Remember that idea the past week about how the Seahawks‘ favorable home schedule provided a good shot at winning three in a row?
Seems they were about three games ahead of themselves.
Against a team as rich in seasonal travail as themselves, one that had lost six in a row and had to fly across the country, the Seahawks Sunday played probably the most emotionally immature game since any of them were in Pop Warner.
Baited from the pre-game coin flip by the hapless Washington Redskins, over-amped with officials’ calls and non-calls, then drifting spent through a fourth quarter when they managed a single first down, the Seahawks (4-7) squandered a nine-point, final-period lead to lose, 23-17, by playing their most foolish game in the tenure of coach Pete Carroll and one of the most aggravating in club history.
“A really disappointing day,” said Carroll, as crushed and bewildered as the Seattle media have seen him. “Lessons are hard. Really hard.”
A team good enough to beat the Baltimore Ravens (8-3) two weeks ago was not good enough to win at home against the wobbling Redskins (4-7) and their mistake-prone quarterback, Rex Grossman. While some good things were accomplished — most of them by the mobile behemoth, Red Bryant — they were unwound again largely by penalties and blown assignments, which by this stage of the season should be no longer covered by the excuse of youth.
“I don’t have any problem taking (responsibility for the lack of discipline),” said Carroll, scrambling hard to stay ahead of the criticism. “I’m not getting it done.
“I haven’t seen anything like this.”
Then perhaps it is Carroll whose inexperience is showing. After the Seahawks had 13 penalties in each of the last two games, they had nine Sunday, including four in the fourth quarter, costing them 91 yards. They are on pace to be the most penalized team in franchise history. Carroll seems helpless to do anything about it.
“It’s something we have to figure out with our staff, and our staff with take accountability for it as well,” he said. “If the same guys keep making mistakes, you have to put other guys in. We’ll have to take a look.”
Good luck with that. Is he going to put in players with even less experience than those who played Sunday? At some point, Carroll is going to bump up against the state’s child-labor laws.
At least when the old Raiders under Al Davis led the league in penalties, it was done for a purpose — intimidation. The Seahawks intimidate no one, and instead invite opponents to take advantage of them. During pre-game warmups, the Redskins taunted the Seahawks, apparently something about owning CenturyLink Field as they do FedEx Field, the Redskins’ stadium.
Whatever the nature of the return to high school, the captains for both sides woofed and shoved during the coin flip, causing coaches to peel away all but a single player from each side in order to avoid a penalty before the game began.
Isn’t the game hard enough without getting behind before it starts?
Even the Seahawks Michael Robinson, the fullback, special teams captain and one of the team’s most respected players, was suckered.
“We were competing, and things were said,” he said, sheepishly. “Definitely out of character (for me). I want to apologize to my teammates and all the Seahawks fans.”
Good for him on accountability. Bad for him not knowing better. The game was pickled with personal fouls on both sides, including numerous disputes where referees could have made calls but did not — perhaps in deference to the fact that the game might not have ended before the Seahawks kick off against Philadelphia Thursday night.
The chippiness seemed to hamper the Seahawks more than the Redskins. The visitors nearly self-destructed too, with 10 penalties worth 115 yards. They also had a field goal and a point-after-touchdown blocked by Bryant, and Grossman threw two interceptions.
That is what’s so aggravating for Seahawks fans. The Redskins were prepared to give the game away. The Seahawks wouldn’t take it. But when it counted in the fourth quarter, the Redskins scored two touchdowns in less than four minutes.
Roy Helu, a rookie running back from Nebraska who a year earlier made the crosstown Huskies look foolish when he was a Cornhusker, had a brilliant 28-yard TD run that included a leap over the Seahawks’ Roy Lewis. After the Seahawks went three-and-out, the Redskins went big again, a 50-yard pass from Grossman to Anthony Armstrong, who made a touchdown out of it despite being mauled by Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner, whose pass interference penalty was gleefully declined by Washington.
Of Browner, whom Carroll likes so much because of his 6-foot-4 size, the coach said, “It’s really not a very difficult situation. It’s just something you have to do, and he didn’t do it right. I’m not putting it out there to try and threaten anybody, but sometimes the bench really works for you.”
Yet Carroll is threatening Browner, which he deserved, but he’s been making penalties like that all season and appearing to suffer minimal consequence. Now Carroll is trying to play catch-up with a team that is well down the road toward impulse instead of craftiness.
Another big contributor to the mess was right tackle Breno Giacomini. Replacing James Carpenter, out for the season following knee surgery, Giacomini was nailed for three penalties, including a chop block that killed a fourth-quarter drive.
“I might have cost us the game,” he said, downcast. “The negative plays really cost us. We’ve got to clean this up.”
The Seahawks have been saying that most of the season. Just as they have said they are the youngest team in the league. At some point the excuse is no longer honest, because the team is nearing a full season.
If Carroll has never seen anything like this, it’s not like he can blame the Taliban, or the NCAA or Jim Harbaugh. Carroll may be right about team-building in the long run, but any NFL coach has to get through the short run first. With a game Thursday against an Eagles team in full panic over a failing season, Carroll’s short run became harder.