Seattle Seahawks

Slow start dooms Seahawks defense

Richard Sherman after Seahawks' loss at TB: "We gave them a couple"

Tampa Bay scored two passing touchdowns in the first quarter, and made them stand up in the 14-5 victory.
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Tampa Bay scored two passing touchdowns in the first quarter, and made them stand up in the 14-5 victory.

The Seahawks defense improved its league-leading scoring-against average, holding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to 14 points. But it didn’t help in the loss column.

As cornerback Richard Sherman said, “Anytime we score five points, it’s going to be difficult to win.”

It didn’t take long for the Buccaneers to get those two scores, either, marching for long drives on their first two possessions on Sunday, with quarterback Jameis Winston capping each with a touchdown pass to Mike Evans.

“It’s the matter of how we gave up the 14 points — two long drives right off the bat,” said defensive end Cliff Avril. “That’s not like us. They’ve got a great team over there, so credit to them, but that’s not like us to give up 14 points back to back.”

After those two drives, the Hawks held Tampa Bay scoreless the rest of the way. But the Seahawks offense, for the third time this season, failed to score a touchdown.

“I don’t know if we changed anything,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “We just focused. Those plays they got were plays we shouldn’t have let them make. That’s a good team, and if you give them an opportunity, they’re going to capitalize on them.”

The Seahawks held the Bucs to a reasonable 3.4 yards per rush, but they never got pressure on Winston, who evaded sacks on all 28 attempts and was hit only three times.

Anytime we score five points, it’s going to be difficult to win,”

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.

“He has potential; I like him as a ballplayer,” Avril said. “He’s a tough dude. He sits in the pocket and takes hits, but still launches it downfield. He has an arm and a lot of potential to do great things.”

Linebacker K.J. Wright came up with a good description for the Seahawks’ play on Sunday: funk.

“We gotta come ready to play because those guys are good,” Wright said of the Buccaneers, who have won five of their last seven games. “Throughout the game, we had a couple of moments when we looked good, we looked normal. But overall, we have to play better. We were in a little funk throughout the game. That happens sometimes.”

This was the first game since 2010 that the Seahawks haven’t benefited from the play of All-Pro safety Earl Thomas.

After starting 118 consecutive games, including playoffs, Thomas was sidelined with a hamstring injury.

In addition, Seattle was again without defensive end Michael Bennett, who is expected to start practicing this week after rehabbing from a knee injury.

Was their absence a factor in the loss? Avril laughed at the obvious.

“You could point to that, sure,” Avril said. “More than anything, it was a matter of depth with them out. Really, we should have and could have won this game.”

Wright credited replacement safety Steven Terrell with doing “a fantastic job.”

Terrell finished with five tackles, a pass defensed and a fumble recovery.

“We can’t say that missing Earl was the reason we lost,” Wright said. “We’ve just got to play better. All 11 guys just have to find a way to stop the run, first of all. We have to find a way to win.”

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