By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
SEATTLE — With a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Seattle Seahawks needed only a few final defensive stands to cap off a win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon.
It never happened. In the game’s final 10 minutes, Seattle’s defense allowed Washington to rally with 16 unanswered points for a 23-17 victory at CenturyLink Field.
After the Seahawks scored early in the fourth quarter for a 17-7 lead, the visiting Redskins needed just six plays to cover 70 yards in less than three minutes to make the score 17-14. Then, following a Seattle punt, Washington mounted another scoring drive of 56 yards in only four plays and 1:37 for a 20-17 lead (the Seahawks blocked the PAT).
Late in the game, after Seattle turned the ball over on downs at its own 14-yard line, the Redskins added a 25-yard field goal by place-kicker Graham Gano.
With the game on the line, said Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, “we didn’t finish. We didn’t have a complete game today. … We could have had that game. I feel like (the Redskins) weren’t doing anything special or real spectacular. We just didn’t execute.”
“We just have to make more plays,” added Seattle defensive end Red Bryant. “That’s the bottom line. … The plays that hurt us, we feel like we gave to them. And in the National Football League if you give people the opportunity to beat you, they’re going to beat you.”
In fairness, Seattle’s offense was equally lethargic in the game’s late minutes. On their final four offensive possessions the Seahawks did not manage a single first down.
But that was no consolation to the team’s defensive players, who seemed to feel responsible for allowing the lead and the game to slip away.
“We’ve just got to get better and clean up the mistakes that we had,” said Seattle safety Kam Chancellor. “Good teams capitalize in this league, so we just have to get better.”
The Seahawks gave up 416 yards — not a season high, but a bunch nonetheless — with Washington quarterback Rex Grossman completing 26 of 35 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Roy Helu tacked on 108 rushing yards on 23 carries with another touchdown.
“They did a good job of being able to move the ball,” Bryant said. “You have to give them a lot of credit.”
One of Seattle’s most disappointing defensive plays came in the fourth quarter with the Seahawks trying to protect a 17-14 lead. After a 12-yard intentional grounding penalty, the Redskins faced a third-and-19 from midfield with 6:26 to play in the game.
Grossman dropped back to pass, stepped up in the pocket as Seattle’s pass rush converged from the outside, and then delivered a long pass to wide receiver Anthony Armstrong in the left side of the end zone. Seattle cornerback Brandon Browner, who had Armstrong in single coverage, was even flagged for defensive pass interference, but Armstrong made the catch anyway.
“We put ourselves in a position to win the football game … and we let a big long play get out on us,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. It was, he added, “just a major breakdown for us that gave them a life that they didn’t need to have. We were totally in command of that situation. … Brandon just kind of lost track of the guy.”
In a somber Seattle locker room after the game, one of the most frustrated players appeared to be safety Earl Thomas. Even after many of his teammates had dressed and departed, Thomas still sat at his locker cubicle, his face forlorn with disappointment.
And he didn’t seem to want to talk about it.
“It was a tough loss, man,” Thomas said. “That’s all I can say.”