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The Seahawks’ next championship opportunity follows an opportunity lost.
No one should have expected the Seahawks to go undefeated this season – or any season, for that matter. But it also was tough to imagine this Seahawks team losing a game the way it did against the Colts in Indianapolis on Sunday.
The No. 5-ranked defense in the NFL could not get off the field on third downs. As a result, the Colts drove 86, 84 and 80 yards for touchdowns. The Seahawks’ offense, meanwhile, could not stay on the field because of its ineffectiveness on third downs, settling for four Steven Hauschka field goals after reaching the Colts’ 24, 18, 23 and 28.
That’s how you lose 34-28 after holding leads of 12-0 and 25-17.
It worked while they were winning. The players and coaches must make sure it continues to work after the first loss of the season – and first regular-season loss in a long time.
“You just look forward to the next opportunity,” never-say-die quarterback Russell Wilson said after Sunday’s game at Lucas Oil Stadium. “You look forward to going back home against a very good Tennessee Titans team. We’ll have to play our best football again.
“That’s what we have to look forward to every week. That 1-0 mentality is real. After a loss, the leaders pick up everybody else and make sure that they’re on the same page and continue to be positive and continue to focus on what we can control.”
The Seahawks didn’t do that often enough against the Colts. Now, the focus has to be on making sure that one lost opportunity is just that, and not the first of more to come.
With that said, here’s a look at three things that did work against the Colts and three things that need work as the Seahawks prepare for the Titans:
The running game – Marshawn Lynch broke the 100-yard barrier for the first time this season. So did Wilson. Each had 102 rushing yards, which is why the Seahawks ran for a season-high 218 against the Colts.
And the Beast Mode back and the Kid QB did it while running behind a line that was missing three injured starters – with Paul McQuistan continuing to start at left tackle for Pro Bowler Russell Okung; rookie Michael Bowie making his second NFL start at right tackle for Breno Giacomini; and Lemuel Jeanpierre replacing All-Pro Max Unger at center.
“We moved the ball well today,” coach Pete Carroll said after the game. “We ran the ball well, ran for a lot of yards. Russell was very resourceful today. Marshawn was on it today. And the guys up front did the best they could.”
“It was a very big game for him,” Carroll said. “He did a terrific job. It was a great block for us and great execution, and pulling that off was cool. He’s just continued to do really good things.”
If Kearse’s performance against the Colts proved anything it’s that he deserves the chance to do more good things.
Bruce Irvin – In his first game back after serving a four-game suspension, last year’s first-round draft choice had a sack among his four tackles while playing rush-end in the nickel defense and strong-side linebacker in the base defense.
“It seemed like he was very active,” Carroll said. “He was around the ball. He made some big things happen. He did a very nice job and you could definitely feel his presence out there.”
What didn’t work
Third downs – Where to start with how this game was won, and lost? Start here. Each team had 12 third-down situations. The Colts converted seven – and seven of nine after the Seahawks forced three-and-out on Indy’s first three possessions.
The Seahawks converted twice, which is why Hauschka got so many field-goal opportunities after the offense got so close to the Colts’ end zone.
“Kicking those field goals really made a big difference,” Carroll said. “That’s where you go back to where the chances were. Those were plenty of opportunities for us to have a lot of points in this game.”
And who was there to shoulder the responsibility? Earl Thomas, who had nine solo tackles in the game.
“We just can’t bust coverages out there,” the Seahawks’ All-Pro free safety said in the locker room. “But I’m the saving grace, and I’ve got to get them down.”
Seizing the opportunity – This game was there for the taking. The Colts made more big plays in big situations. The officials made some questionable calls on what could have been big plays for the Seahawks.
“Any time you get beat you’re going to feel it,” Carroll said when asked if there was any bitterness attached to the way his team lost. “But I don’t put the bitterness on the officials or on the other side. They played really well. They made the big-time plays they needed to make and we didn’t.”