By Chris Cluff, Examiner.com
If only the Seahawks could fully blame a poor call by the referee for their 24-21 loss in Miami on Sunday.
While that roughing-the-passer flag in the fourth quarter helped Miami score a cheap touchdown, the fact is the Seahawks’ defense had every chance to make 21 points hold up, and failed to do so.
Coach Pete Carroll took the blame, but the defense continued a disturbing trend of melting down. On top of that, starting cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman reportedly face four-game league suspensions for taking performance-enhancing drugs. Browner, a Pro Bowl player in 2011, and Sherman reportedly are appealing and will continue to play until the appeals are resolved.
Meanwhile, Seattle lost another road game — all five losses have been by one score or less — and dropped to 6-5 as they prepare to travel to Chicago for a big NFC game.
Although the defense failed to stop Miami’s running game, which gained 189 yards and gave up 17 fourth-quarter points, the game seemingly turned on one play.
Bobby Wagner’s fourth-quarter interception of Ryan Tannehill’s pass in the end zone was waved off by referee Clete Blakeman, who called roughing the passer on Earl Thomas after Thomas landed on Tannehill while trying to bat down the pass.
“I think there was a real questionable call on the interception,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters. “It just looked wrong. That was a very big call in this game. We get the turnover, and then we don’t get it. That’s a very big call to make when the guy wasn’t intending to hit the quarterback. Earl (Thomas) tried to block the pass and came down on the quarterback.”
Thomas told reporters, per The News Tribune: “We had an interception on that play. They definitely can’t slow the game like that for us and take the game like that from us. It was a tough loss, but the refs definitely need to get out of the way when it’s a crucial situation like that. They control the game, and that was a great example right there.”
That touchdown tied the game at 14-14, but Leon Washington restored the lead by returning the ensuing kick 98 yards for a touchdown.
Take away the Dolphins’ TD and you have to take away the kickoff TD, but the Seahawks would have had the ball at the Miami 20-yard line with 8:13 left and leading 14-7.
Who knows what might have happened after that?
In the end, Carroll took responsibility for the loss, hinting that he trusted his young players too much when he gave them a full week off over the bye.
“I screwed it up. And that’s just the way it is,” Carroll told reporters, per The News Tribune. “I can tell these guys played hard and they wanted to play right. But we made too many mistakes, and that’s just not doing the job the right way.
“I gave them a bunch of time off, and maybe we’re too young to do that. … We played hard, but we played really sloppy. It kills me to have to tell you that, but that’s what it is.
- Russell Wilson continued to show he has what it takes to start in the NFL. He completed 21 of 27 passes for 224 yards and two scores. If the running game had done better than 96 yards on 27 attempts, the Hawks might have been able to overcome the defense’s poor outing.
- The defense let Tannehill put together his second-best game of the season. He hit 18 of 26 passes for 253 yards, a touchdown and an interception (since the second pick was nullified).
- For the fifth time in six games, the Seattle defense was dominated by a quick passer (Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford) or power running game (Frank Gore, Adrian Peterson, Reggie Bush/Daniel Thomas). Bush, who starred for Carroll at USC, rushed for 87 yards and a TD on 14 carries. Thomas ran for 60 yards on nine attempts, including a 3-yard TD in the fourth quarter after the unnecessary call against him.
- Seattle’s special teams were great. Washington tied the NFL record with his eighth kick return for a touchdown, and Jon Ryan stuck the Dolphins inside the 20 on six of his seven punts.