Given the bleakness that attended the performance of the offensive line, the Seahawks didn’t deserve to win. At the same time, they can say beyond all question that they didn’t deserve to lose Sunday’s season-opening game in Green Bay because of two phantom calls on what proved to be the biggest play in another traditionally lamentable Sunday afternoon for Seattle at Lambeau Field.
But lose they did, 17-9 (box), gifting Packers QB Aaron Rodgers one touchdown after a fumble lost at the Seattle six-yard line, and a second on a free play after the Seahawks had an extra man on the field when Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson with a 32-yard pass.
“We can’t give away things as we did when we gave them the ball at the 5-yard line,” said coach Pete Carroll. “In a really tight game against a really good team, that’s how they get a chance to win.”
The destructively generous spirit helped produce Seattle’s eighth loss in a row among the cheeseheads — where Seattle remains oh-for-the-21st-century. But the loss also seemed to Carroll to be, well, cheesy, because of officiating calls that left slack-jawed the football-watching nation.
A stunning, 68-yard interception return in the first-quarter for a touchdown by rookie DT Nazair Jones was invalidated by two penalties, one a punching foul on CB Jeremy Lane and the other a block in the back by DE Cliff Avril.
Replays showing nothing merited either foul call. But the first one came with the ejection of Lane, whose departure impacted an otherwise valiant effort by the defense.
Lane’s primary assignment was WR Randall Cobb, who finished with nine catches and 84 yards and was a primary reason the Packers’ offense stayed on the field for 40 minutes, including the game’s final six.
“It’s such a big call — I’m not talking about bringing back the touchdown, I’m talking about the ejection,” Carroll said. “I’m disappointed that the play would have such a magnitude on the game. It’s such a drastic thing to do. It puts a lot of strain on us. We anticipated playing with (Lane at corner and rookie Shaquill Griffin in the slot).
“I wish they had more cooperation from more than one official to talk about it. One guy saw it, and that’s what they went with.”
What the official saw trailing after Jones was a scrap between Lane and Packers WR Davante Adams, who appeared to initiate the hand scuffle, from which both hit the ground. But no obvious punch was thrown, and it had no impact on the play. Nor did Avril’s shoulder brush of Rodgers, also trailing the play.
The interception stood, but the ball was returned to the 50, from where Seattle went three and out.
“I’m anxious to hear what the league says how it went,” Carroll said. But absent a NFL call for a do-over — which happens as frequently as a Mariners World Series — the Seahawks will remain 0-1.
What is potentially fixable by the Seahawks is the O-line, but how remains the mystery, since they’ve been at repairs for what seems like since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
It’s one thing to be helplessly inexperienced, as was LT Rees Odhiambo, in his first career start in the visitors’ hell of Lambeau. RG Mark Glowinski and RT Germain Ifedi are not much more experienced, and LG Luke Joeckel, while in his sixth year, doesn’t look like he’s up to the task.
But the most dubious aspect is they simply had their butts beat in the man-to-man confrontations, something at which Carroll even hinted.
“I was disappointed that (the Packers) were able to be as aggressive as they were up front,” he said. “It was very hard for us to get the running game going.”
The Seahawks finished the first half with three first downs and 25 yards of offense. And that wasn’t the worst of it.
In the third quarter, the Seahawks started at their own 21 and went backward 10 yards when Wilson was sacked by DT Mike Daniels and LB Nick Perry. After a two-yard rush, Daniels on third down barreled past Glowinski to hit Wilson again and knock the ball loose.
The fumble was recovered by Green Bay at the 6-yard line. A play later, RB Ty Montgomery had the Packers’ first score of the day and a lead it would not lose.
It a matchup of thin margins, the line vulnerability in that one sequence was critical. Even though the second half was better, Wilson’s 40 yards on scrambles still led the team, and among the allegedly deep crew running backs, only rookie Chris Carson, who started and finished with 39 yards on six carries, looked ready to play. Thomas Rawls was a late scratch because he’s still recovering from a preaseason ankle sprain.
Eddie Lacy’s three yards on five carries elicited no lamentations from Packers fans about his departure from Green Bay. The Seahawks’ 225 yards were the fewest since a 2014 game against Dallas.
The consequence was that the Seahawks converted only a pitiable three third downs on 12 chances.
“That’s not us — we’re so much better than that,” Carroll said. “Third downs are really what haunt you. You don’t get to start the next sequence. We have to do way better.
“And we will be.”
Perhaps the only immediate fix — beyond hosting the woeful 49ers Sunday in the home opener — is to supplement pass protection more often with a back or a tight end. But that takes away Wilson’s pass options. They could also use more of the two-minute offense, which helped produce two of the three field goals.
Wilson was direct in his advocacy of up-tempo.
“We execute in those situations very well,” he said. “Guys made some crucial plays. I think we can do it as much as we need to. We need to do a better job of maintaining time of possession.”
But up-tempo is usable in bursts, not as the default offense. This isn’t college.
Hard place. Good opponent. Bad calls.
All valid points for a loss in a game in which, despite all the futility, the Seahawks were in until the final two minutes.
None of which changes the fact that the O-line, despite all the amending, tinkering, editing and spackling, still looks 32nd out of 32.