Seahawks’ risky first-half decisions backfire

eric.williams@thenewstribune.comJanuary 14, 2013 

ATLANTA — Pete Carroll’s willingness to take risks, coupled with his team’s inexperience, doomed the Seahawks twice offensively in the first half Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

Down 13-0 in the second quarter, the Seahawks had a chance to put points on the board and grab some momentum.

But after Robert Turbin was stuffed for no gain on third-and-1 play from Atlanta’s 11, instead of kicking a field goal, Carroll decided to go for it.

The decision proved to be a bad one when fullback Michael Robinson was stuffed for a 1-yard loss on a play that had been mostly successful in the past.

“It’s one of our staple plays,” Robinson said. “They brought extra D-linemen and they sent the safety off the edge and we didn’t have enough blockers for them.”

Robinson converted third-and-1 plays into first downs six times in seven chances during the regular season.

Atlanta took over on downs, and the Falcons quickly marched the length of the field, with Matt Ryan finding Roddy White on a 47-yard touchdown, putting Atlanta up, 20-0.

The Seahawks had one more chance to score before halftime. Seattle took over at its 20 with just over four minutes remaining, and moved into scoring position. However, a third-and-goal play from the 11 that started with 17 seconds to go and the Seahawks out of timeouts, Russell Wilson was sacked for a 9-yard loss by Atlanta defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux.

Wilson couldn’t get the offense lined up in time for another play off before time expired.

“There was no opportunity to react and throw the ball away,” Carroll said. “He thought he was clear stepping up, which he did all day long. So they were just so fortunate that that happened the way they got him. But he did a marvelous job of moving in the pocket today.”

With the Seahawks losing by two points, on the surface it would appear that Seattle not getting a field goal out of either opportunity could have been the difference. But not according to Wilson.

“That’s our mentality,” Wilson said. “We play aggressive. It’s the playoffs and let’s see what we can get. That play has worked for us so many times, and we didn’t get it this time.

“But it didn’t define the game. A lot of people will question that, but it didn’t define the game. We went up at one point, and there’s so many other plays in that game that we could’ve done better, or that we did really well. So I think it was a great call, to be honest with you.”

WHERE’S THE PASS RUSH?

The absence of team sack leader Chris Clemons was evident. The Seahawks failed to sack Atlanta’s Ryan, even though he threw the ball 34 times. The Seahawks also finished with one quarterback hurry.

“Absolutely,” Carroll said, when asked if his defense missed Clemons.

“How could you not? He’s our best player in rushing the passer for three years. So of course we did. Mike Morgan had to play. Mike hasn’t rushed the passer 10 snaps in his career. So that’s how we went with it.”

Carroll said because the defense couldn’t get pressure up front with just the front four, the Seahawks had to blitz more than they normally do. Rookie Bruce Irvin, starting in place of Clemons, finished with one tackle, no sacks and no quarterback hurries.

“It is what it is,” Irvin said about the game. “We needed more stops. We kind of waited too late and time ran out on us.”

RODDY WHITE TALKS, SHERMAN DOESN’T

He declined to talk leading up to Sunday’s game, but Atlanta receiver Roddy White had a couple of things to say when he matched up with cornerback Richard Sherman.

With the Seahawks providing coverage over the top on Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez, White was frequently targeted one-on-one against Sherman. For the most part, the Stanford product held up well, finishing with three pass deflections.

However, White did beat Sherman deep for a 47-yard touchdown, and got in Sherman’s face.

“He’s a bit of a talker, so I just asked him to talk to me for a little while,” White said. “He didn’t have too much to say after that play, so he kind of walked to the sidelines. Other than that, that was about it.”

Sherman uncharacteristically declined to talk to reporters after the game.

EXTRA POINTS

Receiver Deon Butler, cornerback DeShawn Shead, cornerback Byron Maxwell, linebacker Allen Bradford, defensive tackle Jaye Howard and offensive linemen Mike Person and Rishaw Johnson were Seattle’s inactive players for the game. … Seattle did not force a punt until 7:34 remained in the game. … The Falcons played the second half without defensive end John Abraham, who re-injured his right ankle. … Former Seahawks and Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy attended the game.

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams

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