Seahawks hampered by coach Carroll's bad calls
Once again, his decision-making should be questioned, like it was in the home loss to Atlanta when he decided to try a hopelessly long 61-yard-field goal late in a three-point loss.
Seattle Times staff columnist
Pete Carroll wanted to punch it in. Kicking, after all, wasn't really competing. Not in this situation. Not when his Seahawks hadn't scored a touchdown since Oct. 9.
Carroll wanted to be aggressive. Make a statement. Charge into the locker room with some momentum he could use to re-stoke his team's flickering fire.
So with 14 seconds left in the first half, trailing 17-3, Carroll eschewed a chip-shot field goal and tried to weaken Cincinnati's will, calling a running play for Marshawn Lynch on fourth-and-two from the Bengals' 3-yard line.
"It was a good call if we made it," Carroll said after the Hawks lost for the fifth time in seven games, 34-12 to the Bengals.
Lynch was stopped at the 1. The first half ended, and instead of trailing 17-6, the Hawks still were down by two touchdowns.
"We learned about what happens when a coach gets hormonal and tries to jam it down their throat for a touchdown at the end of the half," said Carroll, who already had squandered a timeout before making the wrong decision.
That might sound like nitpicking after a 22-point loss, but remember that Steven Hauschka kicked a 25-yard field goal at the end of the third quarter that cut Cincinnati's lead to 17-6.
It would have been a one-score game going into the fourth quarter if Carroll had allowed Hauschka to kick that chip shot at the end of the half.
"Attitude-wise, competition-wise, I don't mind it at all," he said of his decision. "That was totally on me. That was totally my deal."
It was a terrible deal. At that point, the Seahawks weren't running the ball well. In his seven previous carries, Lynch had rushed for minus-1 yard.
The Hawks, who had scored a whopping six points in their last six quarters, needed points any way they could get them. And they were getting the ball to start the second half. A field goal would have given them life.
It was the kind of mistake a rookie coach might make.
"I told those guys in the locker room that I'm not used to this," said Carroll, one of the best coaches in college history. "I'm not used to fighting out of situations like this."
It was another bad day for his team. The Seahawks lost a fumble. They were flagged 11 times for 80 yards. They gave up a 56-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 45-yard kickoff return that led to a field goal. They dropped at least five passes.
"We got in our own way too much," Carroll said.
True enough. But Carroll is getting in his team's way too much. Once again, his decision-making should be questioned, like it was in the home loss to Atlanta when he decided to try a hopelessly long 61-yard-field goal late in a two-point loss.
This isn't USC anymore. This is a different game. A different place. And like his young football team, Carroll still has a lot of growing to do.
"We're still in a transition period," he said. "Still figuring it out."
On a mistake-laden Sunday afternoon, Carroll made more than his share.
He should have started quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, even though Jackson's pectoral muscle still was sore. Jackson, who missed the previous game in Cleveland, should have been Carroll's offensive Plan A, not his backup plan.
But Carroll said he wanted to give Jackson another week to rest, so for the second week in a row, Charlie Whitehurst started.
Didn't Carroll watch the Cleveland tape? What did he see from the 6-3 loss in Cleveland that made him think starting Whitehurst was a valid option?
"He (Jackson) gives us our best chance," Carroll said after the game. Too bad he didn't seriously consider that before the game.
At this point in the year, with the postseason disappearing like a desert mirage, the Hawks didn't have the option to wait on Jackson another week. This was a home win they had to have. Where was the sense of urgency?
By the time Jackson entered, with 10:34 to go in the first half, the Seahawks trailed 10-3 and, once again, they were playing a desperate game of catch-up.
Jackson, playing gallantly through the pain, completed 21 of 40 passes for 323 yards. He merely isn't Carroll's best option. At this point, he's the only option, because against the Bengals, Whitehurst looked as uncertain as he did against the Browns.
Cleveland and Cincinnati are teams the Seahawks need to beat to have a shot at the NFC West. But now they are four games behind the division-leading San Francisco 49ers, and it almost feels as if we can start talking about the Niners' magic number.
"We have to bring this team to life," Carroll said. "We have to help our guys."
He can start by making better decisions
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Steve Kelley
Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
email@example.com | 206-464-2176
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