RENTON, Wash. -- No team was better against the run on a per-attempt basis last season than the Seattle Seahawks, who allowed a league-low 3.4 yards per carry and a long of 34.
No team has been worse in that category through three games in 2017 than Seattle, which ranks last in the NFL with an average of 5.3. Runs of 61 yards by the San Francisco 49ers' Carlos Hyde in Week 2 and 75 yards by the Tennessee Titans' DeMarco Murray on Sunday have made the difference.
It has been one of the more surprising early-season developments for a Seahawks defense that rarely allows big plays and has been particularly sound against the run over the past three years.
Coach Pete Carroll was asked Monday if there has been a common thread and if he's concerned.
"The thread is we made totally unique, different mistakes, but we made a couple mistakes and they've really cost us. Really fine running backs have been able to take advantage of it and really maximize it," Carroll said. "It was a great run yesterday on the 75-yarder, but we made an error. We misread a formation and didn't hit it just right on the run play, and the ball got out.
"We're concerned, yeah, we're concerned in that we don't want that to happen anymore. We want to get rid of that."
Hyde's 61-yard run came during the second quarter of Seattle's 12-9 win, leading to a field goal. There appeared to be more than one guilty party on that play.
Since-released backup defensive end David Bass got pushed inside while cornerback Jeremy Lane, playing near the formation with no receiver on his side, got sealed by fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Hyde ran through the hole on the left side, then ran by strong safety Kam Chancellor, whose eyes were on a receiver carrying out an end-around fake. Linebakers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright didn't appear to be on the same page before the snap.
Hyde also had a 27-yard run later in the game. At the time, his 61-yarder was the longest run against Seattle since Adrian Peterson went for 74 yards in 2012.
Murray beat that by one yard in the third quarter of Tennessee's 33-27 win. He bounced outside to the left, cut upfield and knifed his way through Seattle's defense en route to the end zone. It was the longest run against the Seahawks since Frank Gore scored on runs of 80 and 79 yards in the same game in 2009, the year before Carroll arrived.
Earlier in the third quarter against Tennessee, Wright showed excellent speed while closing on a scramble by quarterback Marcus Mariota. But he didn't have enough to catch Murray on his touchdown, either in the backfield at the start of the play or as Murray was racing to the end zone. Wright said that was a result of a bad angle that he took and not because he was gassed after Seattle's defense had to work overtime in the first half.
"We've got to fit it up better and at the end of the day I've just got to find a way to get him on the ground," Wright said.
It's not as though the Seahawks' run defense has been consistently awful this season. Murray's touchdown run and a 25-yarder by Derrick Henry in the fourth quarter came after what Carroll called a perfect first half of run fits for Seattle. Excluding the 61- and 75-yard runs, Seattle has allowed a much more respectable 3.8 yards per carry.
But even that's behind what the Seahawks averaged the past three seasons, when they ranked no worse than fourth in the NFL in that category. And it's not as though you could easily chalk up the two long runs to flukes. They happened, and they were costly.
"It's just bad ball, it's just bad defense, bad fits," Wright said of the two long runs. "It's so easy, but sometimes out there you just make mistakes and it happens. We get paid a lot to not make those mistakes. This defense is No. 1 in the past few years for a reason, so we've got to get rid of that."