For the first time all season, the Seahawks probably could have used Percy Harvin on Sunday.
But, as Pete Carroll defends his receivers after a game in which the Seahawks' plan to throw deep was completely stymied, it now looks like the Hawks won't have Harvin again until 2014 -- if they are lucky.
Harvin made his Seahawks debut six weeks ago against Minnesota, but he has not played since that cameo, and Carroll seems as pessimistic as ever about Harvin's chances of returning. He ruled him out this week and said they will decide soon whether to put Harvin on injured reserve.
"We’ll figure it out before long," Carroll told reporters Monday. "We’re looking to take care of him; we need to get him right. He had major (hip) surgery and he tried with everything he could to get back and hasn’t been able to get that done.”
Last week, Carroll said, "It's looking like it’s going to be a bit before we get it right. He’s doing a ton of stuff to get back, but he just hasn’t turned the corner. We’re going to just keep taking the time it takes to get him right.
"He’s vulnerable. So we’re going to make sure that we take our time and see when that time comes. We still have a number of games left, hopefully. If we can get him in there, we’ll take him when he comes.”
Now it appears the time won't come until 2014, which is no loss. The Hawks have not had Harvin all season, so they can't miss what they didn't have.
Even with Sidney Rice out for the season since Week 8, Seattle's other receivers had played well enough in most games. Sunday was an exception as they couldn't get open often enough for Russell Wilson, who then struggled mightily to throw accurate passes to them.
“Our guys are really good. Our guys are terrific," he said. "We’ve had a terrific season, we’ve had a lot of numbers, and we’ve done all kinds of stuff."
Baldwin has correctly pointed out that the Seahawks do not throw the ball very often (second-fewest attempts in the league) but are among the most efficient and most explosive teams when they do.
Even after a horrible performance in the 17-10 loss to Arizona, the Hawks are second in the league in yards per attempt, at 8.4. And even after his worst game of the season, Wilson's passer rating of 101.1 is on pace to break the team record he set last season.
Carroll said the passing game was just off Sunday, and Arizona's defense played well.
"Yesterday in this game we missed on opportunities down the field that we normally hit on a couple of them, and they defended very well," he said. "(Arizona cornerback) Jerraud Powers knocked three balls away and made some great plays when the ball was right on the money 45 yards down the field. That’s a good play by them too; you have to give them some credit."
Carroll believes his receivers are good enough, and they generally have played that way. Baldwin had 50 catches for 778 yards and five touchdowns. Golden Tate has 56 catches for 769 yards and four scores. Jermaine Kearse has 22 receptions for 346 yards and four scores. Baldwin and Kearse really have stepped up in the second half of the season.
Carroll expects his quarterback and receivers to bounce back from a down game.
"We can get open, we can make all kinds of plays, and we will," he said. "We need to make sure that we get the ball to the right guy, the guy that is the most open, or the most available. Sometimes we missed that and we didn’t get that done.”
The 2005 Seahawks showed that a team does not need a superstar receiver to make the Super Bowl.
That season, the Seahawks' starting wide receivers missed 13 games combined. Their top receiver, Bobby Engram, caught 67 passes for 778 yards despite missing three games. Joe Jurevicius led the team with 10 TD catches as Darrell Jackson missed 10 games.
Just like that group, this unit lacks name brand. But it still has talent -- even if Harvin is headed to injured reserve soon.