To hear Seahawks kicker Blair Walsh talk about his rough day, click here.
SEATTLE — Not all losses are created equal.
There can be honor in defeat, a hard-fought contest between worthy rivals in which one team just makes more winning plays than the other. Tip your cap and say, “Well done, I’ll try to get you next time.”
This was not that kind of loss for the Seattle Seahawks. This was not Seattle getting beat, but rather the Seahawks beating themselves.
Seattle suffered an unexpected loss Sunday, falling 17-14 to Washington at CenturyLink Field, and the only direction the Seahawks can point the finger of blame is at the mirror.
“I think we had a lot of self-inflicted wounds today,” said tight end Luke Willson, representing the sentiment expressed by many of the Seahawks following the game.
One would probably run out of digits trying to count all the ways the Seahawks shot themselves in the foot Sunday. In fact, Seattle coach Pete Carroll did just that in his opening comments.
“We made this so hard on ourselves,” Carroll lamented. “All of the things that happen when you lose a game showed up: turnovers, penalties, getting beat deep, the easy scores for them, the difficult challenges just moving the ball down the field because we were in our own way. We really played against ourselves all day long.”
The most visible of the mistakes came in the kicking game. Kicker Blair Walsh had been dependable as the successor to longtime kicker Steven Hauschka so far this season, coming into the game 12-for-13 on field goals. However, Walsh missed all three of his field-goal attempts Sunday, kicking wide left from 44, 39 and 49 yards, all in the first half. In a three-point contest, those misses cost the game.
“Those kicks were all makeable,” Walsh said.
“Not good,” Walsh added about how he was feeling. “I didn’t help my team today, that’s for sure. The thing is, though, this is the first time this year I haven’t really come through and I have to remember that. As much as it sucks and as much as I want to be there for my teammates and help us win, I’ve got to remember I’m capable of doing good things here.”
It was all set up for Walsh to redeem himself at the end, but when the Seahawks got themselves in position to potentially attempt a game-tying 56-yard field goal with 15 seconds remaining, they instead chose to run another play, Walsh having kicked himself outside the circle of trust.
But Walsh’s errant kicks were far from the only ways in which the Seahawks hurt themselves Sunday.
Seattle was whistled for 16 penalties for 138 yards. The 16 penalties were the second-most in franchise history, while the 138 yards were the third-most. Ten of those penalties came on the offensive end, including six on the offensive line — all five of Seattle’s offensive linemen were flagged for at least one infraction.
But the offense wasn’t the only culprit on the penalty front. Special teams had its moments as well, particularly in the fourth quarter when, trailing 10-8, Seattle had Washington punting from its own 4. A long punt combined with a 15-yard blindside block penalty on Tedric Thompson prevented the Seahawks from having a shot at a short field.
“We’ve had enough penalties already in this season where you could say one of these games it’s going to jump up and bite you, and that’s exactly what it felt like today,” said Carroll, whose team came into the game as the second-most penalized team in the league.
“I totally feel responsible for that,” Carroll added. “I don’t see anything other than that. I have to keep these guys from making penalties, I have to get it done.”
But wait, there’s more. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson was in an uncharacteristically charitable mood, throwing two interceptions and also having a two-point conversion attempt picked off. And a defense that prides itself in not giving up big plays allowed two pass plays over the top of the secondary — Kirk Cousins hitting Brian Quick for a 31-yard completion over the head of cornerback Justin Coleman, then on the next play finding Josh Doctson behind cornerback Shaquill Griffin for 38 yards — on the game-winning drive inside the final two minutes.
“Some really good things happened, some not so good things, too,” Wilson said. “We have to study the film and get better. I have to be better. The cool thing is that we came back there at the end, we had a chance to win.”
But if the Seahawks hadn’t sabotaged themselves, they wouldn’t have had to put themselves into position to win at the end. They would have been in victory formation instead.
Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.