The game was within reach at 19-17 with 3:46 left when special teams lapses allowed a 102-yard kick return and 55-punt return by San Francisco’s Ted Ginn to put the game away, 33-17 for the Niners.
“It felt really like we were right there to take this game over,” Carroll said. “And then we just fell apart in the kicking game. And Teddy Ginn did his stuff and had two, great plays, and took our chance of coming back in this game away.”
Carroll actually said that the team did not expect Ginn to play that extensive of a role on special teams today because he hardly played in the preseason.
It was a sloppy game overall for Seattle. The Seahawks finished with 11 penalties for 72 yards. The fumbled three times, losing two of them. And quarterback Tarvaris Jackson threw an interception late in the first half on a long heave to try and get the ball in the end zone.
But this game was really lost on offense and on special teams. The offense only crossed midfield one time in the first half and totaled 37 yards in the opening half, including just 12 yards on the ground.
Seattle's special teams unit is playing with several new faces because of this organization’s commitment to getting younger, including rookies like Richard Sherman, Doug Baldwin and Malcolm Smith instead of veterans like Kennard Cox and David Vobora.
You also have to consider the fact that Mike Robinson and Byron Maxwell were not in there because of ankle injuries, and another good special teams player, Roy Lewis, is still on the PUP list rehabbing a knee injury from last season.
“We just had some breakdowns,” Seattle special teams coach Brian Schneider said. “We let him get around the outside on the kickoff, and I don’t know on the punt. But we’ll make sure we go look at it, and we’ll get it fixed.”
Seattle also had a new kicker out there that the team just picked up six days ago in Steven Hauschka, who took a bad angle on Ginn's 102-yard kick return for a score. The result of all those changes was sloppy play on special teams, and it ultimately cost Seattle a win.
“We definitely miss those guys,” said Matt McCoy, one Seattle’s main special teams player. “Kennard Cox was a big part of our special teams unit, and he’s not here. I know we’ve got a lot of talent, as far as our young guys. Mike Rob got injured today, and the same as Maxwell, and those guys are big contributors on teams. And we need those guys back.” Added Schneider: “That’s not an excuse for anything. We’ve got to go out there, and we’ve got to perform, and we’ve got to help our team get into position to have a chance at the end, ad we didn’t do that.” Tarvaris Jackson finished 21 of 37 for 197 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He had a 78.3 passer rating.
Jackson and the offense struggled to move the ball in the first half. But down 16-0 at the half, the Seahawks scored 17 points in the second half and actually trailed just 19-17 with 3:56 left. Then Ginn’s heroics put the game out of reach.
Carroll said they didn’t do anything differently in the second half, but they were able to establish a rhythm with the game plan they wanted to implement at the onset of the game.
“I think that’s what we’ve seen from him – he’ll make plays if we give him an opportunity,” Carroll said. “And have to fight like crazy at the line of scrimmage to not let the leakage happen, and the pressure issues that presented themselves. I thought he did a lot of good things to keep us in the game, and was ready to bring us right back.”
* The defense played well today, holding San Francisco to 209 total yards, including just 85 yards on the ground for a team that wants to run the ball.
Seattle’s defense also held San Francisco to 1 of 12 on third downs, and twice held the Niners to field goals on sudden change situations.
However, one thing Seattle still needs to improve on is pressure, with no sacks and just one quarterback pressure.
The Seahawks also did not force any turnovers.
“We battled our asses off,” said defensive end Red Bryant said. “But we know we have to get more turnovers Everybody knows offense needs rhythm,” Bryant said. “We’ve got some continuity on defense. And so we know what our recipe is going to have to be to win – a great defense, a great special teams, and the offense is going to come eventually going to come.”
Safety Kam Chancellor led the team with nine tackles, while Earl Thomas had eight and Aaron Curry finished with five. Rookie K.J. Wright finished with five tackles in his first career start. * Seattle punter Jon Ryan had another strong game, finishing with a 48.0 average on seven punts, including a boomer of 77 yards.
* The Seahawks again struggled to run the ball, finishing with 64 yards on 22 carries for a 2.9 yards per carry average. Marshawn Lynch totaled 33 yards on 13 carries.
* Rookie Doug Baldwin led the team in receiving with four receptions for 83 yards, including the long, 55-yard touchdown reception that closed the game to 19-17.
* No major injuries for Seattle. As I mentioned earlier, Mike Robinson and Byron Maxwell had ankle sprains, and Ben Obomanu appeared to suffer a shoulder injury late in the game, but said he was okay in the locker room.