SEATTLE — Matt McCoy went from special teams mainstay last year to a valuable part of Seattle’s defense this season, but during Sunday’s loss to Atlanta, McCoy suffered a knee injury that could be season-ending.
McCoy, who in addition to being a big contributor on special teams had also
earned significant playing time in Seattle’s nickel defense, went down on a first-quarter punt when teammate Aaron Curry fell into his leg, causing what looked like a nasty injury.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll didn’t have a diagnosis on the injury after the game, but didn’t sound optimistic talking about the linebacker.
“That’s going to hurt,” Carroll said of not having McCoy. “He’s done a beautiful job of playing those snaps (on defense) and giving other guys a break, and they also have to double him on special teams. … He’s done a beautiful job for us mixing in with our rotations and stuff. We’ll have to reconfigure that.”
After the game, middle linebacker David Hawthorne made it sound like they had heard bad news on McCoy, who has 15 tackles so far this season and started last week with the Seahawks in nickel defense.
“It’s going to be hard with Matt gone,” Hawthorne said. “We all love him, what he brings to the team, what he brings to special teams. He’ll be missed.”
Receiver Mike Williams was also unable to finish the game after suffering a concussion blocking on Marshawn Lynch’s third-quarter touchdown run. Williams, who went without a catch last week, had three catches for 36 yards prior to the injury, including a 6-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Defensive end Anthony Hargrove and linebacker Malcolm Smith both suffered hamstring injuries.
Baldwin’s big day
Rookie Doug Baldwin, an undrafted rookie from Stanford, had five catches for 84 yards, both team highs. That’s the second time this season Baldwin has led the Seahawks in receiving, having also recorded a team-high 83 yards against San Francisco in Week 1. Through four games, Baldwin leads Seattle with 12 catches and 194 receiving yards.
Cable coaches from the box
Offensive line coach Tom Cable, who had back surgery Monday, was on hand for Sunday’s game, but he worked from the coaches’ box rather than on the sideline. Cable missed the first two days of practice during the week, but was able to attend Friday’s practice while sitting on a cart.
Seattle’s pass protection was vastly improved on Sunday as the Seahawks allowed no sacks after giving up 14 sacks in the first three games.
“The offensive line protected the quarterback all day long, and that’s a big step,” Carroll said of a unit that entered the season with a combined total of 39 career starts in the NFL.
“Against a really tough front, we held up,” he said. “Guys learned, and they couldn’t get to (quarterback) Tarvaris (Jackson). So, we move ahead.”
Free to run
With the possible exception of Jackson, nobody appreciated the play of the offensive line more than Seattle tight end Zach Miller, who spent much of the first three games staying back in pass protection rather than running routes.
Sunday, Miller was able to go downfield more, and he had a season-high three receptions.
“They did a great job,” Miller said of the line. “I was very impressed with how well we protected, and I was able to get out on some more routes.
Miller just missed his first touchdown reception as a Seahawk late in the third quarter. From the Atlanta 17-yard line, Jackson hit Miller in stride at the goal line, but Atlanta safety James Sanders got there at the same time.
Sanders lit Miller up, and the ball caromed to safety Thomas DeCoud, who made the interception.
“I knew when you get there (the goal line), you’ve got tighter windows and a lot of those throws are bang-bang. I thought I had a good hold on the ball. The guy just made a good play on it,” Miller said. “It’s definitely one I wish I could have back.”
Seattle’s first touchdown was a 52-yard pass from Jackson to Sidney Rice on a play when the Falcons were offside. Given a free play, Jackson was eager to fling it long and see if something good would come of it.
“I saw him (Rice) throw his hand up. He threw his hand up and I just gave him a shot, kind of like Randy Moss,” Jackson said of his former big-play teammate in Minnesota.
The irony was that Rice was supposed to go long on that play anyway.
“It was all-go anyway, so he’s going to have to go down the field anyway,” Jackson said. “But it just helps that he did (put his hand up).”
After falling behind Atlanta 14-0 in the second quarter, the Seahawks cut the deficit in half on the 52-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Rice, who was well behind the Atlanta secondary.
Rice scored easily, but then in his celebration made a throat-slashing gesture that drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The infraction was stepped off on Seattle’s ensuing kickoff.
“It wasn’t intentional, but at the same time it was very selfish of me,” said a chagrined Rice. “It put us in a bad position.”
Hide your eyes
Standing on the sideline, Jackson said he did not watch the 61-yard field goal attempt by Seattle place-kicker Steven Hauschka in the closing seconds.
“I didn’t look,” Jackson said. Turning away, “I was just waiting to hear it from the crowd if he made it or not.”
Unfortunately, the crowd noise Jackson heard was a collective groan of disappointment as the kick landed in the end zone, well short of the goal posts.