At 2-3, urgency is upon the Seahawks after what coach Pete Carroll Monday called a “very disappointing” loss Sunday in Cincinnati: “This is the week to get moving. We’re running out of time for making a turnaround here early.”
At least they will move with RB Marshawn Lynch, who stayed home to rest a strained hamstring. He will start at 1 p.m. Sunday against 4-0 Carolina at the Clink. But the defense took a hit to more than its pride in the 27-24 overtime loss to the Bengals: MLB Bobby Wagner has a strained pectoral muscle and backup DT Jordan Hill has a strained quadriceps muscle. Carroll indicated it may be a couple of weeks before both can return.
For the first time in his Seattle tenure, Carroll seems genuinely stumped by a statistical anomaly this season. The Seahawks have lost games in which they have the advantage in turnovers, and won games when they did not.
“I can’t even explain it to you,” he said. “For the first time in 14 years . . .we’ve won 70-something games where we’ve won with a plus-turnover ratio, and lost a handful.
“To have the reverse of that, I don’t understand. It doesn’t make sense to me. Usually, when you control the football, you win. Our stats aren’t supporting that. It’s really odd.”
Even when they do get a turnover — FS Earl Thomas had Seattle’s first pick Sunday in the second quarter — something goes haywire. In this case, much of Thomas’s return was negated by an unnecessary roughness penalty on DT Michael Bennett after he blocked Bengals QB Andy Dalton and then foolishly went after him on the ground. He could easily have been ejected.
“He just lost his mind a little bit,” Carroll said. “He went after the quarterback too aggressively. In the old days on an interception, back in the ’60s, that was the style — try to get a shot on the quarterback. It was a real mistake.”
Real mistakes abounded, in all phases. Bennett’s knucklehead moment wasn’t a disaster because the Seahawks salvaged a field goal from the possession. But Thomas returned the pick to the Bengals’ 32-yard line, where Seattle would have had a good shot for a touchdown.
What-if moments were everywhere, single plays that could have produced a first down, or stopped the Bengals from a first down, that would have allowed the 24-7 lead to withstand a Bengals rally that tied the game at the end of regulation at 00:00.
“It was one thing or another,” he said. “We have to be better than that, we are better than that. It’s so easy to see how we could have won the game. Offensively and defensively, there were chances to win. We just needed seconds off the clock at the end. The Bengals maxed out and took advantage of every one of them.”
One glaring shortfall seemed to be coverage errors by SS Kam Chancellor on routes by Bengals TE Tyler Eifert that resulted in two touchdown catches. Carroll said that was not Chancellor’s responsibility.
“We made a (coverage) mistake on the first one, and we talked about it on the sidelines. On the second, (CB Cary Williams) had a chance to make the play and missed it by inches. Usually, when we make those kinds of corrections, we pull it off.”
Carroll praised the play of QB Russell Wilson but cited instances where film review showed he missed open receivers.
“He had some really good throws and ran the ball well when he had to,” Carroll said. “We’re kicking ourselves over missed balls down the stretch that could have won some third downs. We just didn’t execute as cleanly as we needed to. Just got away from us.”
Another time on a planned deep ball to WR Tyler Lockett, who ran past the free safety, “Russell moved and didn’t see Lockett. He saw it on film. He didn’t have enough to throw it there. And the ball could easily have gone to Doug Baldwin, open on a shorter route.
“It happens — getting the rush that doesn’t let you take advantage of the throw.”
Special teams, too, messed up, particularly punt coverage that allowed the Bengals good field position.
“That was the first time this year we felt we got out of whack a little bit,” he said, describing some mechanics in Jon Ryan’s punts that didn’t create his normal kicks, and the coverage temp was off because “we had backups in because of injuries, and we didn’t cover as well as we normally do . . . They won the field position exchange handily.
CB Tharold Simon was placed on injured reserve Saturday and is done for season because of an injured toe that requires surgery. The same toe on the other foot required surgery that kept him out of the past season. “He’s got a problem,” Carroll said . . . Rookie RB Thomas Rawls had 169 yards rushing, but wasn’t in on the opening series in OT because, Carroll said, they were in a “different mode” used for overtime “that calls for (backup RB Fred Jackson) to be in the game.” Carroll said Rawls has very limited pass-blocking experience and Lynch, Jackson and FB Derrick Coleman are all better at it.