If Seattle Seahawks fans have to find an easy scapegoat, they can blame it on global warming.
Various reports listed the heat on the field of Qualcomm Stadium at up to 120 degrees, and the gang of Northwesterners representing Seattle wilted in a 30-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers.
But excuses are not allowed in the NFL. And the Seahawks were beaten by a team that was much better in the conditions of the day. Fact is, the Seahawks lost for valid reasons aside from those meteorological in nature.
They let the Chargers convert 10 third-down plays. When you do that, your defense has to stay on the field for more than 42 of the 60 minutes played. They grow weary.
When your pass rush sacks San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers just one time in 37 attempts, you allow him to complete 28 passes — including three touchdowns to 34-year-old tight end Antonio Gates.
You give them another chance on a silly personal-foul penalty, you miss some tackles, and you’re going to lose to a good team in the NFL.
And losing is something with which the Seahawks have grown unfamiliar, having experienced it just three times in 19 games last season. They certainly don’t remember what it’s like getting beaten by nine points, having gone since Game 9 of 2011 since they’ve been dumped by more than seven points.
“These seasons are going to be loaded with challenges,” coach Pete Carroll said. “You don’t know where they’re going to come from or what shape they’re gonna take, but they’re gonna happen and you have to deal with them. This is the first one of the year, we’ll see how we come back.”
In a steamy locker room, there were some differences of opinion about the effects of the heat.
“It took me out (of the game), so it was a big issue,” said safety Earl Thomas, who went to the locker room with cramps in the second half. “That’s the first time it ever happened to me. I exert a lot of energy out there coming from the deep middle. You’ve got to fight through it. It’s next man up, and try to get out there as quick as possible. I got a quick IV and got back out there.”
Strong safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Byron Maxwell also needed to go in for intravenous fluids.
“I got a little something, got some IVs,” Chancellor said of fluids. Asked if he meant to use the plural, he said he needed two. “I was pretty low.”
Does practicing in the temperate Northwest make it tougher to play in this kind of heat?
“We never make excuses, but it was a hot game, something we don’t really practice in or are accustomed to,” Chancellor said. “But we still have to make our plays, make our checks, our adjustments and play our ball.”
Seahawks fans, unaccustomed to such results, should probably acknowledge that the Hawks were unlikely to win all their games this season — only the 2007 Patriots finished their regular season 16-0.
So it was bound to happen at some point, likely several times. It seems that the Seahawks’ loss on Sunday involved a confluence of circumstances not like to be persistent factors this season.
They were already down in secondary manpower with injuries to Tharold Simon and Jeremy Lane. With three-fourths of the Legion of Boom needing IVs, the depth issues in the secondary caused them to play a couple players — Marcus Burley and Josh Thomas — who only recently joined the team.
Given the conditions, this could be one of the toughest games the Seahawks play all season.
“I never look at a game as losing,” Chancellor said. “I look at it as lessons. There’s a lot of lessons in this game for us. We just gotta bounce back and get back to practice and find where we can correct the mistakes.”
And to hydrate. Definitely hydrate.