It was a mixed bag for the Seattle Seahawks’ special teams for Monday Night Football in a 34-31 loss to Atlanta at CenturyLink Field.
▪ Kickoff returner Tyler Lockett easily had his best showing of the season with a big first half.
His first return went for a season-long 57 yards, but went for naught when quarterback Russell Wilson threw an interception on Seattle’s first series.
His other big returns were 39 (twice) and 37 yards in the first half.
▪ With just more than eight minutes remaining in the first half, Blair Walsh executed a slippery pooch kick down the left sideline that bounced right by Atlanta returner Andre Roberts.
Sprinting Seahawks safety Tedric Thompson hurdled over Roberts on the ground to recover the football at the Falcons 11, setting up Wilson’s 1-yard touchdown run.
▪ In one of the bigger head-scratching decisions in the Pete Carroll era, Seattle opted for a fake field goal with seven seconds to go in the first half.
The snap came to holder Jon Ryan, who shoveled a pass to tight end Luke Willson coming down the line.
Willson was immediately tackled by Grady Jarrett for a 4-yard loss.
“It was kind of a look that we were waitng for — something they’ve done all year,” Willson said. “I don’t know why, but for this game they changed it up. So honestly, it didn’t work.”
▪ And, of course, Walsh was short by mere inches on his 52-yard field goal attempt to tie the game with two seconds remaining.
“That side of the stadium is definitely tricky, and I wanted to make sure it was straight so it went through,” Walsh said. “But I needed to drive it. I know it sounds simple, but it is the only thing I can think of.”
DAVIS A BIG CONTRIBUTOR IN FIRST START
Carroll sure wasn’t fooling around last week when he said tailback Mike Davis, who was signed off the practice squad, would get a shot to revitalize the running game.
Davis, the third-year pro out of South Carolina, was told Monday morning that he would start.
And it did not take him long to break out, ripping off a 13-yard run in the first quarter.
He later added receptions of 20 and 21 yards — the last one coming early in the third quarter on a screen pass that knocked him out of the game with a groin injury.
“Yeah, everything was going smoothly,” said Davis, who ended up with 59 total yards in just more than a half of action. “I tried to go out there and do the best I can.”
And with Eddie Lacy (groin) healthy and in the mix, that meant Thomas Rawls was a healthy scratch for just the second time in his career Monday. Coming into the game, the active running backs (Lacy, J.D. McKissic and Davis) has combined for 220 rushing yards.
TRUFANT GETS TURNOVER
Wilson High School graduate Desmond Trufant is well on his way to a All-Pro career with the Falcons.
And he added another first feat to his NFL career – his first career interception against his hometown Seahawks.
On Seattle’s first drive, Wilson’s second pass appeared headed in Tyler Lockett’s direction, but was way behind the receiver. Trufant easily picked it off and headed up the right sideline.
Wilson stripped him of the football, but Trufant recovered it at the Seahawks’ 35, finishing a 43-yard return. It set up Matt Ryan’s 2-yard touchdown strike to Mohamed Sanu.
It was Trufant’s second interception of the season.
CARROLL, SARKISIAN MEET
About 90 minutes before kickoff, Carroll met with Steve Sarkisian, his former offensive coordinator at USC who now works in the same capacity with the Falcons, in the middle of the field.
Both smiled as they talked. They’ve remained in contact throughout Sarkisian’s career, which included a stop in Seattle as the coach at the University of Washington (2009-13).
Sarkisian had said in a press conference days before the game that he was “so excited to see (Carroll) in person.”
Sarkisian has come under criticism for the way the Falcons have performed this season. They ranked 17th in total offense coming into Monday with 3,312 yards, just four yards behind Seattle at No. 16.
LOCAL MILITARY HERO RAISES FLAG
The Seahawks had a highly-decorated guest raise the 12th Man Flag for Monday night football.
Lt. Col. Barbara Nichols, the oldest living member of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps from Lacey, grabbed the rope to a rousing ovation and lifted the big blue flag that sits over the south end zone of CenturyLink Field.
Nichols, 95, served in three wars – World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and is a Bronze Star recipient.
On Friday, Nichols visited Seahawks practice, and was awarded a No. 12 jersey by coach Pete Carroll with her name on the back of it.
Navy officer Steven Powell sang the national anthem.
Other players on the inactive list because of injury included strong safety Kam Chancellor (neck), offensive lineman Luke Joeckel (knee), defensive tackle Jarran Reed (hamstring), linebacker Michael Wilhoite (calf). Defensive linemen Garrison Smith and Quinton Jefferson were healthy scratches.
Seattle gave up 14 points in the first quarter for just the fourth time at home in the Carroll era. The other times happened in 2010 (Rams), 2016 (Bills) and earlier this season against Houston.
Besides the Davis injury, cornerback Shaquill Griffin (concussion) left after the first play, and offensive guard Oday Aboushi left in the fourth quarter with a right shoulder injury.