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Originally published December 23, 2013 at 7:03 PM | Page modified December 24, 2013 at 11:13 AM

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Restless Seahawks try to figure out erratic passing game

Coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson get early start on evaluating what led to home loss against Arizona.


Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunday

Rams @ Seahawks, 1:25 p.m., Ch. 13

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RENTON – A winless Sunday afternoon led to a sleepless Sunday night for Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson.

So instead of continuing to toss and turn, each headed to the team’s headquarters early Monday morning. Carroll said when he showed up at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center at 4:45 a.m. Wilson was already deep into film study of the team’s 17-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Wilson was quickly joined by Carroll, the two continuing to attempt to figure out what went wrong.

“We were just trying to be really critical of all aspects and understand what happened,’’ Carroll said of a game in which the Seahawks went three-and-out on seven of their 14 possessions and had just four drives longer than nine yards, gaining just 193 overall.

The loss denied Seattle a chance to win the NFC West and clinch home-field advantage through the playoffs. San Francisco stayed alive in the NFC West race by beating Atlanta 34-24 Monday night, meaning each team will play Sunday with the division title still up for grabs. Seattle will host the St. Louis Rams while the 49ers play at Arizona.

While the Seahawks can win the West and get home-field advantage with a 49ers loss, Carroll said “we’re really concerned about doing it our way. We’d like to win this last game and win our division.’’

To do so, they’ll need to fix what on Sunday was an out-of-rhythm passing game. The Seahawks were held to 89 net yards passing, the second-lowest total since Wilson took over as the team’s quarterback last season (the lowest was 85 in the win over the Patriots last season).

Particularly galling was the fact the Cardinals often played their safeties close to the line of scrimmage, daring the Seahawks to throw deep, a strategy the Seahawks are usually eager and able to exploit. But Sunday, the Seahawks just couldn’t connect.

“It was one thing or another,’’ Carroll said. “We missed some throws and maybe a route got adjusted a little bit more than we wanted it to and just got our timing off. We just weren’t sharp the way we would like to have been. And we really feel like a lot of that was us. We had chances. We had good one-on-one opportunities and we just didn’t get it done for a number of reasons.’’

Carroll said if there was a specific issue, it was that the receivers “got covered up’’ and weren’t as open as often as usual.

Wilson completed just 11 of 27 and had a passer rating of 49.6, his lowest this season and second-lowest of his career. All of that played a role in the other glaring issue with the offense — an inability to convert

Seattle was just 2 of 13 on third downs, its worst mark of the season (and 0 for 9 after the first quarter). Seattle is just 5 of 26 on third downs the past two games after having been 42 percent or better in four of the previous five games.

“We didn’t convert on third down again, which is the common theme when things don’t go right and we don’t feel good about the game,’’ Carroll said.

As Seattle searches for answers for its passing game, it won’t be able to count on the return of Percy Harvin. Harvin has played just once this season, a Nov. 17 win against Minnesota, while battling a hip injury.

Carroll said Monday that Harvin won’t practice this week, essentially ruling him out for the game, and wouldn’t give a timeline for when he might return. Asked if Harvin will play again this season, Carroll said “we’ll figure that out before long.’’

“… We are looking to take care of him,’’ Carroll added of Harvin, acquired in the offseason from Minnesota for three draft picks, including the team’s 2013 first-rounder. “We need to get him right, and he had major surgery and he tried everything he could to get back and he hasn’t been able to get that done.’’

After Sunday’s game, Carroll walked around the locker room, holding one-on-one conversations with a few players, reinforcing the message that all of the team’s goals this year are still attainable.

“Our expectations are very high and our standards are very high,’’ he said. “And we are disappointed when we don’t meet up with that, and that was an opportunity that got away that we really wanted to take home with us, and we didn’t get it done.’’

• Carroll said right guard J.R. Sweezy should be able to return this week after missing the Arizona game with a concussion. Michael Bowie started in his place and Carroll said he “did a really good job.’’

• Cornerback Walter Thurmond will return this week from his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. But Carroll said it was too early to say if he will return to the starting lineup. Byron Maxwell has started the past three games and has played well.

• LT Russell Okung was sidelined for two plays dealing with soreness in the toe that caused him to miss eight games earlier this season. But Carroll said Okung should be able to play against the Rams.

• WR Jermaine Kearse hurt his ankle vs. Arizona but has a chance to play Sunday, Carroll said.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @bcondotta.



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