SEATTLE — MISSING: Top-notch defense.
LAST SEEN: In October, when Seattle forced opponents to walk instead of run.
IF FOUND: Return to Pete Carroll at 12 Seahawks Way in Renton. No questions asked, reward of playoffs a definite possibility.
It wasn’t so long ago that everyone in Seattle worried the Seahawks were wasting a championship-caliber defense by starting a rookie quarterback.
Back when Seattle went 136 minutes without allowing an offensive touchdown and didn’t allow any of its first six opponents to surpass 100 yards rushing?
Well, that defense has lost fourth-quarter leads in each of the past two road losses, and Sunday in Miami it allowed 228 yards and 17 points in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins had not rushed for more than 100 yards since September, yet they gained 189 against Seattle.
“We really felt like we could play them better than that,” said Carroll, the Seahawks coach.
Instead, the run defense that was Seattle’s signature the first month continued its erosion.
“We are going to do everything we can to stop the run,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “We run an eight-man front to do that, and we haven’t changed those things. So some of the runs that are happening against us are disappointing.”
The decline is puzzling because Seattle hasn’t suffered many injuries. Linebacker K.J. Wright missed a game because of a concussion, and defensive end Red Bryant’s sore foot has kept him from practicing this week and has his status in doubt for Sunday’s game at Chicago.
The first sign of trouble defending the run came on a Thursday night game in San Francisco in Week 7. Frank Gore rushed for 92 yards in the second half of Seattle’s loss, but that was chalked up to San Francisco’s scheme. The 49ers ran a trap play that Seattle didn’t adjust to.
When Adrian Peterson gained 182 rushing yards against Seattle two weeks later, it was a testament to Peterson’s MVP-caliber season. But when Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas each averaged more than 6 yards per carry Sunday, it’s a sign of a fairly serious problem.
“Last week wasn’t any new concepts,” Bradley said. “It was just lack of trust. Some guys trying to do too much. We lost our gaps a couple of times, and then you saw some of our veteran guys try to do too much to compensate for them. Our defense is built on trust.”
Now some of that trust needs to be rebuilt.
“We’ve just got to find a way to get the job done,” safety Earl Thomas said. “That’s all I can say really about that. We’ve got to win when our number is called. It’s really the little details. We just haven’t been able to get the job done.”
“I think everybody’s angry,” Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor said. “A lot of people are angry. Some people might be frustrated, but overall, everybody’s ready to work, do better for the games to come.”
The defense needs to improve, because right now the unit that was supposed to be this team’s strength has proved to be a weakness the past two road losses.
“We have to regroup and get this thing nailed right now,” Carroll said. “We’re healthy enough to do that, and we need to get that done.”