While the Seahawks were hardly blameless for a 25-20 loss, some calls, as well as noncalls, by officials were hard to overlook. Five plays drew attention — three penalties on Seahawks’ defensive backs and two times they felt the Saints should have been called for pass interference.

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NEW ORLEANS — After scoring a touchdown on a fumble return in the first quarter, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas couldn’t help himself as he headed back to the sideline and hugged side judge Alex Kemp.

“Just having fun, bro,” said Thomas, adding that he was also hyped up about playing in front of a lot of family and friends who had made the trip from Orange, Texas. “Just excited about the moment.”

For the rest of the day, though, Thomas and his Seahawks teammates wondered if the officials weren’t squeezing them a little too much in return.

While the Seahawks were hardly blameless for a 25-20 loss to the Saints Sunday, some critical calls — as well as noncalls — by officials were hard to overlook.

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Five plays drew particular attention — three penalties on Seahawks’ defensive backs and two times they felt the Saints should have been called for offensive pass interference.

Here’s a quick look at each:

Thomas was called for illegal contact in the second quarter with the Saints facing a first down at the Seattle 16-yard-line, a play that initially looked like a tipped incomplete pass. The Saints would go on to score their first touchdown a few plays later.

Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman implied the officials changed the call after realizing the pass had been tipped.

“We get a tipped pass and they have to find a flag, find a way to call the penalty because the ball got tipped at the line of scrimmage,” Sherman said. “If they call (pass interference) it doesn’t count because the ball got tipped so they have to find another call. It’s interesting. It’s very interesting to see. It’s interesting to be a part of it.”

Cornerback DeShawn Shead was called for holding Michael Thomas on a third-and-five play at the Saints’ 46 with 7:01 left in the third quarter, which kept alive a drive that ended in a field goal.

“(The official) tried to tell me that I held him and stopped him from going into his route, which wasn’t the case,” Shead said. “I held him going into his route but it was within five yards and I looked for the ball, as well, too. They usually let us battle within five yards. I thought it was great technique, great coverage. I thought it was a bad call.”

• Sherman was called for holding on a third-and-six on the Saints’ 45 with 4:48 left, which kept alive a drive that ended in a field goal and also left Seattle with just 1:57 left when they got the ball back. Asked if the refs gave an explanation, Sherman said: “They did not. I think they needed a first down in a crucial drive and the refs made sure they got it.”

The Seahawks were also left steaming at what they felt were two illegal pick plays by the Saints on offense.

The first came early in the fourth quarter on the Saints touchdown that put New Orleans ahead for good when receiver Willie Snead got in the way of Jeremy Lane, allowing Brandin Cooks to break free for an easy 2-yard touchdown reception from Drew Brees.

Later in the quarter came a nearly identical play — Snead again clearing out Lane to allow Cooks to catch a pass — converting a third-and-five with a 20-yard gain to set up the final field goal.

Rules state that any time an offensive player “significantly hinders” the progress of a defensive back “more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage” that offensive pass interference can be called.

“These are the plays that challenge officials,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said later. “And they were challenged.”

Lane thought both were illegal.

“I know I was at least three yards in the end zone when the ball was thrown (on the touchdown),” he said. “So that had to be called. He said I wasn’t trying to get off the block. On the second one, he said I wasn’t two yards off the line. But it felt like I was.”

Asked about the plays, Carroll’s words sounded a little more diplomatic than his tone.

“Well, if you illegally block a guy instead of trying to get out of the way and you impeded a guy’s progress to his coverage, then it’s a penalty,” Carroll said. “We’ll see. We’ll see how that works.”

Marathon men
The Seahawks’ defense was on the field a lot for the second consecutive week as the offense again failed to consistently put together sustained drives. Seattle has been on the field 61 percent of the time the last two games:
Opponent Plays Time of possession Points allowed
Arizona 90 46:21 6
New Orleans 72 36:12 25
Totals 162 82:33 31