Each half of Sunday's 33-27 Seahawks loss to the Titans in Tennessee told a much different story when it comes to the way Seattle performed, and that was one of the first thoughts head coach Pete Carroll shared Monday afternoon when he met with reporters at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
"As it turned out it's really kind of two halves the way we performed," he said. "Really good on defense in the first half and then struggled in the second half. Played very quietly on offense in the first half and then put up a bunch of numbers and points in the second half. It was really two different halves entirely for us and unfortunately we didn't have enough time to get back and get it done."
Consistency, or a lack thereof, was one of the more common phrases Carroll threw out when offering a postgame evaluation of his team's play at Nissan Stadium. In the first half, Seattle's defense held the Titans to nine points and 159 total yards, including just 30 yards on the ground. But in the second half that same Seattle unit surrendered 24 points and 261 yards, 165 of which came on the ground, including a 75-yard touchdown run. The Seahawks' offense, meanwhile, put up seven points and 127 yards in the first half before finding its rhythm over the final two quarters, tacking on 20 second-half points and 306 more yards.
"We've got to stop hurting ourselves in the areas that cause problems," Carroll said of how his team can find the type of consistency it desires. "We had trouble at the line of scrimmage on defense, we had trouble with the snap on offense. Those are totally within our control and we've got to take care of business."
On top of a few injury updates and Sunday's game being a tale of two halves that lacked consistent play on both sides of the ball, here's five more things we learned from coach Carroll on Monday:
1. The Offensive Line "Showed Us Some Stuff Yesterday That We Liked"
The Seahawks went into their Week 3 matchup with a new starter at right guard. Veteran Oday Aboushi, acquired in free agency this offseason from the Houston Texans, stepped into the starting lineup for Mark Glowinski. Carroll came away impressed with the offensive line's progress against the Titans, with the unit allowing a single sack and giving quarterback Russell Wilson ample time to complete throws down field when the offense began to hit its stride in the second half, and Aboushi's insertion into the No. 1 line "had something to do with that," Carroll assessed.
"I think the offensive line really showed us some stuff yesterday that we liked," Carroll said. "We saw that we could protect, we saw that when we did run the football we had some nice movement at the line of scrimmage, so we're building. I think Oday Aboushi had something to do with that. I think he helped us yesterday and it was a nice performance by him. I think he complemented well for his first time out with us, so that was good."
2. The Running Back Group "Needs More Carries"
As Carroll notes above, the Seahawks offensive line got good movement up front when the team tried to run the football, with rookie Chris Carson leading the way on the ground for Seattle, carrying 11 times for 34 yards.
"He ran well, he ran well," Carroll said of Carson.
But the offense's first-half struggles coupled with the big-play back-and-forth nature of competition in the second half that forced the Seahawks to throw the football more often in order to catch up meant left less running plays than Carroll would like for Carson and Co.
"We need him, the running back needs more carries, I think," Carroll said. "Our guys are still young and figuring it out and all that. There wasn't enough carries to share it, so Thomas (Rawls) and Eddie (Lacy) didn't get a shot to go much, they didn't do much to contribute. But it wasn't by their doing. We just really didn't get enough plays."
The Seahawks finished with 69 yards rushing, with 34 coming from Carson, 26 from Wilson, and nine from C.J. Prosise, who also caught three passes for 65 yards. Rawls and Lacy, meanwhile, played a combined one offensive snap and did not record a carry or a catch.
"It's hard for them," Carroll said of Rawls and Lacy. "They want the ball every snap and I don't blame them. They're great competitive kids and if they didn't feel like they wanted it they wouldn't be who they are. So it's difficult."
3. What Went Wrong With The Run Defense
A week after giving up a 61-yard rush to San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde, Titans running back DeMarco Murray was able to break free for a 75-yard touchdown run against the Seahawks. Giving up big plays in the run game has been highly uncharacteristic for Carroll-coached defenses in Seattle, and after reviewing the film, Carroll offered thoughts on what went wrong with those particularly plays.
"The thread is we've made totally unique different mistakes, but we made a couple big mistakes that really cost us," he said. "Really fine running backs have been able to take advantage of it and really maximize them. It was a great run yesterday, the 75-yarder, but we made an error and we misread a formation and didn't hit it just right on the run play and the ball got out.
"We're concerned, yeah, we're concerned that we didn't want that to happen any more. We played such a perfect first half of run fits and then it was just a couple similar plays in the second half that we didn't hit right, different looks from the defensive side. But gosh, we were just so on it to start, (30) yards rushing from that group when they're really trying in the first half was really exquisitely played, and then in the second half it fell apart with a couple runs."
4. The Offense Got Comfortable In The Second Half
While Wilson missed a couple throws in the first half when the offense was struggling as a whole, "he found it" in the second half, Carroll said, and "was pretty much unstoppable once he got going," finishing with a regular-season career-high 373 yards passing and throwing four touchdowns.
"I think everybody got comfortable," Carroll said of Seattle's offensive improvement. "Right at the end of the half we hit it fast and got down the field and scored, came right out the first series of the third quarter right on the money with converting on a couple third downs, the touchdown play, running and throwing everything was on it. The score went bang-bang and we got behind them and we had to throw the ball to catch up. We were in the mode that we could protect. Russell was on the money and guys were making plays and we were able put over 300 yards of offense in the second half."
5. "We Know We've Got To Get Going"
Two years ago, the Seahawks started the 2015 season 1-2 and moved to 2-4 before going on to finish the year with a 10-6 record, and while last year's team started the season 3-1, it took the offense until Week 3 to find its stride and the Seahawks went on to put up 10-plus wins for the fifth consecutive season. So while the Seahawks certainly aren't happy with their 1-2 start to the 2017 campaign that has them operating less consistently than they would like, it also feels like territory the team can navigate, and has navigated before.
"There's been a couple years where we've had a hard time getting going," Carroll said. "We're generally a very young team with a lot of young players and we have a lot of young players now and we have to bring them along and make sure that they fit together and the experience and the newness fit. We were struggling with that a little bit, you could see it. But that's the good thing about it, we understand it, we know what's going to happen, these guys are really going to fit in, they're going to really do their job. They're playing really hard right now, but we've got to play really smart and right. That'll come and I don't have any question in knowing that really. The sooner the better."
The Seahawks' next chance at playing hard, smart, and right will come Sunday night when they welcome the Indianapolis Colts to Seattle for a primetime matchup at CenturyLink Field.
"We've kind of been here before too and I don't feel unfamiliar with it," Carroll added. "Not happy with it, but not unfamiliar with it. We know we've got to get going and everybody's determined to do that."
The Seahawks fall short 33-27 against the Titans in Week 3 at Nissan Stadium.