It could have been worse.
The defeat that revives doubts about the Seahawks’ playoff seeding could have been the kind of calamity that wrecks teams with obvious internal issues.
Instead, dropping the home finale to the Arizona Cardinals, 34-31, will be recalled as still another example of an inconsistent team going ugly early.
The bad news? The Seahawks defense gave up consecutive touchdown drives to complicate a stirring Seattle comeback Saturday, and it wasn’t even the most beleaguered unit on the field.
The good news? A moribund Seahawks offense that appeared dazed and confused in the first half not only managed to score a touchdown, it scored four of them.
None was more significant than Jermaine Kearse’s leaping, twisting catch midway through the third quarter. Kearse’s reception started the Hawks’ dead-battery offense and set the wheels in motion for what might be recalled as the wildest finish ever to a regular-season game at CenturyLink Field.
Which is saying something.
Before Kearse prevailed in smothered coverage, some of the 2016 statistics of the former Lakes High standout looked like this: A league-leading six offensive pass interference penalties, zero touchdowns.
Then, on a third-and-goal from the 2, quarterback Russell Wilson hooked up with a teammate he unconditionally trusts.
“It was another opportunity and I tried to make the most of it,” said Kearse. “It has been a very humbling season for me, so I’m just trying to leave it all out there for my teammates.
“Just play for one another.”
Kearse last found the end zone during the 2015 divisional playoff game at Carolina — a 38-31 defeat with a story line similar to Saturday, when a stagnant offense couldn’t score a touchdown inside the Cardinals 1-yard-line and then couldn’t be stopped.
A young offensive line challenged before halftime to provide Wilson the time and space to make elementary throws helped the Seahawks roll up 297 yards in the second half.
“We just came together,” said Pro Bowl center Justin Britt. “We’re grown men. We make our choices. We came out in the second half and played better.”
Right tackle Garry Gilliam expounded on Britt’s thoughts.
“It was really just one-on-one battles. As an offensive line, we just need to hit our combos and get on the same page. There was nothing spectacular about what Arizona did. It’s just about us getting out of our own way.”
Thanks to the pass-protection adjustments, the Hawks, as coach Pete Carroll put it, were able “to put together a ball game in the second half that gave us a chance. It was a terrific comeback and it gave us an opportunity to get this game. But, all in all, it was just not the way we wanted to go about this.
“We’re disappointed, and I know our fans are disappointed going into the holiday.”
And yet, there’s a difference between failed-comeback disappointment and the season-is-in-peril disappointment. Kearse’s touchdown didn’t lead to a victory, but the catch helped quell a sense of panic.
“It was very rewarding, absolutely rewarding,” Doug Baldwin said of the performance of his fellow wide receiver. “He’s been faithful. He’s been faithful in his relationship with God the entire time, trying to stay focused on that and not worry about the outside distractions.”
Losing a home game by failing to show up for the first half can provide what coaches call a learning experience. One lesson from Saturday already resonates.
It could have been worse.
John McGrath: @TNTMcGrath