MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – In a game where the Seahawks had so much to play for, they just didn’t play well enough.
The problems that have plagued the team all season on the road continued Sunday in a 24-21 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium, in a game that wasn’t decided until Dan Carpenter kicked a 43-yard field goal as time expired.
The loss extended several bad streaks for the Seahawks, now 6-5. They fell to 1-5 on the road, the starkest of contrasts to their 5-0 record at CenturyLink Field. They failed to win their third game in a row, and now have only one three-game winning streak since 2007. They dropped to 1-6 against the Dolphins in games played in Florida. They are now 6-18 in games following bye weeks – compared to 18-6 in games before their bye weeks.
What happened in this one, where the Seahawks took a 21-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter on a 98-yard kickoff return by Leon Washington?
Coach Pete Carroll put the blame squarely on his shoulders, saying he should have handled the team’s bye week differently.
“You have to execute and do things right,” said Carroll, who was especially perplexed by his team’s 10 penalties for 59 yards. “You perform like that you’re going to get beat.
“We did not play well. We were not sharp.”
But rookie quarterback Russell Wilson wasn’t ready to accept that explanation.
“I usually agree with coach 100 percent, but not on that one,” Wilson said after his most productive road performance of the season. “I really do think that guys were really focused, guys were ready to play. You’ve got to give credit to Miami.
“The break was good for us. Coach Carroll is doing a tremendous job.”
It’s just that this one felt especially grating for several reasons.
A defense that ranked third in the NFL in both average (296.8) and rushing yards (100.6) allowed entering the game, allowed a Dolphins offense that had been struggling during the team’s three-game losing streak drive 94, 82 and 80 yards to touchdowns. The Dolphins compiled 435 total yards and 189 rushing yards.
“We had our opportunities, we just didn’t capitalize on them,” defensive end Red Bryant said. “There’s no question it’s frustrating. Because we know we’re a helluva team at home, but in the National Football League you’ve got to be able to win tough games on the road. So far, that’s a part of our game we haven’t been able to translate just yet.
“You don’t get a lot of opportunities, so you’ve got to seize them. I feel we let one go today.”
None were more frustrating than the six-play, 80-yard drive to a 29-yard touchdown pass from rookie QB Ryan Tannehill to Charles Clay that allowed the Dolphins to tie the score at 21 with 5:13 remaining and the seven-play, 65-yard drive to Carpenter’s game-winner that followed.
Things could have, and probably should have, turned out differently for the Seahawks on this day – in yet another road trip that ended with more questions than answers.
In addition to the eighth kickoff return of Washington’s career – which tied the NFL record – Wilson completed 16 consecutive passes at one point. That was one shy of the franchise record set by Warren Moon in 1998. For the day, Wilson was 21 of 27 for 224 yards – with TD passes to tight end Anthony McCoy and fullback Michael Robinson that came after he had moved in the pocket or rolled out to buy the necessary time to make the scoring play. It all made for a 125.9 passer rating.
But it also made the way this one turned out even more difficult to digest.
“We didn’t throw and catch the ball. We didn’t tackle right,” Robinson said. “So the blame should be squarely on us. We’ve got some things we’ve got to fix this week.”
While the passing game and special teams were holding up their end of the deal, a defense that has carried the team at times this season just could not get off the field when it mattered most.
“There’s nothing more we can do to play better on the road except just start playing better,” linebacker Leroy Hill said. “It’s crazy. We came flat and we didn’t play our ball today.”
As difficult as it will be to put this one behind them, that’s all the Seahawks can do. They can’t let a hangover from this loss affect their preparation for next week’s game against the Bears in Chicago. As disappointing as this loss was, they can’t allow it to become discouraging. There still are too many games to play, and too much to play for.
“It’s one of those things where guys – or me – could possibly think, ‘What if we could have done this?’ Or, ‘What if we could have done that?’ ” said Wilson, who continued to play and think beyond his years. “The only thing we can focus on is the now. And move on. We’ve got a huge game in front of us. That’s our only focus. That’s got to be a narrow focus. We’ve just got to keep battling.”
|Total Net Yards||312|
|Time of Possession||31:59|
|Total Net Yards||435|
|Time of Possession||28:01|
In a nutshell: No points, just six punts.
Player of the quarter: Bobby Wagner. The Seahawks’ rookie middle linebacker ended the Dolphins’ second position with an interception and then helped end the third with a hit on Reggie Bush that broke up a second-down pass. Wagner also had all three tackles on the Dolphins’ three-and-out to end the quarter.
Play of the quarter: On the first play of the Dolphins’ second possession, Wagner intercepted a Ryan Tannehill pass that was intended for Davone Bess. Wagner returned it to the Dolphins’ 25. But the Seahawks ended up punting from the 40.
Number of the quarter: 3. The Seahawks went three-and-out on each of their four possessions in the quarter, in part because No. 3 – Russell Wilson – missed Doug Baldwin twice on third-down passes.
In a nutshell: 7-7 at the half. The Dolphins finally broke the drought when Reggie Bush scored on a 21-yard run with 5:13 to play in the half, capping an eight-play, 94-yard drive. But the Seahawks came right back and drove 80 yards in nine plays to Russell Wilson’s 3-yard TD pass to tight end Anthony McCoy with 29 seconds left.
Players of the quarter: The rookie QBs. After having a 16.7 passer rating in the first quarter, the Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill was 3 of 3 for 49 yards on the TD drive – including back-to-back completions of 23 and 18 yards to move the ball to the Seahawks’ 35. On the Seahawks’ drive, Russell Wilson was 4 of 4 for 55 yards – including a 20-yarder to Robert Turbin on third-and-3, a 7-yarder to Marshawn Lynch on third-and-1, the TD pass and …
Play of the quarter: Golden Tate’s are-you-kidding-me 25-yard reception at the Dolphins’ 5-yard line on the Seahawks’ TD drive. Tate had to come over a falling R.J. Stanford to get the pass, and did just that.
Number of the quarter: 7. Each team had seven points, and on the Seahawks’ TD drive Wilson scrambled for 7 yards and hit the 7-yard pass to Lynch.
In a nutshell: Seahawks 14-7. They took the lead on Russell Wilson’s 4-yard touchdown pass to fullback Michael Robinson with 4 minutes to play, capping a 12-play, 89-yard drive that consumed 8:10.
Player of the quarter: Wilson. What did he do? The rookie QB was 7 of 7 for 66 yards on the TD drive. In addition to the TD pass, he went to Jermaine Kearse for 8 yards on third-and-3 and to tight end Evan Moore on third-and-1. Oh, and he also had a 20-yard scramble to the Dolphins’ 4.
Play of the quarter: It wasn’t really a play, but with 1:44 left in the quarter and the Dolphins driving, the automatic sprinkler system came on – a la the Buffalo Wild Wings’ we-don’t-want-this-game-to-end commercial.
Numbers of the quarter: 18, 89, 11. During the “Kiss Me” segment on the scoreboard, Seahawks wide receivers Sidney Rice (18), Doug Baldwin (89) and Kearse (11) put their arms around one another on the bench and swayed to the music. And the kiss-cam caught them.
In a nutshell: Dolphins 24, Seahawks 21. The Dolphins tied the score with 8:08 remaining when Daniel Thomas scored on a 3-yard run to cap a seven-play, 82-yard drive. But Leon Washington put the Seahawks back on top in a blink, returning the ensuing kickoff for a TD. But, part 2, the Dolphins came right back, driving 80 yards in six plays to a 29-yard TD pass from Ryan Tannehill to Charles Clay with 5:13 left. But, part 3, the Dolphins drove to a game-winning 43-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter as time expired.
Player of the quarter: Washington. On the kickoff that followed the Dolphins’ game-tying TD, Washington returned it 98 yards and a score – and ran himself in the NFL record book. It was the eighth scoring return of a kickoff in his career, tying the mark set by the Browns’ Josh Cribbs.
Play of the quarter: Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner snuffed the Dolphins’ game-tying TD drive with an end-zone interception, but blitzing free safety Earl Thomas was flagged for roughing the pass on the play when he leaped and his momentum carried him into Tannehill.
Number of the quarter: 16. Wilson hit his first two passes of the quarter, running his string to 16 in a row – one shy of tying the franchise record that was set by Warren Moon in 1998. Wilson’s next pass kissed off the fingertips of Doug Baldwin.
Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, second from right, argues a call with officials during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Rhona Wise)
Seattle Seahawks tight end Anthony McCoy (85) is congratulated by Golden Tate after Mc Coy scored a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012 in Miami. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)