SEATTLE Bobby Wagner is a pretty sharp, perceptive guy.
Yet the Seahawks’ All-Pro middle linebacker was lost on just how many flags rained down on his team Sunday in its squandered, 17-14 loss to the Washington Redskins at CenturyLink Field.
"We hurt ourselves a lot with the penalties," Wagner said in the quiet locker room after the Seattle’s four-game winning streak thudded to an inglorious end.
"I don’t even know how many penalties we had."
It was 16.
The Seahawks’ 16 penalties Sunday were one short of the team record set in 1984 against Green Bay.
Six were on the offensive line. Three were for holding (on right guard Oday Aboushi twice and on right tackle Germain Ifedi once, when Russell Wilson scrambled around him. Two were two false starts. Then there was an unnecessary-roughness foul on center Justin Britt for hitting after a play.
Seattle turned a first and 10 at the Redskins 14 into a third and 30. Blair Walsh then sent one of his three missed field goals way wide left.
Tight end Luke Willson got called for offensive pass interference in the third quarter because he was blocking downfield on a read-option play. Wilson was supposed to keep the ball and run but had three Redskins in the backfield with him, so he tried to create something out of nothing and threw a pass instead while his tight end kept blocking. Instead of first and 10 at the Washington 46 down 10-2, Seattle had first and 20 at its own 44--and then punted.
The Seahawks ran 13 plays from scrimmage with more than 10 yards to go for a first down. That’s largely why they were 1 for their first 8 converting third downs, and by early in the fourth quarter had scored all of two points--on Wagner’s sack for a safety early.
"I’m just really disappointed,” coach Pete Carroll said, “because we’ve been addressing it and we haven’t cleaned it up.
“And that really bugs me."
The kicking game seemed to have a flag on nearly every return. Tyler Lockett returned a punt to midfield early in the fourth quarter with the Seahawks down 10-8. But the Seahawks’ drive started at their own 32-yard line instead because of rookie safety Tedric Thompson’s illegal blindside block on Lockett’s return. Seattle then punted. Michael Wilhoite had an illegal block in the back on Lockett’s return of the punt before that.
“We have to change it. We can’t keep let it happen. We can’t keep letting these penalties affect the game. We are going to do something about it.”
Change the coaching approach? Change the players? Change the ways? All in the three days before now and Thursday’s game at Arizona?
This wasn’t an anomaly. Seattle has 41 penalties in its last three games.
The Seahawks’ 82 penalties through eight games are the most in the NFL. Those are nine more than any other team. And the second team on that inauspicious list, the New York Jets, have played one fewer game than Seattle.
The Seahawks have given away a league-worst 672 yards from flags.
"They’ve been kind of across the board," Carroll said. "We’ve fought really hard at the line of scrimmage, the ones when the ball is not even snapped yet, to get rid of those, because we’ve been a victim of that, some. And we’ve had the holds in protections. And it has to do in scramble situations, some, that’s somewhat consistent. That’s a very difficult thing.
"Our guys have to be really good at that, at sensing when Russell’s out and the guys pulls away from them, and they have to release. There’s a number of them.”
Seattle is on pace for 164 penalties this season. The NFL record is 163, by the 2011 Oakland Raiders.