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Originally published October 19, 2014 at 5:52 PM | Page modified October 19, 2014 at 10:20 PM

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After loss to Rams, Seahawks must regain killer instinct

And so it has come to this for the Seahawks, who once were the darlings of football, the baddest team in the NFL, the model of a franchise that seemed to do no wrong: They are grasping for positive signs in defeat. The Seahawks’ present is precarious at best, and grim at worst.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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ST. LOUIS – And so it has come to this for the Seahawks, who once were the darlings of football, the baddest team in the NFL, the model of a franchise that seemed to do no wrong:

They are grasping for positive signs in defeat. They are searching for hope, mining for optimism. At the end of a tumultuous week, all they can do is cling to the belief that better times are ahead.

Because the Seahawks’ present is precarious at best, and grim at worst. They sit 3-3 after Sunday’s 28-26 loss to the Rams — the only supposed “gimme” in the rugged NFC West.

The Percy Harvin trade Friday revealed turmoil in the locker room, and the game Sunday emphasized that his departure won’t be the miracle cure for what ails them on the field.

The Seahawks must regain what made them so special, the elusive killer instinct that led to the inherent belief that every close game was theirs.

And find it fast. Their losses have all gone down to the wire, and each time the Seahawks have been unable to conjure up the clutch magic that seemed to come so frequently, and effortlessly, last year.

It’s true, as Pete Carroll told the team afterward, that’s it’s still early. And it’s also true that the Seahawks showed enough fight, after a mostly disastrous first half, to turn a brewing blowout into a near comeback victory.

But Super Bowl champions should be beyond moral victories.

They can’t self-destruct on special teams, as the Seahawks did against a Rams team that outfoxed them on two huge plays.

They can’t keep halting their flow with killer penalties. And they can’t let St. Louis march 80 yards down the field for a critical fourth-quarter touchdown right after they had seized back momentum and cut the lead to two points.

“Guys have got to make plays,” Richard Sherman said. “We’ve got to make the plays that are there. That’s what it comes down to in this game.”

“We have great plays set up, but it’s just like a guy here and there, myself included, let’s something get past them, and it blows up the whole play,” added tight end Cooper Helfet.

The Seahawks worked hard after the game to portray their cup as half full, pointing out they were one fake punt away from having a great chance to win.

“I’m encouraged by the way we found it,” Carroll said. “We rallied in every way.”

The Seahawks’ offense, under duress last week in the defeat against Dallas, clicked for 463 yards, 303 of it in the second half.

Quarterback Russell Wilson was superb, so much so that St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher admitted his gutsy decision to run that fake punt was predicated largely on the fear that Wilson couldn’t have been stopped.

“We got back to who we were as an offense,” said Doug Baldwin. “There are a lot of things to clean up but there are a lot of positives we can take out of this game. I think we’re back on the right track.”

It was Baldwin who had spoken out after the Dallas defeat, admonishing the Seahawks to “stop BS’ing themselves” about their offensive malaise. After this game — in which he caught seven passes for 123 yards and a touchdown — Baldwin went the other direction.

“It’s completely different than the game last week, where I felt we didn’t have any growth,’’ he said. “This game, you could feel the growth within our offense. That’s why I’m so excited about that going forward.”

Obviously, the specter of the departed Harvin was palpable, even in absentia. Though to hear many of the quotes throughout the locker room praising Harvin, you’d have thought he was the most beloved player on the team, not someone who had reportedly fought with two teammates.

Harvin’s departure might have helped the Seahawks get back to the essence of their offense, and it eventually might lead to a more cohesive locker room. But it’s not unreasonable to think that the shock of his departure just two days earlier might have impacted the Seahawks’ slow start.

“You just have to adjust,’’ running back Robert Turbin said. “It’s crazy to do it as we’re leaving to go to St. Louis. That’s a little bit off guard. But stuff happens.”

The Seahawks desperately need to find a way to make a positive outcome happen, before the season slips away even further, and their aura of intimidation is chipped away even more.

Sherman declared there are “no big glaring, gaping holes,’’ which is true. But the longer the Seahawks struggle to win games, the more that their confidence, which was unshakable last year, will dissipate.

“I think we’re going to respond back banging on Wednesday,’’ Helfet said. “We’ve got to get back to playing that physical ball we started to play in the third and fourth quarter. That’s the biggest thing. Be that violent team people don’t want to play. That’s what we need to get back to.”

Wilson declared confidently that “adversity is opportunity.”

That’s Russell-speak, but it’s also an appropriate mindset for the Seahawks. They should be ticked off about how they’ve fallen, and use that as motivation to regain their hallowed place in the NFL hierarchy.

Unless they want to keep marking moral victories.

Slim pickings
The Seahawks have struggled to make key stops on defense this season, which is reflected in the decline in interceptions by the Legion of Boom. Seattle has gone three consecutive games without an interception and had four such games overall. By comparison, the Seahawks only had five games without an interception all of last season. Here’s how Seattle’s interception numbers compare through six games:
SeasonINTs through six gamesNotable
20139Would finish season with 28 interceptions
20142Have not made an interception since third game vs. Denver

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @StoneLarry



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About Larry Stone

Larry Stone gives his take on the local and national sports scene.
lstone@seattletimes.com

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