From the sidelines: Seahawks at Browns

Posted Oct 25, 2011

The margin in a three-point loss at Cleveland feels both narrow and wide as the Seahawks fall to 2-4.

CLEVELAND — Even the narrowest of gaps can feel like a canyon of a chasm.

In a brutally odd game at Cleveland on Sunday, the Seahawks lost by a mere three points — a deficit that felt both so thin and yet so wide. Thin because a touchdown at any point would’ve won it, and wide because the merciless “L” column doesn’t care how close you got.

“Sometimes the margin is so slight that plays get magnified, calls get magnified, errors get magnified,” Coach Pete Carroll said in the quiet locker room after the 6-3 defeat to the Browns. “This was one of those days.”

The dichotomy between slight and magnified appeared to be the theme all day. Throughout the game, the Seahawks kept closing in on winning moments in all three phases, yet seemingly faded away each time.

A heroic performance by the defense was offset by an unnecessary roughness penalty in the first quarter, leading to a Browns field goal attempt, and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the fourth quarter, paving the way for Cleveland to run the clock out.

The offense showed signs of life — at least enough to get into the end zone and score enough points to capture the victory — but went sans-touchdown on five plays inside the 10-yard line in the third quarter.

Even the special teams had a stellar day, recording two field goal blocks and clamping down on star return man Josh Cribbs. But a block in the back penalty nullified a Leon Washington punt return touchdown and took away the points that would’ve been the difference in the game.

So close, yet so far.

“We’ve got to make the margin wider so we don’t have to be in this spot again,” Carroll told his players following the game. “It’s us. It’s all about us. It’s on us.”

Even with all the head-scratching bounces and questionable calls, the blame falls squarely on the Seahawks players and coaches.

“We’re not going to have one word about excuses or what could’ve been,” Carroll said in the locker room. “Let’s come back together and get right.”

That battle cry became the rallying point as the Seahawks packed up and left Cleveland on Sunday evening. With just six games down and 10 more to go, there’s 2½ quarters of the season remaining, and a whole host of possibilities from here on out. It all started with “Tell the Truth Monday” meetings and will continue on this week as the team prepares for the Bengals and its first home game in nearly a month.

“Just take it like a man, and let’s come back together and get back to work,” Carroll challenged his players.

The 2-4 Seahawks, who are a field goal against Atlanta and one different call against Cleveland away from being 4-2, move on, knowing there’s more to be had this season than what happened Sunday in the narrowest of defeats, yet the deepest of pains.

“I’m calling on you to hang tough, to hang together,” Carroll said to his team. “There’s too much fight, too much winning in this room to choose anything different.”