It was the final minutes of a lost game, and the Seahawks kept limping to the sideline with alarming regularity, and the football kept bouncing into the Oakland Raiders’ hands, seemingly for insult’s sake. And if that weren’t enough, a flock of seagulls started flying over the northeast corner of Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
The game had become like a turned-over garbage can, and those infamous birds seemed ready to swoop in and add more ridiculousness to the day. But they didn’t, and come to think of it, the reason was obvious.
The Seahawks didn’t leave much behind worth picking over.
“Well, there’s no mystery to us what happened today,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We got nothing done.”
A 33-3 final score verified that. It was a whuppin’ reminiscent of the 2008 and 2009 Seahawks. It followed a familiar, grievous story line: They lost the game and too many key players to injury. The calamities included defensive linemen Red Bryant (knee) and Colin Cole (ankle); wide receivers Mike Williams (knee) and Golden Tate (ankle); left guard Ben Hamilton (concussion); left tackle Tyler Polumbus (leg); and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (head injury).
You know it’s not your day when even getting dressed in the locker room postgame turns hazardous. Running back Leon Washington fell out of his chair, but fortunately, he damaged only his pride. Teammate Chester Pitts shook his head and shared a laugh with Washington. Some days, you need a fast-forward button.
But if you’re part of the Seahawks offense, you probably want to stop and collect yourself. Even with this loss, the Seahawks’ 4-3 record represents a better start than anticipated. However, if the Seahawks want to finish the job, the offense must stop being such a weak link. They’re lucky to have survived this long with one of the NFL’s most impotent offenses, but they aren’t good enough to last an entire season without better balance.
In every way, this game was a statistical abomination for the Seahawks, but the offense suffered the most. They gained a lousy 162 yards and could only nudge the football 2.7 yards per play. After two solid weeks, the running game fell apart and amassed 47 yards, including just 7 on nine carries from Marshawn Lynch. There were no holes. The Raiders defensive line dominated the Seahawks offensive line.
The dominance was even more apparent when Hasselbeck dropped back to pass. He was sacked eight times — it felt like 18 — leaving him too out of sorts to give postgame remarks. When the quarterback had time to throw, he was ineffective, finishing 13 of 32 for 160 yards and one interception. Over the past two games, Hasselbeck has been sacked 13 times. Injured rookie left tackle Russell Okung can’t get back soon enough.
“Whenever we wanted to throw the football, they had guys in the backfield early on,” Carroll said. “That’s a miserable day for us up front.”
The Seahawks have no offensive consistency because, once again, they can’t block well and can’t stay healthy on the offensive line. It’s the fifth year this has been a problem, at least in some form, and this season, it could stall a promising season if things don’t change.
The offense was 1 of 16 on third-down conversions, which forced the Seahawks defense to stay on the field for 60 percent of this game. As a result, the unit wore down in the fourth quarter as the Raiders scored 20 points in the final 15 minutes to turn a 13-0 game into a complete rout.
The Seahawks allowed 545 yards, including 111 rushing yards to running back Darren McFadden and 105 receiving yards to Darrius Heyward-Bey. In 2009, he had 124 yards all season.
They gave up seven plays of at least 30 yards to the Raiders and 10 plays of at least 20 yards. Their No. 2-ranked run defense yielded 239 rushing yards, more than three times their average. Everything went wrong as the defense tired, including a 55-yard Michael Bush reception that came after the ball bounced off Heyward-Bey’s knee and Jacoby Ford’s hands.
“You’ve got guys out there making plays like Franco Harris, the Immaculate Reception,” Seahawks cornerback Roy Lewis said, shaking his head.
Throw in Tyvon Branch’s crazy interception after Deon Butler just missed making a diving catch, and the Seahawks couldn’t help feeling cursed on this day.
Entering the game, it seemed like the Seahawks had a prime opportunity against a manageable foe to win three straight games for the first time since 2007. They could’ve improved their record to 5-2 and really gotten ahead this season. Instead, we saw their warts again.
“It’s frustrating,” said wide receiver Mike Williams, who played through a bruised knee but only caught one pass. “Three wins in a row — it would’ve been big for us, big for our fans, for our organization.”
They’ll recover from this disappointment. Developing teams break down from time to time. But they need to find an offense. Otherwise, the remainder of the season won’t even be good enough for the birds.