MIAMI – Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner stood in the end zone taunting the crowd, while coach Pete Carroll pumped his fist and slapped players on the back in jubilation.
Neither saw the flag that had been thrown.
The penalty negated a potentially pivotal interception by Wagner, and the bad break contributed to another road loss Sunday for the Seahawks, who were beaten by the Miami Dolphins 24-21.
Ryan Tannehill moved his team 65 yards in the last 92 seconds to set up a 43-yard field goal by Miami’s Dan Carpenter at the final gun.
With Seattle leading 14-7 early in the fourth quarter, Wagner intercepted Tannehill in the end zone, but the turnover was erased by a penalty on safety Earl Thomas for roughing the passer.
“I can’t stop in midair like magic,” Thomas said. “The NFL, they need some goggles.”
Carroll called the penalty on Thomas questionable.
“He jumped up to block the pass and came down on the quarterback with no intent to hit him,” Carroll said. “It was a very big call to make at that point in the game.”
One play after the penalty, Daniel Thomas scored the tying touchdown on a 3-yard run. Tannehill chuckled when asked about the officials negating his turnover.
“They were looking out for me today,” he said.
Miami (5-6) broke a three-game losing streak. The Seahawks (6-5), unbeaten at home this year, lost for the fifth time in six road games.
“In the NFL you’ve got to play tough games on the road to win,” Seattle defensive end Red Bryant said. “So far this year that’s a part of our game we haven’t been able to translate.”
Carroll said he made poor use of last week’s bye.
“I’m disappointed in all phases of the game,” he said. “We didn’t do the things we needed to do in the week off to get prepared. I screwed it up.”
Leon Washington returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the eighth time to tie the NFL record and put Seattle ahead with eight minutes left. Miami answered with an 80-yard drive capped by Tannehill’s 29-yard pass to Charles Clay, making it 21-21.
Russell Wilson completed 16 consecutive attempts and finished with a hefty passer rating of 125.9 in the matchup of rookie quarterbacks. But the Seahawks lost yardage on their final three plays and were forced to punt from midfield, allowing the Dolphins to start at their own 10 with 1:32 left.
“There was no panic,” Tannehill said. “Everyone felt confident out there.”
Tannehill quickly moved Miami downfield and finished 18 for 26 for 253 yards and a score. He broke the Dolphins’ rookie record of 2,210 yards passing set by Dan Marino in 1983.
Wilson went 21 for 27 for 224 yards and two scores, increasing his season total to 17 TD passes. He also ran for 38 yards.
“We did a lot of great things, but we did some stuff that’s not characteristic of us,” Wilson said.
With the score 14-all, Washington took a kickoff on the run, found a seam, juked past Carpenter and was in the clear to score untouched on a 98-yard return. Washington tied the career record for touchdowns on kickoff returns held by Josh Cribbs of Cleveland.
The lawn sprinklers came on between plays in the third period, causing a brief delay and drawing a roar from the amused crowd. Otherwise Miami fans had little to cheer about until the Dolphins’ offense suddenly came to life in the fourth quarter after scoring only two touchdowns over the previous 13 periods.
Mindful of Miami’s sputtering offense, Carroll played for field position, punting when his team had the ball at the Miami 40, 48 and 38. The conservative strategy helped keep the Dolphins pinned deep, and they started outside their 20 on only one possession.
Seattle gave up touchdown drives of 94, 82 and 80 yards.
“Defensively we made too many errors,” Carroll said. “It’s just not being ready. We played hard, but we played really sloppy. That kills me to have to tell you that, but that’s what it is.”