Defense is now a major concern for Seahawks

Aaron Curry came out and told the truth. It was as bad for them as it was for you.

“Football-wise, that’s the worst kind of game you can play on defense,” the Seahawks linebacker said. “Giving up that many yards on the ground, that’s the worst game ever.”


Well, almost. At least the Kansas City Chiefs let the Seahawks keep their lunch money.

“We played like garbage out there,” coach Pete Carroll said.

And we can still smell ’em this morning.

In a disappointing performance against a team supposedly on their level, the Seahawks allowed 503 yards — including 270 on the ground — to the Chiefs on Sunday. The result was a 42-24 disaster, Seattle’s second straight blowout loss at Qwest Field.

How bad does it stink? The Seahawks had allowed 40 points only once in their first 64 games at Qwest Field. Now, they’ve done it in consecutive home games. The Chiefs’ 270 rushing yards are the most the Seahawks have given up since Denver amassed 301 against them on Nov. 26, 2000.

But even more concerning is the fact that the defense has been trending toward catastrophic for more than a month now. Carroll’s wild yet progressive first year hasn’t yielded many certainties from week to week, so a pattern of defensive slippage is alarming.

You can split the 5-6 Seahawks’ first 11 games in half and tell their defensive story. In the first six games, Seattle had a 4-2 record, and the “D” was emerging as a fierce run-stopping unit. The Seahawks were allowing just 77.5 rushing yards per game, which made them the NFL’s second-best run “D” behind Pittsburgh. And they were giving up just 17.8 points per game.

And then there are the past five games. The Seahawks are 1-4 over that span and have allowed 171.8 rushing yards and 33.6 points a game. The average balloons to 204.5 yards and 37.5 points if you just look at those four losses.

I’d ask for the real Seahawks defense to stand up, but I’m afraid opposing offensive lines have knocked it down too many times.

The problem started five weeks ago in Oakland. In that game, the Raiders thrashed the Seahawks for 239 rushing yards, and Seattle lost its two most imposing run stoppers. Oversized end Red Bryant suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter after Chris Clemons fell into him. Later, tackle Colin Cole sustained a high ankle sprain, and he hasn’t played since.

The healthy Seahawks are too competitive to admit that those losses on the defensive line have ruined them, but the truth is in the numbers. Compound the problem with facing three of the league’s top rushing offenses — Oakland, the New York Giants and Kansas City — and the Seahawks look like the mere skeleton of a once-promising unit.

The Chiefs, who have the best rushing offense in the league, proved to be unstoppable. Jamaal Charles ran for 173 yards, Thomas Jones contributed 68, and even quarterback Matt Cassel was an effective runner. As a result of the rushing dominance, Cassel threw with great efficiency. He finished with four touchdown passes, three of which were to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who had 13 receptions for 170 yards.

Kansas City had possession for 19 of the game’s first 22 minutes, as the Seahawks couldn’t get off the field on third down. For the game, the Chiefs had the ball for 41 of the 60 minutes. Often this season, the Seahawks defense has been on the field too long because of the offense’s shortcomings. Not this time.

“We can’t blame nobody but ourselves for being on the field that long,” linebacker David Hawthorne said.

The offense isn’t completely without fault, however. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck committed three turnovers. The Seahawks gained only 20 rushing yards, terrible by even their low standards. The discrepancy in rushing yards — 270-20 — is the worst black eye in a season of extremes.

“We’re struggling,” Carroll admitted. “We’ve not been able to stop the running game right now, and everything starts there. We haven’t really regained the play at the line of scrimmage that we had about a month ago. We just have to keep working. We don’t have any other choice but to keep working at it, scheme wise, and do things to help our guys.

“They got knocked around today.”

The only good news is that the Seahawks play four of the most feeble offenses in the league, at least as statistics are concerned, in their final five games. First up are the Carolina Panthers, with the NFL’s worst offense.

With leaders such as Lofa Tatupu, Lawyer Milloy and Marcus Trufant, the Seahawks always have a chance to mend on defense. But are they quick healers? Can they figure something out?

They can only hope Curry was right. Because if this defensive performance wasn’t the worst, rock bottom might be too ugly to watch.