Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll described Seattle's 44-34 loss to the Bills on Sunday as an unrecognizable game. "Haven't seen us look like that, and it's a game that I don't have any place in my brain for," Carroll explained. The result was also unfamiliar. It was Seattle's only loss in regulation this season, and their first by more than three points.
"We really had a hard time in the first half getting started on defense and on offense and they just, they made it look easy," Carroll continued. "They didn't even try to run the football. They just stayed with the throwing game and did a nice job with it and completed a ton of passes and all. It was just an unusual football game in that regard."
The Seahawks four turnovers proved costly. "If we turn the ball over four times, it's going to be a hard day," Carroll noted. "I don't know what the scores were, but I think they scored every time we turned it over. And that just adds to a day when you're already struggling a little bit, and that's enough to make a game look like that."
Carroll, safety Jamal Adams and quarterback Russell Wilson each took turns at the podium postgame. They addressed Seattle's slow start on offense, the need to make in-game adaptations, and what the messaging is this week heading into a tough divisional game versus the Rams.
Here's what we learned:
The defense needs to be better, according to Carroll, despite recording a season-high seven sacks.
"What I'll say is that we weren't good enough and we weren't effective enough," he told media members. "We found a way to be effective rushing the passer today by getting after him again, and we worked hard at that in the last few weeks. But it was the other stuff that wasn't as effective."
All-pro safety Jamal Adams also offered constructive criticism. "We just got to be better, man. We got to get on the same page, continue to communicate," he explained. "We just got to be overall better, as a group. And we're going to do that. Starting Monday, starting whenever we get back into the building. Just had a lot of mistakes and came out flat, and obviously, playing against a team like the Buffalo Bills, a well-coached organization, they fight. Obviously, I have a lot of history with them. I knew all about them and I knew what type of club this was going to be. I knew what type of fight and ball game it was going to be. We started off slow, and you can't do that versus good teams, so we got to be better."
Some of the struggles on defense can be attributed to new faces and rust.
Adams returned to the active roster after missing several weeks with a groin injury. He recorded five tackles, three quarterback hits and one and a half sacks on Sunday but fell short of his own expectations. "I'm not happy with my performance," he admitted. "I had a lot of rust, for myself, just my standard. And obviously, just not getting the win. That definitely hurts and it stings, but the good thing about this game is that you can move on and another opportunity the following week, so that's my focus."
Veteran defensive end Carlos Dunlap II also made his Seahawks debut Sunday. Even with limited practice under his belt, he ended the day with five tackles, two quarterback hits and one sack. Carroll was impressed with both Adams and Dunlap II, but said growing pains were expected. "If you think about it, that's a month, maybe it's five weeks, I don't know, since Jamal played," Carroll explained. "He's only practiced one week and one day, so he'll just get better. I'm saying it like he didn't play well – he was playing his butt off. He was busting his tail all over the place. He may have played a great game – I don't know that yet, until we watch the film. But it only makes sense. Carlos showed up Wednesday, and here we go. There's some growing pains in here, there's some back to kicking the rust off, all that stuff that I was hoping that we would play through. I think there's just issues about that, that means you're playing with a guy that you haven't talked to before or haven't communicated with. We have to get our focus really tight and all, that just takes some time."
Cornerback Quinton Dunbar played with knee discomfort, compounding a tough day for the secondary.
"Yeah he had a tough day," Carroll described. "He was playing on a sore knee and eventually we had to take him out. He just was hobbling. He tried to suck it up and keep going but we needed to get him out." Later he added, "I think Dunbar sucked it up today in a way that you probably don't recognize right now because he looked like he was struggling. He was surviving a little bit more than we wanted him to. We need to get Shaquill (Griffin) back out there to help us out, and we just need to help him more too. We didn't help him enough."
The defense needs to improve on making in-game adjustments, according to Carroll.
"We got to make sure we can adjust. You know, these guys didn't even try to run the football today. We didn't expect that to happen. We didn't think they would just totally abandon the running game. We had a real nice plan if they were going to run it. So, we have to be able to adapt better to make sure that we can turn it around faster.
Defensive tackle Jarran Reed had an impressive day.
Reed had two and a half sacks to go along with his three quarterback hits Sunday. "Everybody was clawing and scratching out there and he's as tough as they come," Carroll said. "I'm glad that he was able to get some numbers today. He's a true leader on this football team and I like when he has a chance to do well, it's good for him."
Russell Wilson got roughed up a bit today.
Wilson was hit 16 times by Buffalo's defense, including five sacks. "They did pressure effectively," Carroll said. "They were willing to get after it and take their shots at us. We didn't pick some stuff up. We misplayed a couple things. We need to get the ball out a couple of times – there's a whole variety with that many shots, there's a whole variety of things that we could have done better. We were playing from behind the whole time and they took advantage of it."
Wilson gave credit to the Bills defense but didn't ruminate much on the physicality of Sunday's matchup. "They made some good plays," he explained. "We got to watch the film, study the film. But they made some good plays. They are a good football team. We are a good football team. We knew it was going to be a battle. We knew it was going to be back and forth."
The offense wasn't without bright spots.
Despite four turnovers, the Seahawks scored 34 points in a loss for the second time this season. "We scored a lot of points, we did a lot of good things in that sense," Wilson said of Sunday's performance. "But we also did some bad things. We just got to eliminate those things and I think stay focused on the mission." Wilson also pointed to 108 receiving yards for DK Metcalf and tight end Jacob Hollister's five catches as important performances.
The team has already turned the page to next week's divisional match-up at the Rams.
Seattle benefited from San Francisco and Arizona losses this week, so they remain in first place in the NFC West. Right behind them are the 5-3 Rams, fresh off their bye week. Next Sunday's matchup at SoFi Stadium is now the focus, according to Carroll. "We're going to hang together," he explained. "We're not going to be pointing the finger. We're not going to be calling anybody out. We're going to stay together, stay tight and turn it back around again. You do this one week at a time and we got to bounce back this week. It's the Rams this week and we got to get cranked up to go get that done, and we'll turn our focus to it as soon as we get on the plane. So, that's the way it is."
Wilson added that the team is still in control of their own destiny. "I think we have a great chance to be successful," Wilson said. "We got a lot of great games coming up. And we got to go out there and just do everything we can to win. I think the one thing that we do great is we respond, and let's make sure that we respond at a high level."
The best photos from Seahawks vs. Bills at Bills Stadium. Fueled by Nesquik.