RENTON — It is one of Pete Carroll’s favorite questions, whether in the midst of a news conference or rallying his players in the locker room.
“Can you win the game in the fourth quarter?” has been Carroll’s cry, and usually during his time in Seattle the answer has been “Yes.”
On Sunday, his team provided a resounding example of how to lose a game in the fourth.
While it hasn’t always been textbook, the Seahawks under Carroll have rarely had a complete collapse in the final period. The lead might get taken away for a moment or two, but only on rare occasions have the Seahawks failed with their end-of-game execution.
Seattle lost 33-30 to Tennessee in overtime after blowing a 30-16 fourth-quarter lead. The offense sputtered. The defense let Derrick Henry run for 107 yards in the fourth and overtime. Jason Myers missed an extra point that changed some of the math.
It took a collective series of mistakes to send Seattle (1-1) to the surprising loss.
“There was a game to be won there. That’s why it’s a real disappointment to let them get away with it,” Carroll said Monday.
While there was plenty that bothered Carroll, what stood out was penalties. Seattle was flagged 10 times for 100 yards, five of those personal fouls, including a taunting penalty on D.J. Reed.
“We failed to make the good decisions at the time of the end of the play,” Carroll said.
The Seahawks’ new offensive system isn’t lacking for big plays. Seattle already has three touchdowns of 60 of more yards after Tyler Lockett’s 63-yard TD catch and Freddie Swain’s 68-yard TD reception on Sunday. Lockett also had a 69-yard TD catch in Week 1 against Indianapolis.
The three TDs of 60 or more yards are the most in any single season for Seattle dating to at least 1994, per the Pro Football Reference database. And Seattle has accomplished it in two games.
What needs help
Seattle’s late-game offense was abysmal and as much a cause for concern as the yards Henry churned out.
The Seahawks had just two first downs on their final four possessions, with both of those coming in the closing seconds of the fourth. Seattle went three-and-out twice while leading 30-23, and in its only overtime possession, Wilson was overly aggressive with first- and second-down throws. Carroll wished Wilson would have gone with other options to try and get the offense moving.
“I wish he would have been able to keep us moving with a couple of check downs late in the game, in the overtime in particular,” Carroll said.
While the overtime throws were noted, Wilson’s bigger misses were in regulation. On third-and-2, Wilson couldn’t connect with DK Metcalf on a downfield shot. On Seattle’s next possession, Wilson seemed slightly late with his throw and Metcalf was stopped 1 yard short of a first down.
Bobby Wagner set a franchise record with 20 tackles against the Titans. The fact he needed to make 20 tackles speaks to other issues with the defense, but the perennial All-Pro was everywhere. The impressive part was Wagner had 16 solo tackles.
“It’s cool, but we lost,” Wagner said.
While Wagner was everywhere, Carlos Dunlap and Darrell Taylor were mostly invisible. Neither player recorded a defensive statistic, and each saw their playing time reduced as Seattle seemed to go with a bigger defensive front to try to slow down Henry. Dunlap played just 30% of the defensive snaps and Taylor was in for 26%.
Right tackle Brandon Shell sprained an ankle in the fourth quarter, but Carroll said initial MRIs came back optimistic it isn’t a significant sprain. … WR Dee Eskridge could return this week after suffering a concussion in Week 1 against Indianapolis.