Seahawks played like what they are: undermanned

You can beat a bad team with smoke and mirrors, but good opponents require blocking and tackling.

The timely turnover, the surprise big play and great special teams have helped the Seattle Seahawks become competitive in their division.

But in games like the 42-24 loss to Kansas City, the Seahawks simply are not physical enough to run the ball or stop the run. And the analysis need go no further than that.

The Chiefs pounded out 270 Seahawk-squishing running yards, and 503 yards of total offense. We’ve seen it before, as Oakland picked up 545 yards, New Orleans 494 yards, New York 487. The Hawks even gave up 518 yards in a win over San Diego.

At one point in his post-game analysis, coach Pete Carroll said his team “played like garbage out there.”

Not really. They played like what they are. They’re undermanned on both lines because of injuries and short-sighted talent acquisition in recent seasons.

Too many defensive linemen have gone out with injuries, and the offensive line has been juggled so much that there hasn’t been continuity there for years. So they get shoved around. And as much as we talk about schemes and such, so much of this game comes down to which team gets the best shove.

“… we don’t ever want to come into this stadium and perform like that and let people knock us around like that,” Carroll said.

Despite an embarrassing statistical dominance by the Chiefs throughout much of the game, the Seahawks were still in it, trailing just 21-17 in the third period. But one Seahawk drive was stalled with a dropped pass, and the Chiefs responded by pounding out an 11-play run-dominated touchdown drive, helped along by several missed tackles.

And that’s how fragile the game is for the Seahawks. As Carroll likes to say, his team has “such a small margin of error.” Very true. They have to play almost perfectly most Sundays to have a chance. You get a couple dropped passes, a couple missed tackles and they’re just not good enough to recover.

And that margin of error turns into a swelling margin of defeat.

Missing one guy, such as injured receiver Mike Williams, changes the entire nature of the team and what they can do. Once it’s proven they can’t run, they’re entirely one-dimensional. And without a big target like Williams, the defense can dictate the game.

How one-dimensional? KC quarterback Matt Cassel rushed for 28 yards on five carries, the Hawks picked up 20 yards on 12 tries.

“Running the ball is super important,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. “Even the last two weeks, we’ve had some yards throwing the ball, but if we are going to accomplish our goals late in the year, we have to run the ball.”

That is logical, but not necessarily the case. At 5-6, they’ve shown they can win some games, and should be considered favorites at home next week at home against the 1-10 Carolina Panthers. Barring collapse, they’ll stay competitive in their division.

Somehow, they managed to stay competitive with an offense rated 29th in the league and a defense that was 28th coming into Sunday’s game – and both rankings are likely to drop even further.

But this game, like the ones against the Giants and Saints, showed how far the Seahawks are from being a quality team. And that’s particularly embarrassing at home.

By the time all but a few thousand fans had departed, this game ended with the Seahawks on offense, and so far out of it, and so beaten up on the line, that Hasselbeck was just told to run the clock out by taking a knee.

The Hawks have ended many games at home with Matt Hasselbeck taking a knee. But never in tactical surrender.