Pete Carroll said the NFL called him Monday to talk about the last play of the Seahawks’ 28-26 loss in St. Louis.
With about one minute left, the Rams fumbled the ball on the play and Richard Sherman appeared to recover the ball for the Seahawks.
“I got a call from them this morning, just to see if I had any questions about it,” Carroll said. “What I was concerned about was: It was such a crucial moment in the game, it was such an unusual situation, why wouldn’t they take all the time that they needed to make a clear-cut decision?
In a loss like the Seahawks suffered in St. Louis — rallying from a horrible first half to lose by two — it is easy to assume that any complaint about the officiating is simply sour grapes and poor sportsmanship.
But Earl Thomas merely stated the obvious when he said, “We’re playing the referees, too.”
We are not just referencing the controversial final play to the game in which the Rams fumbled and Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman appeared to recover with about a minute left.
The St. Louis game was the third in a row in which NFL officials have quite obviously favored Seattle’s opponent.
In those three games, Seattle has been flagged 32 times for 237 yards. Their opponents have been penalized a mere 11 times for 96 yards.
For the season, Seattle opponents have been flagged a league-low 29 times — and it certainly isn’t because they have committed just 29 fouls. They have been called for 51, which is tied for seventh most. They led the league in penalties last season.
“If you really look at some plays, we’re playing (against) more than our opponents,” Thomas said. “We’re playing the referees, too. I don’t care what anybody is saying. Something is wrong. That needs to be brought up.”
The Seahawks’ special teams had been the rock of the team all season — the main reason Seattle had been in every game. And then they went to St. Louis, where the Rams have a history of beating the Hawks on special teams.
Punter Jon Ryan had been a huge factor all season for Seattle. He was the regulation MVP of the overtime win over the Denver Broncos, flipping field position with booming kick after booming kick. He was a big reason the Hawks still had a late chance to win in San Diego. And he helped make sure Washington never started past its 20-yard line in Seattle’s Monday night win.
He and Ricardo Lockette had become their own special battery, Ryan pitching fastballs to his speedy catcher, who typically made it downfield in time to prevent any kind of runback or to keep the return to a minimal gain.
Ryan had punted 18 times, and opponents had returned three of them for a total of 21 yards. Denver returned just two of six punts, and Washington didn’t have a single return on six kicks.
On top of that, Ryan had converted a big fourth down on a fake field goal in the fourth quarter of the win in Washington.
The Hawks had been just as good on kickoff coverage, yielding just 16.6 yards per return. In all, they were one of the league’s top four or five special-teams units.
And then they went to St. Louis, where Jeff Fisher’s staff once again outsmarted Pete Carroll’s. And, once again, the Hawks left with a close loss, 28-26.