Maybe it makes sense that a penalty not called in a Seahawks game has elicited a league-wide controversy as there have been fewer penalties called in Seattle games this season than those involving any other team.
So maybe this really is the definition of irony — the Seattle Seahawks, who have committed more penalties than any team in the NFL the past two seasons and are currently embroiled in a national controversy concerning the ending of their last game, have so far been involved in games this season in which the fewest penalties have been called.
Or, maybe it just makes sense that the controversy involves a penalty not called.
Through four games, Seattle has almost completely turned the tables when it comes to penalties this season, with just 22 — only Arizona has fewer at 20 (New England also has been called for just 22 penalties). This comes a year after Seattle led the NFL with 130, second-most in franchise history (the record is 138 in 2011).
True, Seattle has been flagged nine other times, with seven declined (including the three offsides by Michael Bennett in the Green Bay game). That is the fourth-highest number of declined penalties in the NFL. Still, even 31 penalties would be a significant improvement — that total would rank tied for 15th on its own. (all numbers from NFLpenalties.com).
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Consider further that Seattle’s opponents have had just 20 penalties enforced. The total of 42 total penalties enforced in Seattle’s four games so far this season is the lowest in the NFL.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll last week rather glowingly talked about the lack of penalties through the first three weeks.
“Wow. Good. How about it?” he said. “I kind of don’t even want to talk about it, it’s a no-hitter kind of thing around here. I’m really fired up. Fired up. We’ve worked really hard, I don’t know that we’re emphasizing any differently or any better, I think our guys are more experienced, they understand, we’re making good decisions. Let’s see if we can hold on to that.”
That comment could have taken on a much different light today had K.J.Wright been called for illegally batting the ball out of the end zone and Detroit gone on to win. Instead, that game ended as another in which the Seahawks weren’t flagged much, with just five for 30 yards (last year, the Seahawks averaged 8.13 penalties for 63 yards per game).
And maybe most interesting in Seattle’s penalty numbers is the lack of flags on the secondary, which has just two, and just three called — Richard Sherman one each for pass interference and holding and Cary Williams for illegal contact. The Sherman penalty for holding was declined. All came against Green Bay, unquestionably the best team the Seahawks have faced so far. A road game at Cincinnati will pose a stiff test for the Seattle secondary in every manner this Sunday.
But the lack of flags on the secondary is interesting given how a year ago it was thought that the NFL was cracking down on contact in the passing game with some thinking that Seattle’s success and the way it plays was the impetus for the emphasis (USA Today called them The Legion of Boom rules).
As Carroll said, the trick for the Seahawks now is to “hold on to” its ability so far to stay relatively penalty free.