Here in Northern Kentucky leaving for home the morning after the Seahawks had their biggest blown lead in a loss since 2004 -- and still trying to compute how Seattle had 53 yards on 26 players over its final six drives after Thomas Rawls’ 69-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
That, the weird decision to keep Rawls off the field to begin overtime and not get him a carry in the extra period plus trying to pass with Rawls in I formation behind fullback Derrick Coleman on third and 2 with 9 minutes left were the offense’s contributions to the Seahawks blowing a 24-7 lead in the fourth quarter.
Here was Rawls in the locker room at Paul Brown Stadium after his second 100-yard rushing day in three games since Marshawn Lynch strained his hamstring. And here is my story on him and his disappearance in today’s News Tribune.
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Russell Wilson says blame the offense for the blown loss:
Here is some more of what the Seahawks said after dropping to 2-3 entering Sunday’s home game agaisnt 4-0 Carolina:
Initial comments ...
"It's difficult to come out of the game with this outcome after playing so well. This was probably the best job we've done this year - for three quarters - against a really good team in a tough situation. It's difficult to leave here without the win. I have to look right at me for not finishing like we need to on defense, offense and special teams. It starts with me. We have to find our way to execute and get off the field and make first downs. It's unfortunate because it was a terrific day of running the football and we did a lot of great things on defense after the first drive. We let these guys get back into the game and they took it over. It was a great job by them. There were a lot of good things today, but it doesn't feel right to leave like this. Hand it to the Bengals - they did a good job."
Was there a schematic change that the Bengals made in the fourth quarter?
"I didn't see it that way but I have to watch the film. This is really important film to watch so that we can see what happened differently in the fourth quarter compared to the first three quarters."
When you say it starts with you, what do you mean?
"When there isn't a specific area to direct your focus because no one is getting it done and finishing, I have to make sure I'm doing it right. It begins here."
Do you feel that your message of "finishing" isn't getting across?
"I don't see it that way. That's too easy. We have to figure out schematically how to finish at the end of the game. It's about outlasting and for some reason, that didn't happen."
After Thomas Rawls's big run, the offense seemed to go stagnant ...
"I don't know why that would have happened. We didn't change anything and we were still mixing it up. I feel good about the way we ran the football - and we didn't leave that. We didn't curl up and not try to throw it, either. We kept doing what we were doing, but we didn't convert."
Where was Thomas Rawls at the beginning of overtime?
"We just changed the packages like we often do."
How do you feel your team is responding after a tough loss?
"Yeah, it's a really tough loss. The main thing is that we all shared in it and we all have to work to fix it. There were too many things that happened across the board that led to this loss. That's why it starts with me and I have to take care of business and figure it out."
How do you feel Russell Wilson played today?
"I don't know. I know that we were doing great for a while. We were doing great for three quarters and in the fourth quarter we didn't get much done. I'll have to watch the film. I don't know how anyone played today. I don't have a feel for that. Other than Thomas (Rawls) ran how we hoped he would. He was pretty solid today."
When you had a younger team, you preached about learning to finish. Now that you have veterans, what do you think happened?
"That's why I'm baffled a little bit. We're very clear about what we want to do and how to get it done. What's startling is that it's not happening. We've had to be terrific in this mode for years to be able to do what we've done. The last three games have been the same story line at the end. If we can fix that, we can change the season and that's what we plan to do."
How is Bobby Wagner?
"He has a strained pec, but he finished the game. I think Jordan Hill has a quad strain."
Putting Richard Sherman on AJ Green seemed to pay off ...
"Yeah, it did pay off. Richard did a great job."
How often have you been baffled?
"Last year. We were three-and-three last year and going nowhere. I think we're closer now than we were then. We know the O-line is improving. I'm anxious to see what happened in the fourth quarter."
Do you think you'll bounce back this year like you did last year?
"I hope so. We're not dead and gone. We don't feel like that at all. We just need to fix some things and I think we can. These guys are forthright and strong individuals who will hang together and work to get it done. The baffling part of this is that we played so strong for three quarters. The Bengals have been on fire and they showed it in the first drive and we were able to handle it. We just need to finish the game."
There were a few calls that could've gone either way ...
"You guys saw it better than I did. I didn't think either one was a penalty, but I can't tell. The refs are doing the best they can."
Do you feel the offensive line played better?
"Without question. The line was much better all day. I thought we wore on them pretty good and that effect should've carried over to the fourth quarter. We needed one more first down in the fourth, but it didn't happen."
What happened on the first punt return by Adam Jones?
"I don't know what happened. It was across the board."
Did you sense fatigue after a short week?
"I didn't think that. We really took care of the guys. I thought we would feel stronger as we finished because of the week that we had and they were seeming so fresh throughout the game. I'm surprised that didn't factor into our favor."
Early on, everything was going well with the offensive and offensive line clean. Then what happened?
"We didn't execute, in the fourth quarter especially, and even in the third quarter a little bit. We had opportunities and we didn't capitalize. It starts with me and it goes from there. We've got to find ways to continue to convert, and we kept the defense out there for too long. The defense was lights-out all night up until the fourth quarter, and that's our fault on offense. We have to lean on each other and continue to believe. There's no doubt in our locker room that we believe in one another. We had that feeling like we were electric tonight, all the way up through the third quarter. We just have to make sure we bring that for four quarters. In overtime, when we get the ball, we're expecting to win, and unfortunately we didn't."
How do you think you played today?
"I think I played pretty good, but not good enough to win. ... I'll watch the film and study and try to get better - that's for everyone. Our mindset every week is, no matter win or loss - how can we get better? I'm looking forward to getting back to work and looking forward to watching the film, studying and getting the opportunity to play again."
You had three third-down conversation opportunities in the third quarter. What kept you from being able to convert?
"They made a couple plays, and honestly that's what it was. Unfortunately we weren't able to. We know what we have to do. We have to convert on offense. We did a great job of that in the first half. We have to look at the film and see where we can get better there, evaluate it and just move on."
On the deep throw to Tyler Lockett late, did you think you had him?
"I thought I had it, yeah. I got hit pretty good on that one and didn't get enough 'oomph' on it. Hopefully we'll make those plays and I'll be able to get a little more 'oomph' on it next time."
You were running the ball well. Did they make adjustments to stop the run, or was it execution?
"Just execution. They made a couple tackles and stopped our guys. The good thing is we were third-and-short for the most part in the third and fourth quarters. The unfortunate part is we didn't convert. In overtime, they were long distances. Those are really tough to convert, especially against a great defense like that."
You took some hits today. Did you survive them OK?
"Yeah. I'm looking forward to next week - studying the film, seeing where I can get better and where we can get better as a team, and moving forward from there."
Since you've been here, you guys have had so many comebacks like that. How did it feel to be on the other end?
"You know, there's a first for everything. Unfortunately we lost today. I thought they played well. They finished well - they finished better than we did. It's as simple as that, really. If we can convert one or two third downs, the game's over. That's our fault on offense. Our defense, they always step up, and unfortunately they weren't able to today. Next time they will. In terms of team morale and all that, we're disappointed - obviously, we're disappointed. We hate losing. It's on all of us. We're going to lean on each other and do whatever it takes to go 1-0 next week, and let the season add up and just see how far we can take it. We're looking forward to that. If anybody likes a challenge, we do. We'll step up to that challenge."
How much did Thomas Rawls help offensively today?
"Rawls was lights-out today. He played physical and ran the ball extremely well. It's not a surprise. The way he practices, it transfers over to the game. He's a physical guy, he extends the play in practice and he always runs to the end zone. It all starts with the offensive line. I thought the offensively line was phenomenal today, honestly. They did a tremendous of blocking both rushing and passing. Rawls got loose a few times there."
What happened offensively in the fourth quarter?
"We didn't finish."
How hard of a loss is this when you had a big fourth-quarter lead?
"It's frustrating, obviously. I think the more frustrating part is that we did just that - we didn't finish. We've been known for finishing. We're the ones who always preach, 'You can't win a game in the first half; you have to win the game in the fourth quarter.' And we didn't do that today."
Is it strange to lose a game at the end after having a big lead?
"It's football; it's going to happen at times. But it's extremely frustrating knowing how talented we are, knowing how good we are, and knowing how poised we can be in those moments, and (then) not to finish, not to pull it out, and not to be successful in the moment that we train so hard to be successful in. I don't want to take anything away from the Cincinnati Bengals - they played extremely well in the fourth quarter. But as far as we go, we didn't play very good in the fourth quarter."
Did you run anything different defensively at the end of the game that allowed them to start moving the football?
"We didn't change up throughout the game. We ran what we ran. They just started to convert. There were a couple penalties in there that allowed them to get down the field. Those are unfortunate. Not that it mattered. We did what we planned to do."
You covered A.J. Green quite a bit after the first two drives. How did you think that went?
"I think it went fine. There was an opportunity there to help the team, and coach asked me to do it, so that's what I did."
How frustrating is it that the defense was not able to close out the game?
"It's not frustrating at all, it's something that happened. The ball falls your way sometimes, and sometimes it doesn't. We go on to the next game and we get another opportunity to play. That's all you can ask for."
Does this team feel like itself?
"Yeah, we feel exactly like ourselves. Like I said, the ball doesn't always fall your way. You can't let that discourage you. We made the plays that were there. They made more plays."
The offensive line played clean for most of the game and you were able to find some holes and get a lot of yards ...
"Like we said last week, we were going to watch film and improve. We improved. Just in these few weeks, we've gotten better. We're going to do that."
What worked so well for the defense early on?
"Just playing great Seattle football. But you've got to finish. In the Super Bowl, we didn't finish. Green Bay, we didn't finish. That's on us. The offense gave us a nice lead. And the defense, we've just got to step up and finish."
How much of the first quarter was spent feeling out all of the different offensive looks the Bengals were throwing at you?
"Yeah we had to get adjusted to that. They came out in a lot of funky formations. After that, they started settling down and we started making plays, just not enough."
What was the biggest difference in the fourth quarter and overtime?
"They just made some plays and we didn't. I feel like we had our opportunities to close the game out, but they got us."
Is it a matter of wearing down at the end of the game?
"No. I think it's just us having to show up and finish. Like I said, we had a lot of opportunities to close the game out, but we didn't."