BY Art Thiel 09:46PM 12/10/2017

Thiel: Seahawks lose game & cool, but no ground

A game-ending melee likely will result in suspensions for a couple of Seahawks, who almost made it back from a 27-10 hole. Can’t live off a Wilson-led miracle every Sunday.

WR Doug Baldwin caught a 26-yard pass for the Seahawks’ first touchdown./ Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

After twice bombing the Jaguars with long touchdown passes to turn a laugher into a crier, QB Russell Wilson offered up a trenchant observation.

“They were terrified, a little bit,” he said. They should have been.

Wilson had just become the greatest single-season thrower of fourth-quarter touchdown passes in NFL history with 16, and was driving for No. 17 — the third one this game.

Then the Jags’ terror flipped to Seahawks’ agony.

On 4th-and-9 at the Seattle 43 with 2:19 remaining, officials missed not just one but two pass interference penalties on the final play. Either one would have kept alive a potential game-winning drive.

Instead the pass was ruled incomplete, and the ball went over on downs.

Then everything went to hell for everyone — players, coaches, fans, referees.

Jacksonville won the fraught saloon brawl, 30-24, as all, including the NFL, lost when the final moments descended into shoves, punches, penalties and ejections.

Seahawks reserve DT Quinton Jefferson struck the lowest note in the mayhem went he became a member of the Ron Artest Hall of Dubiousness, pushing through security to attempt to scale the grandstand seeking a fan who had thrown what appeared to be a plastic bottle that struck him. Moments earlier, he had been ejected from the game for unnecessary roughness.

Or as they call such a scene in the National Hockey League, to which Seattle seems destined for entry, Tuesday.

DE Michael Bennett also invited a suspension when he appeared to go after the knees of center Brandon Linder as Jacksonville went into victory formation on its final possession. Then he went back at Linder’s legs at play’s end, which drew a confrontation with Jags RB Leonard Fournette.

In the locker room, Bennett shooed away reporters who tried to talk to Jefferson:

Even Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was busted for unsportsmanlike conduct after he left the sidelines to admonish his own players, a gesture that, as with many things Seahawks Sunday, happened too late.

“I was trying to get our guys not to carry on further,” Carroll said of the melee that climaxed game-long confrontations between the teams and saw DT Sheldon Richardson ejected for throwing a punch. “There wasn’t a chance (to get the ball back). I was just trying to slow them down . . . to make a statement to our guys that we wanted us to finish without any more garbage happening out there.”

Asked about Jefferson’s actions, Carroll said, “He just kind of lost it. Somebody poured a beer on his head while he was leaving the stadium. I told him, ‘That’s pro football. (Fans)  pay to get in, they can do anything they want, I guess.”

Indeed, some Jags fan hurled food and other objects toward the Seahawks sideline as tensions built between 8-4 teams each playing for playoff stakes. The Seahawks finished with six penalties and 73 lost yards, the Jags seven for 48, and the NFL with two black eyes.

The fights and ejections did disservice to a contest that, in contrast to the expectations for a struggle between two top defensive teams, delivered multiple haymakers after a taut first half that Jacksonville led 3-0.

“It’s really unfortunate how it ends, all the scrapping,” said Carroll. It could be really unfortunate for the Seahawks if suspensions follow their misbehaviors, because the loss itself didn’t do serious damage to their annual season priority, winning the division title.

The NFC West-leading Rams lost Sunday in Los Angeles 43-35 to Philadelphia. That means they are 9-4 entering the next game Sunday in Seattle against the 8-5 Seahawks, who have already beaten the Rams. A sweep by Seattle of the season series breaks the tie.

But no one was certain after Sunday who will be able to show up for the Rams game. Besides possible suspensions, Seattle’s two top linebackers, Bobby Wagner (hamstring) and K.J. Wright (concussion), had to leave the game in the second half. RB Mike Davis, who on four consecutive plays had runs of 21, 13, 10 and five yards against the NFL’s No. 1 defense, had to leave game with sore ribs, but returned.

The injuries, compounded with three interceptions of Wilson, the penalties and the loss of discipline, contributed to a 27-10 deficit with less than 10 minutes remaining. Even when Wilson did his usual fourth-quarter thing with touchdown passes of 61 yards to Paul Richardson and 74 yards to Tyler Lockett, the hole was too deep.

“We saw how many things we gave that made it hard for us,” Carroll said. “When you turn it over three times, give up a huge play in the kicking game (72-yard punt return by former Huskies WR Jaydon Mickens), a huge play against our run defense (34-yard run by Chris Ivory, former Cougar), it’s hard to win. But our guys didn’t stop. I’m really proud of that.”

In fact, the Seahawks had a serious chance to win when the defense forced a three-and-out inside three minutes and down 30-24. Taking over at their own 42 with 2:39 left and two timeouts, another Wilson-led miracle seemed imminent.

But after an incompletion to Jimmy Graham, a pass to WR Doug Baldwin, who stepped out of bounds a yard shy of the first down, and a sack, the Seahawks were down to a last chance at fourth-and-1 with 2:19 left at their own 43.

A moment after Wilson took the snap, Richardson saw his defender, CB Aaron Colvin, start to fall down. Colvin knew it would be a touchdown, so he threw his arm back and hooked briefly Richardson’s mask, then tripped him. No foul call.

The second choice, Baldwin, appeared to collide with his defender as the pass went over both heads. Again, no call.

Furious, Carroll ran up the sidelines, beseeching the refs. To no avail. Wilson saw what happened and politely deferred criticism.

“It was definitely going to Paul,” Wilson said. “I thought that they kind of got him there. He beat the guy off the line of scrimmage. (Colvin) made a good play, in that he knew if he got beat, it was a touchdown. So he just grabbed him right away. Held him and everything else. It is unfortunate that we didn’t get that one.

“I’m not blaming the refs or anything like that. You can’t put it on one play.”

Quite true. The Seahawks have made a go of it this season largely on the back of Wilson. But almost everything has to go perfectly, and luckily, to pull off any comeback, much less down 17.

Yes, the Seahawks were thoroughly hosed on the final play. But they had numerous chances to take control of the game without having to rely on a last-minute,  high-wire act.

And now they get to find out this week who gets expelled from the circus before the game of the season.


YourThoughts

  • Matt Kite

    What a weird season. A couple great games. Quite a few stinkers. What’s most frustrating is that no one in the NFC is dominant. The whole thing is up for grabs, but I don’t see the Seahawks as healthy, consistent, or mature enough to make the playoffs, much less make a deep run in the postseason. They’ll have to play close to perfect down the stretch — with about half their starting defense available.

    • art thiel

      Most of the problems stems from health, or lack of it. The Seahawks are a good, not great, team that hasn’t had enough draft success to fill the roster with near-equivalents to the SB teams.

  • PokeyPuff

    WAAAH what a bust :( road loss, injuries, possible suspensions. Embarrassing and costly behavior at the end.

  • Ron

    “Yes, the Seahawks were thoroughly hosed on the final play”.

    Perhaps because of Ifedi’s “15 yard “Taunting the ref” penalty early in the game. Refs have no respect for the Seahawks.

    • Obi-jonKenobi

      We don’t know what Ifedi said to the ref but 1) if you watched the “hold” he was called for, the ref deserved to be “taunted” and 2) there was a flag on Jacksonville on the same play and the Jacksonville player was seen pleading his case with one of the refs and doing it for an extended amount of time. No flag for that guy but a flag for Ifedi.

      I’d also include the “holding” call on Byron Maxwell early in the gameas another glaringly bad call. All he did was put his hand on the receiver, no tug, no push, just what every defensive back does on every play.

      • Bruce McDermott

        My guess is that Ifedi said a naughty word. And the Maxwell call is all the more egregious in light of the Richardson non-call at the end of the game. That was a doozy.

      • Ron

        The ref “deserved” to be taunted? Really??? Me thinks the NFL is throwing at flag at you for abuse of officials… http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000891721/article/nfl-abuse-of-officials-will-lead-to-significant-discipline

        • Obi-jonKenobi

          Sorry, I have to call them like I see (or don’t see), them. I see holds on almost every play that aren’t called, the call on Ifedi was WAY out of bounds considering what happens on almost every play.

    • art thiel

      My reference was to the division title, which is actually the easier route to the playoffs. You’re right about WC.

      Not sure anyone can know about officials’ carryover mood. This isn’t the NBA.

  • DJ

    Nothing like getting beat by your own (old) game. Jags won the battles at the line of scrimage on both sides of the ball, in the secondary (aside from fouls), and executed well against our zone defense. They executed, seemed faster at every position, and the Seahawks misfired too often. Nasty game. Hope the Hawks can put this all behind them. This will be an interesting week. GO HAWKS!

  • 1coolguy

    Another game where the first half was nothing, in terms of offense. What a remarkable game plan, thanks to you-know-who.

    • art thiel

      So who called the second half? Who called the win over Philly?

  • ll9956

    This loss seems more painful than most. Just leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Among other shortcomings, the D failed to get any pressure at all on Bortles. And Ifedi’s four penalties and Joekel’s big-gain-nullifying penalty certainly didn’t help. Neither did the no-call on the pass interference against Richardson. I hope PC sends the video to the NFL and demands an acknowledgement that the officials screwed up. This could have been a game-changer.

    If the Hawks end up without K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner next week, I think the Hawks’ chances of beating the Rams are slim to none. Bennett will be very lucky to not get suspended, which will not help one bit. This qualifies as a definite OY VAY!!!

    • DB

      Agree with your point that the D-line didn’t get any pressure on Bortles. Given the relative health of our front 7 going in, I expected him to be scrambling and on his back a good portion of the time. Instead he stayed very clean and had the time to make accurate throws all game long. I saw that as the key to their success.

      • art thiel

        True. I think Carroll was surprised that they never got to him. Avril’s smarts are missed.

    • art thiel

      It would have been more painful if they were blown out. But if the hold on Richardson is called, the drive is alive and Wilson has a good shot at the game-tying score.

      Most of the misplays and mistakes were typical, with the exception of being unable to compensate for Wagner’s absence. No team could.

  • Obi-jonKenobi

    Maybe it’s time for someone to develop a scorecard for refs like Pro Football Focus does for individual players every week. I’d love to see if my suspicions of bias against the Seahawks is accurate.

    Early in this game I noticed some really tight calls on Seattle which led me to believe the refs were going to call it close all game; the holding call on Ifedi (that was offset by a pass interference call on Jacksonville) and a pass interference call on Byron Maxwell. Both were impossible to see on replay. And suspicions of bias crept in when Ifedi was flagged for something he said very briefly to the ref about the alleged holding while the Jacksonville player pleaded his case on pass interference way longer than Ifedi with another ref and no flag. Of course we don’t know what Ifedi said to draw a flag so it could have been warranted.

    And of course there was the game-changing non-call for tripping Richardson which was as wide-open and easy-to-see as they come.

  • tor5

    That fighting at the end was disgusting. I’m so disappointed and embarrassed as a loyal 12. I imagine there were things not caught on camera that provoked a reaction, but the whole thing about being a pro with class is NOT reacting in that way. Trying to climb into the stands? Really?! Then to spew some caveman nonsense about being “respected” as a “man.” A man will reflect on their larger place in this world and apologize. That’s what I’d respect.

  • rosetta_stoned

    Michael Bennett. The Seahawks’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

    You must be so, so proud.

    • art thiel

      All his off-field works speak for themselves, whether you choose to acknowledge. He screwed up at game’s end.

  • WestCoastBias79

    The Jags dropped 14 almost instantaneously with Wagner out. 6 years of runs are catching up to them. I don’t see them doing much with Sherm, Kam, Wags, and KJ out. If Bennett ends up suspended, no way. They’re deep, but not that deep. You don’t lose five pro-bowlers on one side of the ball and have things business as usual.

    • art thiel

      It will need to be mostly all on the offense from here.

  • jafabian

    The Jags scored 3x after B-Swag went down. Before then the score was 0-3. Says something right there.

    • art thiel

      Noticed by many. Wagner does so much (although he’s not on punt coverage).

  • coug73

    When you lose, some will find a myriad of excuses. Loving Grandpa Coach Pete seems to have a tenuous influence on his players. The end of game melee showed a lack of discipline, leadership, and no respect for self or opponent. Raging against one’s fate was sad to see.

    • art thiel

      Since it’s the first time any teams in the NFL have had a melee, you’re right, it’s Carroll’s fault. And let’s fire Belichick for Gronk’s hit for which he was suspended.

  • Chris Alexander

    Small correction – it was 4th and 9, not 4th and 1. And, yes, the Jags “got away with one” on that play (or, rather, got away with 2) but the Seahawks shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place. Too many mistakes, too many big plays, too many injuries, and that ending …. just awful.

    But Seattle still controls its fate – win next week and then simply match the Rams the rest of the way and the division title (and either the 3 or 4 seed) is ours. Lose next week and we’re 2 back with 2 to play without the tiebreaker and our odds to even make the playoffs become a whole lot bleaker.

    • art thiel

      I can easily see a win over the Rams and a loss to either DAL or AZ, or both. Simply via attrition.

  • THOMAS F PETERSEN

    HEY, GRAHAM TOOK A BLATANT HIT TO THE HEAD. SEVERAL MISSED CALLS. YOU ARE RIGHT, NOT JUST ONE PLAY.

    • art thiel

      Rarely is it ever one play in the NFL.

  • Bruce McDermott

    He grabbed his mask, grabbed his shoulder, fell down, and then grabbed his foot and took him down. With the linesman right there, nothing blocking his view of any of it. Richardson was the primary. That was a touchdown.

    Pete quite properly went apeshit. The League will quietly say its mea culpa, tsk-tsk the linesman, and move on…

    • art thiel

      The non-call was inexplicable. And there is no recourse. But let’s not forget the PI against Sherman on Julio Jones at the of the 2016 regular-season game vs. ATL. Or the Fail Mary. Or the . . .

      • Bruce McDermott

        With all due respect, Art, and much is due, that non-call makes the Sherman non-call look like child’s play, especially considering that the Sherman non-call was preceded, on the same play, by a blatant hands-to the face helmet punch by Jones to Sherman’s head. The Fail Mary was in a different, Replacement Ref universe. This linesman has no such excuses.

    • ll9956

      So far I haven’t heard any “mea culpa” from the NFL.

      • Bruce McDermott

        We never hear those. Only the teams do….