Everything that went wrong Sunday for the Seahawks can be condensed into a single play call early in the fourth quarter.
Facing second down and 8 at midfield, tied 20-20 with the Dallas Cowboys, the Hawks put the ball in the hands of reserve receiver Bryan Walters on an end-around. It went for a 2-yard loss.
Nothing against Walters, a Kirkland native realizing his childhood dream of playing for the Seahawks, but on the best day of his life, he is not a better choice to carry the ball than teammate Marshawn Lynch.
Nor, for that matter, is Percy Harvin, sheer dynamite as either a kick returner or receiver but not much more threatening than a firecracker when serving as an ersatz running back. Harvin twice sprang into the line to no avail during the Hawks’ opening drive, which began with them handing off to Lynch and ended — nine plays later — with Lynch still waiting for a second carry.
It would be wrong to put all of the blame on the Seahawks’ 30-23 defeat Sunday on a game plan seemingly designed to showcase the versatility of their offense. The clunker, as head coach Pete Carroll pointed out, was a group effort.
“We were not right, really, in any phase of our game,” said Carroll during a post-game interview session notable for its brevity. “We didn’t run the ball the way we want to, we didn’t protect as well as we like, we didn’t throw the ball very well, and on defense we didn’t stop the run.”
True, but there’s a very good chance the Seahawks run the ball better — and, by extension, throw the ball better — if they don’t forget to feed The Beast.
Lynch was limited to two carries in the first half and 10 overall. Not enough. It was the second time in five games the Hawks have attempted to win without relying on their All-Pro running back, and the second time in five games they’ve lost.
Carroll attributed Lynch’s light work load to the offense’s inability to achieve rhythm by making first downs.
“When the defense is out there for a long time, and the offense has a three and out, then you don’t get your shots,” said Carroll. “That’s what happens. The story is going to write itself every time that way.”
The story is going to write itself? Then change the plot. Quit fooling around with the buzzer and bell stuff — an end-around to Bryan Walters? Seriously? — and get back to the basics of Lynch left, Lynch right, and Lynch up the middle.
Lynch broke off a 32-yard gain midway through the third quarter, to the Seattle 46. Rhythm, so elusive against a Cowboys defense determined to shed its reputation as the league’s worst, appeared attainable.
But Lynch, briefly gassed, didn’t get another carry on the drive. The ball went to backup running back Robert Turbin for 3 yards, and then to Harvin on another fruitless quick opener that preceded Russell Wilson’s incomplete pass.
Lynch seethes whenever his workhorse role is reduced, and the frustration became visible when he was waved off the field before a critical fourth down and 6 with 2:40 remaining and the Cowboys leading, 27-23.
Glaring at the coaches along the sideline, Lynch removed his helmet and bit into the back of it. At least it was a G-rated tirade, unlike the gesture he used last season after he didn’t hear his number called for a play inside Arizona’s one-yard line.
Lynch didn’t make himself available to talk Sunday, typically leaving the task of talking about the defeat to everybody else in the locker room. His act is getting old, and you get the suspicion things won’t end well between him and the Seahawks.
In the meantime, an offense that produced nine first downs against the Dallas Cowboys is an offense desperate to return to its roots.
Feed the Beast.