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Seahawks’ offense still searching for first complete performance

NASHVILLE — For a little over two quarters Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks‘ offensive finally found some of the rhythm that had been missing during a pair of dispiriting performances to begin the season.

Russell Wilson was on point, his receivers were making plays and the offensive line provided adequate pass protection. It helped Seattle make a game of what otherwise would have been a runaway.

If only the Seahawks’ offense could play that way for four quarters. Heck, even three full quarters might have been enough for them to leave Nashville with a win instead of a 33-27 loss. Their inconsistency on offense was far from the only glaring issue, but it was a big one.

And it was mostly at the start.

“I put that on me,” Wilson said. “I think we could have been better early.”

Wilson was part of the problem as the Seahawks punted on each of their first six possessions, gaining only 36 yards on their first 21 plays. He missed two throws to Doug Baldwin, including one when the receiver was open deep down the field. That continued a trend of some uncharacteristic inaccuracy by Seattle’s quarterback over the first two games.

But he wasn’t alone. Tight end Jimmy Graham dropped a pass and two snaps from center Justin Britt were off target or mishandled, the second of which resulted in a sack for a 9-yard loss.

For the better part of two quarters, it was ugly.

“We know we had the opportunity to make plays and move the ball up and down the field,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We missed a lot of passes in the first half, didn’t throw the ball very well, catch the ball very well, and we left some huge plays on the field, so that made it difficult.”

The Seahawks leaned heavily on their defense for the first two games, and for the most part, it delivered. Seattle only allowed 26 points entering Sunday, with 17 coming against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at Lambeau Field. But this was a reminder that Seattle’s defense, as loaded as it is with eight Pro Bowl players, can only do so much. But it fell apart, perhaps partly a result of fatigue after being on the field for more than 19 minutes and 43 plays in the first half because of the offense’s inability to sustain drives.

The Seahawks’ offense showed progress on Sunday, to be sure.

The Seahawks shook things up along their embattled offensive line, inserting veteran Oday Aboushi at right guard in place of Mark Glowinski. Whether that was much of a factor or not, the pass protection seemed to be improved as the only sack of Wilson came after a bad snap. Seattle only ran for 69 yards, but Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise had just 15 combined carries with the Seahawks in catch-up mode for much of the second half.

Graham shook off an ankle injury from last week and caught seven passes for 72 yards, including a 26-yard gain to set up Seattle’s second touchdown. After an unproductive start to the season that led to more questions about his fit in Seattle’s offense, he reminded everyone he can be a factor despite the drop and more struggles to get him involved in the red zone.

And after his early misses, Wilson was tremendous. He passed for a career-high 373 yards (on 49 attempts) with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Those numbers are reminiscent of how Wilson performed during the second half of the 2015 season, when he played the best football of his career.

“I was really encouraged by Russell Wilson’s play,” Baldwin said. “He had a lot going on, and for him to be as resilient as he was today just reminded us all of why he is who he is, why he’s Russell Wilson and why we love him so much. Offensive line picked it up, running backs picked it up, the receivers picked it up, it was a whole team effort. I wish we could have done more for our defense and we will, that will definitely be the case. We will figure that out, but definitely encouraged.”

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