Sports

Heat helped Seahawks get cooked in Qualcomm

RNot the way Pete Carroll would have liked to celebrate his 63rd birthday, surely, but the day he calls “Tell The Truth Monday” required his reviewing a game video that carried some very inconvenient truths.

His Seattle Seahawks had suffered their worse loss since the middle of the 2011 season, a 30-21 defeat to San Diego in a convection oven called Qualcomm Stadium.

He reported that the movie showed the Seahawks committing some uncharacteristic mistakes on blocking adjustments, having some uncharacteristic missed tackles and some uncharacteristic coverage lapses.

It contributed to an uncharacteristic loss, one in which his players often looked uncharacteristically sluggish, slower and less athletic than they’ve conclusively proven to be over the last 21/2 seasons.

What was apparent in the aftermath, given the hand-wringing from fans and glee from around the league, is something else that has been uncharacteristic for this franchise: Everybody is watching now. Everybody is judging. Everybody is ready to get out the shovels to start tossing dirt on their dehydrated bodies.

How so? The most-read story from the game that was in our paper was a sidebar about Richard Sherman in which he was quoted once. It is big news when certain Seahawks don’t say much and at least one opposing player is critical of his skills.

The criticism was fair to some degree. That didn’t look like the typical Richard Sherman on the field, nor were many of the other defenders operating at the effectiveness that is their norm.

A contention is that a player as voluble as Sherman, whose athletic excellence has been attended by notable bluster, should be less circumspect after a defeat.

Sherman doesn’t need me standing up for him. As he says, he’s better at life than most of us in the media. If Sherman and these guys were a gang of gagging dogs who didn’t show up emotionally, I’d write that. I have about teams in years past.

But from the press box, it seemed objectively obvious that the Seahawks were far more affected by the heat than the Chargers. It’s been reported that the Chargers’ official twitter account showed an on-field thermometer red-lining at 120 degrees before kickoff.

The humidity turned the place into a sauna. And the secondary that controlled the best passing offense in NFL history in the Super Bowl couldn’t stop check-down routes or the connection between quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates.

Asked about Sherman’s performance, Carroll said he “got worn down like everybody did.” But Sherman was foresighted, Carroll said. “Richard was ahead of it, he got his IV before the game and at halftime. He anticipated it and handled it, but it was still challenging.”

At times, on the bench, you could see Sherman tossing cups of water down the back of his neck, fighting to cool the body temperature or taking some kind of unofficial “ice cup” challenge.

Several times in the second half, as Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor and Byron Maxwell were taken into the locker room for fluids, Sherman stayed on the field and looked wobbly on his feet.

It’s hard to guard NFL receivers like that.

San Diego played on the same field, of course. And was clearly the better team that afternoon. Maybe they were better acclimated to the warm weather, or maybe they are better conditioned or had done a better job of hydrating.

They fully earned a win in a game that was important to them, as it would be for every team that faces the defending Super Bowl champions.

But the unexpected miscues had to make the film hard to watch for all of the Seahawks, the birthday-boy coach included.

When asked about the blocking, for instance, Carroll cited “uncharacteristic mistakes” when players went the wrong way. And when the defense played so poorly on third downs that the Seahawk offense got only 40 snaps, such blocking errors “are magnified,” Carroll said.

Yes, Coach. Everything is magnified when you’re the defending champ. The good along with the bad.

And that’s how it’s going to be all season.

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