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Seahawks go down on third downs
INDIANAPOLIS – On any given Sunday, Jermaine Kearse made a couple of plays that would have been the difference between the Seahawks winning and, well, not winning.
The second-year wide receiver had a highlight-reel catch along the sideline of a pass from Russell Wilson for the Seahawks’ second touchdown – a 28-yarder in the second quarter. He also made a play that was special even for the Seahawks’ extra-special special teams by blocking a punt that everyone in the locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium felt was recovered in the end zone by Jeron Johnson for what should have been another touchdown – but instead went as a safety, as the officials ruled Johnson went out of the back of the end zone before controlling the ball.
But this wasn’t any given Sunday. This was a Sunday where the Seahawks simply gave up too much, as the Indianapolis Colts scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to pull out a 34-28 victory.
The Seahawks continue to control the NFC West at 4-1, but on this Sunday they couldn’t control quarterback Andrew Luck and the Colts on third downs.
“You’ve got to treat succes - and when you lose like this - the same,” All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas said. “You can’t get too high and you can’t get too low. We still have our confidence, our swagger, all of that. We’re just going to get back to work and get ready for Tennessee.”
That would be the Titans, who come to CenturyLink Field next Sunday, October 13.
While the Seahawks converted just two of 12 third-down situations on this Sunday, which left Steven Hauschka to kick four field goals and have a fifth attempt blocked and returned 61 yards for a touchdown; the Colts were seven of 12 on the most pivotal down in football.
“We really struggled on third downs,” coach Pete Carroll said. “That was the difference.”
The Colts were especially effective in dominating the fourth quarter, as they converted on third-and-8 and third-and-4 on their 14-play, 86-yard drive to Donald Brown’s 3-yard run for the go-ahead TD. That drive also included a questionable pass interference call against All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman on a third-and-10 play.
The Colts then converted on third-and-5 on the drive to a late field goal that put the Seahawks in a situation where they needed a touchdown to win – rather than a field goal to tie – when they finally did get the ball back for one last-ditch effort.
And speaking of effort, it was there for the Seahawks.
It was the execution that too often was missing at the most crucial points in the game – like the blown coverages by secondary that led to Andrew Luck’s 73- and 29-yard TD passes to T.Y. Hilton. T.Y. Hilton? He finished with five catches for 143 yards, on a day when the Seahawks were able to hold Reggie Wayne to six catches for 65 yards.
“They did everything we practiced, it just didn’t work out like we wanted it to,” Thomas said. “I think we did a great job early on. We just can’t bust coverages and have mental errors out there, especially on the road.”
The Seahawks did have their moments. Marshawn Lynch had his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season, and Russell Wilson matched it with 102 yards. Wilson also completed 15 of 31 passes for 210 yards and two TDs – Kearse’s 28-yarder and a 10-yarder to Golden Tate.
The defense held the Colts to three-and-outs on their first two possessions and got the safety on their third. But they also yielded touchdown drives of 84, 80 and 86 yards as Luck was 16 of 29 for 229 yards.
But the momentum definitely swung to the Colts in the decisive fourth quarter – just as it had for the Seahawks in last week’s overtime win against the Texans in Houston. And, in the end, settling for field goals from Hauschka cost them in the end.
“There were a lot of points up in the air out there,” he said.
It was a game the Seahawks could have won. But didn’t.