If Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was upset about his team’s play on defense against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7, he should be furious with his team’s 28-24 loss the following week to the Detroit Lions.
It was only the second time this season the Seahawks were able to score three offensive touchdowns in a game. A performance that included a scoring drive late in the game led by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and a 77-yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch on the first play of the team’s second drive.
For nearly 30 minutes, the Lions and Seahawks were locked into a 17-14 game in favor of Seattle. But the Lions were able to pull ahead 21-17 on a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Matthew Stafford early in the fourth quarter.
Wilson responded by orchestrating a six-minute, 87-yard touchdown drive that included a 4th-and-2 conversion to Golden Tate. Two plays later he connected with tight end Zach Miller on a 16-yard pass to put the Seahawks back on top 24-21.
With two fourth-quarter comeback wins already this season, it looked like Wilson might get his third. But that possibility was erased by the inability of the Seahawks defense to get key third-down stops, something that plagued the defense throughout the game.
Stafford used most of the remaining six minutes on the clock as the Lions converted third down attempts of five, 10 and one yard(s) on their final drive. Their last third-down conversion resulted in Titus Young’s game-winning touchdown catch.
“We took it right down to the last inch and fought like crazy to see if we could at least go to OT and, you know, they made a great play to win it right at the end,” said Carroll in his postgame press conference.
Perhaps the defense was overly focused on shutting down Lions’ Pro Bowl receiver Calvin Johnson. However, the ability to hold him under 50 yards was overshadowed by Young’s 100-yard, two-touchdown performance.
“Titus made his big plays,” said Carroll. “Of course making the touchdown play at the end, which was a great throw in the dirt just underneath [Brandon Browner].”
Carroll said he didn’t see anything unexpected from Detroit’s offense considering the Lions have been averaging more than 300 yards through the air, but he was particularly troubled with the Seahawks' inability to get the stops they needed on defense.
“Really disappointing and every one of those guys on defense knows,” said Carroll. “The game was ours to win. The offense did what they had to do.”
Going into the Lions' last drive, the message to the defense was clear.
“Let’s go get our stop and get out of here," Carroll said. And it didn’t happen."
Seattle’s defensive performance on third down was something Carroll repeatedly pointed to after the game. The Lions converted on 12 of their 16 third down attempts. Three of the Lions’ four touchdowns also came on third down.
“We didn’t have the stops in us on third down today defensively and it allowed them to keep moving the football,” said Carroll.
While there were few positives on the defensive side of the ball, the offense continued to show growth with Wilson at the helm.
Seattle’s offense continued to start well. With the assistance of several penalties on the Lions, the Seahawks marched inside the 10-yard line, but had to settle for a 23-yard field goal. That was a missed opportunity for a touchdown.
“I think we did a great job in the passing game today,” said Wilson in his postgame press conference. “We’re continuing to push forward. We’re continuing to grow."
Wilson pointed specifically at the offensive line and their improved communication as well as the overall performance in the red zone despite settling for a field goal on the first drive.
Wilson isn’t the only one on offense who could be commended for his performance today. Against one of the top defensive lines in the league, Seattle’s offensive line didn’t give up a single sack. Lynch broke off his longest run of the season on a pitch to the right side, and Seattle receivers caught the ball well after an embarrassing number of critical drops against the 49ers.
With the loss, the Seahawks fall to 4-4 going into the second half of the season. Fortunately, five of their remaining games are at CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks are undefeated this season.
Seattle faces the Minnesota Vikings next weekend. The 5-3 team is coming off a 36-17 loss at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Thursday. The Seahawks have played well against teams coming off extended breaks this year, winning at home against the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers.
Hopefully that trend continues as the Seahawks go into the second half of the season.
Brandan Schulze is a Navy veteran and member of the Military Sea Hawkers, the military chapter of the official booster club for the Seattle Seahawks. For more information on the chapter, visit www.militaryseahawkers.com. Membership is free for all military service members and veterans.