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O’Neil: Seahawks demonstrate how far they are from a finished product

The Seahawks were plagued Sunday by a return of inconsistency from their first two games. (AP)

You could focus on how close the Seahawks came to pulling off what would have been one of the more improbable comebacks in franchise history.

After all, they were just two make-able plays away from forcing overtime in a game in which they still trailed by 15 points at the 2-minute warning.

Hawks nearly come back vs Chargers | Instant Reaction | Recap | Photos

Or you could choose to point out the many ways in which Sunday’s game demonstrated just how far these Seahawks still must go before they can be considered a legitimate contender.

Championship defenses don’t let an opponent drive 88 yards on two plays as the Chargers did in the second quarter, and while the Seahawks scored a touchdown on their opening drive for the second time in three games, they spent the next two and a half quarters struggling to find anything that remotely resembled a rhythm on offense.

In other words, this was a game that epitomized your 2018 Seahawks. They’re capable enough to capture your imagination, too inconsistent to be counted on but ultimately resilient enough that you can’t write them off, either.

In other words, they’re good enough to make it absolutely agonizing.

Because if you thought that Seattle had turned the corner, Sunday’s game against the Chargers was a demonstration that this defense is an awful long way from a finished product.

Los Angeles ran 50 plays on Sunday, 25 fewer than the Seahawks, yet the Chargers gained more yards than Seattle. Keenan Allen’s 54-yard catch in the second quarter was the longest completion that Seattle has allowed this year, and it was immediately followed by a 34-yard touchdown run by Melvin Gordon, the second-longest rushing play that Seattle has yielded this season.

Now, give credit where it’s due. The Chargers entered Sunday’s game as one of two teams in the league that ranked in the NFL’s top 10 in both passing and rushing yardage, and Philip Rivers is one of the league’s top 10 quarterbacks and has been for more than a decade.

In other words, the Chargers have exactly the kind of offense that the Seahawks defense would regularly neuter back in 2013 and 2014 when Seattle was in the midst of a historically dominant run.

And while Seattle’s defensive effort was perfectly respectable on Sunday, it was well short of dominant.

The bigger concern was an offense that picked up where it left off, driving 75 yards for a touchdown on its opening drive, and then promptly downshifted into the inconsistent mess that Seattle produced in back-to-back road games to start the season.

A running back draw on third-and-18? Yep, the Seahawks did that in the second quarter. They also handed the ball off on second-and-24 in the fourth quarter while trailing by nine points.

There were also penalties. So many penalties. And Russell Wilson had an interception returned for a touchdown for the second time this season, which allowed the Chargers to take a 15-point lead with less than 7 minutes remaining.

And just when you were ready to leave the stadium or turn off the television, an offense that couldn’t get much of anything done started moving with an urgency and efficiency that had been utterly absent for most of Sunday afternoon.

Wilson was 9 for 16 passing on Seattle’s final two possessions for 63 yards and a touchdown, and just as importantly, he rushed three times for 35 yards and three first downs.

It was enough to put Seattle one play away from scoring the touchdown that would have given the Seahawks a chance to tie it, but not quite sufficient to cancel out the 60 minutes of inconsistent football that preceded that final untimed down.

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