ST. LOUIS – Earl Thomas sat slumped in a chair, staring blankly ahead.
Thomas always sits at his locker for a while after games, but this looked different, like he was a shell of himself.
“Drained, man,” he said. “That was probably the most physical game I’ve ever played in my life.”
For 71 plays and more than 38 minutes, Thomas and the defense were pressed into action because Seattle’s offense couldn’t stay on the field. It all came to a head at the goal line in the final seconds, when a spent Seahawks defense dug in and stopped St. Louis.
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Across the locker room, receiver Doug Baldwin also sat in a chair. He, too, had a look about him — that of frustration.
“We’re so much better than what we showed today,” Baldwin said. “And it’s frustrating because I love my guys on defense, but we can’t keep putting them in this situation. It upsets me when I see the defense out there struggling because the time of possession is so lopsided. We just can’t have that.”
The take-away from Seattle’s offense after the game: Hawks are happy to be 7-1, but there are issues that need to be addressed quickly. As Baldwin said, “In the NFL you can’t play offense like this and keep continuing to win.”
Against St. Louis, Seattle couldn’t run the ball (2.9 yards per carry) and couldn’t block well enough to throw it (seven sacks).
Quarterback Russell Wilson always talks about staying on schedule. By that he means picking up positive yards on first down, then doing the same on second down to be in good position on third down.
Negative plays or no-gains throw Seattle off schedule. That’s what happened against the Rams.
The Seahawks averaged just 1.1 yards on first down, and that’s not including a penalty on guard J.R. Sweezy. As a result, Seattle was just 2 for 11 on third down and now ranks 28th in the league in third-down efficiency.
“I don’t think we were good on any down,” Baldwin said. “First down was terrible as well. We couldn’t stay on schedule, couldn’t get any rhythm.”
The most noticeable absence was Marshawn Lynch, the heart of Seattle’s offense. Lynch had only eight carries, his fewest since his second season in Seattle.
That, of course, was dictated in part by the fact that Seattle ran only 40 plays all game. But members of the offense said the Seahawks need to get back to Lynch and their roots.
“We have to get the run game going,” receiver Golden Tate said. “We have to.”
Later, he added: “Fourteen points? I mean, we’ve got to do better than that. Fourteen points with a Pro Bowl running back? We’ve got to get that going.”
Lynch became visibly frustrated in the second quarter after Seattle had first-and-goal from St. Louis’ 1-yard line. Wilson kept the ball on read options on first and second down. Both times he was stopped short. On third down, Wilson hit Tate for a touchdown.
After the touchdown, Lynch sprinted off the field, headed straight to Seattle’s bench and threw a towel over his head. Teammates came over and talked to him. So did coach Pete Carroll. After a few minutes, Lynch went and patted Wilson and Tate.
During his radio show with 710 ESPN on Tuesday, Carroll said Wilson didn’t read either play properly and that he shouldn’t have given Wilson the option to keep the ball on second down.
Carroll said he and Lynch talked on the plane ride to Seattle after the game.
“It’s not a big deal,” Carroll said on the radio, “and it’s no big statement that’s been made.”
It is, however, an indication of where Seattle’s offense stands at the moment, especially with receiver Sidney Rice out for the season with a torn ACL.
The Seahawks are expecting tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini back in a few weeks to shore up an offensive line that gave up seven sacks Monday, and receiver Percy Harvin could play for the first time Sunday. But the offense looked in need of immediate fixes against the Rams.
“Not taking anything from St. Louis,” Tate said, “but against a team like Denver, Kansas City, San Francisco, that’s not going to cut it. We’re going to have to fix this quick.”