Russell Wilson was sacked six times, escaped at least six more sacks with his own speed, elusiveness, guile -- or was it desperation? -- against a winless team that was 24th in the league in sacks entering the game. He lost two fumbles. Detroit scooped up the second one for its only touchdown that made it a 13-10 game.
Marshawn Lynch was out for only the second time in six Seahawks seasons, with a bad hamstring.
His replacement, Thomas Rawls, mostly ran into Lions at the line while gaining 9 yards on his first eight carries. Usual third-down back Fred Jackson was actually on the field for 10 of Seattle’s first 19 offensive plays, but then he sprained his ankle when a 305-pound defensive tackle fell on it early in the third quarter and did not return.
Other than that, the Seahawks’ offense was just hummin’ in Monday night’s defensive-led escape past the 0-4 Lions.
“We overcame a lot,” coach Pete Carroll said.
Specifically, themselves. Again.
When asked specifically about his offensive line with starters in three new positions that was again porous and just plain poor, Carroll said: “It’s not as good as we needed it to be. The protection. We didn’t run the ball as well as we wanted tonight. And we obviously had trouble protecting.”
One week after slogging through a 6-0 first half and managing just a single touchdown against another winless team, Chicago, this is how bad it got Monday: The Seahawks had to settle for 51-yard field goal after having a first and goal from the 9.
In the final 2 minutes of the first half Wilson actually had more than 1.6 seconds or so to wait for rookie Tyler Lockett to cross the field for a 23-yard gain. Then Wilson ran for his well-being away from yet more rushing Lions while attempting to pass, for a whirling, 15-yard gain for a first and goal from the 9.
Then Wilson got sacked for a 9-yard loss. Center Drew Nowak, a college defensive tackle playing in his fourth NFL game, moved the ball prematurely for a snap-infraction foul of 5 yards. Jackson gained a mere yard on a run up the middle with no holes. On third and goal from the 22, Wilson got sacked for 11 more yards the wrong way.
That’s how first and goal became a 51- --51! -- yard field goal by Steven Hauschka on fourth down from the 33-yard line.
This was an equal-opportunity failing across the line: left tackle Russell Okung, left guard Justin Britt, Nowak, right guard J.R. Sweezy and right tackle Garry Gilliam.
Again. Seattle’s offense has touchdowns on just five of 42 drives this season.
“We’ve got to get a lot more clean,” Okung said. “Physically, I definitely believe in our group. Right now, we are struggling. But we can get better.”
Thing is, the Seahawks have made the Super Bowl in each of the previous two seasons largely in spite of -- not because of -- it’s offensive line. Especially in pass protection.
Last season I counted Wilson should have been sacked 15 times in the home game against Arizona in November. Wilson got sacked seven times, yet the Seahawks still won 19-3 because of its defense.
Last week the Bears entered the game without a sack this season. Then they sacked Wilson four times. Yet Tyler Lockett’s 105-yard kickoff return and the Seahawks’ defense throwing the first shutout of the Bears in 13 years led Seattle’s first victory after an 0-2 start -- in which, yes, the line got ransacked at St. Louis. The fact the 27-17 loss at Green Bay remains the line’s high point this season is indeed concerning, if not galling.
But Wilson keeps on escaping and making wild, improvisational runs and throws for first downs when the Seahawks need it most. Such as on their final, clinching drive Monday night, when Seattle had third and 2 leading by three points. Wilson scrambled another yet again. Jermaine Kearse made a stop move on his initial route, then broke off into a spontaneous crossing of the field into the wide-open middle. Wilson stopped and threw to his 2012 rookie minicamp partner for 50 yards with 1:23 left to seal the win.
Somehow amid all this pressure and almost no time to throw, Wilson was 20 for 26 passing for 287 yards. His touchdown pass of 24 yards to Doug Baldwin was particularly exquisite. Not only was that dart his best throw onto Baldwin’s hands in the back of the end zone in stride at the end of his seam route from the slot. It came one play after Wilson got absolutely drilled up near the head by Lions end Devin Taylor following a 34-yard pass to Kearse.
I asked coach Pete Carroll what is options are along the offensive line or whether he will just stay with the same five starters.
“We’ll just go back and figure it out,” Carroll said. “Right now we’re just trying to build these guys and get the most out of them that we can, and get them to fit together and feel one another. It’s all upside for us.”
Indeed, no one around the team wants to consider the possibility it can get any worse.
I asked Wilson much longer can Seattle keep winning with its offensive line so bad? I mean, Cincinnati is going to blitz every Bengal back to David Fulcher at the Seahawks’ blockers on Sunday in Ohio.
He gave a very Wilsonian answer.
“You win one game at a time. That’s the goal,” Wilson said. “That’s the mentality.”
Behind this line, with Lynch ailing, the quarterback’s becoming endangered.
That’s the truth.