For those Seahawks fans committed to searching for bright spots amid defeat, the beleaguered offensive line is the most obvious.
For most of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, the Seahawks line was putting together its best performance of the season, giving quarterback Russell Wilson solid protection and clearing the way for rookie running back Thomas Rawls to put together his second 100-plus-yard rushing game.
But like the rest of the Seahawks in the 27-24 overtime loss, things went downhill in the final quarter.
“It’s about finishing drives, finishing the fourth quarter, something we pride ourselves in doing,” left tackle Russell Okung said. “Cincinnati got the best of us; I hate that part of it.”
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With a 24-7 lead going into the final quarter, the Seahawks offense put together the kind of performance that has been a hallmark for the team the past few years.
With Rawls again starting in place of injured starter Marshawn Lynch, the running game was wearing down the Bengals.
Rawls finished with 169 yards on 23 carries, with the highlight being his 69-yard scoring run in the third quarter.
“I feel good about the way we ran the football,” coach Pete Carroll said. “The line was much better all day. I thought we wore on them pretty good and that effect should’ve carried over in the fourth quarter. We needed one more first down but it didn’t happen.”
Wilson, too, had better time to throw the ball, and through three periods he had completed 11 of 15 passes with just two sacks. He had been sacked 18 times in the first four games, tied for most in the NFL.
“I thought the offensive line was phenomenal today, honestly,” Wilson said. “They did a tremendous job of blocking, both rushing and passing.”
Rawls had 151 of the Hawks’ 170 rushing yards through the first three quarters, and the line was clearing the way well enough for him to average 8.9 yards per carry.
“We kind of saw our identity more as an offense and really stepped into the running game,” Okung said. “But fundamentally we’ve got to finish it in the fourth quarter; that’s where the great teams really separate themselves from others.”
The game was a road trip to the Eastern time zone after the Seahawks played a Monday Night Football game. Okung was asked if fatigue was a factor in the late slump.
“I don’t think so; they took care of us a lot during the week,” he said. “It’s rare we see a team that outlasts us. That’s something they were able to do — hats off to a really good defense.”