CHICAGO - Two weeks, two cities, two close losses and a litany of issues, yet still a feeling remains that all is not lost for the Seattle Seahawks, 0-2 after losing 24-17 to Chicago at Soldier Field on Monday Night Football.
That's the message the Seahawks delivered and part of that message stems from a late drive that at the very least demonstrated that this team has heart. So, let's embrace the positives before pounding the negatives.
Seattle's offense stood in the south end zone at Soldier Field with the ball at its one-yard line, 2:42 remaining in the game and trailing Chicago, 24-10. Barring a miracle, the game was all-but lost, but the fight in a team remained despite 0-2 starring the Seahawks in the face.
"I told those guys in the huddle, 'hey, I wouldn't want to play with anybody else,'" Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. "'Let's go as far as we can go in terms of making plays and let's find a way to score."
The offense responded with a 99-yard drive that ended with a Wilson touchdown pass from two yards out to rookie tight end Will Dissly with 14 seconds remaining. Seattle failed to recover the onside kick and that was that. A 24-17 loss went into the books. But that final drive, Wilson said, is emblematic of what this team could still become.
"Most people would give in and give up," Wilson said. "But that's not us. That's going to pay off."
Okay. Maybe. But time is running out even though we're just two weeks into the season.
While it's too early to panic regarding Seattle's season, it is certainly reasonable to start feeling queasy about this team's prospects of making the playoffs. Seattle, 9-7 last year, has now fallen to two teams that each went 5-11 last season. Despite offseason efforts to improve the roster, there is no denying that the Seahawks remain mediocre, at best, and have now lost five of six regular season games dating back to the end of last season.
The signs of life in the offense line that everyone witnessed during the preseason have been hit or miss. Actually, it's been mostly hits, as in hits on Wilson, sacked six times tonight after Denver notched the same amount last week during a 27-24 win. The running game, once again, looked poor. Just 74 yards on 22 carries with starter Chris Carson receiving six carries for 24 yards.
Defensively, Seattle actually played well. The Seahawks can live with an opponent gaining just 271 yards with 86 on the ground, and scoring just 17 points, which is what the Bears managed despite owning time of possession at 34 minutes and 24 seconds to 25 minutes and 36 seconds for Seattle.
"Obviously guys are upset," Seattle safety Bradley McDougald said. "We've been grinding for a long time. We definitely expected a better start than this. But, I mean, it is what it is. We can't dwell on it too long."
The good news for Seattle is that the team will return home for the first time this season to host Dallas (1-1) on Sunday before traveling the following week to play at Arizona (0-2). Those are two matchups the Seahawks should be favored to win. Should they, Seattle would be 2-2. Lose one, and it's time to start thinking about next season.
Furthermore, it can't be discounted that Seattle lost here tonight minus five starters, four of whom should be back next week. Right guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring) has yet to play in the regular season after having a strong preseason. Middle Linebacker Bobby Wagner (groin) and outside linebacker K.J. Wright (knee) were sorely missed tonight. Plus, rookie starting cornerback Tre Flowers (hamstring) was out.
“All of those guys have a chance to come back next week," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "And we need them."
Star wide receiver Doug Baldwin (knee), Carroll said, is less likely to return.
Adding at least four starters to the lineup will make this a different team next week than Chicago edged out tonight thanks to an ill-advised pass into the flat from Wilson to running back Rashaad Penny (lined up at wide receiver) that was intercepted by cornerback Prince Amukamara and taken 49 yards for a touchdown to make the score 24-10 in the fourth quarter.
"He made a good play," said Wilson, who fumbled twice, losing one. "He put his foot in the ground and made a good play."
Seattle's two losses demonstrate how just a few plays here and there can be the difference. Seattle is not the dominant team it once was, and injuries, plus a questionable offensive line, could have Seattle at the wrong end of close games. But Wilson, at least, feels that this young team is destined to break through.
"We're young," Wilson said. "We're going to be able to figure it out. You've got to take some punches and you've got to adjust through it all."
Said McDougald: "I definitely feel like were' close. It doesn't feel good to be close, but we're close."
With that, Seattle returns home in desperate need of a victory and support from a fan base that hasn't seen their team start a season 0-2 since 2011.
"We're going to need the 12, a lot," Wilson said. "We're going to need that feeling. Winning is a habit. You've got to get that feeling. Once you get that first one, hopefully it rolls from there."