ON WAY HOME FROM NOLA What struck me most in the Seahawks’ locker room at the Superdome Sunday following their 25-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints:
▪ Doug Baldwin sat alone at his locker, one of the last players in an emptying locker room. And he was a voice of reason amid the postgame griping about the officiating.
Seattle’s No. 1 wide receiver knows more damning, fundamental malfunctions are why the offense has scored just one touchdown in the last nine quarters.
“How many points did we put up offensively?” Baldwin asked, knowing the answer.
The Seahawks’ offense scored 13 points, one touchdown and two field goals, in four quarters on Sunday against a Saints team that was dead last in the league allowing 32.5 points per game.
“Penalties play a factor, but I don’t think it plays that great a factor,” Baldwin said. “I mean, the 49ers lead the league in fewest penalties and penalty yards, so ...”
San Francisco is 1-6.
“Check our third-down percentage (36.9 percent for the season, 23rd in the league),” Baldwin said. “Check out how we start series. Are we ever more than 10 yards, first, second, third and more than 10. How many times are we in those situations?”
So I did. Seattle has been in first and more than 10 six times in seven games -- including four times in first and 16 or more. That’s been because of penalties such as left tackle George Fant’s clipping and center Justin Britt’s illegal block on first downs Sunday.
The Seahawks have been in second down and 11 or more eight times. They’ve had third down and 11 or more twice.
That’s 16 times in seven games the offense has faced more than 10 yards to go for a first down on any scrimmage down. Guess how many first downs the Seahawks have gained in those situations.
“And, yeah, those might be penalties. But the penalties are not what’s hurt us,” Baldwin said. “It’s what happens before that.”
▪ Richard Sherman is going to get fined by the NFL.
He was calm, businesslike, joking and somewhat resigned as he talked as I knew he would about the officiating being slanted against Seattle on Sunday -- and other Sundays before it.
I asked Sherman if he thought the league had a systematic plan to railroad the Seahawks, be it for their outspoken nature, their recent success, whatever.
“I don’t know what it is. But I’m sure to the outside world it looked pretty obvious,” Sherman said. “I don’t think they were trying to hide anything. Some of the calls -- or lack thereof -- was pretty egregious. We’ll let you guys decide. I mean, all we can do is keep playing, and sometimes the games falls like that. ...
“The amount of offensive PIs they call on our offense, it’s kind of funny to not see them not call it on other teams. But, you know, that’s the kind of stuff you have to fight through.”
▪ I noticed Sherman go up to Saints coach Sean Payton with some urgency immediately after the game. They talked briefly before leaving the field.
What did Sherman say to New Orleans’ coach? Man, your guy Willie Snead should be named Willie Pick Play?
“No, it was nothing like that,” Sherman said.
“I said it was a fun game. Then he chuckled and said, “He said he watches me on every snap. I said, ‘I appreciate that. That’s a compliment.’ That’s pretty much it. We have a ton of respect for each other.”
▪ Looking at the snap counts from Sunday’s game...
Christine Michael ran five times for 31 of his 40 yards in the game on the first drive of the second half, Seattle’s crisp march to a field goal when it finally called running plays in succession -- and finally didn’t get derailed by penalties. But Michael had just two carries for 6 yards the rest of the game. Michael only played 52 percent of the snaps, so no wonder the Seahawks only ran it 17 times in 54 total plays.
The Seahawks went with rookie C.J. Prosise on the second drive of the third quarter and then for the entire, frantic final drive. It was the rookie third-round pick’s most extended action this season in his return from a broken hand.