SEATTLE. At the end of the third quarter on Sunday, the game was tied at 20:20, and the Seattle Seahawks continued to attack the field, finishing fourth and second, intending to attack from the Atlanta Falcons’ 7-yard line. But then they didn’t.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll saw something he didn’t like, called a timeout, and decided to throw a field goal instead. As a result, the 23-20 lead quickly vanished, replaced by a disappointing 27-23 loss at Lumen Field.
“They were a little out of their mind on the field because of what happened in the game before that,” Carroll said of his change of heart. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Since Carroll refused to go into details other than to say his offense was not ready for the fourth down (quarterback Geno Smith later echoed the comment), it remained unanswered why he didn’t send them back to the field after the timeout. . They were in no-fuss mode on that drive and may have felt that the advantage they had in doing so was eliminated once the stop allowed the Atlanta defense to catch their breath and change personnel.
In any case, a three-point lead didn’t feel like enough considering how much Seattle’s defense was weakening, and it wasn’t. In the ensuing possession, the Falcons drove 75 yards for a good touchdown and a four-point lead, which they held when Smith and a resurgent Seattle offense robbed the last opportunity for a game-winning touchdown.
All of which goes to show that there were many reasons why the Seahawks fell to 1-2 on Sunday.
Right or wrong, Carroll’s decision to score a field goal on the fourth and second runs gave confidence to a defense that didn’t deserve it. Certainly not last week in a 27-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, and not on Sunday, when the Falcons had hit four out of five by then (with the exception of one that started five seconds before the end of the first half time).
“We’re confused defensively,” said guard Couandre Diggs, Seattle’s second defensive captain.
By the time it was over, Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota had completed six passes for at least 20 yards, and defenseman Cordarrell Patterson had 141 yards on just 17 attempts. One of the Falcons’ four conversions on seven attempts from third down was a 26-yard completion on third and 19th, when, according to Carroll, an unnamed quarterback failed to get down to suitable depth for the situation.
“We can’t give up the yards we’re losing,” Carroll said. “That’s too much. I have a lot of respect for their running game because I have a lot of respect for how they do it and [Patterson]. He was, I think, the difference for them today.”
Another egg laid by the Seahawks defense wasted what was basically a good rebound for an offense that hadn’t scored in the previous six quarters since the break in the season’s first win over the Denver Broncos. Smith & Co. immediately broke that streak with a field goal on first possession and four of five first-half shots.
One of the problems during the goal drought was the lack of deep passing play. Smith entered Week 3 with the league’s best completion percentage by a wide margin and the 10th best overall QBR, but only averaged 5.22 yards per try, ranking him 32nd among qualified quarterbacks.
Smith didn’t broadcast it on Sunday Russell Wilson style, but had some success beyond short and medium shots. The two came early, finishing the game 36 yards to Colby Parkinson, leading to an 18-yard touchdown by fellow tight end Will Dissley. Later in the first half, Smith hit wide receiver Marquise Goodwin for 23 yards in another game with a fourth and second, and then hit a bouncing D.C. Metcalfe in the endzone in the next game for 18 yards.
“We were in great spirits, running the ball, distributing the ball,” Dissley said of the offense, which gained 420 yards. “You have to give credit to O-Line for doing shit before. And then Geno hit the mark. He put on a really good game and the guys responded.”
Smith finished 32 of 44 with two touchdown passes and a late interception. His 325 passing yards were the third most of his career and since 2014. The Seahawks lost 9 of 17 in third place and received over 100 yards on the ground from the trio of Rashaad Penny, Kenneth Walker III and DJ Dallas.
“Today we did everything in the passing game,” Carroll said. “I thought it was very, very well organized. We threw in over 300, great completion rate and a really good conversion rate. well, but he did his job and the receivers came. This is something we can really continue to build on.”
The next step for attacking Smith and Seattle is to achieve a close victory. They failed on three tries last season when Smith replaced Wilson, and they failed on Sunday, even when the gift of a loss — the Falcons fumbled for a bad trade — put the ball back in their 37s with over five minutes left.
Smith was in a position to pick up his signature win as he led Seattle to Atlanta 24. This was followed by a false start from left back Damien Lewis, a 10-yard sack that Smith shouldn’t have taken, and an interception on fourth and… 18.
“I think we saw some really bright spots,” Carroll said. “I thought you saw how we got better today, but it wasn’t enough to win. That’s what really matters.”