Be it the lack of a time out before the two-minute warning, or the controversial time out right when the Rams' punt team came out at the end, Pete Carroll said he has no second thoughts about how the team managed the clock in the final minutes of Sunday's 33-31 loss to the Rams.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had a lot to discuss during his weekly day-after-game radio show on ESPN 710 Seattle following the 33-31 defeat Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.
Here are six things that stood out:
1. Carroll has no second thoughts about using a timeout with 1:39 left
Carroll explained his reasoning after the game — that he didn’t want the Rams to be able to bleed off 33 seconds before punting, leaving the Seahawks likely with just more than a minute or so to move 50 to 60 yards to get into range of a game-winning field goal.
Carroll stood by that during his radio show Monday, saying, “It’s the right way to do it.’’
Carroll reiterated he initially called the timeout as the pile was unraveling when Todd Gurley was held to no gain on a third-and-one play that snapped with 1:52 remaining, and before a measurement to determine if Gurley had gotten the first down.
“We called it as soon as the play was over,’’ Carroll said. “There was already a timeout called, so we had called that. Then when the clock got stopped (for the measurement) they come back and they say, ‘You can let the clock run here or you can hold on to that timeout, we’ll give you the timeout back if you want it.’ And we said, ‘No, we need the 33 seconds, we don’t want to give it to them.’ There’s not enough time left in our mind. We don’t want to give them that time. We want to manage that time ourselves.’’
The Rams initially sent their punt team on the field, but then changed course and put the offense back on the field to go for it.
Carroll said of whether Rams coach Sean McVay changed his mind during the timeout that “he had the opportunity to do it whenever he wanted to. It just happened to be when the timeout was called. He could have done it at the start. He second-guessed it and changed it, I think. Not second-guessed it, just chose not to, chose not to kick. We had to do it anyway. We needed all the time we could manage. Had we stopped them there — we stopped them on the play before — we stop them there we get the ball at midfield.’’
Asked directly if he thinks the Rams would have punted if the timeout had not been called, Carroll said yes.
“They were thinking ‘punt the ball’ if we let the clock run, but when we didn’t let the clock run — I think they were content to kick and gives us a minute three and no timeouts and try to hold on to it for the win,’’ Carroll said.
But the way it unfolded — with Rams quarterback Jared Goff getting 2 yards on a sneak to get the first down – didn’t have Carroll second-guessing anything.
“It’s the ball factor, that’s how you play it,’’ Carroll said. “It’s the right way to do it. You don’t think they are going to make a mistake and kick the ball fast, so I’d rather play with 1:30 and try to stop them. We’ve got to go for it on defense, too. Look at it the other way. The big bold move they make (to go for it), our bold move — we shot everybody we had in every gap to hit the sneak, you know, with the free safety up in there as well to take that shot. We went for it, they went for it. They got it and they get the win.’’
Carroll noted the Seahawks had stopped the Rams three times in previous 1-yard situations and said, “We went with the same call again, as aggressive a call as we could possibly make at that time, and they won the sneak is what it amounts to.’’
2. Carroll also stands by his decision to not call timeout before the two-minute warning
Some also wondered later if Carroll erred in not using the first of what were two available timeouts on the final possession after a Gurley run for 2 yards on first down with 2:42 remaining. The Seahawks instead let the clock run down to the two-minute warning.
Carroll said the thinking was simple there — to force the Rams to continue to run the ball to make Seattle want to use their timeouts. If Seattle had just one timeout remaining, but the Rams had at least two plays left on the drive then Carroll said they might have been more prone to be aggressive and pass. Throughout the game, the Seahawks had more success stopping the Rams’ run than their pass.
Carroll said Seattle having more use of its timeouts at that point “certainly does’’ impact what the Rams might call offensively.
“We would like to use those (timeouts) in our favor as much as we can,’’ Carroll said. “It gives us the benefit to have that timeout when we are past the two-minute warning so that we can stop the clock judiciously whenever we need to rather than have to be forced to be in that mode. When they know you have the timeout, their play is different, they play differently, we can play differently. And so it’s to our advantage to hold on to it.’’
3. He’s still not happy about the holding call on D.J. Fluker
D.J. Fluker was called for a devastating holding penalty on Seattle’s last drive, negating a 5-yard run by Mike Davis on second-and-13 from the Rams’ 35 with 3:53 remaining. The penalty (drawn by Rams lineman Ndamukong Suh) made it second-and-23 from the Rams’ 45 and Seattle then threw two incomplete passes to stop the drive and was forced to punt with 3:38 remaining.
“Well, I’m saying probably 18 plays they could look at their guys during the course of the game,’’ Carroll said. “My point was it happens all day long, how come at the end? … Fluke had his hand inside really nicely, he’s grabbing the breastplate, you know, but his hands are tough and all that. But those are calls you could make on almost every play and I demonstrated that just to show them. .. And they block differently than we do, our guys for the whole game were really fighting tough to keep their hands in and all of that and just that moment, it’s unfortunate … We had to overcome it and we didn’t get it done.’’
Carroll let slip one more time his unhappiness with that call when asked about the Rams’ pass blocking.
“They protected pretty well,’’ Carroll said. “They did a nice job of hanging on to us.’’
4. Germain Ifedi’s late false start penalty was due to a screwed-up snap
On the first down before Fluker’s penalty, Germain Ifedi was called for a false start after Russell Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for 44 yards to the Rams’ 32-yard line.
The penalty made it first-and-15 at the 37. The play clock also appeared to be at zero as the ball was snapped, and Carroll said the snap was more the issue than Ifedi.
“Yeah we messed up the snap,’’ Carroll said. “We just for whatever reason, I haven’t figured out why that happened, but we didn’t snap the ball on time and so we flinched. So that was just such the wrong time to give them something right there. We were in beautiful position, the game is ours, they had no timeouts, we were going to smash it right at them and see if we could knock it down a little closer. We were still going to try to score but we were going to use the clock there and we lost the opportunity, and then the next play got away (a 2-yard Mike Davis run) and the next play was the holding play.’’
5. The Seahawks missed too many tackles, and Tedric Thompson wasn’t the only culprit there
Tedric Thompson was an obvious focal point as he was making his first start at free safety in place of Earl Thomas.
Thompson missed a few tackles and Carroll said as much Monday. But Carroll said Thompson wasn’t the only one to blame.
“He did some really good things,’’ Carroll said. “He missed some opportunities in the open field. He needs to clean up on some of those tackles. The slant route that got away was about another 20. Some very big yardage in there that needs to clean up. But he was active, he was on it. Almost had a pick down the middle there. Just looked very comfortable playing out there. Played very smart. Just didn’t quite make the tackles. But he wasn’t the only one. We missed some tackles in the open field, all the big space that we were in. He just needs to clean that up.’’
6. Russell Wilson didn’t run because he was making the right reads on the zone read
Wilson didn’t have a rushing attempt for the first time in his career, continuing a season when his running has been as quiet as ever — he has just 42 yards on 11 attempts.
But if Wilson’s hamstring is bothering him — he’s been on the injury report each of the past three weeks though he has been a full participant in practice and has not missed a snap in a game — Carroll isn’t letting on.
Instead, Carroll said the Rams were insistent on not letting Wilson run and Wilson made the right reads on zone-read plays to hand the ball off to Chris Carson and Davis, instead.
“They kept taking him away,’’ Carroll said. “It’s why the other stuff was there. He had, I don’t know, maybe 10 times he could have kept the football by the design of the play, but they kept a guy for him and he kept giving the ball like he’s supposed to. He played the game beautifully in that regard and didn’t force any of them. He probably could have yanked a couple out just to try to juke the guy like he’s done in the past but he didn’t have to because the other thing was rolling 6 yards a pop. So we were OK.’’