MINNEAPOLIS – Seahawks coach Pete Carroll insisted later there wasn’t a single page of the defensive playbook left unused in Seattle’s attempt to slow down Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
“We threw everything at them,” Carroll said. “All the stuff we’ve been working on we went with today.”
None of it worked as the Vikings overcame an early 10-point deficit to beat Seattle 30-17, gaining 453 yards and scoring on six of their first seven possessions.
It was the second straight week Seattle blew a double-digit lead as the Seahawks fell to 1-2 and already two games back of the leaders in the NFC West.
And it means that now, having tried everything on the field Sunday to no avail, Carroll said the team will consider anything and everything this week in practice to try to fix the defense before heading to San Francisco next Sunday.
“We’ll take a look at everything,” Carroll said. “We’ve got to get better. We will utilize all the ways that we can to go about that.”
That could include personnel changes, particularly in the secondary where starters Tre Flowers and D.J. Reed each struggled, as did nickel back Ugo Amadi.
One consideration could be replacing Flowers with former UW standout Sidney Jones, who is listed as Flowers’ backup at right cornerback.
Carroll said after the game he considered playing Jones on Sunday but “just didn’t get it done today.”
But Carroll gave a frank assessment of the cornerback play after Cousins completed 30 of 38 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns.
“We didn’t make very many plays out there,” Carroll said. “… I was disappointed late in the game. We needed to challenge and go get some wins and see if we could get off the field that way and their receivers beat us.”
And as the yards piled up, so did the frustration, with defensive backs several times seen talking animatedly with each other.
That led to a quick meeting among defensive players after the game to try to cool emotions and make sure things don’t get off kilter too much.
“I mean yeah, we’ve got to get this (stuff) together,” Reed said. “It just is what it is. We’ve got to all commit, no pointing fingers.”
Reed, though, also seemed to say that the Vikings had a better plan for the Seahawks.
“Schemed (us) up,” Reed said. “It just felt similar to the Bills game last year (a 44-34 loss). Whatever we was doing, (we were) just getting schemed up.”
And Flowers, asked to assess his own play, said: “It’s a schematic thing, I feel like. I’ve got my own questions to ask. … It’s a little gray area right now amongst a couple of people and I will fix it or somebody else will fix it, we don’t know yet. Like I said, I’ve got a couple questions myself.”
Asked to elaborate on those questions, Flowers said, “it’s not any issues or anything. It’s just how things are playing out. I feel like teams are attacking us the same way, so my answer is to get down and make the play on it myself. But I don’t know if that’s the best play for the team.”
And asked if he felt he needed to go outside the scheme to make plays, Flowers said, “I think I do, me personally. I don’t know how that’s going to sound in the media. But yeah I feel like something has to change a little bit.”
Reed acknowledged the defense might need to rein in its frustration some during the game, and Flowers said it didn’t help that the team was without defensive passing game coordinator Andre Curtis, who did not make the trip because of a non-COVID medical issue. He is expected back Monday.
“We definitely missed him today,” Flowers said.
Said Reed of the hot tempers in the secondary: “It’s just frustrating when a team is just driving the ball. We couldn’t get a stop. So it was just frustrating, obviously. We can’t let our emotions show. We damn sure can’t argue on the field. We’ve got to get to the sideline and communicate like professionals. But at the end of the day we’ve got to get off the field on third down is just what it comes down to.”
Indeed, the Seahawks allowed the Vikings to convert on 9 of 14 third downs, as significant of a stat as any, especially when the Seattle offense made just 3 of 8.
“They did really well on third down and we didn’t,” Carroll said.
Seattle actually converted its first three third downs en route to a 17-7 lead after a 30-yard run by Chris Carson. Seattle had scored on its first two drives on a Russell Wilson 10-yard pass to DK Metcalf and a 53-yard field goal by Jason Myers.
But Seattle never converted a third down after the 5:13 mark of the first quarter and didn’t score again after the 11:12 mark of the second.
One key play came when Amadi was called for a hold on Vikings receiver K.J. Osborn, negating a Rasheem Green sack on third down after Seattle took a 17-7 lead. The Vikings used the gift to drive for a TD that made it 17-14.
“Not going to blame it on one play but that definitely was a big play,” Reed said.
Then, Myers missed a 44-yard field goal, his first since the 2019 season, snapping a team record streak of 37 straight.
The Vikings responded by driving for another TD with 16 seconds left in the first half to take a 21-17 lead.
Minnesota then got the ball to start the second half and took 8:26 off the clock in driving for a field goal to make it 27-17 and that was pretty much that.
Still, Seattle’s offense could hardly be absolved of blame. For the third straight game, the Seahawks stared well offensively and then, as Carroll said, “kind of got quiet.”
Seattle has yet to score in the third quarter this year and managed just 42 yards on 15 plays on its first three possessions of the second half.
“It’s just a play here or a play there,” Carroll said. “… We’ve got to get off the field on defense so the offense can get their shots. It all works together.”
Or, doesn’t work together, as was the case Sunday, leaving the Seahawks with a long flight home and a longer week to try to right the season before it gets away from them.