BY Art Thiel 03:35PM 11/25/2012

Thiel: Carroll: “Didn’t handle it well; on me”

Carroll accepts blame for poor prep following bye in Dolphins’ 24-21 triumph over Seahawks Sunday, but there was plenty of responsibility for everyone except Wilson.

Pete Carroll says he had his team ill-prepared after the bye week. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

The bye week was supposed to provide rest, not a need for re-training.

After a 24-21 loss in Miami Sunday to a decidedly ordinary Dolphins outfit, coach Pete Carroll owned up that the defeat rested upon him: From preparation to playcalling, he took the blamed. Now the Seahawks have to regain their post-season footing in Chicago next Sunday against the Bears.

“We screwed up,” he said, “I blew it.”

When a team loses so many road games so closely — all five defeats have been by a touchdown or less, this one on a 43-yard field goal as time expired — every defeat holds the opportunity to see single plays as game-turners.

And while Seahawks fans lament a terrible penalty call against Earl Thomas that voided a fourth-quarter, end-zone interception by teammate Bobby Wagner, two other developments were more important — the offense didn’t get a first down for the game’s 16 minutes, and the defense gave up 17 points in the final eight minutes.

Those failures were team-wide, a collection of misalignments, misplays and miscalls that said a team doing well before the break forgot a lot in two weeks.

“We haven’t looked that sloppy all year,” Carroll said. “Maybe we gave a young team too  much time off. I don’t know.

We played hard, but we played sloppy. It kills me to say that.”

Carroll’s passion for error-free ball is well-known, which is why this manner of defeat was most galling. He sounded baffled.

“This game was a different style for us,” he said. “We have been terrific with penalties this year and we had seven in the first quarter (for the game 10 for 59 yards). It’s so uncharacteristic of what what we were doing. When we’re doing that much wrong, it’s on me.”

One thing that went right was the play of QB Russell Wilson, who had his best game yet (22 for 27 passing, including 16 in a row, for 224 yards and no turnovers, as well as five rushes for 38 yards). Afterward, he was quick to diplomatically disagree with Carroll’s assessment of mishandling the time off.

“I usually agree with coach 100 percent, but not on that one,” Wilson said. “The break was good for us. We’d played 14 games straight. Coach Carroll has done a tremendous job.”

Also defending Carroll was Marshawn Lynch, who had a hard game against Miami’s well-regarding rush defense, limited to 46 yards in 19 carries.

“What? We’re not supposed to take our bye week?” Lynch said. “We are all professionals. We all know what we had at stake. I don’t think it had much to do with us.”

As much drama as was packed into the final minutes, including a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by the Seahawks’ Leon Washington — his eighth that tied the NFL career record — the biggest laments should be reserved for the beginning of the game, which began with four consecutive, penalty-pickled possessions of three-and-out. Besides the obvious absence of points, the stall put more pressure on the defense, which by game’s end seemed too fatigued to corral Miami.

The Seahawks tied the game at seven just before half when Wilson, after a brilliant scramble, offered a three-yard TD pass to tight end Anthony McCoy. It was set up by an eye-popping catch inside the Miami 5-yard line by Golden Tate, who leaped over his falling defender and laid out for a diving grab.

But earlier, Carroll passed on a fourth-and-one at the Miami 35, choosing to punt instead of attempt a 52-yard field goal, which would have matched PK Stephen Hauschka’s season best. The conservative playcalling came back to haunt when Miami’s defense continued to deny Lynch and the Seahawks’ standard ground-first attack.

The only other offensive score was a four-yard TD pass to fullback Michael Robinson in the third quarter for a 14-7 lead that capped an 80-yard drive, sustained by another scramble from Wilson, this one for 20 yards.

But Miami relied on its running game — 189 yards — to get two touchdowns in three minutes around Washington’s return to tie the game at 21. One drive was sustained when Thomas leaped to attempt a deflection of a pass by Miami’s Ryan Tannehill — another of the NFL’s sterling rookie QB class — that was picked by Wagner in the end zone in what should have been his second of the day.

Instead, Thomas was called for roughing the passer, even though he was airborne when Tannehill released and fell into his chest, not his head. If that play was a foul, then QBs will have the freedom to maneuver under any airborne defender in an attempt to draw a penalty.

Instead of the Seahawks having a first down at the Miami 20, Miami had a first down at the Seattle 3. The Dolphins scored on the next play.

On what proved to be their final possession, the Seahawks moved into field goal range but lost yardage on their final three plays and were forced to punt from midfield. The Dolphins started on their own 10 and Tannehill (18 for 26 for 253 yards) expertly moved the Dolphins to set up Dan Carpenter’s game-winner at the gun.

“That was a very, very big call in this game,” Carroll said of the call against Thomas. “It looked wrong to me.”

It was wrong. But so, for much of the game, were the Seahawks. That set them up to be vulnerable to a bad call.

Five games remain to dig themselves out, after taking their talents to South Beach and squandering most of their margin for error.

 


YourThoughts

  • Matt712

    The offensive and defensive line play was terrible. Those big guys were playing like they still had bellies full of turkey and stuffing. And while we can assume that can and will be corrected, the real problem, as it has been all year, is the nickel defense. And it will continue to be a problem as long as Marcus Trufant is the fifth cent.

    I don’t know if Thurmond is ready to go, or maybe get some rookie, but I’d rather see a rookie make mistakes with a prayer to catch up than watch team after team convert over a too-slow Trufant. I thank him for his distinguished service, but it’s time to hang ‘em up. The Seahawks cut him once already for a reason.

    And now, PED accusations on Bowner and Serman? Oh, not good.

  • Terry in Atlanta

    This IS NOT an elite defense. Only in their own minds are they elite. They believe their own trash talking. Poor lines both O and D. LB’s looked lost and we won’t even comment on Trufant…….

  • Joe Fan

    I hate to say “wait until next year” but I believe, barring injuries, this team will truly be dominant next year. Too many growing pains to contend with this year that really has set them back.

    Its really odd to think that at the beginning of the year it was the defense that was dominant and “carrying” the team as the offense sputtered. Now, its the offense that is dominant and the defense that lacks a spark. I guess we should have seen the warning signs with the defense when they gave up the game winning touchdown to Arizona’s Kevin Kolb in the first game of the year, and followed that up with giving up a game winning drive by Detroit. It almost seems like the coaching staff began to focus so much on fixing the offense, which has got better week after week, that they took the defense for granted as being “elite”. The team has lacked a consistent balance all season.

  • maoling

    Not sure, but I think the Hawks are something like 6-18 following a bye. Glad they got their week off, but PC knows this team has to grind on the road and should have had them better prepared.

    After so many close road losses earlier this season, it was critical to see the Hawks maturing today against a beatable Miami team. Huge step backwards to lay this undisciplined egg when they were rested and healthy.

  • jeffdavsr

    Before this game I thought 10-6 was a possibility. Looks like 9-7 or 8-8 now, especially of Thurman and Browner are out. When this team learns to win on the road, they’ll have a chance.

  • PokeyPuffy

    Art, I totally agree the first half was where the game was lost. There were opportunities aplenty but inflexble/conservative play calling, penalties, sucked the life out. Hard not to see this as a failure in coaching. Harbaugh will toy with him like a cat does a mouse….

  • Dan A

    what? good at penalties? another P Carroll lie. They are plagued by lack of discipline, penalties, 3rd down defense, poor coaching decision during game. When is the media going to stop drinking the Pete Carroll koolaid? Too much having fun, not enough discipline and work as a culture.

  • eric killian

    I think the fundamental issue is Carroll game plans like he has the ’85 Bears and can win every game 20-14. Two problems with that 1) while the D is above average they aren’t a total dominating D, the D line is especially over rated. 2) with the way the rules favor the offense now no one can consistently win that kind of games anyway. A good D now means winning games 28-20.

    How often to the Hawks do nothing on offense because they run on 1st and 2nd down drive after drive, then only when they fall behind do they open things up and all of a sudden march right down the field? Yesterday it seemed like every time they passed on first down the series resulted in a first down, often on that play. You have a QB that completed 16 passes in a row at oe point and nursing a 7 point lead you go into total conservative mode?

  • Will

    Gee, what else does Pete and his coaches have to do besides prepare the team for games? Ill-prepared? You mean, a total screw-up and talking about it means next to nothing.