By Brady Henderson
Most head coaches would be thrilled with the performance of a defense that allowed just seven points and held one of the league’s most dynamic quarterbacks in check.
Not Pete Carroll, at least not after Seattle opened the season with a 12-7 win over Cam Newton and the Panthers in Carolina.
The Seahawks held Carolina quarterback Cam Newton to a career-low 125 yards passing. (AP)
“I thought we played OK,” Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Danny” on Monday, speaking specifically about Seattle’s defense. “I did not think we controlled the game.”
They certainly saved it, though, forcing and recovering a fumble deep in their own territory as the Panthers were knocking on the door of what would have been the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
The fact that the Seahawks escaped Carolina with a hard-fought win was more impressive considering they were missing their top three pass rushers and one starting cornerback. Defensive end Cliff Avril didn’t play due to a hamstring injury, but Carroll said he should be available for next week’s primetime showdown with division-rival San Francisco.
Despite being short-handed, Seattle’s defense held Newton to 125 yards passing, the second-lowest total of his career. While Newton completed almost 70 percent of his passes, wasn’t intercepted and was sacked just once, his second-quarter completion to tight end Greg Olsen was Carolina’s only play that went for more than 25 yards.
“I felt like they had a lot more yards than they did. When we looked at the game afterward and Cam had one of his [least]-productive games throwing ever, it didn’t seem like that,” Carroll said. “They seemed somewhat efficient and they looked kinda well grooved, but they had no big plays again. We did a really good job on eliminating explosive pays.”
That was a strength of Seattle’s defense a year ago, when it allowed the fewest points of any team in the NFL. The expectations are even higher this year, so much so that Carroll was lamenting some mistakes after his defense allowed only one score and just 243 yards of total offense.
“That’s a tremendous output by the defense overall,” Carroll said, “but we can play better.”
Specifically, Carroll said Seattle can tackle better. One missed tackle in particular allowed the Panthers to convert a third-and-7 on Seattle’s 11, extending a drive that resulted in Carolina’s only points of the game.
“But all in all it was a really solid effort,” Carroll said. “We just have really high expectations for our play … Our guys in the locker room, they were really happy to get the win but they were not satisfied at all with the way that came out. So that’s a really good thing.”