Originally published Sunday, December 25, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Seahawks coming up short at home

In all four home defeats this season, the Seahawks had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter but failed to convert.

Seattle Times staff reporter


Seattle @ Arizona, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 13

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Football has been called a game of inches, but that doesn't really apply to the results.

Close doesn't count in the final record. If it did, the Seahawks would feel a whole lot better about the game they played against San Francisco on Christmas Eve. In a season when Seattle has built a reputation for second-half turnarounds, it nearly pulled off what would have been its most compelling fourth-quarter comeback of the year.

But in the end, it only heightened the frustration that Seattle was again unable to make that one drive that would have changed the outcome.

"When it comes to us being able to throw the football in an obvious passing situation," quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said, "and go down and put points on the board at the end of the game, we haven't been able to do that the whole season."

That's not to say the Seahawks have been entirely ineffective in the final period. Seattle came back to beat the New York Giants by scoring 14 points in the final three minutes back in Week 4. The Seahawks also held the ball for the final 5 minutes, 52 seconds of their victory over Baltimore on Nov. 13, a clock-eating, backbreaking possession that will be remembered for Marshawn Lynch's footwork that made Ray Lewis' knees look like Jell-O.

But Seattle has struggled when it has the ball late in the game with a chance to erase an opponent's lead. The so-called two-minute situation, which is really a misnomer because it's not the specifics of the clock that are as important as the reality that time is a factor and the team has no choice but to pass.

"That's something we've got to get better at," Jackson said.

In each of Seattle's four home losses this season, the Seahawks have had the ball in the final four minutes while trailing by eight points or fewer. In two of those losses, Seattle had the ball twice in that situation.

And on those six drives, Seattle never advanced the ball beyond the opponent's 43-yard line.

These are the situations that make quarterback the most important position in football, which puts the focus on Jackson. He was under center in each of those four home losses.

He hasn't been awful, completing 11 of 20 passes he attempted in those six fourth-quarter drives. Two of those incompletions were spikes to stop the clock. He has been sacked twice and intercepted once.

But what stands out isn't the number of completions, but the length of them. Four of the completions resulted in gains of 3 yards or fewer, while just two gained more than 10 yards.

In the big picture, the fact that Seattle has even been close is a sign of progress, considering this team suffered nine double-digit defeats in 2010. The Seahawks have suffered just four losses by 10 or more points this season, and even that is misleading.

Seattle's 24-0 shutout loss at Pittsburgh in Week 2 was the only defeat in which Seattle trailed by double digits throughout the fourth quarter.

But put the fourth quarter of Seattle's home losses under a microscope, and it's possible to see the issue that has prevented the Seahawks from pulling off those signature comebacks.

There's no category for coming close in the standings, and that offers little consolation as Seattle will miss the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or On Twitter @dannyoneil.

Crunch time
The Seahawks have had a chance to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter of each of their four home losses this season. Here's how Seattle's six opportunities in the final four minutes turned out:
Score Time left Drive started Yards gained First downs Result
Game 4: Atlanta 30, Seattle 28 1:49 Seattle 15 57 yards 3 Missed 61-yard field-goal attempt
Tarvaris Jackson's numbers on the drive: 5-for-7 passing, 39 yards.
Game 7: Cincinnati 20, Seattle 12 3:22 Seattle 15 -8 yards 0 Punt returned for a touchdown
Tarvaris Jackson's numbers on the drive: 1-for-2 passing for 1 yard, sacked for a 9-yard loss.
Game 11: Game Washington 20, Seattle 17 2:34 Seattle 18 1 yard 0 Turnover on downs
Tarvaris Jackson's numbers on the drive: 2-for-3 passing, 10 yards, sacked for a 9-yard loss.
Game 11: Washington 23, Seattle 17 1:06 Seattle 20 1 yard 0 Interception
Tarvaris Jackson's numbers on the drive: 1-for-3 passing, 1 yard, intercepted by DeAngelo Hall.
Game 15: San Francisco 19, Seattle 17 2:57 Seattle 19 35 yards 1 Fumble lost
Tarvaris Jackson's numbers on the drive: 1-for-1 passing, 20 yards; lost fumble on a third-down scramble.
Game 15: San Francisco 19, Seattle 17 0:41 Seattle 26 8 yards 0 Turnover on downs
Tarvaris Jackson's numbers on the drive: 1-for-4 passing, 8 yards.

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