The Seahawks’ 14-5 loss to the Bucs on Sunday also put an end to a cherished streak as it was the first time in the last 98 games that Seattle was not within a touchdown of its opponent during the fourth quarter.
TAMPA, Fla. — On a day when the Seattle offense mostly pulled a dull, steady disappearing act, Pete Carroll thought for a moment the magic was back.
As Jermaine Kearse snared an 18-yard pass to convert a fourth-and-14 from the Seahawks own 16 with 3:21 left, and then Jimmy Graham caught another for 16 yards, Carroll began to think maybe the Seahawks really could escape with what might have been one of their more unfathomable victories in his seven-year history with the team.
“It felt like we would,” Carroll said. “We’ve done it so many times.”
But not this time on a day when the Seahawks looked as vulnerable as they ever have since rising to prominence under Carroll.
In fact, the 14-5 defeat Sunday against Tampa Bay also put an end to a cherished streak as it was the first time in the past 98 games that Seattle had not been within at least a touchdown of its opponent at some point in the fourth quarter (the last time it happened was a 24-0 loss to the Steelers on Sept. 18, 2011).
And when what was one of the more feeble offensive performances of his coaching tenure ended, Carroll had some uncharacteristically harsh words for his team.
“They outplayed us and they beat us up front,” Carroll said. “We didn’t play anywhere near like we thought we would.”
Certainly, the Seahawks could point to the absences of some key players as a major reason why.
The offensive line played without starting center Justin Britt, maybe the steadiest of an oft-criticized unit, with rookie Joey Hunt instead getting his first start. Also out was running back C.J. Prosise, while the defense played without All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas, fellow All-Pro defensive end Michael Bennett and cornerback DeShawn Shead.
All but Prosise could be back next week.
But the Seahawks seemed loathe to want to say that the loss of a few players — no matter how good — could mean so much.
Carroll, in fact, went out of his way to say that Hunt was hardly to blame for an offensive line that allowed a season-high six sacks, a total that could easily have been a handful more if not for Russell Wilson’s constant Houdini acts getting away from pressure.
“They rushed the heck out of us,” Carroll said of the Buccaneers. “It wasn’t anyone in particular. We didn’t protect like we needed to and they had six sacks. That’s just crazy because we haven’t been doing that at all.”
The previous season-high allowed in sacks for Seattle had been four.
The sacks and pressure helped lead to an especially feeble passing attack — Seattle’s 118 net passing yards were its fewest since getting just 89 in a 17-10 loss to Arizona in 2013.
“It’s such an oddity to be that far off in the throwing game,” Carroll said.
And that resulted in a season-low 245 total yards, and just three offensive points — the third time this season Seattle has been held without a touchdown — and on Sunday coming against a Tampa Bay team that entered the day ranked 26th in the NFL in defense.
“They came out here and played hard and played fast and they outcompeted us today,” said running back Thomas Rawls, who was held to 38 yards on 12 carries with a long of 8 yards.
The defense, meanwhile, helped create an early hole that the Seahawks could never climb out of, allowing the Bucs to drive 78 and 62 yards for touchdowns the first two times they had the ball (at one point, the Bucs had an edge in yards of 150 to minus-4).
While the defense pitched a shutout from there, the damage had been done.
“Even though we didn’t give up (that many) points, this game wasn’t Seahawks defense,’’ said linebacker K.J. Wright.
As for why that was, neither Wright nor anyone else seemed to really know, chalking it up hopefully as just one of those things.
“It happens, man,’’ Wright said. “We’ve seen this every year that I’ve been here, somehow a team beats you that is not supposed to beat you. So we’ll be fine.”
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner sounded a similar tone saying, “Games like this, you feel like they wake you up and let you know if you don’t come out ready to play from the beginning of the game you can get beat.’’
That’s the hope, anyway, that this was just one little blip for a team that still leads the NFC West by three games.
Seattle lost a season-high three turnovers, all inside the Tampa Bay 29-yard line, two in the final eight minutes to quell the comeback hopes. That number was half of the six Seattle had in its first 10 games, and the Seahawks had just one in the past seven games.
And Wilson, who threw just two picks in the first 10 games, matched that total against the Bucs, with a final fling near the end zone picked off with 1:19 left to finally extinguish any remaining hope.
“That’s the story of the game,’’ Carroll said of the turnovers. “It always is.’’
As for the game, Carroll hopes it’s a quickly forgotten chapter, with happier endings ahead, and not a foreshadowing of any doom to come.
|Russell Wilson’s worst games|
|Sunday was Wilson’s second-worst game as a pro, by QB rating.|
|Oct. 18, 2012 at 49ers||9-23||122||0/1||38.7|
|Nov. 27, 2016 at Bucs||17-33||151||0/2||38.8|
|Jan. 18, 2015 vs. Packers||14-29||209||1/4||44.3|
|Oct. 12, 2014 vs. Cowboys||14-28||126||0/1||47.6|
|Dec. 22, 2013 vs. Cardinals||11-27||108||1/1||49.6|
|Sept. 29, 2013 at Texans||12-23||123||0/1||49.7|