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Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Seahawks' defense falters in fourth quarter on the road

  • Seattle free safety Earl Thomas (29) can't stop Miami running back Reggie Bush (22) from scoring during the Dolphins' 24-21 victory over the Seahawks ...

    Gerry Broome / Associated Press

    Seattle free safety Earl Thomas (29) can't stop Miami running back Reggie Bush (22) from scoring during the Dolphins' 24-21 victory over the Seahawks on Sunday.

RENTON -- It should be a defensive player's dream -- being on the field with the game winding down and needing one final stop to seal a victory for your team.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll built a defense as the identity of his team.
However, Seattle's strength -- its defense -- did not come through this season on the road against Arizona, Detroit and Miami, failing to protect leads the offense handed over to them in the fourth quarter. The result? The Seahawks are 1-5 on the road this season.
Against the Dolphins last week, the Seahawks led 21-14 after Leon Washington's 98-yard kick return for a score, but let rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill lead the Dolphins to 10 points in eight minutes for the surprise victory.
"There's nothing more we can do to play better on the road, besides playing better," Seattle linebacker Leroy Hill, one of the senior statesmen on the defense, said after the Miami game. "We have it in our head that our road record is not where we want it to be. Our home record is undefeated, so we know what we can do. But, I don't know, it's crazy. We came out flat, and we just didn't play our ball today."
Statistically, Seattle still has one of the top defenses in the league. The Seahawks are No. 3 in points allowed per game (16.8), No. 5 in the league in total defense (309.4 yards per game) and No. 12 in rushing defense (108.6 yards per game).
However, when the game is on the line, Seattle's defensive playmakers -- like safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman, linebacker K.J. Wright and defensive ends Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin -- have been unable to create game-changing plays to helps Seattle solve its road woes.
At 6-5, and with two road games left on the schedule, beginning at Chicago on Sunday, the Seahawks need to win at least one of those, along with sweeping the rest of their three home games, to have a shot at making the playoffs.
Even then, the Seahawks likely will be traveling in the postseason as wild card team, so they need to prove they can win on the road.
Seattle's struggles defensively at the end of road games have not gone unnoticed by Carroll.
"We're expecting more," he said. "We're expecting to win those games when we get a chance, and play well enough and do the right things -- knock a ball down and make a pick or get the sack that you need.
"You remember how it happened in Carolina with the sack, the fumble, all of those things happened right at the end that changes the football game for you. We know that it's there, but we need it to show if we're going to get the wins in these situations that's for sure."
Portis cut from practice squad
In somewhat of a surprise move, the Seattle Seahawks released quarterback Josh Portis from the practice squad and brought back wide receiver Phil Bates on Tuesday.
The Seahawks signed Portis out of California (Pa.) as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2011.
At 6-3 and 213 pounds, Portis is a rangy athlete who showed promise during preseason play, finishing 10-for-24 for 124 yards and a touchdown pass in two exhibition appearances in 2011 as a rookie. Portis also ran 10 times for 51 yards.
Portis, 25, spent his rookie season on Seattle's 53-man roster, and was active for one game against Cleveland, serving as the backup for Charlie Whitehurst when Tarvaris Jackson could not play because of a pectoral injury.
Portis was released during final roster cut downs in September before the 2012 season started, and added to the team's practice squad, spending the regular season there before being released today.
Seattle now has only two quarterbacks in starter Russell Wilson and backup Matt Flynn.

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