On a positive note, the Seahawks have shown in the second halves of their past two games that their offense can pile up points and yards, even against tough defenses that have given them trouble in the past. On the other hand, the first halves of those two games showed how much the Seahawks are still struggling to find consistency on offense.
In Saturday's loss to Arizona and the previous week's win over Los Angeles, the Seahawks gained 490 yards and scored 48 points in the second halves of those games, while in the first halves they scored 13 points and gained 200 yards. In particular, the difference in play has been noticeable up front with Seattle's young line struggling early against the Rams and Cardinals, then holding up very well as those games went along.
"It was one way, then it wasn't, so it's there to be had, it's there to be done properly and well and all of that," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday. "Really, the last two weeks both show that. The numbers in the second half of the last two games, we put up (490) yards and 42 points, and in the first halves of those games we put up 13 points and 200 yards, so it's pretty clear that it's something we can latch onto here and get cleaned up."
Asked if that lack of consistency is alarming, Carroll said, "I don't think it's alarming, I just think it's what we're working with. Obviously it's going to be really difficult to expect us to play a great game until we do. You want to see that, I know that's what you're waiting for. But we're counting on our guys being able to play off of one another, play off the defense and how they're playing, and special teams, and put together good games."
As Carroll alluded to in that answer, Saturday's loss did not rest entirely of the offense's first-half struggles. Seattle's usually stingy defense played well for most of the first half, but as the offense got on track, the defense struggled to stop Carson Palmer and the Cardinals offense, and as a result, those four second-half touchdown weren't enough for the Seahawks to win the game. And on special teams the Seahawks had a field goal blocked, a punt partially blocked and they missed the potential go-ahead extra point. All of that added up to a loss that dropped the Seahawks' record to 9-5-1 and knocked them out of the No. 2 spot in the NFC playoff standings.
"It's quite obvious we missed a big opportunity in the ballgame this weekend," Carroll said. "We're really disappointed. It's clear that we didn't play well enough coming out of the chutes—we came out kind of like we did the week before and struggled offensively, and then in the second half we took off and did all kinds of stuff and scored a bunch of points and put up yards and got back on track. So that's something we're trying to square away so we can play good solid ballgames here. This one coming up is hugely important for us to find some rhythm that goes from start to finish, and play complementary football like we have for a good part of the year. We needed the defense to help us out in the second half. They played a good first half, save one play, then the last few times (the Cardinals) had the ball, they moved it down the field and got the points they needed. Carson again did a really good job to manufacture a win for them, and we're really disappointed in that.
"The kicking game kind of got us. The Cardinals have been really effective versus us when we're kicking the football, and they did it again. (Steven Hauschka) had a tough time, it's something the numbers kind of show over time, and we've got to do better against these guys. We missed that opportunity to take advantage of a special teams situation we maybe could have. We really just didn't do what we wanted to do, but I'm really fired up about some stuff and fired up about us getting better. Third-down numbers went in the right direction again on offense, that's really important to us. The ability to come back and get back in a game, that's really important for us, we just didn't close it out the way we wanted to, so it's very difficult to take."
Saturday's loss was difficult to take, but Carroll remains confident that if his team can find that consistency on offense and match it with a more typical performance on defense and special teams, then plenty of good things are still out there to accomplish this season.
"We've got one big game coming up, and we'll see where we are after this week—nobody knows right now, we'll see what happens," Carroll said. "We've got to win our game, take care of business, then we'll see where that leaves us. Then away we go, it's the new season, and we'll see how that goes."
Action photos from Seahawks vs Cardinals during Week 16 at CenturyLink Field.