Seahawks' margin for error gets slimmer after sloppy loss to Chargers

SEATTLE -- Eight points separated the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Chargers on the scoreboard Sunday, but it might have been closer to a half-inch that separated them on the field.

Or whatever amount of fingertip safety Jahleel Addae managed to get on Russell Wilson's final pass into the end zone, an incompletion on the game's last play that ended the Seahawks' comeback bid.

"It was really close," Wilson said of the last play.

The Seahawks were also really close to rallying from 15 down over the final seven minutes of what turned out to be a 25-17 defeat. They would have needed a two-point conversion to send the game to overtime, but they never got the chance after Wilson's throw to David Moore bounced off the receiver's chest and through his hands after being tipped at the last second.

"It's heartbreaking, especially at home," receiver Doug Baldwin said after Seattle's second loss in three games this season at CenturyLink Field. "We've got to do better."

The loss drops the Seahawks to 4-4 as they head into the second half of the season. Their road to the playoffs becomes that much tougher, and their upcoming schedule doesn't get any easier as they head to Los Angeles next week for a rematch against the 7-1 Rams, who are still in control of the NFC West after suffering their first loss of the season.

In other words: This was a win Seattle really could have used.

It was right there, despite the Seahawks' most uneven performance since an 0-2 start that preceded four wins in five games. They committed drive-killing penalties on offense, got uncharacteristically gashed early by big plays on defense and didn't get the type of mistake-free play from Wilson that he had been giving them of late.

He threw an interception that Desmond King returned for a touchdown to put the Chargers up 25-10 with less than seven minutes left. On Seattle's first possession of the third quarter, Wilson had Jaron Brown open behind the Chargers' secondary for what could have been a touchdown, but his underthrown pass fell incomplete, leading to a punt. He took a sack -- one of four for the Chargers -- for a 13-yard loss in the third quarter in one instance of him not getting the ball out quickly enough.

Wilson entered Sunday with 11 touchdowns to only one interception in his past five games. The pick-six was his second of the season and only the third of his career.

"He made a good play," Wilson said of King. "I made a bad read. He bolted underneath of it and made a good play. It won't happen again."

The Seahawks trailed 19-10 after a first half in which their remade defense, which had held up remarkably well to this point, finally started cracking. The Chargers answered Seattle's opening-drive touchdown with one of their own and scored two more with the help of big gains. There was a 54-yard completion from Philip Rivers to Keenan Allen on a busted coverage to set up Melvin Gordon's 34-yard TD run. Rivers then hit Mike Williams for a 30-yard TD.

The Chargers averaged a whopping 10 yards per play in the first half, something you rarely see against a Pete Carroll-led defense that prioritizes the elimination of big plays above all else.

And then there were the penalties.

"The game just felt sloppy because of the penalties and the unnecessary ones that we could avoid and [instead] just gave them free yards," Carroll said. "We need to do a better job there. We got behind the sticks today, and it hasn't happened for about a month now."

Seattle was flagged 10 times for 83 yards. The last one was a killer -- a false start on J.R. Sweezy that pushed the final play from the 1-yard line to the 6. The distance needed plus the fact that the Seahawks were without Chris Carson -- who left the game in the first half when his hip tightened up -- left no doubt that the game would come down to a Wilson throw.

"I knew it was a tight window," he said.

While talking this week about how the Seahawks' resurgent running game had reduced the burden on Wilson, Carroll reminded everyone that a time would come when they would need their quarterback to carry them to a victory.

Wilson almost did that when the time came Sunday. He bounced back from his pick-six to lead a 14-play, 54-yard drive that he capped by hitting Nick Vannett for his second touchdown throw of the game. Wilson finished with 26 completions on a season-high 39 attempts and came ever-so-close to a 27th.

The Seahawks' margin for error in their final eight games isn't as small as Wilson's was on that last attempt, but it got slimmer with Sunday's loss. After the Rams, the Seahawks host the Packers, then go across the country for an early kickoff against the Panthers in Charlotte to conclude the toughest part of their schedule. A split of those four games, including Sunday's loss, would leave the Seahawks well-positioned to reach the nine or 10 wins they might need to secure a wild-card berth. But a split will be harder to pull off after Sunday.

"We had a chance," Carroll said. "We were right there."