SEATTLE — The penalties were infuriating. The missed kicks caused flashbacks. The inconsistency of the quarterback was surprising, and watching the defense get beaten at the end was troubling.
The Seattle Seahawks were collectively sharing the blame after watching a four-game winning streak get snapped in an unexpected 17-14 loss to Washington on Sunday.
“We made this so hard on ourselves,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
He was exactly right. The Seahawks were dominant statistically. They nearly doubled the Redskins in total yards. They battered Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins, sacking him six times. They didn’t allow a play of longer than 23 yards until Washington’s final drive.
But countering all those seeming positives was the long list of mistakes by the Seahawks. Sixteen accepted penalties, one off the franchise record. Ten of those were on offense and kept Seattle from ever finding consistency. Russell Wilson made a pair of poor throws that were intercepted, and had another pass attempt on a 2-point conversion picked off and nearly returned for a score by the Redskins.
And after allowing Washington just 87 total yards in the second half, the Seahawks watched Cousins hit two big throws late and take the Redskins 70 yards in 35 seconds to take the lead for good.
“I don’t want to take anything away from the Redskins, they did win the game,” Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. “However, I don’t think they beat us, we beat ourselves.”
The most glaring mistakes were the penalties committed and three field goal misses by Blair Walsh. After being nearly perfect through the first seven games, Walsh missed from 44, 39 and 49 yards, all three kicks wide left. The first wasn’t close while the final two kicks hooked late and barely missed.
Walsh was 12 of 13 on the season entering the day.
“I’m disappointed for him. You know that he had trouble in pregame, when it was blowing. The weather was kind of nasty early on,” Carroll said. “If we had a shot I was totally counting on him to kick the game-winner.”
While Walsh’s misses will get plenty of deserved attention, the penalties were Seattle’s most troublesome issue and led to some of Wilson’s problems finding a rhythm in the pass game. Every offensive lineman was flagged at least once. There were four pre-snap penalties on Seattle’s offense, three holding calls, two offensive pass interference flags and one unnecessary roughness call. All 10 penalties against Seattle’s offense happened in the first three quarters; the Seahawks were clean in the fourth quarter.
“It’s terrible,” said guard Oday Aboushi said. “We beat ourselves today. That’s what it comes down to. The penalties is what got us and that’s that.”
Seattle entered the week averaging 9.4 penalties per game. They had 10 flags in the win over Houston last week, 15 two weeks ago in beating the New York Giants. They have yet to be penalized less than six times in a game this season. The penalties left Seattle facing the likes of first-and-20, second-and-30, third-and-18 and fourth-and-29. Combined with the pass rush by the Redskins, Wilson never got on track. He was 9 of 20 at halftime and finished 24 of 45.
“I think for our offense, that’s our weakness right now, the penalties,” Wilson said. “But I think we can fix that. It’s all fixable things.”
Seattle doesn’t have much time to get its issues corrected with a divisional road game at Arizona on Thursday night. And with how Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Rams are playing, the Seahawks can’t afford many more slipups against sub-.500 teams.
“We’ve had enough penalties already in this season where you could say one of these games it’s going to jump up and bite you, and that’s exactly what it felt like today,” Carroll said.