Instant reaction: Seahawks beaten in San Diego, drop to 1-1

September 14th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

That’s one of Pete Carroll’s many motto’s. San Diego proved today that sometimes, a good start is the key.

Give credit to the Chargers. They dictated the game from the get-go. Seattle’s defense had no answer to Philip Rivers and the San Diego offense.

Carroll won’t be incorrect if he points to a poor finish. Seattle’s final drive and chance to win stalled after a failed jet sweep set them back to 2nd and 16 — a position they never recovered from. Bruce Irvin’s bonehead penalty was a back-breaker and they failed to recover several fumbles.

Yet the damage was mostly done in the first two quarters and let’s be honest — only one team deserved to win today as a consequence.

On a roasting afternoon in California touching 120 degrees on the field — ball control was key. Long offensive drives were the order of the day to keep the defense fresh. San Diego destroyed Seattle on time of possession in the first half and delivered the telling blow as a consequence.

Seattle’s defense was gassed. San Diego’s unit sat in the shade.

A half time score of 20-14 looked very Seahawky. Despite the battering on defense this was still a close game. But how was Seattle’s defense going to deal with an in-form Rivers after such an energy sapping first half? You could argue the Chargers only scored seven points after the break. Field position was just as important — and errors crept into the performance (see: Irvin). San Diego’s defense was much less fatigued on the final game-winning stop and it showed.

While the Chargers stuck to their identity, surprisingly Seattle strayed away from theirs. Perhaps encouraged by last weeks display against Green Bay and Percy Harvin’s electrifying score (that should’ve been called back), they tried some trickery and took their shots. These conditions called for the run. Pound it up the middle, wear out the defensive line. Set the tone for quarters three and four where the speedy playmakers can have some fun.

If nothing else — get some long drives going straight off the bat to preserve your own defense. San Diego carried an edge in the second half, facing a clearly fatiguing Seattle.

That’s not to say they didn’t have success. Wilson led three quick-fire scoring drives and had a very productive day. Harvin’s touchdown shouldn’t have stood but given that it did, you have to praise the execution. Had Seattle been a little more conservative no doubt the critics would’ve pointed to last week. Carroll doesn’t seem like the kind of coach to play to the conditions — and yet maybe that’s what it needed?

Earl Thomas, possibly the best athlete on the field not named Percy Harvin, had to leave the game with cramps. Kam Chancellor rushed into the locker room with the same problem. At the end of the third quarter Michael Bennett looked exhausted and Byron Maxwell had to go into the locker room too.

You could see how weary they’d become on Antonio Gates’ third and final score. Goodness knows how they got off the field to give the offense one last shot at the end. But even then — they allowed a couple of third down conversions, conceded field position and the Chargers tee’d off knowing they had 89 yards to play with.

The Seahawks drop to 1-1 and if they’d won today, it would’ve been a steal. San Diego are a very accomplished team with a fantastic quarterback. It was a bad performance, but they played worse last year (Rams on the road). This shouldn’t be seen as the first signs of a fading force.

If there is one concern it’ll be recovery. The game against Denver (2-0) sells itself and the defense will need to be fresh against Manning & Co. Dropping to 1-2 is unthinkable but not totally unrealistic. It’s a tough one to have next. And forget what happened in the Super Bowl, this is a new contest.

Other notes:

— A week after Seattle had a very clean night against the Packers, the sloppy penalties were back today. None were more painful than Bruce Irvin’s ridiculous roughing call as Philip Rivers jogged out of bounds. It turned a fourth down field goal attempt into an extended drive and eventually the deciding touchdown. This is Irvin’s third year in the NFL and he needs to start making an impact for the right reasons.

— Antonio Gates had a terrific game especially when you consider he was part of the injury report during the week. For all the success they had defending Jimmy Graham in two games last season, the Seahawks had no answer for Gates. Kam Chancellor had a really difficult day in coverage, as did Malcolm Smith.

— This was the first time in a long time where the defense appeared humbled. It was a really strange day. They made some good plays. And yet whenever the Chargers put themselves in a hole through avoidable penalties, they simply let Rivers carve them out of trouble. It never really felt like the big defensive play would come — and it didn’t. However, the Chargers put the ball on the turf three (maybe four?) times and on each occasion they recovered. On one fumble they even gained positive yardage on the play. The defense needed a break in these conditions and didn’t get one.

— Russell Wilson looked unstoppable and really he was the only reason this wasn’t a blow out. He moved the ball for two swift scoring drives. If there’s one big positive from this day, it’s Wilson’s continued development.

— Percy Harvin didn’t touch the ball until the final drive after his kick return fumble. He had two carries including a score then disappeared from the gameplan. The jet sweep on the first play of the final drive was predictable and ill-timed. They were already backed up needing a touchdown to score. 2nd and 16 halted the drive before it began. It was an ugly series against a revved up defense. Harvin’s absence was almost as confusing as Marshawn Lynch’s in the first half.

— Seattle lost it’s NFL record for consecutive games without a two-score defeat thanks to San Diego’s late field goal. They’ve also lost 33 straight games when conceding 27 points or more — also the longest run in the league.

46 Responses to “Instant reaction: Seahawks beaten in San Diego, drop to 1-1”

  1. Dumbquestions says:

    Russell played great – and I’m sure they’ll say the game situation wasn’t right, but the play-calling made no sense to me. Defense utterly gassed, and it felt like we came out throwing on every down when it wasn’t necessary.

    – DQ

  2. John_s says:

    Looked like a game from a couple years ago (lions and dolphins). Rivers and co killed the hawks on the underneath stuff (LB’s playing to deep?). Penalties on both sides and not able to get off the field on 3rd downs especially 3rd and longs.

    Chalk it up to playing on the road and the conditions but with the Broncos coming up even if it’s at CLink they need to respond with a stellar effort and not go 1-2 to start the seaso

  3. Rory says:

    I hate to be the guy that brings up the heat, but I think it played a major role. Sand Diego deserved to win, and in no way is does this game have an asterisk by it. The fact is the hawks D got tired and started playing poorly, we’ve seen this bend don’t break strategy work before, but we broke under the heat. To me this game was reminiscent of the snowy lions and eagles game last year. The element played such a big factor. We got beat fair and square, but the extenuating circumstances are why I’m not worried about are performance.

    • sdcoug says:

      Did not SD play in the very same heat and still find a way to execute much better? Tough conditions to be sure, but they knew it was going to be hot. No excuse

      • Rory says:

        i completely agree. What im saying is this game was the exception, we got beat fair and square, but i still think we would win over half the games if we played them 10 times.

      • Austin says:

        I don’t think its the sole reason they lost but being used to 70 degrees in Seattle and playing in 120 field temps(a 50 degree different) obviously taxed them. SD is somewhat used to the eat and seemed to do much better in it. It played a factor and I’m the last person to blame a loss on the elements.

        We lost because of so many mental mistakes. I’ve never seen so many veterans have so many mental relapses as the wrong time ie Irvin, Sweezy false start after a timeout, Miller terrible blocking night, Baldwin with 2 drops and getting blown up on the jet sweep etc. I could go on and on. Uncharacteristic of this team and hopefully they figure it out for next week.

        • Michael M. says:

          Luke Willson had a pretty terrible game too. Wasn’t even out of his stance yet, and Russell was already getting sacked. I think he had a dumb penalty too.

          • Rory says:

            Props to the chargers for keeping the defense on the field. If we could have got a few stops in the beginning and sustained a few drives, the story might have been switched.

        • Arias says:

          SD is more knowledgeable on how to better prepare for the heat. After all, it’s their home field advantage.

          The key is hydration. There’s a reason you didn’t hear about Chargers players requiring IVs off the field during the game, they started hydrating themselves on Wednesday.

          When Pete was asked what the team did to prepare for the heat he replied “Nothing”. The coaches should have been better prepared, even though it’s understandable, given how rare San Diego in September heat is on their schedule, why they weren’t.

  4. Jeff's says:

    I didn’t think last weeks game was a good barometer because of clink. We had ten days to prepare and SD played on Monday night. No excuses. This is a new season and new team. Haven’t seen this team so completely befuddled in quite some time

  5. Forrest says:

    As much as I don’t want to sound like a “whiner,” 110-120 degrees is what I think really sunk the boat. The defense looked way to mistake prone and sluggish. I think that if it had been 20-30 degrees less the Hawks would have been crisper on the defensive side.

    The offense on the other hand looked on point (until the last two drives), and for the most part shined. Honestly they played faster than they should have. I think that if they had run the ball more (Lynch), then they would have helped the defense rest and help mediate time of possession.

    I think next week will be a different story. The defense will clean up its act, and the offense will continue to play high powered. I think the next loss won’t come until (at) SF if they play at the level they are capable of. It’ll be hard, but this team is capable of anything if they put their minds to it…

    Anyway, GG Chargers! Go Hawks!!

  6. Colin says:

    I don’t want to hear about the heat. The Chargers had a nice gameplan. They attacked the flats, the sidelines and worked underneath all day. They weren’t going to make Rivers stand in there and force the ball downfield.

    Just not a good game. We haven’t seen a game like this in awhile under Carroll. These things happen.

    Just gear up and go give them hell next week.

  7. smitty1547 says:

    That was as bad as weve looked in a long time. Made Gates look like he was 25 again, we played so great again Graham and Thomas last year really surprised me. Royal made Sherman look like a hi school DB spun him around on several plays, cant call yourself the best and look so foolish against blah talent. Are tackling was horrible and it was not on point last week either. Irvin is a bonehead all I got to say about that.

    • JeffC says:

      I wish Bruce Irvin would do something to take away this Aaron curry feeling I have about him

      • Michael M. says:

        Irvin is better than Curry. He didn’t have a great game today (like most of the D) and there is no excuse for such a stupid penalty, but comparing him to Curry is overstating it quite a bit.

        • Kelly Orr says:

          I don’t expect Irvin to be with the team after his rookie deal unless we get him on the cheap.

          • CHawk Talker Eric says:

            If you had to grade his career as of now, it’s hard not to see him as a bust. There’s still hope, but it’s dwindling.

            • JeffC says:

              Exactly as I’m seeing it. I keep hearing about how this is the year the speed and athletic ability will be unleashed. I even heard Aldon Smith comparisons. I would not doubt for an instance that a guy like Toomer will end up with a better pro career than Irvin

  8. Michael (CLT) says:

    The college spread offense gimmick needs to end. Not using Marshawn OR Turbin is inexcusable.

    • Mark says:

      There wasn’t really a spread offense until the end of the game. Wilson was making quick throws, but was under pressure when not getting the ball out fast.

      I think the Seahawks got lazy on preparation for this game. Hopefully it’s a wake-up call and the rest of the season they get back to Seahawks football.

  9. JeffC says:

    The poor tackling is a big concern and kam looks like 2010 kam as a cover guy. Also Doug Baldwin looks completely absent from the gameplan

  10. Mylegacy says:

    Well, ain’t that a kick in the naughty bits!

    Rivers was sailing through the Sea – Hawks that is, and seemed comfortable throughout – despite some serious rushes aimed at him.

    Wilson was – is – DangeRuss. Clearly, 110 in the shade is not the best environment for 300 pounders who normally live, work and play in Seattle’s slightly more temperate climate – Global Climate Risk not withstanding.

    Next comes the Bronco’s – to my mind, just more of the Chargers – but better in every moving part. Time to reset our jock straps and win one for the Gipper – or Santa Claus – or the cause – or the Invisible Spaghetti Monster of your choice.

    Our BIG loss today was that of our air of invincibility. Quite likely, that will prove to be the biggest setback on the day. People expect us to crush them. We have now become a target that is not invincible and the forests are full of wolves salivating at the thought of stripping the feathers off a few hawks.

    Either we become locked and loaded – and smartly – or I fear we’ll be reading of our imminent demise.

    The good news is – I’m actually excited by this turn of events. Champions make their own history. The time has come for us to go make some serious noise – after all we have wolves to keep from the door. Lets go do it. Man up.

  11. JeffC says:

    Another thing. Kj wright looks as slow as molasses out there

  12. snoopaloop says:

    Winnable game even if it was poorly managed. We should’ve gone for it on fourth and and 2 when we had momentum and some field position, 2nd to last drive. I’m sure that was Pete but there was some stubborn playcalling that I can only assume came from bevell. At times he seems unable to adjust his game plan under adversity.

    The offense looked on point most of the night maybe that’s from all the rest they were getting.. I made it to the tv in the end of the third and the defense was looking GASSED. Then the fourth quarters underway and the offense is lining up quickly to snap the ball and make sure the defense doesn’t get too much rest. 42 minutes on the field.

    The heat made a difference and not in an unfair way. It’s part of San Diego’s home field advantage, just like we have our noise and their game plan took the heat into account. They’d been practicing in it all week and they were ready for it. It’s impressive how close we kept this game considering our clock management and apparent preparation for the heat. There isn’t a qb in the league I’d rather have then Russell.

  13. kevin mullen says:

    Was there, can confirm, it was hot as hell. I sat in the south end zone, under score board, and it was ball sweating hot. We were in it for most of the game, but San Diego had answers for most of the playcalling. It did seem that we didn’t pound the rock thru Marshawn as much as I hoped, too much short field passes. It was a miserable day today, hopefully Bevell’s not getting too cute and forgetting the true identity of this team: Marshawn Effing Lynch.

  14. kigenzun says:

    A valiant effort.
    It softens the blow that NO and SF lost also.

  15. Michael M. says:

    A few big positives on a bad day for the ‘Hawks:

    1. Loss came against AFC team, so will have less potential tie-breaking importance.
    2. Bears beating the Whiners in their new stadium.
    3. Saints drop their 2nd in a row.
    4. ‘Hawks won’t see these kind of conditions again this season.
    5. Russell Wilson is a boss.

  16. Dumbquestions says:

    Well, just to see if anyone agrees, it strikes me that the outcome of the game hinged on three drives:

    1. Second quarter, starting at 12:05, Seahawk ball.

    – The score at this point was 10-7. The Bolts had come back and scored on another long drive after the Harvin sprint/gift TD. In retrospect, it might have been better for us if the refs and NY *had* spotted Harvin’s step on the line; offense could have stayed on the field longer.

    – As a result, this was the first drive when Seattle O really needed to stay on the field for a while.

    a. 1st and 10 – RW throw to Walters, no gain.
    b. 2nd and 10 – RW back to throw, sacked.
    c. 3rd and 19 – Beast up the middle for 5.
    d. Punt

    This was a bad one. Afterwards, Bolts got their third long drive in a row, and the D (already gasping) held them to a FG. Harvin fumbles on the ensuing kickoff, and the Bolts drive to another TD (Gates).

    I don’t fault Harvin for the fumble (MUCH, he said), but if anyone wants to moan about play-calling and not running, this feels like one reasonable spot.

    The game still felt salvageable. RW came back with a lovely quick-strike drive, and Hawks were right back in it. Unfortunately, the defense had already endured four long drives in the heat, and San Diego had possession again, with possession advantage heading into Q3.

    2. Third quarter, 11:32

    – The score was 20-14, Bolts.
    – The defense, nobly, after blowing a possible 3-and-out, still holds San Diego to a punt.
    – This was the best opportunity for Hawks to take control of the game, mount a nice drive and give the D a break.

    a. 1st and 10 at the 20 – false start on ZM.
    b. 1st and 15 at the 15 – Lockette fly sweep gets blown up.
    c. 2nd and 13 at the 17 – screen to Beast for 8 yards.
    d. 3rd and 5 at the 25 – RW incomplete short left.
    e. Punt.

    This was painful. By this time, the D was truly suffering from heat and the ToP disparity. Bolts came back, chewed up more clock, threw to Gates again, back to a 2-TD lead. Hawks came back, and the D, though nearly spent, had one stop left.

    3. Fourth quarter, 10:16

    – The score was 27-21. The game – even the lead – was still within reach. After coming back with the sweet little TD pass to Beast, the D stopped Rivers and forced a punt, but they were utterly spent and needed time to recover.

    a. 1st and 10 at the 14 – RW short pass to Kearse for 7.
    b. 2nd and 3 at the 21 – Beast up the middle for 7.
    c. 1st and 10 at the 28 – RW incomplete, short right.
    d. 2nd and 10 at the 28 – RW incomplete, short right.
    e. 3rd and 10 at the 28 – False start (Sweezy)
    f. 3rd and 15 at the 23 – RW scramble for 13
    g. Punt.

    This was the backbreaker.

    Overall, not many plays to choose from if you’re going to build an argument about bad play-calling – but I find myself noticing that none of the 1st-down plays in those three drives started with a straight-up Beast handoff.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Fantastic post, totally agree. And the point on Lynch not kicking off any of those drives is especially pertinent.

      • Kelly Orr says:

        I was talking to my uncle during this game. After i saw the San Diego’s first couple drives I said to him the Defense looks terrible and flat. I don’t know how many times I saw Sherman get spun around today. Partially i have to give credit to Rivers though. There were many throws where he had guys on him or around him and was able to make throws to extend drives. I was ok with how the offense played today except the last drive. I also could have sworn that Russell did fumble that ball (when it became a 4th and 2 punt) and we recovered beyond the first down marker i only got to see it one other time but i thought for sure the ball came loose before he was touched. I also thought with how tired the defense was playing that we should have just went for it there and tried to extend the drive. This defense always has had issues when they get teams into 2nd and 3rd and long situations. I thought the defense looked alot better when they started blitzing today as well its something i think should happen more often when this team gets teams into 3rd and long situations they were close so many times to having sacks. Glad they got the first loss out of the way. I am sure no one more than the guys in the locker room are more upset about how they played. Hopefully they are going to be ready to face a Denver team that is going to be more than motivated in a game that actually counts. And are we lucky or what that S.F. blew their game today.

      • AlaskaHawk says:

        Regarding the fourth quarter drive at 10:16, I would have liked the Seahawks to go for it on 4th and 2. Our defense was gassed and we really needed a long offensive drive to get us into the game. Granted the field position wasn’t great but we needed to play like we wanted to win. Marshawn up the middle would have been a good step toward showing we meant business.

        The secondary defense as a whole looked slow. I’m going to assume it was the heat. But I will pick on Sherman because he did not play well. He didn’t jam his receivers at all. Every time his receiver ran a slant inside Sherman would turn to the outside and then flip all the way around leaving 5 yards between them. Where was the tight coverage? At least turn to the inside with him.

        I saw a lot of blitzes that took linebackers out of coverage. Very few of the blitzes got through. When the pocket collapsed there was uneven coverage so Phillip Rivers had a clear path to a first down.

        Offense, not much to say other then we either scored fast or went 3 and out fast.

        As for San Diego – they are a good opponent because they have a balanced team that has a good offense and defense. Remember they did beat the Broncos once last year. Also Rivers and Gates had a great game. When Gates made that one handed catch in the end zone and held on through Kim Chancellors hit, I knew we were in trouble. So kudos to them.

        • CHawk Talker Eric says:

          Not sure I agree about the Chargers D. Bevel made them look good by not featuring the running game. When Bevel called running plays, Lynch and Turbo (and Harvin) gashed the Chargers run D to the tune of about 8 yards per carry. Compare that to the Chargers’ measly 2.7 ypc.

          As good a game as Bevel called vs. GB, he called an equally poor one yesterday. Regardless of the score, one of the fundamental aspects of a Carroll-coached team is sticking with your strengths and NOT letting your opponent determine your game plan. Abandoning the running game was a colossal coaching blunder.

      • JeffC says:

        Danny ONeill is arguing this point as well, implying that the fantastic explosive quick strike offense is not their identity and it ended up hurting them by putting the defense back on the field too soon. Dave Wyman countered that it’s hard to turn away from money that you suddenly make in an instant.

        • Dumbquestions says:

          I was thinking of last year’s Denver-Dallas game that ended with a 51-48 score (right?) and the much-discussed moment when Manning told Knowshon Moreno *not* to score, because running out the clock would seal the win.

    • redzone086 says:

      When I rewatched the game I came away with the same conclusions. Why were we not slowing the game down and giving the defense a chance to recover?

  17. MJ says:

    Some really great posts up above. Well done.

    IMO, this game will actually turn out to be a great thing. I don’t think the defense could have played worse, in tough conditions, and the game was still winnable. Just think about that for a minute…we played poorly, against a top 5 QB (and playoff team) on the road, and still had the chance to win the game. Not many teams over the years can say that.

    Now, this is the NFL, so moral victories = 1 loss in the standings, but I do think there is a time and place for a team to be humbled. We are heading into a must win versus the Broncos and now we have a little extra piss and vinegar headed into this one. There will be calls all week about how the Defense isn’t what it was last year and I think this team thrives off being doubted, which should play well.

    Not to mention, our main competitors for the top seed are in the same boat, if not worse than us (Saints 0-2, 9ers 1-1). I know that’s projecting ahead a bit, but really it’s meant to highlight how early season narratives can be misleading, at best.

    I look forward to a thorough beat down this coming Sunday. This team will be out to prove something. Look out.

    • JeffC says:

      I used to say (when Tjack was our qb) that a PC coached team was at least good for 7 wins a season no matter what. Since this team is clearly superior to the early PC Hawk team, being the defending champs…that is a comforting feeling for me, since I take losing hard.

  18. 300ZXNA says:

    Is anyone else concerned about Okung? He has not looked right since his toe injury last year. Seemed he couldn’t counter Freeney’s speed at all. Unfortunately, it seems that the all-pro version of him may be gone. Here’s to hoping he is still recovering and will improve, but for now, he is looking like he will be walking once his current contract is up…

    • CHawk Talker Eric says:

      Yes noticed and concerned. I’m really hoping it’s merely a matter of him getting into game shape.

      As a whole, the OL has taken a step forward in run blocking, but has regressed in pass pro. If it weren’t for RW’s scrambling ability…

      • Kelly Orr says:

        Very concerned he doesn’t even look like the okung from the last year or year before. I think he has played the worst of any offensive lineman we have. Oline as a whole played really bad yesterday. Saw Unger not even block i think it was Freeney up the middle on sack although who knows what the protection call was. I think Britt is going to be an awesome RT eventually so we have to give him time. But as often as Okung is getting beat is getting a bit concerning.

  19. Jake says:

    I really agree with MJ here for the most part, but with the exception of “this game will actually turn out to be a great thing”. I don’t think a loss is ever a good thing in this league and we should have won despite learning a lesson. Russ had the ball in his hands with over two minutes, down only 6. I take that every week, against any opponent. So, since everything that happened prior resulted in 27-21, 3:00, Seahawks ball at 11 yard line – the game starts there.

    Biggest reason we lost in that situation: Russ was hancuffed on that last drive by the playcalling and line play, and that, unlike the heat or defense playing poorly again, is a potential problem moving forward. Bevell and co. need to put the team on his back in that moment and let him win, not try and outscheme anyone. Against a vanilla, prevent defense – Russ is basically guaranteed the opposition 25 by just completing the easy passes and he could have gotten there in less than a minute. The false start on Sweezy, jeez – what are you doing? The jet-sweep when the whole defense is looking into the backfield in a safe-zone is idiotic, that’s on Bevell. Then a 3-man rush got to him twice in that last drive, that’s on the line. Russ missed on 4th down, but I didn’t see any better options on the play – so that’s on Bevell too for a poor play call. Game over, Russ hancuffed by idiocy.

  20. Bob says:

    Not too concerned, a little to learn from but not a lot to dwell on. Rest, come back, stick to more Lynch in Seattle and don’t make dumb penalties or turn the ball over fumbling a kickoff on a critical possession.

  21. Forrest says:

    The fact that there were no injures makes this game a lot easier to swallow! The Hawks defense looked like a bunch of tweaked out sloths for most of the game, but I honestly think the 42 minutes of heat made them make mistakes that they normally would not. The offense looked good except for the lack of Lynch. As long as they play offense like they did against GB, they’ll be fine. Special Teams looked fine, just needs some time to get warmed up (*cough* Harvin fumble *cough*). I’m not worried about them bouncing back (they usually play better later in the year), and after seeing the 49’ers drop that game last night I’m now convinced that the Cards are their greatest threat for NFC West supremacy (for the time being). On to the Broncos!! 1-0 Next week!!