SEATTLE—It's not hard to pinpoint the reasons why the Seahawks lost to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
Seattle's defense allowed Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense to make too many explosive plays; the Seahawks offense struggled to get going following an impressive game-opening touchdown drive, in no small part because of some critical penalties; and for the first time since Week 3, Seattle lost the turnover battle while not recording a takeaway for the first time all season.
But for all that didn't go the Seahawks' way, they were still in it until the end against one of the top teams in the AFC, so while there are no moral victories in the NFL, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and his players still feel pretty good about the direction the team is headed in even after Sunday's 25-17 loss that dropped their record to 4-4.
"They're very disappointed," Carroll said of his team. "We had a chance to win a football game, today, but we didn't do enough good things to get it done. We didn't get a turnover; we needed to do it. We didn't get to the quarterback enough to cause those plays to happen as they have been, and we weren't able to complement, like we have been for the last month or so, play both sides of the football really clean. When that happens, we're going to be in a tough one, and we were. And we were poised and ready to win it, so we're disappointed that we didn't get it done."
While Seattle's defense gave up a bunch of explosive plays in the first half, including a 54-yard catch on third-and-15 that was immediately followed by a 34-yard touchdown run, the Seahawks settled in in the second half and did not allow an offensive score.
"That's just believing, and sticking with it," Carroll said. "The coaches did a nice job adjusting. We had to adjust a couple things from first half to second half, and they did a good job, and the players could take advantage of that. We played well enough to give us a chance to win the football game."
On offense, the Seahawks looked really good on their opening drive, going 75 yards on 13 plays for a touchdown, but after that they managed just a single field goal until late in the fourth quarter, in part because the Chargers made things difficult on them, and in part because for the first time since early this season, penalties led to too many long down-and-distance situations that the offense wasn't able to overcome.
Yet for all that didn't go well, Russell Wilson and the offense bounced back from a pick-six that gave the Chargers a 15-point lead late in the game to drive down the field for a touchdown. Then after another defensive stop, the offense got all the way to the 1-yard line for a potential game-tying score and two-point attempt, but after a false start penalty, Wilson's pass attempt to David Moore in the back of the end zone was slightly deflected, and Moore was unable to corral the tipped pass.
"That was incredible that they fought to give us the chance to tie that thing up and put us into (overtime)," Carroll said. "We would have felt like we would have won the ballgame if we had got to overtime, which we always do. I think it was the combination of both sides of the ball came through in a big way to allow that to happen. The kicking gave us field position and all that, it all worked together. It just took us too long to really start playing off of one another like we like to, and it just wasn't as clean as we need it to be."
Ultimately the Seahawks know they need to be better for four quarters, especially when playing a team as good as the Chargers, who have now won five straight and are 6-2 on the season, but Seattle's veteran leaders like what they saw from their teammates when their backs were against the wall.
"It speaks to the resiliency of this team," said receiver Doug Baldwin, who had four catches for a team-high 77 yards. "It's a very young, scrappy team that you can never count out. I think that we showed ourselves in that way towards the end of the game.
"These guys in this locker room, they're vibrant, they've got the energy, they've got the right mindset, it's just (that) they're young. There's still some growing that needs to be done and there's no better opportunity to grow than when you go through the fire. I think this will be beneficial for us in the long run. I don't want to talk about moral victories, but I do think that's an excellent football team we just went up against so there's nothing for us to be down about. We obviously want to get the win but we have some lessons that we can learn from this tape and we'll get better and we'll move forward."
Asked how he feels about the team at the halfway mark of the season, linebacker Bobby Wagner said, "There's been some highs, there's been some lows. There's been a lot of bad play, good plays, but there's definitely been a lot of growth. A lot of our young guys have got a lot of experience and all that young stuff and us needing to grow needs to happen now. I like our team, I know we have the ability to make the plays, we've been in a lot of situations and we still feel pretty confident."
Wilson, who added two more touchdowns to his season total, but was intercepted for just the second time in the past six games, sees something special in this team, even after a loss that dropped Seattle's record to .500.
"I've been around a lot of great teams and I'm fortunate to play with a lot of great teams—I'm fortunate to have been able to win a lot of football games and I've been to the Super Bowl twice—and I've never been around a team quite like this one in the sense of the belief," Wilson said. "We've had some amazing teams that believe like crazy. Think about all the great plays that have happened in the past. This team has all of that, if not more. And the great thing is that we're really young. We've got a lot of great players and the resilience is there. The belief is there. The ability is there. We played one of the best teams in the NFL and we believe that we're one of the best teams in the NFL and they found one extra play to make at the very end there and it didn't go our way. It is what it is and one, two, three plays here or there and we feel like we'd be celebrating in the locker room right now. Unfortunately we're not."
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' 25-17 loss to the Chargers in Seattle in Week 9 of the 2018 NFL season.