Taking a step back

Posted Nov 27, 2011

The Seahawks jumped to 17-7 lead on Sunday, only to have the Redskins rally for 16 fourth-quarter points in pulling out a 23-17 victory at CenturyLink Field.

Marshawn Lynch ran for 100-plus yards for the third time in the past four games, and scored a touchdown in his seventh-consecutive game. Red Bryant blocked his third field-goal attempt of the season, and then got a hand on a PAT attempt as well. Cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman both intercepted passes.

Just the kind of three-phase effort the Seahawks needed to run their winning streak to three games entering Thursday night’s nationally televised game against the struggling Philadelphia Eagles at CenturyLink Field.

One problem: The Washington Redskins outplayed the Seahawks in the fourth quarter rallying for a 23-17 victory on Sunday to snap their six-game losing streak.

This wasn’t how this afternoon was supposed to go, as any momentum gained from the Seahawks’ two-game winning streak evaporated in a downpour of penalties and a flurry of missed opportunities.

In a season of growing pains for this young club, this one hurt more than the previous six losses because of the way the Seahawks lost this one – at home, against a beatable opponent, when so much was laid out in front of them to turn their 2-6 start into a second-half surge.

“It’s tough,” said Bryant, who broke the club single-season record for block kicks with his third and fourth and tied the mark for most blocked field goals that was set by Joe Nash in 1989 and equaled by Craig Terrill in 2010.

“You had an opportunity to take another step and I feel like we let it slip today. That’s just the sign of a young team in terms of you have to take advantage of your opportunities, because you never know how many you’re going to get. I feel like we played tough, but we came up short.”

If misery loves company, here come the also 4-7 Eagles, who must make a cross-country trip after being tripped up by the New England Patriots 38-20 at home on Sunday.

“We just shot ourselves in the foot and there’s nobody else to play blame besides us,” nickel back Roy Lewis said. “We’re better than that. We pride ourselves on being finishers, and today we didn’t finish.

“We learned some humbling lessons in today’s game, on both sides of the ball.”

The painful loss also came with injuries, as middle linebacker David Hawthorne (knee) and wide receivers Sidney Rice (head) and Mike Williams (shoulder) left the game and did not return; while wide receiver Doug Baldwin (shoulder) and linebacker Leroy Hill (foot) were injured but returned.

It was one of those kinds of games for the Seahawks – the kind they thought they would only see in the rearview mirror as they moved toward a stretch of three games in a row against teams that had combined for nine wins.

“With nine minutes to go and we were up by 10, and with the way our defense was playing, we expect to win that game,” quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said. “For them to come and score two touchdowns and for us to stall like that on offense, it’s very disappointing.

“I don’t know what we’ve got to do better. I feel like we had the game, all we had to do was finish it and we didn’t finish it.”

The Redskins took a 7-0 lead by doing something they hadn’t done all season – driving 80 yards in 14 plays to a touchdown on their first series. That one was Rex Grossman’s 2-yard TD pass to tight end Fred Davis. But there also was a 28-yard scoring run by rookie Roy Helu and Grossman’s 50-yard TD pass to Anthony Armstrong on third-and-19 play – both in the fourth quarter after the Seahawks had taken a 17-7 lead on Lynch’s 20-yard scoring run, Jackson’s 15-yard TD pass to Golden Tate and a 36-yard field goal from Steve Hauschka.

Sixteen unanswered fourth-quarter points, and two TDs, in the final 10 minutes against a Seahawks defense that had yielded a league-low 60 fourth-quarter points and five touchdowns in the first 10 games.

“There were too many things that happened at the end of the game that shouldn’t have happened,” coach Pete Carroll said. “Decisions and choices and penalties that came up that distracted the heck out of the flow of the game.

“That hasn’t gone away yet. In this game, it made the difference.”

The Redskins were able to run outside on the Seahawks defense, as Helu gained 108 yards; and also used play-action passes to take advantage of the Seahawks’ aggressiveness, as Grossman completed 26 of 35 passes for 314 yards.

Helu was only the second back to run for triple digits against the Seahawks, and Grossman the second QB to pass for more than 300 yards.

“Definitely surprised,” Bryant said when asked about the Redskins ability to move the ball. “The plays that hurt us, we feel like we gave them to them. That’s what happens in the National Football League. You give teams an opportunity to beat you; they’re going to beat you.”

Jackson, meanwhile, completed less than 50 percent of his passes (14 of 30) for the first time this season and his receivers dropped too many balls on him.

Then there were the penalties, again. The Seahawks were flagged nine times for 91 yards – the Redskins 10 for 115. The Seahawks’ numbers were actually down from their 13-for-100 numbers in each of the past two games, but the penalties on Sunday came at more costly times.

“The things that we’ve chosen to do to make the points haven’t hit home,” Carroll said. “I’m not getting it done. It has to come to a position where we make the right choices. But, I told them, ‘It’s me, if they’re all doing it.’ ”

It’s tempting to write this one off as just more growing pains. But Baldwin wasn’t buying that assessment.

“I don’t think we can use that as an excuse anymore,” he said. “We’ve played 11 games and the maturity level is there. I don’t think we’re young at all. We’ve played 11 games so there’s no excuse for the things that are going on – the penalties and the miscommunication.

“They found a way to finish, and we didn’t.”