SEATTLE — For all the inconsistencies that plagued the 2017 Seahawks’ offense, the unit was consistent in a way it simply couldn’t afford to be.
Slow starts crippled Seattle. They derailed the Seahawks’ hopes of reaching the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season, and on Sunday, once again, Seattle was unable overcome its sluggish first-half offense in a season-ending 26-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
“Coming out of halftime down 20-7, we have to take some responsibility for that,” Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. “You can’t put it all on the defense. We have to play better, simply put, and we’ve been in those situations all year long.”
That’s been obvious the past four weeks. Against Arizona, Dallas, Los Angeles and Jacksonville, Seattle’s offense during the first two quarters produced a cringe-worthy seven points.
For the season, the Seahawks’ average of 7.9 first-half points ranks 28th among 30 NFL teams.
A 99-yard Tyler Lockett first-quarter kickoff return for a touchdown Sunday gave Seattle a second-half fighting chance, but the offensive contributions during the first 32 minutes were forgettable.
Here’s the numbers: 24 total yards, 11 rushing yards on eight carries, one first down and 0-for-5 on third down.
Seattle couldn’t sustain a drive. It ran eight offensive plays in the first quarter. Two of them were punts. The Seahawks’ only first-half first down came on a 20-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Baldwin. That was followed by a 1-yard Thomas Rawls run, a holding penalty, a 5-yard pass and an incompletion that prompted a punt.
“I think this game today was almost a microcosm of this season,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “The slow starts, the getting in our own way. We looked terrible in the first half today. Then we came roaring back, and it didn’t even look like the same team.”
On Sunday, at least, pegging a culprit would be difficult. The offense was completely ineffective. Wilson completed 4-of-8 passes for 36 yards in the first half, and he faced continuous pressure from Arizona’s defensive front. Running back Mike Davis recorded negative 5 yards on two carries, Rawls ran for 6 yards on two carries, Wilson had 9 yards on three rushes and J.D. McKissic had 1 yard on one carry.
Carroll pointed to inconsistencies in the run game.
“I thought the running game really came to life in the second half, and you could see that we could come off the football,” Carroll said. “We have not been able to find the consistency in the running game that complements the rest of our play.”
Seattle traded midseason for left tackle Duane Brown with the hope he’d solve some of the offensive line’s inconsistencies. There’s no denying the Pro Bowlers’ talent, but his massive presence anchoring the left side didn’t help Sunday.
“I think the first half, you kind of feel teams out instead of throwing the first punch,” Brown said of what he felt happened against the Cardinals during quarters one and two. “I think we have done that a few times this year, try to find our groove and get down a little bit. In the second half, we have our backs against the wall, and when this team has its back against the wall, we fight. We just got to find a way to put that together for four quarters and not put ourselves in these situations.”
Four of Seattle’s five first-half drives ended with three-and-outs, and the Seahawks finished the game 1-of-12 on third down. They also finished with 296 total yards — 272 of which came during the final two quarters when the Seahawks went into an all-too common desperation mode. Seattle also recorded 90 of its 101 rushing yards during the second half.
“We got a lot of work to do, and we have the ability to do it. Simply put,” Baldwin said. “We just have to be consistent, and when we are not consistent, you see what happened in the first half, down 20-7. You can’t continue to play games like that.”
“Like I’ve been saying all year,” Wilson said, “when you’re playing in the National Football League on third and super long, it’s really hard. It’s really, really tough. The odds of getting first downs and everything else, it makes it tough.”