After a late touchdown, Blair Walsh came up just shy on a 52-yard field goal in the final seconds of a 34-31 loss to the Falcons.
The degree of difficulty for the Seahawks Monday night — facing the high-powered Atlanta offense without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor — was already steep enough.
And then the game began and the Seahawks raised the bar on themselves a little more with a few questionable coaching decisions and on-field mistakes that forced them to play catch-up all night.
It finally caught up to them when Blair Walsh’s 52-yard field-goal attempt in the final seconds — which would have forced overtime and given Seattle new life — came up just a foot or so short, allowing Atlanta to escape with a 34-31 win.
After the loss to Atlanta, Seattle is 23-9 all-time in Monday night play and snapped a 11-game winning streak on Mondays. The Seahawks are 53-29-1 all-time in prime time and 7-1 on Monday Night Football under coach Pete Carroll.
“I thought it was good,’’ said Walsh of the kick on a play that snapped with seven seconds left. “I don’t know how much I missed by, but it’s tough. It’s tough when you’re not there for your team in a moment like that. … It’s tough that the last play is what it comes down to, but that’s part of football.’’
The loss was the Seahawks’ second straight at home and dropped them to 6-4 and a game behind the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC West. And it meant that if the season ended today, Seattle would be on the outside of the playoff race looking in.
It all had receiver Doug Baldwin lamenting that Seattle has to stop being its own worst enemy now that the team’s margin for error is smaller than ever.
“Coaches and players (have to) get closer on the details, button down on the details,’’ Baldwin said. “I mean it’s all of us, coaches included. We’ve got a lot of work to do. Granted, we were still in the game (at the end). But if we were on the details I think we wouldn’t have made it as hard as it was on us.’’
Which details, Baldwin was asked?
“All of them,’’ he answered.
No question there was plenty of blame to go around, if not maybe as much as would have been expected on the position that was the focus of attention going in — the secondary.
Despite playing without Sherman and Chancellor and then losing starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin to a concussion in the first quarter, Seattle held Ryan to just 195 yards passing. Atlanta standout receiver Julio Jones had five catches for 71 yards.
Instead, Seattle could point to two early Russell Wilson turnovers, an interception and a fumble on a sack, which led to two Atlanta touchdowns and a quick 21-7 deficit, as critical.
“You never want to give them easy things,’’ Wilson said. “It was unfortunate.’’
They could also point to an eyebrow-raising fake field-goal attempt with seven seconds left in the first half that Atlanta easily sniffed out and kept Seattle behind 24-17 at halftime. The play came from the 17-yard line and instead of Walsh likely hitting a field goal and allowing Seattle to cut its deficit, the Seahawks seemed to spend the rest of the game chasing those three points.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he saw a chance to be aggressive and get a touchdown that could have tied the score.
“Would have been a really good call if we had made it,’’ Carroll said of the play, in which holder Jon Ryan flipped the ball to tight end Luke Willson, who was hit for a 4-yard loss by Atlanta nose tackle Grady Jarrett.
Willson said Atlanta had “reacted a certain way 100 percent of the time’’ on film but that “today they broke that trend. I think it’s out the gate if they play it out how they normally do. Kind of bad luck.’’
Still, Seattle had a shot when Wilson hit Baldwin on a 29-yard touchdown with three minutes left, which combined with a two-point pass to Jimmy Graham made it 34-31.
The Seahawks, who allowed Atlanta to convert 9 of 14 third downs, then finally got the critical stop they needed with Sheldon Richardson’s sack that forced the Falcons to punt.
But in the kind of “detail’’ play that got away from Seattle too often, a holding penalty on Josh Forrest, the ninth flag of the night, forced Seattle to start at its 25 with 1:46 remaining and no timeouts (one used on a failed attempt to reverse an incomplete pass to Baldwin).
A Wilson 11-yard pass to Graham and a 10-yard run got Seattle into Atlanta territory, and then an 8-yard pass to Richardson moved the Seahawks to the 34 with seven seconds left.
Carroll initially left the offense on the field.
But after an Atlanta timeout, he changed his mind and sent out Walsh, who had missed all three of his field-goal attempts in a 17-14 loss to Washington earlier this month but had made three earlier in the game.
Carroll said he liked the way Walsh was preparing during the timeout and thought having him kick was better than running another play.
“I thought that Blair had a great opportunity with the timeout to get ready,’’ Carroll said. “You don’t know if you are going to complete the next pass or not, and I just wanted him to have the best shot to be ready to go.’’
Walsh set an NFL record with the Vikings by making all 10 of his attempts from at least 50 yards as a rookie in 2012.
But this time, while he had the direction just fine, he didn’t have the distance.
“Obviously I need to drive a little more to get it there,’’ Walsh said. “In hindsight, that’s what I would do – drive it more and not leave it short.’’
A fitting capper to a game when there was a lot of “in hindsight’’ to go around.