The Seahawks' offense certainly has faced some tough challenges the past three weeks, and it has resulted in some big struggles on third downs and in scoring touchdowns.
It helped lead to Seattle's first loss, in Indianapolis last week, and made their home game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday much closer than it needed to be, in most people's minds.
But coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson are not concerned about it, and perhaps they don't need to be. After all, they are 5-1 after going through a gauntlet of five of the top 11 defenses in the league and doing it using three offensive line combinations.
“I’m not concerned about our offense at all," Wilson said, adding the unit has done "a great job" amid the adversity of missing three starters and playing against good defenses.
"The past two weeks we went to Houston, against a very, very good defensive line, and then we go to Indianapolis … against a very good football team," he said. "We shouldn’t have lost that game, but we did (34-28). And so we come back this week, and I thought we did a great job."
The 20-13 win over Tennessee was frustrating for most Seahawks observers, especially considering the Hawks won their first two home games by an average score of 37-10. But things have changed since those blowouts of San Francisco and Jacksonville.
It's reflected in Wilson's numbers.
In the first three games -- wins over Carolina, the 49ers and the Jaguars -- Wilson completed 64.4 percent of his passes (47 of 73) with six TD passes and two interceptions.
In his last three games, he has completed just 58.8 percent (50 of 85) with two TD passes and two picks.
The most notable difference is in long passes: He averaged 9.1 yards per attempt in the first three games, but that number has dropped to 6.9 over the last three.
Carroll said Wilson has done a good job of taking what the defense is giving. Carroll said defenses are playing to stop the deep play-action pass the Hawks love: "That safety yesterday was miles back there."
So Wilson played the check-down game. He completed 23 of 31 passes for 257 yards, but running backs were responsible for seven receptions and 107 yards.
Carroll was satisfied with the pass protection as the Hawks gave up just two sacks and converted as many third downs as they had the past two weeks combined. After going 5 of 26 at Houston and Indianapolis, they were 5 of 13 Sunday.
"They gave Russell a ton of time," Carroll said. "He was able to sit back there and see what he needed to see, and ran when he wanted to, as opposed to when he had to. I thought he handled all of that well. I thought that was our best pass protection day in the last few weeks. I think Max (Unger) had something to do with that, for sure.”
Wilson hates to run, preferring to get the ball to his playmakers. In the first three games, he ran just 17 times for 54 yards. But the last three weeks, he has run 33 times for 240 yards.
After rushing for 77 yards on 10 carries at Houston and 102 yards on 13 carries at Indianapolis, he gained 58 yards on seven attempts vs. Tennessee (he had three kneels for minus-3 yards, but we're not counting those).
"He threw for a bunch, completed a bunch, ran for a good amount as well, and just played football," Carroll said. "You could see him making things happen and coming through in a lot of really crucial situations for us."
It's hard to knock Wilson when he has been playing behind a decimated offensive line and doing what he can to move the unit, turning plenty of potentially negative plays into positive ones.
He helped the Seahawks generate 404 yards of offense vs. Tennessee, and he avoided making the same deep-ball mistake that Ryan Fitzpatrick made on his two interceptions. But he also missed some reads, failing to see open receivers downfield on several plays.
And the Hawks scored just two touchdowns (in five red-zone entries). After going 7 of 11 in the red zone in their first two home games, the Hawks are 4 of 8 over the last three games.
"I felt like I was in tune with the offense," he said of the Titans game. "I felt like I was really clicking with the guys today. Obviously, you want to score every single time you get in the red zone. You want to do that. When you’re playing in the National Football League, it’s not that easy. It really isn’t."
"They did a good job of stopping us," he said. "They made some good plays. But if we can turn that (red-zone conversion rate) over, it’s going to be lights out."
OTHER HAWK TALK
Carroll took full responsibility for the botched field goal attempt on the final play of the first half.
The Seahawks got a gift turnover near the end of the half when Tennessee punter Brett Kern mishandled a snap. The Seahawks took over at the Tennessee 38 and drove to the 4, where a penalty short-circuited the drive.
Carroll had gone for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line on the previous drive, and Lynch had scored. Kicker Steven Hauschka was knocked out of the game of the ensuing kickoff, so one would think Carroll would have gone for the TD again on the final play of the half from the 4.
Instead, he decided to send out punter Jon Ryan to try an 18-yard attempt. With Ryan kicking, backup safety Chris Maragos assumed the holder's position, and he botched the snap and compounded his mistake by foolishly trying to throw the ball somewhere. Instead, the ball was knocked free and Tennessee's Jason McCourty took it back 77 yards for a go-ahead touchdown.
"It was really my call, the way I screwed it up," Carroll said. "We should have just gone for it and not worried about those guys. … I would take that back in a heartbeat."
He also said Wilson likely will become the new backup holder. Wilson said he actually held for Hauschka at N.C. State, where they were teammates in 2007.
Marshawn Lynch's biggest play was the 55-yard gain on a backside pass from Wilson in the fourth quarter as the Hawks drove to the go-ahead field goal. Lynch also scored on two short runs.
Lynch led the team with 78 receiving yards on four catches.
“That’s just what happened, just what was there today," Carroll said. "He’s a very good pass receiver and we prepare him to be involved in all the games. He just got a few more great plays. The throwback to him was a pretty exciting play in the game. He’s very capable to help us in the passing game.”
Earl Thomas led a staunch defense that limited the Titans to 223 yards and picked off two passes -- one by Thomas and one by Richard Sherman.
Thomas also provided the funniest moment of the game when he ran around in jubilation after a big hit and knocked down a smiling Chancellor.
Chancellor joked about it on Twitter (edited): "Shout-out to my brother Earl Thomas. Delivered big hits all game. Even on me. Leverage wins. LMAO. BOOM!!! That's the hardest I've been hit and fell in this league. LOB. LOL."
Brandon Browner was benched after giving up a big pass play for the second straight week. He let Kendall Wright get past him for a 32-yard gain on Tennessee's second drive, which resulted in a field goal.
Carroll said he wanted to give Browner a break and talk to him "about some of the stuff that was going on in the first half."
"He answered it and went at it and did a nice job in the second half," Carroll said. "They tilted some balls at him all of a sudden there; they were going after him. I just wanted to give him a break, that’s all.”
It remains to be seen whether that really is all, or whether Carroll eventually lets Walter Thurmond take over as the starter.
The Hawks fumbled the ball five times, including two by Maragos on that field goal debacle. They lost two and were lucky on Lynch's fumble at the Tennessee 2-yard line as Zach Brown batted the ball right into the arms of Wilson, the former baseball player who said, "I felt like I was playing shortstop again."
Carroll said after the game, "The ball was greased today. I haven’t seen that many fumbles and that many mishandles, … and it really gave them a chance to get in the game."
Injuries: DE Chris Clemons is doubtful for Thursday after suffering a hyperextended elbow late in the game Sunday. … LB Bobby Wagner (high ankle sprain) is questionable for Thursday after missing the Tennessee game. … TE Zach Miller (hamstring) will play against Arizona after missing two games. … RT Breno Giacomini had fluid removed from his knee and could return in 2-3 weeks. He has missed three games. … WR Percy Harvin is eligible to come off the PUP list, but Carroll said he won’t this week and indicated it could be a few more weeks as Harvin is still rehabbing.