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.
John Schneider has proved very adept at turning first-round picks into late-rounders, although this is the first time he has devalued his own initial trade in such fashion.
By shelling out Percy Harvin for peanuts — just to get rid of the headache receiver and his mindboggling contract — Schneider in effect turned a first-rounder, third-rounder and seventh-rounder into a sixth that could become a fourth. Now that’s some real wheelin’ and dealin’.
Obviously, that stands as Schneider’s biggest whiff in his Seattle tenure — a gamble on greatness against all odds that did not pay off. It was one of his few foul-ups in nearly five years as Seattle’s general manager.
It also is now the fourth time he has moved a player the Hawks used a first-round pick to obtain.
Percy Harvin’s contract was an albatross from the ill-advised moment the Seahawks decided to guarantee him $25.5 million in a deal that included salary cap hits north of $12 million from 2014 through 2017.
It seemed farfetched that he would last that long at those numbers; thanks to his alleged anti-team antics, the Hawks just ended up cutting ties much earlier than anyone thought they would.
Even though he will still count $7.2 million in proration in 2015, the Seahawks divested themselves of the remainder of his $11 million salary this season and his $10.5 million salary in 2015.
With the trade official, the Hawks are not paying his $647,000 salary this week, so they will recoup $7.1 million this season. Add that to their net savings of $5.7 million in 2015, and the Hawks pulled an extra $12.8 million in cap space for next offseason.
That gives the Hawks a lot of wiggle room to re-sign some of their key free agents, if they choose.
The Seahawks’ stunning trade of Percy Harvin says a lot about John Schneider, Pete Carroll, Darrell Bevell and the entire franchise.
They were naïve, hopeful, enabling and nearly self-defeating, but they also realized what a colossal error it was and probably made a great move — however shocking it was — in order to save their offense and season.
The ill-advised decision (we said it then, so we can say it now) to trade for Harvin and give him a $67 million contract last year was easily Schneider’s biggest gamble since he and Carroll arrived in 2010. And, unsurprisingly, the GM lost big time.
The Seahawks — largely healthy for the first month — suddenly are suffering through an avalanche of injuries.
When they play in St. Louis on Sunday, they will be without four starters and two reserve defensive linemen and might be down to one tight end as well.
Already out were tight end Zach Miller (ankle), center Max Unger (foot) and linebacker Bobby Wagner (turf toe). Joining them is cornerback Byron Maxwell (calf) and D-linemen Jordan Hill (ankle) and Cassius Marsh (broken foot).
On top of that, wide receiver Percy Harvin (thigh) and tight end Luke Willson (groin) are questionable.
Darrell Bevell has taken a lot of heat this week for the terrible performance by the offense in Seattle’s 30-23 loss to Dallas on Sunday.
Among the biggest failings, Marshawn Lynch carried the ball just 10 times (despite gaining 61 yards) and Percy Harvin netted minus-1 yard on six touches. That had many people pointing the finger at the play calling.
Bevell laid most of the blame on poor execution by the players, but he also admitted he needs to get the ball to Lynch more.
“It’s overall execution. There’s not one thing,” he said. “I can do a better job. I can get us into some better situations. We can run the ball more like everyone’s asking. … But overall execution is what it comes down to.”