The Seahawks couldn't run the ball consistently, force interceptions or convert on third down on Sunday. In other words, they failed to follow the formula that had spurred their recent success.
When the Seahawks win, they run the football. The control the game with physicality. They don’t allow big plays. They intercept the opposing quarterback. They don’t commit costly penalties. They don’t throw the football to the other team. They convert on third down, and then they line up and do it again.
When the Seahawks win — and they’ve done a lot of winning lately — they follow an established formula. They embrace a specific identity.
That team, and that identity, didn’t show up to CenturyLink Field on Sunday.
“It’s a tough one, considering the kind of football we’ve been playing,” left tackle Duane Brown said following the Seahawks’ 25-17 loss to the 6-2 Los Angeles Chargers. “I think we got away from that on the offensive end. So we have to get back to our identity and get back to what we know and get ready for another big game this week.”
Let’s count all the ways these Seahawks strayed from what’s made them most successful. On the opening drive, for instance, Seattle chiseled through the Chargers to the tune of 75 yards on 13 plays, the result being a 10-yard Jaron Brown touchdown catch. The Seahawks ran nine times for 45 yards — falling forward, imposing their will, following that familiar formula.
In the 11 drives that followed, Seahawk running backs managed 68 rushing yards and 3.8 yards per carry. That’s the same offense that had averaged 173 rushing yards and 4.8 yards per carry in its previous four games.
Some of that dip in production can be attributed to personnel, as starting running back Chris Carson didn’t play in the second half because of a hip injury and right guard D.J. Fluker failed to finish the game because of a calf issue.
But there were no excuses inside the home locker room on Sunday.
A lot of questions, and not as many answers, but no excuses.
“It just felt like we weren’t clicking as much as we should, and in the other games, we usually click more,” said running back Mike Davis in a near-whisper, sitting shirtless in front of his locker. “Today, just with the penalties, I think it shot us (in the foot).”
Oh, and speaking of penalties, the Seahawks arrived at the office Sunday having committed an average of 7.4 of those in their seven games this season. They were flagged 10 times for 83 yards in the loss, repeatedly deflating drives and prompting sporadic boos from a spirited home crowd.
Add punishing penalties to an erratic running game, and what do you get? An offense that converted just 4 of 15 third downs (after converting 59.5 percent of them in their previous three games).
“We got behind the sticks today, and it hasn’t happened for about a month now,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “I think we had four or five third-and-12-pluses or whatever. It changes everything. That’s not the way we’ve been playing.”
That was the Seahawks’ somber chorus on Sunday. They failed to snag an interception after claiming 10 of those in their first seven games. Quarterback Russell Wilson, who had thrown 11 touchdown passes and just one interception in his previous five games, tossed a fourth-quarter pick-six and missed several wide open wide receivers. Tyler Lockett’s three-game touchdown streak was unceremoniously snapped. An offensive line that hadn’t allowed more than two sacks in its previous five games surrendered four of them Sunday.
All in all, these were the Bizarro Seahawks. The sloppy Seahawks. The staring-at-7-9 Seahawks.
These weren’t the same Seahawks that had just won four of their last five games.
“I feel like we’ve got our identity,” insisted defensive end Frank Clark, who earned another sack to raise his season total to 7.5. “We’re a tough team. We’re great when we want to be. We just can’t be lax.
“Those are the keys. I feel like we’re in a good place. We just have to believe in ourselves and believe in each other.”