Pete Carroll feels like the rest of the Pacific Northwest does about the Seattle Seahawks’ 2015 opener.
“We never should have lost that game,” Seattle’s coach said Monday after watching the game tape of Sunday’s 34-31 loss in overtime at St. Louis, which ruined the Seahawks’ 18-point rally into the lead in the fourth quarter. “We had plenty of chances and opportunities to really take the game and take command. And we didn’t really seize those opportunities.
“In games where you have plus turnover ratio, you have a score on defense, a score in the kicking game, any one of those three factors generally wins games for you. And we had all of those, time of possession, all kinds of stuff. So when that happens, they made some plays at the right times and we didn’t, and it gets away from us. It was a frustrating game in that regard.”
His players are also like the rest of the region.
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“Our guys took it hard,” Carroll said. “They took it tough.
“Hopefully we will toughen up and be hardened by it, and be better for it.”
They need to be better for it by Sunday night if they want to beat the Packers in Green Bay. The Pack won, 31-23, at Chicago on Sunday, but allowed the Bears to rush for 189 yards.
Seattle’s vaunted defense, the league’s top-rated one the past two seasons, allowed its most points in 35 games in its opener, and most in 27 meetings with the Rams dating to 2002. Missed tackles, miscommunication and missed assignments in pass coverage left receivers roaming free in the middle of the field.
On offense, the Seahawks allowed six sacks as the Rams incessantly blitzed Seattle into a self-preservation game of quick passes. Russell Wilson had career highs of 32 completions and 41 throws but for 251 yards, just 7.8 yards per completion. And when the Seahawks needed a yard on fourth down to extend the game in overtime, Marshawn Lynch got swarmed from the right side and then the left trying to run off tackle. That’s how the game ended, the first time in 24 games under Carroll Seattle lost while scoring 30 or more points.
Yet there was an unmistakable feeling of we’ve-been-here-before among Seahawks veterans inside the visiting locker room at the Edward Jones Dome following Sunday’s game.
The 2013 Super Bowl-winning season remains the only time in Carroll’s regime the Seahawks didn’t lose at least once the first three weeks of the regular season.
As Richard Sherman told Kam Chancellor’s replacement, Dion Bailey, in the locker room in St. Louis: “It’s a long season.”
“We were just having a few mistakes that cost us,” said All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who joined in the string of missed tackles against the Rams.
“But, you know, it’s the first game. We’re not in a panic. We feel like we’re going to get everything right.”
Asked if Seattle’s communication problems were because of Chancellor’s ongoing absence and Bailey making his first career start, Carroll said: “Not particularly.”
Yet the coach also said: “Most everything was over the middle or in behind the backers, and that’s just the way it turned out in this game. It didn’t have anything to do with corner play at all.”
So inside and over the middle, behind linebackers. That’s where the safeties play. That’s where Chancellor had been playing — until digging in on his stance demanding cash beyond the $4.55 million this season he’s losing $267,647 at a time each week he misses.
Asked if anything was new to report Monday on the impasse with his team leader, Carroll said: “Yeah, nothing new. I wish I could tell you more. There’s nothing new.”
All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas played in that middle Sunday, his first game since February’s Super Bowl and shoulder surgery later that month. Carroll said he played “very well.”
“Earl was all over the place, did a nice job on all the stuff they tried to get up top,” Carroll said of Thomas. “They had a number of big shots they looked to take and he was there for them, and I thought that that could happen in this game, they’d just check him out, which they should and they did, and he did a very nice job.
“He tackled pretty well, and I think he found his confidence as he went through the game. He needed to play and get going, he felt enthused by ‘I’m back, I’m ready’ and all that after the game.”
That leaves the other safety, Bailey, who took the loss hard and had Sherman and veterans coming up to him offering encouragement after he gave up a late touchdown when he fell down.
How’d he do, in the coach’s mind?
Carroll wasn’t exactly effusive.
“He was working hard at it. … All in all, he did OK,” the coach said of Bailey. “There’s things that he can clean up and tighten up on alignments and things like that, and little things that happen that everybody has in every game. The big play is the one that jumps out at you, but that’s a situation that he’s rarely in. The one-on-one on the outside, and they go after you. He could have played better.”
Wagner said the same thing about himself in the middle.
“I put it all on me. It’s all my responsibility,” he said of the defense’s issues that must improve. “It was a little bit of everything. We didn’t play as well as we want to on the road. But we get another opportunity next week.”