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A case of questionable production
They had a 300-yard passer, two 100-yard receivers and rolled up more than 400 yards in total offense. So how did the Seahawks lose to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon?
They intercepted rookie quarterback Andy Dalton twice, limited rookie wide receiver A.J. Green to four catches on 10 targets and held the Bengals to 252 total yards. So how did the Bengals leave CenturyLink Field with a 34-12 victory that pushed their record to 5-2?
This wasn’t just another loss for the Seahawks – their second in a row and fifth in seven games this season. This was one that produced more answers than questions, and certainly left more issues to ponder than points produced.
Like, why didn’t Tarvaris Jackson start this game? He came on after backup QB Charlie Whitehurst had again struggled with the no-huddle offense, and Jackson passed for 323 yards by completing 21 of 40 passes – sore pectoral in his throwing shoulder, and all – with Sidney Rice catching seven balls for 102 yards, Ben Obomanu grabbing four for 107 and rookie Doug Baldwin adding five for 73.
Like, when will the Seahawks stop strafing themselves in both feet with drive-stalling (offense) and drive-sustaining (defense) penalties? Already one of the most-penalized teams in the NFL, the Seahawks were guilty of piling on by committing 11 penalties for a season-high 80 wrong-way yards.
Like, when will the offense and special teams consistently start performing on levels remotely close to the way the defense is playing? After the Seahawks had pulled to within 17-12 midway through the fourth quarter, the Bengals’ Brandon Tate returned the ensuing kickoff 45 yards to setup a field goal and then ran a punt back 56 yards for a touchdown.
Like, why did coach Pete Carroll decide to try for a touchdown rather than a field goal at the end of the first half after the Seahawks had reached the Bengals’ 3-yard line with 14 seconds to play?
The answer man on this afternoon was Carroll, whose team is now 2-5 this season – and 5-12 during the regular season since starting 4-2 last year. Last year, the Seahawks remained in the division race, despite that 3-7 finish, because no one else stepped up to take control. This season, the San Francisco 49ers are 6-1 after Sunday’s 20-10 victory over a Browns team that beat the Seahawks in Cleveland last week.
“Well, we found out some stuff today,” Carroll said. “In a bunch of areas, we didn’t do very well.”
So much for the overview. How about the specifics?
Carroll on going with Whitehurst over Jackson, only to switch to Jackson after Whitehurst started 4 of 7 for 52 yards while producing a pair of three-and-out possessions sandwiched around a nine-play drive to a 47-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka:
“I was hoping to see that we could rest (Jackson) another week. I was hoping to do that. … I was going to see if Charlie could pull it together and get something going and help us out. But it just didn’t feel like we were moving anywhere.
“That’s basically what it was; I was hoping we didn’t have to use him.”
Carroll on the penalties, which ranged for four false starts on offense to a defensive personal foul on a third-and-6 play and an encouragement call on third-and-1:
“That needs to go away. … When you continue to make the same mistakes at the line of scrimmage, we’re just not settled enough yet.
“We have to execute and complement to what we’re doing on defense.”
Like the special teams giving up the two late, long returns to dash any hopes the Seahawks had of stealing this one:
“Unfortunately today, the kicking game jumped up and got in our way here with a big return for a field goal and then a big return for a score. That shocks me. With the way we’ve been playing and we’ve been growing, I don’t know how that happened.”
Like that play at the end of the half, where Jackson had the check-with-me option to run or pass – and, according to Carroll, made the right decision:
“We learned what happens when a coach gets hormonal and tries to frickin’ jam it down their throats. That was a mistake. It would have been a good call, if we’d made it.
“That was totally my deal.”
Carroll’s bottom-line assessment after the bottom-scrapping performance?
“We really gave them everything they needed in this game,” he said. “You can just feel it that we’re just still growing, and we’re getting in our own way too much.”
Carroll’s players can feel his pain, and share it – with a game against the Dallas Cowboys looming on the horizon next week before they return home Nov. 13 to play the Baltimore Ravens.
“Everybody just left a whole bunch of plays out there offensively,” said Baldwin, who continues to lead the team in receptions (25) and receiving yards (403). “We had missed assignments, dropped balls, couldn’t get the running game going, sometimes Tarvaris was getting hit when he shouldn’t have been.
“So it’s a combination of things. Everybody’s got to do their part so we can move on and get better.”
Starting with Carroll.
“I’ve got to help them more,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff here that we have to work on.”