It’s not often you chide a team that just won an NFL game, but in this case, Seattle deserves it. The Seahawks ground out a victory vs. a divisional foe, but cast more doubt on their abilities in the process.
Fact: The Seahawks beat San Francisco by a score of 12-9 Sunday.
Fact: The Seahawks improved to 1-1 thanks to a fourth-quarter touchdown drive.
Fact: The Seahawks have now topped the 49ers in their past eight meetings (including one postseason win).
Fact: The Seahawks are in big trouble.
It’s not often you chide a team that just won an NFL game, but in this case, Seattle deserves it. The Seahawks ground out a victory against a divisional foe but cast more doubt on their abilities in the process.
Twelve points against the Niners? Fifty rushing yards through the first three quarters?
They may have bettered their opponent Sunday — but their offense isn’t getting better.
“Ugly as hell,” said Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin when asked about the O. “Very ugly. But we did enough.”
Yes, the Seahawks did enough against a team that went 2-14 last year and finished last in total defense. They squeaked out a victory against a two-touchdown underdog listed at 300-1 to win the Super Bowl.
But that wouldn’t have been nearly enough against a playoff-caliber team playing its “C” game or better. And at this point, you have to wonder if this scoring problem will ever truly vanish.
It’s not that off games are uncommon among NFL teams. Even the Patriots — the league’s model of sustained excellence — find themselves out of sync from time to time.
But this wasn’t an abnormality the Seahawks can shrug off with a smile. This was the perpetuation of a trend that sunk them last season.
Seattle has won seven straight regular-season games against the 49ers. The Seahawks have not lost at home to the 49ers since late in the 2011 season. Seattle also extended its win streak in home openers to nine. The Seahawks haven’t lost their first home game since 2008.
Seattle has now scored 12 points or fewer in seven of its past 18 regular-season games — including the past two. There were three losses last year where a mere 15 points would have been enough to win.
Yes, most of the salary-cap money goes toward the defensive side of the ball — which has been outstanding for the past two weeks. But that doesn’t justify the offensive embarrassment the Seahawks displayed for the first 3½ quarters Sunday.
“It was a weird game offensively for sure,” said Seahawks tight end Luke Willson. “There are going to be a lot of plays where we’re going to be kicking ourselves.”
The most obvious kick-worthy moments were the five dropped balls — two of which could have been touchdowns. In the first quarter, running back C.J. Prosise bungled a pass on the 3-yard line that likely would have produced six points. Later in the quarter, Tanner McEvoy dropped a pass in the right corner of the end zone.
One could argue that these mishaps actually prove Seattle’s offense is better than the score indicates, as NFL receivers will generally come down with those balls. But one could also argue that the man throwing those passes should have been intercepted two or three times.
Despite his fourth-quarter heroics, Russell Wilson was closer to his worst than his best Sunday. He threw at receivers’ feet, he airmailed them a few times — he had one pass that hit cornerback Rashard Robinson’s hands, and one that may have been a pick-six had another defender not tipped it. In most fans’ eyes, his go-ahead TD pass to Paul Richardson rendered his struggles moot, but through two games, DangeRuss has looked DangeRusty.
“It’s part of it. You just continue to grow and I know I believe in myself and I believe that I’m going to hit those throws every time,” said Wilson when asked about some of the wayward passes. “I can always be better. I am looking forward to that, too.”
Maybe the rest of the offense can get better, too. The emergence of rookie running back Chris Carson — who had 93 yards on 20 carries — was the most pleasant surprise of the day. And the deficiencies on the offensive line weren’t nearly as glaring as they were a week earlier in Green Bay.
Still, it’s pretty disconcerting when you can’t score points against a team like San Francisco. For the past few seasons, the Niners have been the Advil for Seattle’s offensive headache. Last year, the eventually-cut Christine Michael racked up 106 rushing yards on 20 carries. This year, supposed superstar Jimmy Graham had one catch for 1 yard.
So if you’re a Seahawks fan, go ahead and relish Sunday’s win. A three-point escape counts just as much as a 40-point mashing.
But also know that there’s a problem here.
Sunday’s game was scary for the Seahawks. The future is, too.