RENTON — One of the hallmarks of Pete Carroll’s defenses since he arrived in Seattle is that the Seahawks simply don’t give up the big play on a regular basis.
Allowing little stuff underneath is fine and is part of the way Seattle plays. But don’t give up the long pass or a long run.
At least until this season.
Through three games, Seattle has allowed three touchdowns of more than 30 yards, including two long TDs in Sunday’s 33-27 loss to Tennessee. The Seahawks watched Rishard Matthews take a wide receiver screen 55 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter to give Tennessee the lead, then saw DeMarco Murray dart nearly untouched for a 75-yard TD later in the quarter to put the Titans up 30-14.
Coupled with Jordy Nelson’s 32-yard TD catch in Week 1 and Seattle has already surrendered more 30-yard offensive touchdowns in three weeks than it did in the entire 2014 regular season. And it doesn’t include a 61-yard run by San Francisco’s Carlos Hyde in Week 2.
“The thread is we made totally different, unique mistakes, but we made a couple mistakes,” Carroll said Monday. “And it really cost us. Really fine running backs have been able to take advantage of it and really maximizing it.”
The fact Seattle has been so good throughout most of Carroll’s tenure at not giving up the big play is somewhat remarkable. From the start of the 2012 season, the Seahawks have allowed only 20 touchdowns of longer than 30 yards. In 2012 and 2014, Seattle allowed just two TDs of that distance in each season.
It’s helped that Seattle has had one of the top secondary units in the NFL featuring Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman for this entire stretch. But when Thomas was lost to a broken leg late last season, the Seahawks suddenly became vulnerable in the back. Three of the five long touchdowns allowed last season by Seattle came after Thomas was hurt; one coming on the play immediately after Thomas’ injury.
But that vulnerability has creeped into this season. Two of the touchdowns allowed so far this season — by Nelson and Matthews — have come on plays where Seattle jumped offside at the start of the play.
For their part, the Seahawks believe the mistakes are correctable.
“I think the plays that they scored on us were pretty much just miscommunications and being in the wrong position and I think those are things we can bounce back from,” defensive end Michael Bennett said. “I think when you make a mistake and we can go back to the tape and see it wasn’t something physical, it wasn’t like we were dominated. It was just miscommunication, a lack of concentration and those are things we can go back and fix and that’s what we’re going to do.”
• WR Doug Baldwin suffered a strained groin and missed the final minutes of Sunday’s loss. Carroll had no updates on Baldwin’s status for this week.
• LB Dewey McDonald suffered an ACL injury on the opening kickoff Sunday. Carroll did not know the extent but said it was “serious.”
• T Rees Odhiambo and RB C.J. Prosise were also checked out for ankle injuries.