RENTON, Wash. – For only the second time this season, Tell the Truth Monday yielded some hard realities for the Seattle Seahawks.
Coach Pete Carroll, though, said in the wake of Sunday’s 19-17 loss at San Francisco the defeat can also produce good lessons “if you utilize it. It’s a learning opportunity again, a reality check, how the littlest of things can determine the outcome of a game.”
Against the 49ers, those little things included penalties - Seattle had nine that were accepted, for 85 yards.
Three that were particularly crucial, according to Carroll, came on offense – a hold by Russell Okung, pass interference on Golden Tate and a face-mask call against Michael Robinson. The Tate and Robinson penalties wiped out gains of 16 and 20 yards, and all helped kill drives. The Seahawks had just 11 possessions, nine that weren’t in end-of-half or end-of-game situations.
“We had nine legitimate drives and three of them got stopped because of our penalties,” Carroll said. “That’s only six real good shots at taking the ball down the field. That’s difficult.”
Carroll said he wasn’t criticizing officials, instead saying “we need to stay out of those situations.”
Penalties have been a season-long issue for the Seahawks, who have had 104 enforced against them – second in the NFL to Tampa Bay’s 106. Seattle’s opponents, meanwhile, have had just 74 enforced against them, a minus-30 differential for the Seahawks that is the largest of any NFL team, for a differential of 268 yards.
Carroll said in close games against good teams “plays and calls and situations all get amplified.”
Another situation Carroll mulled Monday concerned whether the Seahawks should have let the 49ers score a touchdown on their final drive in an attempt to get the ball back with more time remaining.
Seattle led 17-16 when Frank Gore broke free for a 51-yard run to the Seattle 18-yard line, a play that began with 4:21 left.
Gore said after the game he purposely fell down inbounds to keep the clock running. San Francisco got another first down when quarterback Colin Kaepernick picked up eight yards on a third-and-seven that began with 3:24 left and after Seattle had used its final timeouts. That allowed the 49ers to milk the clock so that there were just 31 seconds remaining when Phil Dawson kicked a 22-yard field goal.
Carroll said Monday he thought about letting the 49ers score calling it “a serious decision that you can make.” He said he has confidence Russell Wilson and the offense “can go down the field in two minutes on anybody.”
If the same scenario happened again, however, Carroll said he might play it differently.
Weakside linebacker K.J. Wright will have surgery today to repair a broken bone in his foot and is likely out four to six weeks. Malcolm Smith will start in his place.