The Seahawks entered Sunday's game having won four of their last five, but the loss to the Chargers shows that the rebuild isn't quite complete, and this youthful team is going to make some mistakes.
Third down, 15 yards to go, the Chargers with the ball on their own 12. It seemed like a sure stop for the Seahawks, who came into the game winners of four of their past five.
Then receiver Keenan Allen bolted off the line of scrimmage and beat the entire Seattle defense en route to a 54-yard catch. Seems appropriate looking back on it.
Against the top teams in the NFL — the Seahawks still lag way behind.
It was easy to become enamored with this team based on what it achieved over the past few weeks. Had they scored three more points against the 8-1 Rams, the Seahawks would have come into Sunday’s game riding a five-game winning streak.
You couldn’t blame people for letting the moment(s) seize them and declaring the resurgence of this franchise complete. But after Sunday’s 25-17 loss to L.A., it’s clear there’s a tier these Seahawks haven’t yet reached.
Yes, there were copious mistakes that could have changed the outcome had they been prevented. From Russell Wilson’s pick six, to his under-throwing of an end-zone bound Jaron Brown, to J.R. Sweezy’s false start on fourth-and-goal at the 1, to the 83 penalty yards spread out over 10 flags — the Seahawks’ feet were riddled with bullets.
But this game was less about mishaps and more about mismatches. Plain and simple, the Chargers were the better team.
“These guys in this locker room, they’re vibrant, they got the energy, they got the right mindset, it’s just — they’re young. So, there’s still some growing that needs to be done,” Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin said. “I don’t want to talk about moral victories, but I do think that’s an excellent football team we just went up against. So there’s nothing for us to be down about it.”
That wasn’t Baldwin shrugging his shoulders and saying he and his 52 teammates should settle for mediocrity. It sounded more like a realist who’s aware that, despite the strides the Seahawks have made, there are still a great many more to make.
You could certainly see that offensively Sunday. After a dazzling 75-yard touchdown drive to open the game, Seattle suddenly became allergic to the football. Only two of its next seven drives lasted more than five plays, and until the 1:50 mark of the fourth quarter, the Seahawks couldn’t score another touchdown.
Part of that spoke to the fragility of a running game that became paralyzed once Chris Carson exited with a hip injury. But it also served as a reminder that, as efficient as the Seahawks (4-4) have been over the past month or so, they haven’t exposed quality defenses.
Then again, their own defense was hardly Fort Knox on Sunday. Sure, Seattle held Philip Rivers to 13 of 26 passing, but he still managed 228 yards and two touchdown throws. The Chargers (6-2) also tallied 160 rushing yards, had eight plays of 20 or yards or more, and scored touchdowns on three of their first five drives.
The Seahawks haven’t been used to that lately. They’re the team that came into the game fourth in the NFL in scoring defense and fifth in total defense, both of which have been trending upward since Week 3.
“You can’t relax because you’re winning. You can’t sit back and feel like we got the whole world in our hands. We got a lot to prove,” Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark said. “We can’t go back to where we were at the start of the season. We gotta keep going up and get better every week.”
The thing is, what happened Sunday wasn’t regression so much as it was reality. The Chargers have emerged as one of the top teams in the league, while the blossoming Seahawks have yet to fully bloom.
It isn’t cause for panic. You don’t do that when your roster is as young as it is and you were 1 yard from potentially tying the game.
As linebacker Bobby Wagner said of the state of the team midway through the season “There’s been some highs, been some lows, there have been some bad plays, good plays, but there’s definitely been a lot of growth.”
That’s true. But what the Chargers proved Sunday, is that there’s still a lot of growth to go.