PITTSBURGH — In 15 games in 2018, Chris Carson fumbled just three times, losing two of them.
In two games this season, Seattle’s No. 1 running back already has lost two fumbles, including one Sunday and was involved in another fumble that nearly let the game slip away from the Seahawks at Heinz Field.
“It’s frustrating, but at the same time I’ve gotta get better, you know what I mean? I gotta own it,” Carson said in a celebratory locker room after a 28-26 victory over the Steelers. “If I’m going to be the guy around here, I can’t make those mistakes. It’s something I gotta correct.”
With six minutes left in the game, and the Seahawks trying to chew up clock while holding a 28-19 lead, Carson was unable to secure a handoff from Russell Wilson and lost control of the ball at Seattle’s 11-yard line.
Steelers linebacker Devin Bush recovered the fumble (officially credited to Wilson)and returned it to the Seahawks 3, setting up Mason Rudolph’s short TD pass to Vance McDonald on the next play.
Then it became serious hang-on time for the Seahawks.
Wilson led a masterful 13-play drive to kill the final 5 minutes, 34 seconds, with the quarterback running three times for 34 yards — sliding forward for 15 yards on third-and-16 at the two-minute warning.
That set up a decisive fourth-and-1 from the Pittsburgh 33. And who did the Seahawks return to?
Carson got the handoff and ran up the middle for a 2-yard gain and a first down, allowing Wilson to take a knee three times to close out the win.
“I just appreciate them for that,” Carson said. “It shows that they really have trust in me even though those two fumbles happened.”
The fourth-down conversion was a bit of redemption for the Seahawks offensive line too.
Wilson was sacked four times in the first half, and every lineman except for Duane Brown was flagged for at least one penalty (Germain Ifedi and D.J. Fluker were each flagged twice).
But the line was cleaner — much cleaner — in the second half.
Wilson wasn’t sacked again after the 7-minute mark of the second quarter, and the Seahawks rushed for 151 yards on 33 attempts (a respectable 4.6 yards per carry).
“I gave up a sack today, but that play didn’t define how my day went,” center Justin Britt said. “I feel like I had pretty kick-ass day and dominated inside for the most part. That shows our toughness, individually and as a unit.”
The Seahawks O-line had a similarly slow start Week 1 against Cincinnati, and Britt said some of those early game struggles are to be expected out of this offense.
“This ain’t nothing new,” he said, adding: “But third, fourth quarter, you figure out who the dog is — who’s willing to work and go the distance. Our mentality, we know we’re gonna (do that). We know we’re gonna be ready; whether we’re running or throwing, we’re going to do our job and be ready. It’s a marathon; it’s not a sprint. Four quarters, no matter what it takes.”
On the fourth-down run with two minutes left, Carson described “a lot of energy” inside the Seahawks huddle.
“We know we’ve got to get that first down, no matter what it is,” he said. “We got a great push up front and finished it off.”