The Seahawks have been outscored 79-37 in the first quarter this season, their largest disparity of any period this season. They have committed 10 turnovers in the first quarter this year, scored just four touchdowns and kicked five field goals.
The search for the reason behind Seattle’s struggles goes back to the beginning.
Not necessarily the start of the season since Seattle won all four of its exhibition games and began the year with a shutout of St. Louis.
It’s the beginning of games that has been the Seahawks’ most glaring and persistent problem this season, and that’s really saying something because of how glaringly persistent Seattle’s lack of a pass rush has been.
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The Seahawks have been outscored 79-37 in the first quarter, their largest disparity of any period this season. They have committed 10 turnovers in the first quarter this year, scored just four touchdowns and kicked five field goals.
The slow starts have started to wear on everyone, including the head coach.
“I see a lack of execution is what I see,” coach Jim Mora said. “And it’s frustrating because we spend a lot of time preparing for that first drive, especially offensively when you know what you’re going to call.”
Mora said that during the week leading up to Seattle’s game at Tampa Bay. How did his team respond? Well, it went three-and-out on its first possession against the Bucs, the fifth consecutive game Seattle has failed to gain so much as a first down on its first possession.
The slow starts have actually become more pronounced as the season progressed.
In the first six games of the season, Seattle had 15 first-quarter possessions and failed to gain a first down on just five of those drives (33 percent).
Since November began, though, Seattle has had 26 first-quarter possessions in eight games. It failed to gain so much as a first down on 17 of those possessions (65.4 percent).
So what is Seattle to do?
“You just got to keep hammering it,” Mora said. “Hammering it, hammering it, hammering it, hammering it, hammering, hammering and you eventually get it.”
That’s a question of faith at this point because there are two games left in the season, and Seattle can’t continue its slow-starting ways if it hopes to have a chance in either of them. The Seahawks lack the offensive firepower to play catch-up. They’ve gone scoreless in the second half each of the past two games and have yet to score a second-half touchdown in December.
The Seahawks did finally get their offense going in the first quarter last week against the Buccaneers, twice driving into field-goal range. The problem was it did not translate into points.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck fumbled away the ball on Seattle’s first possession while scrambling for the first down. It was the first of five turnovers Hasselbeck committed.
“I think part of the turnover issue was we didn’t score (many) points the week before,” offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said. “There might have been a little pressing.”
Seattle missed a subsequent field-goal attempt because of a bad snap, so at the end of the first quarter the Seahawks had 128 yards of offense and no points to show for it.
That’s been the norm this season, though, as the first quarter has often been the worst for the Seahawks.
• WR Nate Burleson (ankle) and LB Aaron Curry (stinger) are not expected to play Sunday. Neither practiced this week, and both are listed as doubtful.
• WR Ben Obomanu (hamstring) was limited in practice Friday and is listed as questionable. If he is unable to play, Seattle may activate Mike Hass from the practice squad to avoid having only three healthy receivers available.
• RB Julius Jones practiced without limitation and while Mora said he expects Jones to be available, he is listed as questionable.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com