By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
PHOENIX — For those wondering if Leon Washington still has explosive return ability at the age of 30, that question was answered with a resounding yes against Arizona.
Washington hasn’t scored on a return in 20 games, dating back to an 84-yard punt return against Carolina on December 5, 2010.
However, Washington still provided two of the most explosive plays for the Seahawks on Sunday, giving the team a spark.
“Huge,” Michael Robinson said about Washington’s returns. “It totally sparked our second-half run. That’s what this team’s all about — one phase is down, and the other phase picks them up. It just wasn’t enough today.”
Midway through the third quarter, Washington broke cleanly through Seattle’s wedge for an 83-yard kick return to Arizona’s 24-yard line.
Five plays later, Russell Wilson hit Sidney Rice for a 10-yard touchdown.
And early in the fourth quarter, Washington was back at it again, juking his way though Arizona’s defense for 54 yards on a punt return that set up a Steven Hauschka 39-yard field goal and gave Seattle a 16-13 lead.
Washington finished with 189 return yards.
“He gave us a chance,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said. “He lit it up. I think that and the plays on defense gave us the real chance to be in the football game. Those were fantastic runs, and great blocking too, to go along with it.”
Carroll said the replacement officials told him that he still had a time out left after Doug Baldwin went down with an injury in the end zone with 47 seconds to play in the game, and had to be attended to by Seattle’s medical staff on the field.
Carroll said the officials told him that Seattle did not have to use its final timeout on Baldwin’s injury because the pass-play was incomplete, which stopped the clock.
However, the officials were incorrect in making that ruling, according to referee Bruce Hermansen, when asked by the pool reporter after the game.
“It was my error,” Hermansen said. “We gave them (Seattle) the additional timeout of the incomplete pass stopping the clock before the injury occurred. When in effect, the clock has no bearing on the play at all, whether it’s stopped or running, we should not have given them the additional timeout.”
The play allowed Seattle to stop the clock again after Marshawn Lynch ran for two yards on first and goal from Arizona’s 6-yard line. Still, the Cardinals managed to keep Seattle out of the end zone.
Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt was aware that the officials had made an incorrect ruling, but he didn’t want his players to use it as an excuse.
“I don’t care,” Whisenhunt said. “We made a big thing with our team about not letting any of that affect us, and staying focused on what you have to do, and they did that.”
Carroll said that offensive tackle Russell Okung suffered a twisted knee on Seattle’s final drive. Receiver Baldwin got the wind knocked out of him on the diving attempt at the catch in the end zone, according to Carroll. And defensive tackle Alan Branch suffered a pinched nerve in the first half, but returned to action. … Receiver Golden Tate, cornerback Byron Maxwell, running back Kregg Lumpkin, defensive tackle Jaye Howard, defensive end Gregg Scruggs and offensive linemen James Carpenter and John Moffitt were inactive for Sunday’s game. … Seahawks offensive lineman Paul McQuistan faced his twin brother Pat McQuistan for the first time in an NFL regular-season game. Pat McQuistan was a late addition to Arizona’s roster because of the injuries the Cardinals have suffered along the offensive line. The two brothers played together at Weber State. Paul McQuistan said he played against his brother in the preseason when he was in Oakland and Pat was in Dallas. Both players wore No. 67 on Sunday.