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Pete Carroll explains reasoning behind late-game timeout in Seahawks’ loss to Rams

A fourth-quarter timeout drew critiques from Seahawks fans. (AP)

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll joined Brock Huard and Mike Salk on 710 ESPN Seattle Monday to recap Seattle’s 33-31 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

“It was really a tough game,” Carroll said, when asked how physical the contest felt. “They’re kind of a finesse group and they’re trying to air it out for the most part. They did their thing, but they couldn’t deny the way we went after it. The line of scrimmage was good. Big George (Fant) came in, he added some real element and really blocked well and just it made it that much more tough.”

Just because the result was bad doesn’t mean Hawks’ final TO was wrong call

“I think it was a big opportunity for us that we missed. Unfortunately we had a chance to beat those guys here, get it done, the game was ours to be had. We could’ve done it about three or four different ways down the stretch. And in the fourth quarter we weren’t able to get that drive that we needed, we weren’t able to get that stop that we needed. Either way, we could’ve taken the game over, (but) it was a fantastic day at CenturyLink.”

Unsurprisingly, the result of what became a shootout came down to the final two possessions of the game, and the Seahawks ultimately saw their chance to kick a game-winning field goal end with a holding call. Carroll was asked about that drive — and a few other key moments in the loss — during the interview. Here are a few highlights:

Regarding the fourth quarter holding call on right guard D.J. Fluker that moved Seattle out of field goal range, isn’t there holding like that on every play? “Well, I’m sending them probably 18 plays that they can look at their guys in the course of the play. My point was it happens all day long, then how come right then? Why would that be the time? Because Fluke had his hands inside really nice. And he’s grabbing the breast plate, you know, but his hands are tough and all that. But those are calls you could make on almost every play… it’s unfortunate, but that’s how it goes, you know, we had to overcome it (and) we didn’t get it done.”

What was the plan defensively? “Well we wanted to make sure that they couldn’t run the football and control it there, which really was accomplished except for the one flat play that got out on us. They had 90-something yards rushing. If I would’ve known (Todd) Gurley would have 70-some yards rushing, I though that’s a good day, that’s a good day against him. We would not have let him run the game like he can sometimes, so that was part of (the defensive plan). And then stay on top, not let them be as deep, and we did that. But they were able to play past us and get the ball between us too consistently. For the most part, though, it was our inability to (tackle) them in the open field and minimize their gains. They made yards after the catch that did not need to happen — a couple times in the flat, a couple times over the middle, they’d add 15 yards to a play that if those were kept to a minimum we would’ve really been in control of the game much more.”

Was the tackling one of the biggest culprit? “Yes, primarily the play passes that they get out, that they’ve been doing — we knew they were going to gonna do them, we were going to hope we could get them down, get them on the ground, not get them easy plays like they’ve been getting. So they were able to chuck it underneath us and just, I think there was 11 explosive pass plays in the game or something like that, which is twice as many as should be allowed.”

How did Russell Wilson play? “Russell played a good football game, really good. Really took advantage of the running game. He made a lot of adjustments in the runs and checks and stuff that helped us out. Kept the tempo going where they had to use their timeouts because of tempo for the most part. We missed some chances to go fast because they called timeout. And when he had his chances on the big ball, he hit everything.”

I think that was the first time in his career that he didn’t have any carries: “They kept taking them away, that’s why the other stuff was there. He had maybe 10 times he could’ve kept the football by the design of the play. But they kept a guy for him and (Wilson) kept giving the ball off like he’s supposed to. He played the game beautifully in that regard, didn’t force any of them. He probably could’ve yanked a couple out and just tried to juke the guy like he has in the past, but he didn’t have to. Everything was rolling, we were six yards a pop, so it was OK.”

Let’s talk about that final timeout: “We called a timeout as soon as the play was over. There was already a timeout called. We had called that. Then when the clock got stopped, then they come back and say, ‘You can let the clock run here or you can hold onto that timeout, we’ll give you the timeout back if you want it.’ And we said no, 33 seconds, we don’t want to give it to them right now, there’s not enough time left in our minds. We don’t want to give them that time we want to manage that time ourselves. That’s as simple as it was.”

Before that, what was the thought to not use the timeout before the two minute warning? “We would like to use those in our favor as much as we can. It gives us benefit to have that timeout when we’re past the two minute warning so that we can stop the clock judiciously whenever we need to, rather than have to be forced to be in that mode. When they know you have that timeout, it plays differently; they play differently, we can play differently. It’s at our advantage to hold onto that.”

The critique we’ve heard most is that calling a timeout there gives the Rams the opportunity to be aggressive and go for it on fourth down. That McVay was ready to go out and punt, and given the extra minute or so he had the opportunity to reconsider and go for it: “He had the opportunity to do it whenever he wanted to. It didn’t have anything to do with when the timeout was called. He could’ve done it at the start… he just chose not to kick it. We had to do it anyway. We needed all the time we could manage. And had we stopped them there, as we just stopped them on the play before, we get the ball midfield and we’re in command.”