SEATTLE - The Seattle Seahawks (2-1) spent Sunday trying to overcome a series of gaffes, self-inflicted wounds and poor decisions. They did so to no avail, dropping their first game of the season in a 33-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints (2-1) in Week 3.
Pete Carroll called it an “unusual game” and added that the Seahawks “had a really hard time getting out of (their) own way.”
Things started poorly and only got worse until a pair of garbage time touchdowns made the game appear closer than it was in reality. Seattle’s offense committed a 10-yard penalty on the first play of scrimmage that preceded a three-and-out. The Saints returned the ensuing punt for a touchdown.
“We know we’re a better football team than that,” Duane Brown said. “We’ve got great players. We’ve got smart players. But to start the game with a penalty, go three-and-out, (give up a) punt return for a touchdown – that’s not how you want to start a game, especially at home. It’s stuff we’ve got to clean up.”
In the second quarter, Vonn Bell returned a Chris Carson fumble 33 yards for a touchdown. It was Carson’s third lost fumble in as many games.
Seattle got a stop to open the third quarter as Will Lutz missed a long field-goal attempt. However, Al Woods lined up over the longsnapper and was flagged, giving New Orleans an automatic first down. The Saints capitalized with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas.
“That’s just the rules. I don’t know how we made that error,” Carroll said. “I’ve never seen us do that ever.”
Carroll owned the lion’s share of the blame saying he “had a particularly bad day with stuff.” His miscues included forgetting to go for two after Russell Wilson’s touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. A two-point conversion would have allowed Seattle to kick a field goal on its final possession to save time and try for an onside kick.
“Yeah we didn’t do that right, either,” Carroll said.
Seattle’s approach to fourth downs was also particularly peculiar.
On the Seahawks second drive, Carroll opted to punt on 4th-and-4 from the Saints 39-yard line while trailing 7-0.
“Generally we count on Michael (Dickson) putting the ball inside the 10-yard line,” Carroll said. “I would rather play it that way.”
Except the Seahawks didn’t play it that way late in the second quarter, going for it on 4th-and-1 from the Saints 41-yard line, a decision Carroll said he regretted. Chris Carson was stuffed for a 1-yard loss on that fourth-down play. The turnover on downs led to Alvin Kamara’s 29-yard touchdown catch.
“I could have changed the situations on fourth downs some,” Carroll said. “I could have kicked the ball and done some more conservative things that I like to do often. But (I) felt pretty good about how we were playing D.”
That failed fourth-down attempt impacted how Seattle approached its final drive of the first half. The Seahawks got the ball back following Kamara’s score at their own 21-yard line with 29 seconds to play and two timeouts. Seattle opted not to call timeout after Nick Vannett’s 9-yard reception on first down.
Wilson found DK Metcalf for a 54-yard gain down the left sideline on the next play, but the clock expired before the Seahawks could call timeout. So instead of getting a field goal before the half, Seattle went into the locker room with two timeouts in its pocket and a 13-point deficit.
“We’d already been stung by the sequence before, and it’s a long ways home,” Carroll said of not using a timeout before half. “Russ came up with some magic and made a great play with DK. If we knew that was going to happen, I would have called time out earlier.”
The Seahawks have plenty of soul searching to do over the next 24 hours. They’ve had egregious self-inflicted wounds in each of their first three games this season. The difference is that Seattle was on the losing end of this one.
There’s no need to panic over a loss in September, especially for a team that notoriously gets better as the season goes on, but there are negative trends emerging that need to be addressed immediately.
“Maybe this is the one game that we learn from and grow from and put this stuff behind us,” Carroll said.