On Monday morning, one day after his team's 27-24 overtime loss to the Bengals (5-0), Pete Carroll joined 710 ESPN Seattle's Brock Huard and Mike Salk to review yesterday's game at Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium. Here's three things we heard and learned from the Seahawks head coach's "Brock and Salk" segment:
1. For Three Quarters, It Was The "Best" Seattle Has Played
Everything you heard postgame from Carroll and his players was about the team's inability to finish the ball game after taking a 17-point lead into the fourth quarter. Carroll gave the Bengals credit for finding, capturing, and capitalizing on the late-game momentum as they out-executed the Seahawks on offense, defense, and special teams through the final 15 minutes of regulation and into the overtime period, but expressed disappointment over a game he said the Seahawks "should have won."
"I go right to me," Carroll said. "I'm the one talking to all these guys and trying to get this thing going, so I have to take that responsibility, obviously."
Despite the finish, or lack thereof, for three quarters of Sunday's game Carroll said he saw progress in several critical areas. Seattle protected quarterback Russell Wilson well, established an effective ground attack behind rookie Thomas Rawls, who finished with 169 yards, found a way to generate turnovers, including a forced fumble by Michael Bennett that Bobby Wagner scooped up for a touchdown, pressured the opposing quarterback, who was sacked four times after being brought down only twice through his team's first four games, and hit on explosive plays, starting in the first quarter with a 30-yard touchdown toss from Wilson to Jermaine Kearse.
"We had something really special going," Carroll said. "We were on to a great day. Best we've looked, best we've played, progress in crucial areas that we've all been hoping for - explosive plays, turnovers, run game was really good. Just like it's supposed to look for us. Then we're into the fourth quarter, 13 minutes, and all the sudden we can't stop them and we can't make our first downs."
The Seahawks now take a 2-3 record into a Week 6 game against another undefeated squad in the Carolina Panthers (4-0), who visit Seattle's CenturyLink Field on Sunday, Oct. 18 coming out of their bye week.
"There's something about the challenge and the adversity and all that after you've been through what we've been through that isn't all bad," Carroll said. "So we've got to grow from it and see if we can, and I know everybody out there wants all these questions answered and this and that and we are fighting our tail off to find this exact rhythm that it takes in synchronizing everything so that we can function at a really high level. I totally see us right there. It's right in front of us.
"We saw the best jump we've made in the most difficult and well-suited team to go show it against. This team is going to win a lot of football games, the Bengals are going to win a bunch of games this year, and they'll be there fighting at the end of this thing most likely, and we had them on the ropes.
"We just need to find our way. You know me, man. I think this is something we can totally go for at this time."
2. Michael Bennett Made Some "Poor Decisions"
The Seahawks recorded their first interception of the year on Sunday, as free safety Earl Thomas picked off an Andy Dalton pass intended for wide receiver A.J. Green near Seattle's own goal line. It was just the second pick Dalton has thrown this season and Thomas returned it 68 yards to Cincinnati's 31-yard line, giving the Seahawks offense a shot at scoring a touchdown with less than a minute to play in the first half. But much of Thomas' return was wiped out because of an unnecessary roughness penalty on Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who after Thomas' interception went after the Bengals quarterback.
"That was an old-school principle, you go after the quarterback," Carroll said. "That's old school, and I don't know how old Mike is, but I don't know that he's that old. That was the way you used to do it. That was part of it. The interception, the first thing you do is go get the quarterback. That's not the way the game is anymore. What you saw is kind of a throwback approach, which we don't advocate at all. It was bad."
So instead of the Seahawks offense starting its next drive at the Bengals' 31, it began at its own 18-yard line, as Bennett's flag set Seattle back 51 yards. The Seahawks still put together a quick scoring drive, going 76 yards in seven plays to set up a 24-yard field goal from kicker Steven Hauschka that gave Seattle a 10-7 lead going into the break. But for Carroll, it's hard not to wonder what might have been if not for Bennett's mistake.
"We have to learn from that," Carroll said. "It was a 50-yard penalty. We're so good in that situation we went down and we get points anyway. Might have had a chance to get a touchdown there, I don't know. But we did score, fortunately, and didn't have to take all of that. But that's just a poor moment and Michael's a fired up, ferocious, competitive player, and at that time he just made some poor decisions."
3. Marshawn Lynch "Should Be Ready" to Return to Action
To close his segment, Carroll provided a few brief injury updates on defensive tackle Jordan Hill, who was hurt in Sunday's loss at Cincinnati, and on running back Marshawn Lynch, who sat out a second consecutive week with a hamstring injury.
Carroll said it's "going to be a little bit" on Hill, who has a strained quad. On Lynch, he said, "We think he should be ready to get back to running and all that. He was very close last week, this should be that chance."
Carroll didn't have any new information on linebacker Bobby Wagner, who finished Sunday's game with a strained pectoral muscle.
Photos from another thriller in Cincinnati this time ending in a 27-24 overtime loss against the Bengals.