Perhaps the most remarkable part of the Seahawks’ 34-31 defeat Sunday in St. Louis was the fact that the Rams had eight plays of 20 or more yards. Those sorts of things do not happen to the Seahawks defense under Pete Carroll, any more than a hobbling goat gets past a lion.
But as you likely know, the lion is not present. So the goats of the Midwest romped.
In the absence of Kam Chancellor, all sorts of indoor savannas and pastures were available.
“This game, more plays got away from us than normal,” Carroll said Monday. “That was one of the differences in the game that was significant.”
So significant that the Rams’ big plays negated three developments that usually mean success for Seattle — a turnover advantage (3-1), a score by the defense and a score by special teams.
“Any of those three factors generally will win the game for you,” he said. “They made plays at the right time and we didn’t.”
Carroll never conceded that Chancellor’s absence was the main reason. He didn’t have to. It was obvious. But there were other things in play besides the failure of Dion Bailey, Chancellor’s sub; the Seahawks managed to hide Bailey for 58 minutes, then the Rams garroted him in the 59th with a 37-yard touchdown pass in which he tripped over himself.
Among the other things: Besides being the first regular-season game of Bailey’s NFL career, it was Kris Richard’s first game as defensive coordinator. It was CB Cary Williams’ first game as a Seahawk. It was Richard Sherman’s first game as a part-time slot corner. It was FS Earl Thomas’ first game of tackle football in eight months, and first in a shoulder harness.
None of those are excuses for the defense tying for the most points allowed in a game since 2010. What can be said with a high degree of certainty is that they are legit reasons, and none will be true by Sunday evening in Green Bay, when the Seahawks meet the Packers in the Cheese Vengeance Bowl.
Whether all the problems will be fixed by the mere virtue of a second game isn’t yet clear. But it can’t be much worse.
Carroll denied that communication was a problem in the secondary, but he did say this: “Stuff snuck in on us that usually doesn’t happen.”
He did admit that on WR Tavon Austin’s 16-yard run in the second quarter that tied the game at 7, “We made an error. We weren’t positioned well in the formation. That was a mistake.”
The defensive call was sufficiently botched that Tony Dungy, before NBC’s Sunday night game, took to the telestrator to show the football nation three Seahawk DBs huddling moments before the snap, clearly confused about where to line up. Austin scored untouched.
Carroll also tried to praise the work of Bailey, but to the coach’s credit, wasn’t very convincing:
“He was working hard at it. He didn’t have a lot of action come his way. All in all, he did OK. There are things he can clean up, tighten up on alignments, things like that. The big play jumps out at you. That’s a situation he’s rarely in — one-on-one outside. He could have played better.”
Not too persuasive. Not to pick on the kid — he’s a 23-year-old undrafted free agent — he doesn’t yet belong with the No. 1 unit in the NFL. But he’s all the Seahawks have, thanks to Chancellor announcing in mid-summer his threat to hold out, after the Seahawks had used up most of the precious space under the cap to sign QB Russell Wilson and LB Bobby Wagner.
Speaking of Wagner, he appeared to have a lousy game, missing tackles and being a step late. In fact, much of the Rams’ damage came in the space between the safeties and linebackers.
“It depends on the call,” Carroll said of the LB’s (lack of) responsibilities. “(The Rams) didn’t get after us outside, they didn’t get behind (FS Earl Thomas). They got between us.”
The errors and misplays in the first game will linger, as will, apparently, the ghost of Chancellor.
“We never should have lost that game,” Carroll said. ” We had plenty of chances. We didn’t seize those opportunities.”
Carroll explains the OT kickoff, handoff to Lynch
The Seattle plays that had tongues wagging locally and nationally were the first play of overtime and the last.
Regarding PK Steven Hauschka’s botched kickoff, the plan was to bloop the ball over the first line of defenders in the direction of Ereck Flowers, a big tackle positioned around the 25-yard line who would be surrounded by five speedy Seahawks. The hope was for miscue. Instead, Hauschka mis-hit the ball for about 12 yards and it was fair-caught.
“That was not what we expected to see,” he said. “We game-planned it . . . Obviously, it went really well (in practice) or we wouldn’t have done it. It’s been a kick we’ve worked on a long time.
“It’s part of our process to have shorter kicks available for different situations. This was one of those. Even if they get the ball first and kick a field goal, we can still win the game.”
Regarding the final play, a fourth-and-one run attempt by Lynch that was dead the moment Wilson handed him the ball on the read-option, film review diagnosed the obvious.
“They won the line of scrimmage,” he said. “They did a nice job of attacking and weren’t able to get a crease that we needed. It’s a good concept for us. It’s been successful for us for a long time. They played it better than we did.”
Carroll didn’t say it, but the choice to throw probably wouldn’t have passed through the prism of the similar situation in the Super Bowl. Nor was the play likely to have worked as a Wilson keeper, because the Rams dedicated LB Alec Ogletree for most of the game to discourage Wilson.
Asked whether Wilson’s lack of option runs were a product of the defense or his reluctance, Carroll said, “A little bit of both . . . a little gray area, if you don’t mind.”
You can bet the Packers defense will be exploring via film the Rams’ 50 shades of read-option gray.