SEATTLE, Wash.—With the game on the line, Washington's offense made the big plays necessary to escape Seattle with a victory, none bigger than a diving 38-yard catch by Josh Doctson on a beautifully thrown pass by Kirk Cousins that set up the game-winning touchdown.
But while Washington deserves all the credit for making that winning drive happen in a 17-14 victory over Seattle at CenturyLink Field, the Seahawks spent much of the afternoon getting in their own way prior to that deciding possession. Whether it was the 16 penalties, the two turnovers by the offense, the turnovers that weren't for the defense—two potential interceptions dropped in the first half—or the three missed field goals, the Seahawks found plenty of ways to hurt themselves, leaving the door open for Washington to escape with a victory.
"This was a really difficult game for us," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We made this so hard on ourselves. All of the things that happened when you lost a game showed up—turnovers, penalties, getting beat deep, the easy scores for them, the difficult challenges just moving the ball down the field because we were in our own way. We really played against ourselves all day long."
Carroll seemed particularly bothered by the number of penalties, particularly because that has been an area of emphasis for a team that came into Sunday averaging more than nine penalties per game. Not at all surprisingly, the offense struggled while committing 10 of those 16 penalties, and it's hardly a coincidence that both Seahawks touchdowns came in a penalty-free fourth quarter for the offense. While the defense was cleaner in that area, that group had some costly penalties as well, including a pass interference call in the end zone that gave Washington first-and-goal at the 1-yard line, setting up its first touchdown.
"We've had enough penalties already this season where you could say one of these games it's going to jump up and bite you, and that's exactly what it felt like today," Carroll said. "It's really important that we find our way and find our way back and play good football."
As the man in charge, Carroll put the blame on himself for the continuing penalty issues.
"That was a bad day for us," he said. "I totally feel responsible for that; I don't see anything other than that. I have to keep these guys from making penalties, I have to get it done. We have to get at that. We've been on the topic and obviously we're not doing the right stuff to get that done."
Players, however, also put plenty of the blame on themselves, noting Carroll has talked plenty about the issue, and that it's up to them to execute.
"We talked about them coming into this week and I thought that Coach Carroll was pretty clear on it, and obviously we let everybody down with the amount of penalties we had," said tight end Luke Willson. "So there will be a huge emphasis this week and from here on out."
Added quarterback Russell Wilson, "That's our weakness right now, the penalties. But I think that we can fix that. It's all fixable things, and we plan to fix that—we have to fix it—and we're going to."
But again, for all the Seahawks did wrong, they were quick to give credit where credit was due. Washington's defense did well to contain Wilson and the offense for the first three quarters, intercepting him twice, and while Washington's offense struggled for most of the game, Cousins and company made a couple of big plays with the game on the line.
"Really good job by the 'Skins to say in it all day long and keep battling and hanging," Carroll said. "They took advantage of their opportunity when they got it, and they got a great win. It's hard to win here for a team coming in, and it takes all of that stuff to allow that to happen."
Safety Bradley McDougald added of Doctson's big catch that set up the winning touchdown, "It was a great play. Those guys get paid too. That was an incredible throw by Kirk Cousins, and just really bad timing for us as a defense. We get in that situation, we want to get off the field and get the ball back to the offense so they can take a knee."
As for those missed kicks, Blair Walsh's teammates were quick to point out that the loss fell on everyone, not just their kicker.
"Nobody's perfect," running back Thomas Rawls said. "One thing about him and one thing about this locker room is that we know he works hard, we know that we all work hard. It just didn't work out in the end like we wanted to. We're definitely going to get better. That's one thing about us. When we have game like this, man, we go back in the laboratory. We get in the lab and just get better, understanding that it's a long season and also it's a process. We don't want to think ahead too much."
Asked what the message was to Walsh Rawls said, "We're here together. We're in this together. We don't want to put it all on him. There were a lot of things in this game where we felt like we did it to ourselves."
Wilson said he told Walsh, "'Man, we believe in you.' We have all the faith in the world; he's a great field goal kicker. It's not just on Blair or anything else, it's on a lot of us, all of us."
And for as rough as Sunday's game was, the Seahawks know there's still half a season ahead of them and plenty of time to get things going in the right direction.
"It's a long journey, it's a long season," Wilson said. "If we tapped out now, we'd be crazy. So, we just focus on the next opportunity, and the next opportunity is going on the road on a Thursday Night game, which is always tough, and we just have to prepare at a very, very high level. And we're excited about that opportunity."
Said Carroll, "We have to bounce back, we go Thursday night. It's really crucial that we turn the corner and get right back on track and get ready to play some football. It's a long season. This game has nothing to do with the rest of the season at this point. There's a lot going on and a lot to be done. We have to make sure that we come back out of this strong, and I do a good job getting us on track and keep us from getting in our own way."
The Seahawks fall short 17-14 against the Redskins in Week 9 at CenturyLink Field.