INDIANAPOLIS – Their first regular-season loss in more than 10 months, the Seattle Seahawks promised afterward, won’t linger.
“We’ll flush it right after we watch it tomorrow,” Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said after the Colts rallied to beat the Seahawks 34-28 Sunday afternoon.
Until then, though, they will undoubtedly lament all the missed opportunities and blown chances that led to their nine-game regular-season winning streak coming to an end.
“We had a lot of situations today that we could have controlled a little bit better, and for whatever reason we didn’t make those,” quarterback Russell Wilson said after Seattle’s first regular-season defeat since a 24-21 loss at Miami last Nov. 25. “And the thing is, we will make them in the future.”
They didn’t Sunday, though.
Instead, they converted just 2 of 12 third downs on offense, which also forced them to settle for field-goal tries on five of their seven possessions that reached at least the Indianapolis 30.
They allowed the Colts to convert 7 of 12 third downs, including 5 of 6 in the second half as Indianapolis rallied from a 25-17 deficit midway through the third quarter.
The Seahawks allowed a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown, turning the momentum of the game after Seattle had for the first time this year gotten off to a fast start, holding a 12-0 lead with just under five minutes left in the first quarter.
And they were penalized seven times for 85 yards, twice on third-down pass-interference calls that kept Colts scoring drives alive.
“The tale of this game will come down to the big plays that they made and they came through on,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We had our shots and we didn’t hit the ones we needed. We had, for us, a number of different ways, a number of things to look at, that we needed to do better.”
For the first 10 minutes or so, though, it looked like Seattle might get a surprisingly easy win in a game that pitted two of the best defenses and rushing attacks in the NFL.
Seattle scored the first two times it had the ball to take a 10-0 lead, then got safety on a blocked punt from Jermaine Kearse that appeared for a moment as it if might be an early back-breaker. But the officials ruled that Jeron Johnson did not control the loose ball in the end zone when he tried to recover it, and Seattle was awarded only a safety and a 12-0 lead.
“A huge swing right there,” Carroll said.
Then, after stopping Seattle, the Colts took advantage of blown coverage in the Seahawks secondary with a 73-yard Andrew Luck touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton to get right back in the game.
On Seattle’s next possession, a 48-yard field goal attempt by Steven Hauschka was blocked and returned 61 yards for a touchdown by Delano Howell, turning what could have been a two-possession Seattle lead into a sudden two-point deficit.
From there, while the Seahawks got the lead back and held it much of the rest of the way, they never again seemed to have control.
A Wilson touchdown pass of 28 yards to Kearse gave Seattle a 19-17 halftime lead. But in the second half, all Seattle could manage was three Hauschka field goals on three possessions inside the Colts’ 29.
“We really struggled on third down,” Carroll said. “All those turning into field goals … that would have made a huge difference. There were plenty of opportunities for us to score a lot of points in this game.”
Still, Seattle held a 28-23 lead going into the fourth quarter, and was generally moving the ball well – the Seahawks finished with 423 yards, with Wilson and Marshawn Lynch each rushing for 102 yards.
Seattle looked like it had the Colts stopped on their initial fourth-quarter possession when a third-down pass to Hilton fell incomplete. But then a flag fell, officials calling Sherman for pass interference.
“That’s how it is on the road,” Sherman said with a smile that suggested he wanted to say more.
Luck then converted two more third-down throws, the second one after the Colts challenged a spot that had them coming up just short and got the call reversed.
“They usually don’t change those spot challenges,” Carroll said. “They did today.”
Two plays later, Donald Brown scored on a 3-yard run, and a two-point conversion made it 31-28 with 8:55 left.
Seattle, which punted only twice, then went three-and-out. The Colts responded with a 42-yard drive that consumed 4:33 and concluded with another Adam Vinatieri field goal to make it 34-28 with 1:55 left.
Seattle had twice earlier this season rallied in the fourth quarter on the road - at Carolina and at Houston.
And this drive started promisingly with a 22-yard Wilson run. But then came two incomplete passes, a delay-of-game penalty, another incomplete pass, and finally a Wilson pass thrown under heavy pressure that was picked off by Darius Butler, essentially ending the game with 1:23 left.
“I love those situations,” Wilson said. “To have the ball, 1:55 left – that’s all I can ask for. Normally we make that, and for whatever reason, we didn’t today. But we will make sure we capitalize on that next time.”