This was unlike most Mondays at Seahawks’ headquarters.
The reason was simple: They lost a non-exhibition game — for the first time in 267 days.
It’s only happened to them six times in the last 31 games dating to the fall of 2012. That is why the team plane was unusually quiet Sunday night returning from the 30-21 defeat at San Diego. That, plus the fact many of these Super Bowl champions were exhausted and dehydrated after playing on a playing surface that cooked at 120 degrees. Seattle’s locker room in San Diego featured about as many intravenous-fluid bags consumed than plays on offense, give or take a few liters.
That sapping experience, the humbling loss to the Chargers and then having to re-live it Monday with a pointed film session put an end to the mostly rollicking, seven-month afterglow of the franchise’s first Super Bowl championship. It’s a party that carried through the walloping of Green Bay in this season’s opener.
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And ended with a thud in San Diego.
“Quiet. They are quiet and serious,” coach Pete Carroll said of his Seahawks (1-1). “We don’t take these easily. There are very high expectations that we live with here, and everyone knows that.
“The main thing is, everyone took it to heart, the adjustments and the changes we need to fix. Everybody did that.”
Everyone needs to.
The same offensive style that controlled the ball for more than 42 minutes and thus the game on Sunday in San Diego, the same quick, short-passing game underneath zone coverage that handed Seattle its first “two-score” defeat in three years (since a 23-13 loss at Dallas on Nov. 6, 2011), is the same offense Seattle’s defense will face Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
And the quarterback is not only better than the Chargers’ Philip Rivers, he’s one of the best ever.
Yes, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos (2-0) arrive this weekend for a rematch of February’s Super Bowl, off which Seattle had been glowing until San Diego.
“We are looking forward to Denver,” said left tackle Russell Okung, who had problems against the Chargers’ edge rusher Dwight Freeney.
“Losing is never a feeling I want to get used to. It should hurt. You should hate it. But the only way to learn sometimes is through failure.”
That’s why the Virginia Mason Athletic Center will be a schoolhouse as much as a team headquarters this week.
The offense San Diego coach Mike McCoy used in Philip Rivers’ 28-for-37, three-touchdown passing day against Seattle is the same one McCoy coordinated in Denver through the 2012 season. That was Manning’s first with the Broncos, when they went 13-3 and he completed 69 percent of his passes. That’s still the highest percentage of Manning’s 14-year career.
“They are similar. Both are experienced quarterbacks that really know what’s going on. And they don’t hold the football,” Carroll said. “Neither one of them are hanging back there waiting and waiting and waiting. They are going to get the ball out and move it around.
“So in that regard there are similarities. Maybe the fact that Mike McCoy was there with the two, I don’t know how all that can tie together. But they’re similar.”
Carroll added both Rivers and Manning — two and one in the AFC last season in passer rating — are so experienced “they have great decision making and wonderful expertise. It’s a tremendous challenge for us.”
The Seahawks throttled Manning and the Broncos in the Super Bowl with their pass rush harassing the quarterback the entire game. They sacked Manning once but hit him four times and affected him many more times than that. The most prolific offense the NFL ever had in one season scored just eight points on 308 total yards against Seattle seven months ago.
“I thought in the Super Bowl we rushed as good as we had all year,” defensive-line coach Travis Jones said. “Now did it always result in sacks? No. But it was hurries on the quarterback, affecting the quarterback. I thought it was as good a job as we’d done all year.”
That coupled with the secondary boldly playing in the jerseys of Manning’s receivers created Seattle’s startling, 43-8 smackdown of the Broncos then.
Sunday in San Diego, the pass rush didn’t affect Rivers nearly as much. The Seahawks had one sack and three hits all by one player, end Michael Bennett. Rivers showed mobility and an ability to escape the Seahawks didn’t think he had. On two of his three touchdown passes to Antonio Gates, Rivers stepped past, around and beside Seahawks who were grabbing at him and flipped perfectly lofted balls onto the hands of his tight end.
And the vaunted defensive backs were mere mortals in San Diego than the marvelous they were in the Meadowlands against Denver. They were slow to close on the ball and missed numerous tackles; Carroll called tackling one of the biggest concerns he had coming out of the loss. That may have been because three-fourths of the starting secondary had to go to the locker room to take intravenous fluids. The fourth, cornerback Richard Sherman, was at times hobbling within his assigned zone and at other times was doubled over in the heat.
Offensively against Denver, the Seahawks could go a long way to being 2-1 heading into their bye next week by simply getting off more than the 40 plays it got at San Diego. Carroll noted Monday how the time of possession becoming so lopsided 42:15-7:45 in the Chargers’ favor made Seattle essentially ditch its game plan of using Marshawn Lynch on more than the six rushes he got.
Carroll shrugged over Fox’s television cameras showing Lynch exiting the field and walking up the tunnel to the locker room during San Diego’s final series of kneel downs, before its clinching field goal with 16 seconds left. The coach said Monday he didn’t mind that.
“No, he went off with the doctors, I think. His back tightened up, or something like that,” Carroll said. “It’s an ongoing issue for him. It’s something that’s bothered him for years.
“It’s something we will always monitor with him.”
Carroll said assistant offensive-line coach Pat Ruel was on his way back to Seattle from San Diego on Monday afternoon. The 60-year-old Ruel spent Sunday night there in a hospital as a precaution after medics detected an irregular heartbeat following the game. Ruel went from the visiting locker room at Qualcomm Stadium to the hospital. … There was a prescient reason Sherman was the only member of Seattle’s wilting secondary who did not have to go into the locker room during Sunday’s second half to get intravenous fluids for cramps: Sherman got his IV bags of fluid before the game and at halftime. “He was ahead of the game on that,” Carroll said. Sherman and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who finished with 10 tackles, were the only Seahawks defenders to play all 82 snaps against the Chargers. The Union-Tribune in San Diego reported “a number of (Chargers) received IVs before the game and at halftime.” LT King Dunlap was the only Charger to leave the game because of cramps. … Carroll said backup RB Christine Michael and rookie LB Kevin Pierre-Louis will practice Wednesday following the players’ day off. Both missed the last couple weeks with hamstring injuries.