It’s not as if the Seahawks were perfect between the lines in their 34-31 loss to Atlanta. But the biggest problem was what was between their coach’s ears.

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He has been the NFC’s most successful coach of the decade. He has become a football icon that looks just at home on the red carpet as he does on the sideline.

Pete Carroll is one of the best things to happen to Seattle sports. But Monday night — he cost the Seahawks any chance at a win.

What on earth was he thinking? What was going through his head as he robbed his team of points and stripped it of timeouts?

Falcons 34, Seahawks 31

 

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It’s not as if the Seahawks were perfect between the lines in their 34-31 loss to Atlanta. But the biggest problem was what was between their coach’s ears.

With Seattle trailing 24-17 with seven seconds left in the first half, it appeared as though Blair Walsh was going to kick a 35-yard field goal. Then, the Seahawks called an inexplicable fake, as holder Jon Ryan flipped it to tight end Luke Willson, who was taken down by nose tackle Grady Jarrett for a 4-yard loss.

Considering how little time was remaining, and the fact that it was fourth down, the only way that play would have benefitted the Seahawks is if they scored a touchdown. And sorry, from the 17-yard line, Willson isn’t blazing into the end zone.

Carroll saw it differently.

“It would have been a really good call if we would have made it,” said Carroll, perhaps stealing a line from General Custer. “It was a chance to make a big play. … If that pops, he may walk in. We worked on it, we saw something that we liked. We didn’t expect the nose tackle to make the play. It didn’t work out. I was being aggressive.”

One never knows what would have ensued had Seattle kicked and made that field goal to end the half. To say the game would have played out exactly as it did is naive.

But when you lose by three after denying yourself three easy points, it’s impossible not to point a finger at the coach.

According to ESPN stats and information, the Seahawks would have needed that play to have a 49 percent chance of working for it to be worth the risk. I doubt it had a 4.9 percent chance of working.

Obviously, that won’t go down as the worst call Carroll has ever made. But from a logic standpoint, it may have been the dumbest.

It wasn’t just the fake, though. With 12:01 remaining in the third quarter, Carroll called a timeout on third-and-12 to prevent a delay of game. At that point, though — especially when it’s third-and-long — a timeout is exponentially more important than the 5 yards they would have lost.

Carroll, however, didn’t seem interested in preserving timeouts Monday night.

Flash forward to the 9:12 mark in the fourth quarter, when the Falcons led 31-23. On third down, Wilson threw an incomplete pass to Doug Baldwin that would have given Seattle a first down at its 25.

Video replay clearly showed it was a drop. But after Baldwin lobbied him, Carroll challenged the call, which was upheld almost immediately, thus costing the Seahawks another timeout.

Hey, it’s nice for a coach to have rapport with his players, but you wouldn’t trust a player in that situation any more than you would a pitcher pleading to stay in the game. The guys in the booth should have been Carroll’s advisers on that challenge, not Baldwin.

And man, did it hurt them.

After driving 75 yards for a touchdown in 49 seconds — then converting the two-point conversion — the Seahawks made it 34-31 with 3:00 to play.

They then forced a three and out, and after using their final timeout, began their final drive from their 25 with 1:46 to play.

It’s not as if Seattle didn’t threaten. Russell Wilson pushed the ball to Atlanta’s 34, but Carroll never had a chance to call a timeout because he didn’t have one. Had he been able to do so, the Seahawks could have squeezed in a couple extra plays and moved a few yards closer.

Instead, they forced Walsh to attempt a 52-yard goal on second down, which came up short.

The Seahawks had plenty of problems Monday night. They couldn’t get the Falcons off the field on third down, and they had two turnovers that led to Atlanta touchdowns.

But there’s no other way to put it — this one is on Pete.

Penalty box
The Seahawks committed nine penalties Monday and have been in double figures many times this season.
Opponent Result Penalties/yards
Green Bay Loss 8/50
San Francisco Win 9/71
Tennessee Loss 11/98
Indianapolis Win 6/45
L.A. Rams Win 7/40
N.Y. Giants Win 15/110
Houston Win 10/120
Washington Loss 16/138
Arizona Win 12/108
Atlanta Loss 9/106