The Seahawks have lost games by three, seven, two and eight points, the latter two to likely playoff teams in the 6-2 Chargers and 8-1 Rams.
The outcomes have the Seahawks 4-4 at the regular season’s mid-point, suggesting a team not far from consideration as playoff-worthy. But as with a PGA tournament field, there are many premier golfers who have missed the cut for want of a longer putt or shorter iron shot.
In the midseason NFL, seven teams are a game either side of, or at, .500. All are as relatively optimistic as the Seahawks. The season’s second half is largely about fixing the small fixables among the talents on hand.
Oh, the Seahawks might take a run at Bruce Irvin, their old pal and former first-round draft pick who was cut by Oakland Monday and is likely to clear waivers Tuesday, making him a free agent. The Seahawks could use the pass rush help, but Irvin is 31 and wasn’t showing a lot with the decrepit Raiders.
More likely, the Seahawks will bank on kids growing into starting jobs that have been a little big for them. Coach Pete Carroll has been a big proponent of playing youngsters right away, which tends to pay in November and December after the strikeouts of September and October.
Much lamentation has attended the Seahawks’ 25-17 loss Sunday to the Chargers, which fit a pattern.
“We found ourselves, in most of the games we haven’t been able to win, right there at the end and so close to getting it done,” he said. “I’m hoping that the second half of the season will allow us to finish those games.
Two series in the second quarter, one on offense and one on defense, illustrate the peril of the Seahawks’ use of kidlets in place of veterans.
Trailing 12-7, the Seahawks began their third possession of the second quarter with a bang: A 42-yard deep-shot completion to WR Doug Baldwin, the first time they didn’t begin a series with a run, creating what would prove to be their longest play of the day.
They followed with a seven-yard run over the right side by RB Chris Carson for a first down at the LA 28-yard line.
Then it went haywire.
Carson was stuffed for no gain, followed by a pass in the flat to Baldwin, also for no gain — except it turned into a 10-yard loss. Fellow WR David Moore was cited for offensive pass interference. He fouled because he was in motion when he picked a defender near Baldwin. The rule requires Moore to be stationary.
“I see why they called it,” Carroll said.
At third and 13 at the LA 38, the Seahawks went with a short pass to RB Mike Davis that gained five yards. Then Sebastian Janikowski came on for a field goal attempt from 51 yards, which struck the right upright and fell away.
So their most explosive play came to naught partly because Moore, who barely played as a rookie, in his second year didn’t know how to disguise his intent to screen off a defender. That’s the kind of detail-fail that often stymied the Seahawks Sunday.
Three series later in the period, youthful vulnerability appeared on defense.
Still 12-7, Chargers QB Philip Rivers, at his own 35-yard line, decided to attack hard the Seahawks secondary populated by youngsters Shaquill Griffin, Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill and rookie Tre Flowers.
Rivers threw five consecutive passes, completing three — for 12 and 23 yards to WR Keenan Allen, and the final 30 to WR Tyrell Williams for a touchdown. Williams was one-on-one along the sideline with Flowers, who gave Williams too much space for the reception, then failed to wrap up after making contact.
The 55-second drive would provide the Chargers’ last offensive points of the game. Against such a prodigious offense, a second-half shutout should have been a thrilling outcome for Seattle. Turned out it was not enough.
“We missed a chance on a tackle that got away,” Carroll said. “He had some learning plays.”
Moore, a seventh-round pick, and Flowers, a fifth-rounder, are in the Seahawks tradition of reliance upon the unheralded. Also part of the tradition is enduring their early screw-ups. The subsequent glory produced by Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Baldwin overshadows the early career mishaps and misplays.
With the season-ending injury to TE Will Dissly, Moore is the least experienced player on offense, and Flowers has the highest number of first-year snaps on defense. That’s not a lot of infancy relative to many teams, but with margins so thin in the NFL, every mistake looms.
That’s why the Chargers’ loss was, as with the Rams’ defeat, so agonizing: Wins over quality teams are as elusive as they are exhilarating.
“The four or five games here prior to this one, we’ve made it very difficult on our opponent,” Carroll said. “We haven’t given them the football to speak of, and we’ve taken care of the ball. We’ve run it well and we’ve kicked it well and done a lot of things that make (us) hard to be beat.
“Yesterday, that wasn’t the case. But that’s what we need to capture as we go forward.”
Against the Rams Sunday in the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Seahawks have no choice but to revoke the training wheels.