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Originally published Friday, October 19, 2012 at 8:58 PM

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Hawks struggle vs. like-minded foes

Seattle has played four teams currently ranked among the league's top 10 defenses in terms of yards allowed. The Seahawks are 1-3 in those games.

Seattle Times NFL reporter

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The Seahawks have beaten some of the best offenses in the NFL, and they have lost to some of the worst.

They have won games in which most believed they were outgunned, and been defeated in games where both teams appeared unarmed.

They have silenced howitzers only to lose to cap guns, a paradox embodied by Thursday's defeat in San Francisco when the Seahawks lost to a 49ers team whose most successful second-half play was a trap run. It was the third time this season that Seattle lost the kind of low-scoring, defense-laden slugfest it seems built to win, which is nothing short of shocking.

This Seahawks team — with its run-heavy approach and rookie quarterback — figured to have trouble keeping up with the high-fliers like Green Bay and New England. The reality has been the exact opposite. It's the low-scoring affairs against similarly conservative attacks that have highlighted the Seahawks' offensive inadequacies.

Seattle has played four teams currently ranked among the league's top 10 defenses in terms of yards allowed. The Seahawks are 1-3 in those games. All three of those defeats have come on the road, but the sites of those games might not explain everything.

The Seahawks have beaten the Packers, who led the league in scoring a year ago. They have defeated the Patriots, who are the league's top offense this year. They held Dallas — which is No. 6 in total yards this year — without a point in the second half, and they have lost to both Arizona and St. Louis, who like Seattle rank among the league's five worst offenses.

Let's use a little auto-racing analogy here. In a league where many offenses strive for Formula One precision, the Seahawks are a stock car that wants to trade some paint, tap you on the bumper from behind and pass you on the backstretch. And Seattle's rough-and-tumble approach has worked against the more finely tuned offenses. It's how Seattle kept Green Bay from scoring a point in the first half and held the Patriots to one touchdown on six red-zone possessions.

Seattle has run into problems when it wades into a demolition derby, facing an opponent that is just as willing to mix it up in an effort to knock the other guy out of the race.

None of the three teams Seattle has lost to rank in the top 10 in total offense. All rank in the top 10 in defense, and against that caliber of opponent, Seattle's offense — which is minimalist at best — has outright disappeared.

On Thursday in San Francisco, Seattle ran one offensive play in the 49ers' half of the field during the second half, and in the fourth quarter — when it was a one-possession game — the Seahawks never moved the ball outside their 31.

So what's the solution?

That depends on whether rookie quarterback Russell Wilson is improving. If he's getting better, the Seahawks aren't that far away from a true breakthrough.

After all, Seattle was playing the heavy division favorite on the road in a shortened week, and held a halftime lead on Thursday. Wilson doesn't need to make some sort of quantum leap. He needs to make a few more plays each week.

Then again, it's possible that he has hit some sort of wall in terms of competition. He was able to dazzle in the exhibition season when teams weren't game-planning, and he's capable of being effective enough against defenses that are mediocre at best, but when the Seahawks have faced top defenses, the offense has spent a significant portion of the game in the fetal position.

Until that changes, expect the Seahawks to continue playing the kind of defense that allows them to compete with some of the best offenses in this league, and their offense to continue being so ineffectual that Seattle can lose to some of the worst.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

Seahawks schedule
Regular season Result
Sept. 9 at Arizona L, 20-16
Sept. 16 Dallas W, 27-7
Sept. 24 Green Bay W, 14-12
Sept. 30 at St. Louis L, 19-13
Oct. 7 at Carolina W, 16-12
Oct. 14 N. England W, 24-23
Oct. 18 at San Francisco L, 13-6
Oct. 28 at Detroit 10 a.m.
First half of season

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