Seahawks’ biggest issue against San Diego was a matter of time

Sep 14, 2014, 7:39 PM | Updated: Sep 16, 2014, 4:46 pm
The Seahawks handed off to Marshawn Lynch just six times and possessed the ball for only 17 minutes and 45 seconds, a departure from the formula that has worked so well for Seattle's offense. (AP)
(AP)

SAN DIEGO – The Seahawks did not run out of time on Sunday.

They didn’t have enough of it. Not on an afternoon where the Chargers held the ball for more than two-thirds of the game, ran nearly twice as many plays as the Seahawks did and put the full weight of that triple-digit heat on Seattle’s defense.

The Seahawks failed to do the one thing that coach Pete Carroll wants to do more than anything else. They failed to control the game. As fast as the Seahawks are on offense – and you saw plenty of that speed even in the loss – Seattle’s offense still needs to have staying power, and it simply didn’t in this 30-21 loss to San Diego.

“We just didn’t have the ball enough,” Carroll said.

Not even close. Seattle had the ball for 17 minutes and 45 seconds on Sunday, tied for the sixth-lowest of any game in franchise history.

Marshawn Lynch carried the ball just three times in each half. The question is whether that lack of work was a symptom of Seattle’s inability to control the ball or the cause.

The question going forward is whether this was an aberration like last year’s woeful Monday night offensive showing in St. Louis or an indicator that Seattle lacks the white-knuckle, grind-it-out ground game that has been its signature for more than two years now.

Look at the length of Seattle’s touchdown drives. None consumed more than 3 minutes. Two of them lasted less than 90 seconds, and while the Seahawks did seem to spring to life in a hurry-up format, that is not the style that this team is accustomed to playing. At least not when it’s winning.

“Usually, we’re running the football,” tight end Zach Miller said. “We’re picking up first downs, a good amount of first downs before we finally score. It was kind of the opposite today. We were big plays and a quick score, and then our defense was back out there.”

The result was undeniable, though. A trickle-down effect on a defense that is still trying to find its most effective rotations along the line and had three starters in the secondary sidelined by cramps at some point in the second half.

“A lot of (it was) our fault, too,” receiver Percy Harvin said. “Third downs, we couldn’t stay on the field. It was hot. We had the defense out there a long time. Guys started cramping. They just played, overall, a good game. Hats off to them.”

The Chargers do indeed deserve some credit. Quarterback Philip Rivers played a heck of a game, especially on third down. Tight end Antonio Gates tied Seattle’s defense in knots, catching three touchdown passes – one of them with a single hand – and converting a critical third down in the fourth quarter.

Seattle helped the Chargers out some, too. Harvin’s fumble of a second-quarter kickoff led to a San Diego touchdown. Bruce Irvin’s personal-foul penalty in the third quarter turned a third-down stop into a first down. San Diego turned that into a touchdown, too. That’s a difference of 11 points in a game the Seahawks lost by nine.

But it would be a mistake to chalk up this loss as a self-inflicted wound.

The Seahawks have to be more than just explosive on offense. This game showed that very clearly.

As electric as Harvin was on his 51-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, he led the team in rushing yards. As effective as the Seahawks were when they ran a no-huddle offense, scoring a touchdown at the end of the second quarter and again at the end of the third, that is not a template for Seattle going forward.

Not the way Carroll coaches. The question is whether this team, with all that speed on offense, can still play that way.

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Seahawks’ biggest issue against San Diego was a matter of time