DANNY ONEIL

O’Neil: Seahawks’ slow start on offense wasn’t expected, but it’s nothing new

Sep 17, 2017, 7:03 PM | Updated: 7:03 pm
Russell Wilson missed Doug Baldwin on multiple throws in Sunday's win over the 49ers. (AP)...
Russell Wilson missed Doug Baldwin on multiple throws in Sunday's win over the 49ers. (AP)
(AP)

It’s not the way you start, right?

The Seahawks hope not, because for the second straight season Seattle has started out with a pair of games in which its offense has left skid marks on the field.

And as much as coach Pete Carroll pointed to the way the Seahawks finished their 12-9 victory over San Francisco on Sunday, the question remains of just what to make of this team that needed seven and a half quarters of football before finally finding the end zone.

“Geez, the games are hard,” Carroll said. “Hard to win. Particularly when we did a couple things that are uncharacteristic for us.”

Seahawks win | Carson impresses | 710’s reaction | Offense concerning

Uncharacteristic. That’s a nice way of saying the Seahawks were left to squeak out a comeback victory over a 49ers’ team that had the second-worst record in the league last season and isn’t expected to be significantly better this time around.

That certainly wasn’t expected.

Then again, neither was the handful of passes the Seahawks dropped. C.J. Prosise and Tanner McEvoy each had two critical, drive-stalling drops in the game. And it was unexpected that tight end Jimmy Graham was held to a single catch for a total of 2 yards.

But when it came to Seattle’s early-season stumbles on offense, this is actually becoming pretty routine. The Seahawks scored 12 points in their home opener last year, too, and the offense scored a single touchdown over the first two weeks of the 2016 season.

That was with a hobbled quarterback, though, as Russell Wilson suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter of the season-opening game against Miami last season.

Wilson is healthy this year. Not that you could tell by the way he threw the ball in a third quarter in which he failed to complete six consecutive pass attempts. Actually, it was seven if you count a play that was nullified by a defensive penalty.

Wilson missed Doug Baldwin high. He missed Baldwin low. He had a throw that sailed over the head of Tyler Lockett, and it would have been picked off if a San Francisco defensive back hadn’t deflected it.

And when the 49ers kicked their third field goal of the game to take a 9-6 lead with 11:40 remaining, an entire stadium full of Seattle fans grew silent, galled by the very real possibility that the Seahawks could actually lose this eyesore of a game.

That’s when Russell Wilson became Russell Wilson during a fourth quarter drive that showed why he’s so important. He rushed four times for 27 yards and completed all three passes he attempted, including the pass in which he escaped two different 49ers defenders before throwing the game-winning touchdown pass as a defensive lineman grabbed for his ankles.

“Russell was very resourceful today,” Carroll said. “Not maybe as sharp because the balls that weren’t handled well, but when we needed it, he was making plays and the touchdown drive was phenomenal.”

It was vintage Wilson, a performance that saved Seattle in a game that was not expected to be nearly so hard.

Seattle sealed the victory with one clock-killing drive, the 49ers punting back to Seattle with just under 5 minutes remaining and watching as Seattle handed the ball off to Chris Carson five straight times, gaining two first downs and putting the Seahawks in position to run out the clock in a game.

It wasn’t how the Seahawks started Sunday’s game that decided the outcome, but how they finished it. Now, Seattle will have to try and make sure that’s true for the season, too.

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