Well, that was a half-season like none other for the Seahawks, eh?
For openers, a rousing rout of Green Bay. It signaled the Super Bowl champions had maintained their momentum from February’s title-winning rout of Denver.
Then reality hit the Seahawks — like the butt end of the Lombardi Trophy to their collective heads.
A literal meltdown on a 120-degree field in San Diego. An early blow past Denver, then holding on as Peyton Manning exquisitely rallied and Russell Wilson single-handedly (and two-leggedly) won the game in overtime. Wilson did the same thing in the next game at Washington.
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Percy Harvin traded as the team is leaving to play at St. Louis — the players going one way in the parking lot to the bus while their $11 million wide receiver and centerpiece of the offense walked the other way to his car, off to New York. The fallout of Harvin punching then-teammate Golden Tate at the Super Bowl. Of Harvin punching fellow receiver Doug Baldwin in August. Of the players saying they were all right with Harvin.
“Obviously, we wish he was here. He was such a great teammate,” left tackle Russell Okung said in St. Louis of Harvin, two days after his trade to the Jets that rocked the NFL.
Plus, the real reason Harvin is gone, him refusing to enter the fourth quarters of the loss to Dallas and win over Denver. That insubordination with the coaches is what ultimately forced the Seahawks to give up on him eight games, $18.4 million and three traded-away draft picks after getting him last year from Minnesota.
Let’s see, what else has happened these last two months?
A 3-3 start amid unsubstantiated national reports of a pro-versus-anti-Wilson divide in the locker room.
Another report saying that Wilson wasn’t, of all things, “black enough” for some teammates.
More reports that the Seahawks are fed up Marshawn Lynch’s act — even though they are feeding him the ball and relying upon him more to win games with the play calls no longer centered around Harvin.
And, oh, yeah, injuries that had eight Seahawks who started the opener sitting out last weekend’s win over the Raiders. Seattle had so many hurting it couldn’t field 46 healthy players on that game day’s active list.
After all that, 5-3 at the season’s halfway mark entering Sunday’s home game against the New York Giants (3-5) doesn’t sound so bad.
“We have a lot of talent, and we just have to put it together,” Wilson said after Sunday’s 30-24 victory over winless Oakland that was just the sixth game in the quarterback’s 45-game career his completion rate was below 50 percent.
“We’re still finding ways to win games. And we’re not playing our best.”
And they still can determine their own fate in the NFC West. The Seahawks are two games behind first-place Arizona, with two games still to play against the Cardinals.
Coach Pete Carroll’s word for the first eight games was fitting: “Survive.”
“I think we’re making progress. We’ve survived some really hard games and we’ve won some really hard games,” Carroll said Monday. “We’re battle tested and we’re ready to go.”
That indeed battle-tested offense is still sputtering behind a porous and now-injury filled and miscast line. Max Unger has missed four of the eight games with a sprained foot, though Carroll thinks his two-time Pro Bowl center may return this weekend.
“It’s been a long road back,” Unger said.
He can say that again.
Tight end Zach Miller, a key to blocking on the edge, pass protection and down-the-middle catches, has missed five consecutive games. Seattle signing free-agent tight end Tony Moeaki, a former starter for Kansas City tight end who caught 47 passes in 2010, on Tuesday is an indicator Miller may not be back from ankle surgery for a while.
Left tackle Russell Okung sat out the Oakland game with a calf strain, though he may play Sunday against the Giants. Left guard James Carpenter was in a walking boot Monday, a day after spraining his ankle. He looks like he may miss the New York game, at least.
Even before all the injuries, porous pass protection forced Wilson to scramble more times than not on his drop backs. Those scrambles explain many if not most of the 122- and 106-yard rushing days the quarterback had in beating Washington and in rallying Seattle from 21-3 down at St. Louis, before the 28-26 loss to the Rams three weeks ago.
Carroll said he isn’t concerned with Wilson getting hurt behind the offensive line, in its current, fill-in form or when fully healthy.
“He’s as good as you can get at avoiding the big hit … he’s going to get hit sometimes,” Carroll said. “He’s a great athlete. He knows how to go (on the run) as well as anybody that plays the game. And he also uses tremendous discretion, when to go for it and when not to.
“So I’m not worried about him.”
This mini-revival and two-game winning streak has started on defense. Carroll is encouraged — characteristically buoyed, in fact — by the defense’s awakening in the last two games, wins at Carolina (13-9) and against Oakland.
With the Panthers behind late and the Raiders behind for the final 49 minutes, the Seahawks’ dormant pass rush has revived knowing the threat of the run was almost nonexistent. The Raiders game was Seattle’s third this season it has allowed fewer than 38 yards rushing.
The Seahawks have four sacks in the last two games. That’s as many as they had in the previous five games combined. The result: opposing quarterbacks making rushed decisions into more aggressive coverage. Seattle has three interceptions the last two weeks. The defense had just one interception in the five games before that.
Success on first and second downs has resulted in Seattle going from allowing 46 percent conversions on third down in games two through six, among the worst defensive rates in the league, to allowing foes to convert just 28 percent of third downs the last two games.
Cliff Avril got his first sack last weekend since the opener, and also had two quarterback hits and two tackles for losses against Oakland.
The defensive end who had 281/2 sacks in his previous three season is having a resurgence that is mirroring the defensive front’s the last two weeks. But he sees a caveat, one that fits the incomplete, unfulfilled first half to Seattle’s season.
“A win is a win, but we have to be able to play four quarters completely,” Avril said of jumping out to a 24-3 lead on Oakland before winning by six. “Sometimes we come out a little slow; then the second half pick it up. This week, came out, played three quarters, and then the fourth quarter we took our foot off the pedal or whatnot.
“We just have to be consistent and be able to put a full game together.”
It hasn’t happened since Green Bay. Will it happen again soon?
“I don’t think it’s going to take a while. I think that we’re going to play great (this) week,” Wilson said. “I think we have the right guys. I think we have the right system. I think we’re calling the right plays. I just have to make a throw here and there, and keep the tempo up and stay on schedule and then things will click for us.
“We’re far from playing our best. So, when we put it together, it’s going to be hard to stop us. That’s the exciting part.”
In addition to signing the 27-year-old Moeaki, last released in an injury settlement with Buffalo, the Seahawks re-signed WR/PR/KR Bryan Walters on Tuesday. That is after Baldwin tweaked his groin while doing receiver and punt-return duties against Oakland. Look for Walters to re-assume the punt-return job he had from Week 2 until his release last weekend. That was so Seattle could sign S Terrance Parks to the active roster for the Raiders game to fill a thin position. … The Seahawks waived Parks with an injury settlement and released LB L.J. Fort to make roster room for Moeaki and Walters. … The team signed to its practice squad S Dion Bailey and WR Jalen Saunders and released TE Brett Brackett and WR Chris Matthews from the practice squad. … Seattle is keeping rookie S Eric Pinkins on its reserve/non-football injury list, meaning his season is over.