NEW ORLEANS – Sunday's loss to the New Orleans Saints, a game that came down to the final play, served as a reminder of how fine the line between winning and losing can be in the NFL, or as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll put it, "This is the kind of game that reminds you of how difficult it is to win in the NFL, and how you cherish the ones you can get."
The Saints did plenty of things well on their way to a 25-20 victory over the Seahawks, but one thing that bothered Carroll about the loss was the way his team hurt itself with penalties. In the first half, offensive penalties were drive-killers, contributing to the offense staying on the field for just 19 plays, and later in the game, crucial calls on Seattle's defense helped prolong Saints possessions when it appeared the Seahawks had come up with third-down stops.
"It was a very difficult day for us," Carroll said. "We made it hard on ourselves early on. I really feel bad personally about this, because my team is getting a lot of penalties the last couple of weeks. It's not any one position group necessarily, I've just got to do a better job and I'm going to do that, we're going to get this done. Three weeks ago we had nothing, then the last couple of weeks we've fallen into a bad cycle here. That's what kept us out of sync in the first half, then we got going a little bit and we played some ball."
Carroll was unable to explain the penalty disparity in the game, with the Seahawks having 11 penalties enforced against them and the Saints getting just two for 10 yards, but he noted that half of that equation is partly in their control.
"Well, we had 11," Carroll said. "I can't help it on their side, but we had too many."
Rather than complain about the calls and non-calls that proved costly for the Seahawks, Carroll chose to praise the Saints, who came into the game one of the league more heavily-penalized teams, but avoided that fate on Sunday.
"I could sit here and gripe about stuff, I'm not going to do that," Carroll said. "… That's the 26th-ranked penalty team in the league; they just had a great football game.
"They're a team that gets a lot of penalties, and we're kind of in the same boat, so we thought that might match up and not be a deciding factor in the game. But the (disparity) thing, that's pretty far out of whack. There wasn't a significant penalty all day on the other side, so they did a marvelous job."
In the end, however, the Seahawks know that they have things to improve upon across the board, and that penalties are just one part of that equation. And when the Seahawks do get things cleaned up a little bit, Carroll is excited about what this team can do going forward.
"We had our shots to win this football game, and we did all of the things we wanted to do in terms of playing hard and playing tough and never letting up, and giving us a chance to win in the fourth quarter on the last play of the game," he said. "This is a marvelous group of guys and they just keep showing it and keep doing it. If we can just keep hanging, we're going to really get good here and we're going to play some really good football."
The Seattle Seahawks took on the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday.