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Monday, October 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Seahawks think big after anemic start

Seattle hurt by lack of long gains since Hasselbeck injury

Nate Burleson (81) will likely be catching passes from Matt Hasselbeck on Sunday.  (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Nate Burleson (81) will likely be catching passes from Matt Hasselbeck on Sunday. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
By Danny O’Neil Seattle Times

SEATTLE – The little things dragged down Seattle’s offense at Indianapolis.

One-yard runs, 6-yard passes and two catches that actually managed to lose yardage against the Colts on Sunday.

All those small plays added up to one big problem: not enough big plays. Seattle didn’t have a pass gain more than 22 yards in Indianapolis, and there wasn’t a running play that went more than 8 yards.

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is expected to return to practice today as Seattle searches for ways to rebound from a 1-3 start. In 10 quarters since Hasselbeck suffered a fractured rib, the Seahawks have had one play that gained 25 or more yards.

“Two of the most critical variables in winning football games are turnover ratio and explosive gains,” coach Jim Mora said.

Seattle hasn’t had enough of either. The Seahawks have four takeaways, one of those by the special teams. The Steelers are the only team with fewer takeaways this season, but it was the absence of explosive gains that stood out.

Seattle might be using the shotgun formation more, but the offense has become a popgun proposition.

A 39-yard screen pass is Seattle’s longest reception this season, and tight end John Carlson is responsible for two of the three receptions of 30 yards or more. Quarterback Seneca Wallace has a 24-yard reception that’s as long as any pass caught by the team’s five wide receivers.

In the Seahawks’ statistical vernacular, an explosive gain is a pass play of 16 or more yards and a rush play of 12 or more. Seattle had three such plays in the loss at Indianapolis, the Colts had seven.

“We had been making improvements every week,” Mora said of the explosive gains. “We didn’t keep gaining ground. As a matter of fact, we regressed.”

The Colts weren’t afraid of getting beat over the top. That’s not just because Wallace was under center, but because of the men Seattle had protecting Wallace. He was sacked five times, and the Colts regularly got pressure off the edge with their pair of lightning-quick ends, Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney.

The result was an Indianapolis defense dedicated to stopping the run and daring the Seahawks to look deep. Seattle rushed for 49 yards, only the fourth time in the past seven seasons the Seahawks have gained fewer than 50 yards on the ground.

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