One frustrating afternoon

Posted Oct 23, 2011

In a game the Seahawks could have won, they didn’t because they made too many mistakes and not enough plays in Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

CLEVELAND – In the Seahawks’ Week 2 loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh, it was just one of those days as they lost 24-0. In Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Seahawks could recount so many ways that they let the game slip away.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” quarterback Charlie Whitehurst said. “In the end, we lost a game that was there to take.”

The Seahawks didn’t, so now they’re 2-4 heading in next Sunday’s home game against the Cincinnati Bengals at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks easily could be 3-3, but as Whitehurst, coach Pete Carroll and several others players said after a loss that was so disappointing it was maddening, this one was there for the taking.

Red Bryant blocked two field goals, but the Browns’ Phil Dawson also hit from 52 and 53 yards to provide the margin of victory.

Leon Washington returned a third-quarter punt 81 yards for what appeared to be a go-ahead touchdown, but the officials called Kennard Cox for a block-in-the-back penalty well after – and behind – the play to nullify the score.

The Seahawks had a first-and-goal from the Browns’ 2-yard line the third quarter, but had to settle for a game-tying 20-yard field goal by Steve Hauschka.

The defense played its collective rear ends off for most of the afternoon, but could not get off the field on third downs as the Browns converted 12 of 24 on those pivotal situations while holding the ball for almost 43 minutes.

Whitehurst completed a 38-yard pass to a wide-open Sidney Rice on a broken play in the third quarter, but Rice had to contort his body to grab the ball and his momentum carried him out of bounds at the Browns’ 9 rather than scoring.

It was that kind of day, when so many plays eluded the Seahawks in a game where victory proved to be just as elusive.

“It was a very difficult game today,” understated Carroll. “It was hard-fought and close, so the margin of error amplified every call, every play.”

The offense never found a rhythm or a flow, as Whitehurst made his first start of the season for an injured Tarvaris Jackson. Center Max Unger (foot) and tight end Zach Miller (head/neck) were also inactive and leading rusher Marshawn Lynch was not able to player either after experienced back spasms in pre-game warm-ups. During the game, they lost cornerback Walter Thurmond for the rest of the season with a broken fibula.

The Seahawks generated only 137 yards of offense and held the ball for just 17 minutes, in large part because they were 2 of 12 converting third downs. Whitehurst completed 12 of 30 passes for 97 yards and leading receiver Doug Baldwin did not catch a pass.

The no-huddle approached that had served the Seahawks so well in their previous three games was almost nonexistent because they ran only 50 plays – compared to 84 for the Browns.

“We never got it going,” Carroll said. “We were getting in our own way.”

The defense, meanwhile, held the Browns to a 3.2-yard rushing average and sacked Colt McCoy five times. But the Browns still had 141 rushing yards because they ran the ball 44 times – which goes back to the inability to get off the field on third downs.

“You hold a team to six points …” Bryant began, before his voice fell silent and he shook his head.

Bryant’s twin blocks, set up by the efforts of teammates David Hawthorne, Anthony Hargrove and others, should have been the plays the staked the Seahawks to some needed momentum on a day when the offensive was ineffective from almost start to finish. But that wasn’t to be the case, as Whitehurst was sacked and lost a fumble after one and the Seahawks gave the ball up on downs after the other.

“Those were incredible plays; team plays,” Carroll said. “Two huge plays in the game.”

But on this day, in this game, Bryant wasn’t around at the end after he was ejected for head-butting Alex Smith – an act of frustration because the Browns’ tight end had been talking trash to, and taking shots at, Bryant all afternoon.

The officials didn’t do the Seahawks any favors, either. But the players took the high road when asked about it after the game.

“It was nothing to do with the officiating. It’s all about us,” said Baldwin, who was called for pushing off on a fourth-and-5 play that would have produced a needed first down on the Seahawks final drive. “It doesn’t matter what penalties are called, we have control over that. We have control over holding, false starting, pushing off on routes.”

In a game that never was in their control, despite the closeness of the score throughout, those are just among the woulda, coulda, shoulda situations where the Seahawks didn’t – or couldn’t.

“We just didn’t have a rhythm today,” Rice said. “And we have to take that upon ourselves.”

As well as live with the disappointing ramifications.