RENTON — Nearly an entire calendar year had passed since Pete Carroll walked into the Seattle Seahawks headquarters on a Monday and faced his team coming off a regular-season loss.
Even he is curious to see how the Seahawks will react after losing 34-28 on Sunday in Indianapolis, a game Carroll lamented as one that got away.
“I don’t want to get real good at this. I don’t want to get good at playing after losses, but we need to handle it well, but I’m curious to see if we do,” Carroll said. “We’ll take care of that stuff day by day and watch what is going on and listen to them and make sure we’re on track and getting a great preparation.”
There was no sluggish start for the Seahawks this time. They led 12-0, but the closing punch Seattle had shown was absent, outperformed by Andrew Luck and the Colts in the second half and specifically the fourth quarter.
Indianapolis outscored Seattle 11-0 in the fourth quarter and handed the Seahawks their first regular-season loss since Nov. 25, 2012, at Miami. The Seahawks had won nine straight regular-season games.
“It’s a very frustrating game to leave out there,” Carroll said. “We started out very well, played very well for a good part of the game and then a really good Colt team put it together and did a good job finishing the football game. The quarterback was terrific and the receivers were excellent and they made plays that got them the field position and opportunities they needed.”
Familiar problems from last year resurfaced for Seattle, including struggles on third down offensively and defensively and untimely penalties. The loss took on a similar tone to defeats last year on the road in Arizona, Detroit and Miami, where Seattle simply couldn’t close it out late.
The fourth-quarter struggle seemed most surprising after Seattle had thrived by being the better team late in games.
Seattle had outscored opponents 44-7 in the fourth quarter through four weeks, then got dominated in the final 15 minutes on Sunday. The Colts controlled possession, holding the ball for 12:11 of the fourth quarter, rolling up 110 total yards and most importantly, outscoring the Seahawks.
Seattle had 30 total yards, ran eight offensive plays and gained one first down in the fourth quarter. It was the fewest fourth-quarter yards by the Seahawks since last October at San Francisco.
Seattle also had lapses on special teams with a field goal being blocked and returned for a touchdown that served as a major turning point in the game after Seattle had jumped out to the early lead. The Seahawks also left points on the field when Jeron Johnson’s recovery of a blocked punt in the end zone was ruled a safety and not a touchdown.
Carroll agreed a day later it was a difficult call to make but he believed Johnson had control and it should have been a TD that would have given Seattle a 17-0 lead.
“It was hard for the officials to trust that he had control of the ball,” Carroll said. “He controlled the ball so quickly and so well, he jumped up and got the ball to his other hand. He knew he had the ball and it happened so fast it was hard for the officials to rely on that. … It was a great recovery is what it was. It was a very difficult call.”
Russell Wilson rushed for a career-high 102 yards and threw for another 210 yards in the loss, but Carroll said he’s concerned about the load he’s carrying. Wilson has been under pressure more and taken off running sooner the last two weeks with three starting offensive linemen currently out.
Notes: Seattle will carry some injury concerns into the week. Tight end Zach Miller’s status won’t be known until late in the week as he recovers from a hamstring injury suffered last week that kept him out of the Colts game. Seattle will also be watching starting linebacker Bobby Wagner, who suffered a sprained ankle. … Seattle ran for 218 yards, easily a season high. According to STATS Inc., it was just the fourth time in franchise history that the Seahawks rushed for at least 200 yards and lost, the last coming in 2004 against St. Louis.