INDIANAPOLIS — In the heat of the moment, Jeron Johnson thought he had scored his first career touchdown.
And a few hours later, in the quiet of Seattle’s locker room, he felt the same way.
“I thought I scored, personally — even looking at the replay,” said Johnson of a play that was instead ruled a safety and proved something of a turning point in Seattle’s first loss this season, a 34-28 defeat to the Indianapolis Colts.
Johnson, a third-year strong safety from Boise State, raced into the end zone to try to catch up to the ball after Jermaine Kearse blocked an Indianapolis punt with 4:53 left in the first quarter.
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Seattle led 10-0 at the time, and a touchdown and a 17-0 lead might have proved too much for the Colts to overcome.
But while Johnson, his teammates and coach Pete Carroll all thought Johnson had control of the ball, the officials ruled otherwise.
“The ref gave the explanation that when I went to stand up, the ball moved,” Johnson said. “So I don’t know. But I felt like I had possession of it inbounds. My whole body was inbounds. It looked like a touchdown to me. But what can you do?”
Carroll asked for a review of the play, and said later he was certain the on-field call of a safety would be reversed.
“I was sure they were going to overturn it,” Carroll said. “I thought you could see that clearly. There was time to see it, you could stop it. He is laying down and the ball was secure. But they could not determine that the ball was secure, so that is the way that they saw it.”
Carroll said he and his staff “had great looks at that play and (the officials) just had to go ahead and overturn their call, and they didn’t.”
Carroll said he was told that “the ball wasn’t secure.” But Carroll disagreed.
“He put the ball right into his chest,” he said, :and held it there the whole time and did a great job. It was unfortunate.”
The call was one of several that the Seahawks seemed to raise an eyebrow at later, including a pass-interference penalty on Richard Sherman that kept alive a fourth-quarter Indianapolis drive. A decision to overturn an initial ruling of the spot on a Reggie Wayne reception gave the Colts a first down later in the same drive.
Carroll, though, said he didn’t blame those calls for the defeat.
“There’s a bunch of calls that you’re going to want to look at and wonder what happened here and what happened there,” Carroll said. “And that usually happens, but when you lose they’re magnified, unfortunately. There were a number of them that were questioned, unfortunately.”
What Johnson didn’t question, though, was his decision to go after the ball himself instead of trying to bat it back in play, where trailing teammates Chris Maragos or Derrick Coleman might have had a chance to control it.
Johnson said he didn’t know if it was his teammates or Colts players behind him, so he let his instincts take over.
“My first thing was really ‘just get the ball,’ ” he said. “I felt like I had enough room to cradle it inbounds. But looking back at it now, (you could say) I should have did that. But you can’t live in that world. … If I could go back and do it again, I wouldn’t change anything. I tried to make a play, tried to get the ball and I couldn’t get it, and I’ve got to live with that.”
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.