Assessing his performance in Sunday night's loss to Arizona, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was hard on himself.
"It's starts with me," Wilson said following a 37-34 loss in overtime. "I've got to be better."
And while Wilson's three interceptions were indeed significant factors in Seattle's first loss of the season, it's hardly fair to pin the loss entirely on a player who passed for 388 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 84 yards.
That much was evident when another of Seattle's captains stepped to the podium following Wilson's postgame press conference.
"We're not where we want to be," linebacker Bobby Wagner said of Seattle's defense. "We have to play better, we have to execute the plays better, be more consistent. We have to find a way to get off the field. We can't put the offense in the situation that we put them, can't make penalties that we had to extend drives, we have to find a way to get off the field. We're not where we want to be. It's going to take some focus. At this point, you've just got to make your mind up and say you want to play good defense, period."
The Seahawks defense came out of the bye week looking to show it could build off some signs of progress shown in the previous two games, particularly when it comes to giving up big plays. But a talented Cardinals offense was able to put tougher a huge day, with Arizona gaining 519 yards of total offense as Kyler Murray and company were able to overcome a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit.
"Obviously not good enough, they scored 37 points," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "Not good enough, we didn't get off the field—I don't know any of the numbers on third down or that stuff, but it couldn't have been any good. The quarterback was able to make plays when we did have him, just like he's been doing, it's why he's special. But we just have to find a way to get our stops and get off the field and give the ball back to our offense. The (Seahawks) offense had almost 600 yards tonight, we need to give them the football more times and they'd have gotten more. So it's not good enough."
As Carroll notes, particularly frustrating was the inability to get to Murray, one of the most elusive players in the game. The Seahawks did pressure Murray at times, but he always found ways to escape, and despite Arizona attempting 48 passes, Seattle wasn't able to record a single sack or quarterback hit.
One thing that stands out about this year's defense has been a lack of consistency, Wagner noted. In this game and throughout the season, the Seahawks have found the ability to come up with big plays and big stops, but over the course of entire games, opponents are putting up too many yards and points. In this game, the Seahawks recorded two more takeaways—Seattle now has 12, tied for third most in the NFL—on a pair of great individual efforts by Poona Ford, who forced a fumble that K.J. Wright recovered, and by Quandre Diggs, who had a diving interception on an overthrown ball. The defense also stepped up in the red zone following a turnover, stopping Arizona on fourth down to give the ball back to the offense four plays after a Budda Baker 90-yard interception return took the ball to the 8-yard line.
But after that stop, which was followed by a 97-yard touchdown drive that gave Seattle a 20-7 lead, the Cardinals were able to score on five of their final seven possessions in regulation to chip away at that lead and eventually tie the game with 10 points late in the fourth quarter.
"The biggest thing is we have to be consistent," Wagner said. "There's times we make big plays, there's times that we don't… Russ throws an interception, and DK makes an amazing play to put us in a position. We go down there and they don't get any points off of that drive. which is big. We can do something like that, and then we can hold them to a field goal, and then have a penalty that changes the game. So we just have to be locked in, we have to be focused, and we have to be more consistent."
The Seahawks are barely more than a third of the way through the season, and they still have confidence this defense can improve, particularly with Jamal Adams expected back from a groin injury soon, and with other reinforcements expected to come at some point from players like Rasheem Green and Damon Harrison, and perhaps from rookie defensive end Darrell Taylor.
But following the team's first loss of the season, Wagner said talking about the potential to get better isn't going to mean much if they don't start backing it up on the field.
"I'm confident; it's 10 games left," Wagner said. "We have a lot of talent in our locker room, we have a lot of guys coming back. We have the ability to improve. We just have to make our minds up, that's it. No more talking, no more saying we're going to do it; we have to go show it. So at this point, I don't have any words for you, it's either, we do it or we don't."
The best photos from Week 7's Seahawks-Cardinals game at State Farm Stadium. Fueled by Nesquik.