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Seahawks’ three takes: Looking for a scapegoat? Try Pete Carroll

UPDATED: Mon., Nov. 20, 2017, 9:27 p.m.

Seattle’s Earl Thomas drew a penalty when he collided with Atlanta’s Levine Toilolo at the end of this touchdown play. (Stephen Brashear / Associated Press)
Seattle’s Earl Thomas drew a penalty when he collided with Atlanta’s Levine Toilolo at the end of this touchdown play. (Stephen Brashear / Associated Press)

Add in a possible three points. And an extra time out at the end. Different outcome? Maybe.

But Pete Carroll decided to forgo those opportunities in the Seattle Seahawks’ 34-31 loss to Atlanta on Monday night at CenturyLink Field.

He scrapped a 35-yard field goal attempt with 7 seconds left in the first half to run a risky fake kick that was not going to score a touchdown.

Even successful, which it wasn’t, the idea of a shovel pass from the holder to a tight end on fourth down just doesn’t wash. All it would have ensured was a closer field goal. If a timeout was called in time.

And in the second half, there was Carroll challenging an obvious Doug Baldwin drop that cost the Hawks a timeout worth anywhere from 30 to 40 seconds.

Wouldn’t that have been nice to have on the last drive that ultimately ended inches short of tying the game?

I’m sure Blair Walsh, whose 52-yard field goal attempt was nearly long enough, would have liked the extra yards a few more seconds would have brought.

But Carroll is known as a player’s coach and Baldwin was lobbying for a replay challenge. The player was obviously wrong. And on those two decisions, so was Carroll.

It’s definitely not Feb. 2014

It has only been four years, but it’s time to realize the Super Bowl winning Seahawks are no longer with us.

And they don’t seem to be coming back this season.

There are still some pieces remaining, guys like Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Jon Ryan, the like.

But the core, the essence of the team that destroyed the Denver Broncos in New Jersey is gone.

The offense can only move the ball when it is in Wilson’s hands. And the defense can’t be relied on to get off the field consistently against decent offenses, let alone force key turnovers as it used to.

It’s a combination of age, injury and expense, but the inevitability of NFL erosion is finally taking hold in Seattle.

The three-point loss to a 6-4 Atlanta team, the Hawks second home loss in two games, just put an exclamation emoji on it.

The Hawks offense can’t run unless it is Wilson carrying the ball. In 2013, with Marshawn Lynch in peak form, the Hawks averaged 4.3 yards per carry. With the rotating group of journeymen they are using this season, it’s 3.8 overall, but 3.2 for the running backs – and 3.1 against the Falcons.

Wilson is the Hawks’ leading rusher with 350 yards. Second is Chris Carson, the rookie who broke his leg weeks ago.

The defense, once the most feared in the game, is a shell of itself up front and in the secondary. Yes, injuries are the main culprit but the reasons don’t matter. All that matters are the results.

For most of the game the Hawks were forced to team safety Earl Thomas, who missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, with Jeremy Lane and Bryon Maxwell at corner. OK, so they were both on the 2013 roster, but Maxwell has been to the ends of the earth since then and Lane was actually traded away this year until he failed a physical.

There is just no boom left.

The Falcons were faced with 10 third downs in the first three quarters. They converted eight of them. That didn’t use to happen, at least not consistently.

The Hawks are 6-4. They are a game behind the Rams in the NFC West. They are scuffling to be in the playoff picture. These are not the Hawks you remember.

State of confusion

If two plays can epitomize the NFL these days, then there are two worth examining. Both drew flags. But for different reasons.

With time running down in the first quarter, Wilson found Tyler Lockett in the right flat. The speedster took it up the sideline until he was tripped – literally – by the Falcons’ C.J. Goodwin. As he was going to the ground, Damontae Kazee dove at Lockett, hitting him in the head with his helmet.

A flag came out. Goodwin was hit with a 10-yard tripping penalty. Kazee? He was dazed after hitting an unprotected Lockett in the head but wasn’t flagged.

Remember that. Because when Matt Ryan connected with Levine Toilolo on a 25-yard third quarter touchdown pass, Earl Thomas flew over too late to make a difference. But Thomas’ shoulder did make contact with Toilolo’s helmet as they were headed to the ground.

A flag came out. A 15-yard personal foul on Thomas. OK, but it seemed less egregious than Kazee’s hit.

You know how TV personalities are always saying they don’t know what is a catch in the NFL anymore? The same could be said about a lot of different types of plays, including the ones where the player’s safety is supposed to be paramount.


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