter this season. He will start for the Seahawks (5-6) against Tennessee (6-5) on Sunday in the Kingdome.

"Hopefully, he can add some spice to what we're doing offensively," coach Dennis Erickson said after watching Moon and the Seahawks lose Sunday in Dallas 30-22.

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"It's not all Warren's fault by any means. It's a combination of things. Obviously, in this business it's usually the quarterback or the coach."

The Seahawks rank 27th in the NFL in total offense and their passing offense is 25th.

After a 3-0 start, Seattle has gone 2-5, virtually dropping out of the playoff race. Even if the Seahawks win their final five games, they would be a longshot to make the playoffs because of tiebreakers.

If the Seahawks miss the playoffs for the 10th season in a row, Erickson and his entire coaching staff might be fired. Erickson is in the fourth season of a five-year contract.

It was the third time in Moon's 15-year NFL career that he's been benched. He played his first six pro seasons with Edmonton in the CFL.

Early in his careerin Houston, Moon was benched in favor of Oliver Luck. In 1993, he was replaced by Cody Carlson in Houston, but Carlson was injured in the first quarter.

Moon talked to Erickson before the announcement was made and then talked to the media.

"I hope it's the right move," he said. "But this isn't something that's easy for me to swallow. Of course, it's going to hurt my ego and my psyche a little bit.

"It's not something I totally agree with, but I accept it."

In Dallas, Moon was 15-for-28 for 201 yards and two touchdowns with one interception and a lost fumble. Moon has a 76.6 quarterback rating this season with 11 touchdown passes and eight interceptions.

Moon was hurting twice after beinpounded by the Cowboys' defense. He was sacked twice.

"I'm pretty sore," he said.

For the Tennessee game, Moon will be Kitna's backup and John Friesz will be demoted to No. 3.

Moon, a former University of Washington star, returned to Seattle last season as a free agent and set franchise records with 3,678 yards passing and 313 completions.

Kitna played in the fourth quarter in Kansas City on Oct. 4 after Moon cracked two ribs.

"Jon gives us some mobility and some different things to try to get things going," Erickson said.

Kitna, like Moon, is a local product. He was born in Tacoma, went to high school there and played at Central Washington against NAIA competition. The Seahawks signed him as a free agent and he spent the 1996 season on the practice squad.

He was the MVP in the 1997 World Bowl, leading Barcelona to a victory over Rhein in the title game.

Kitna played in three games and made one start for the Seahawks last season.

"He's a good kid," Moon said. "It's not like he's never played before. He's played a lot."

The Seahawks reported that defensive tackle Dan Saleaumua, who has started six games this season, re-injured his left knee in the Cowboys' game and would be out at least three games.

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