Carroll talks through Seahawks’ 3 failed 4th downs vs Cowboys

Dec 1, 2023, 11:23 AM

Seattle Seahawks...

Geno Smith of the Seattle Seahawks against the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 30, 2023. (Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

(Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks put together their best game on offense since the start of the season, but it wasn’t enough in a 41-35 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday.

The Next Day: Seattle Seahawks’ investment in defense still not paying off

Seattle’s defense was far more of an issue on Thursday as the score would indicate, but offensively, the Seahawks failed to convert on three fourth-down tries in the fourth quarter, which played a big role in the loss.

During Friday’s Pete Carroll Show on Seattle Sports, the Seahawks head coach talked through what happened on those three attempts.

First: Zach Charbonnet stopped short on fourth-and-1

With just over seven minutes to go, the Seahawks were in Dallas territory and tried to pick up first down on fourth-and-1 while up 35-30.

They turned and gave it to rookie running back Zach Charbonnet, who was hit almost immediately and stopped well short of the line to gain as DeMarcus Lawrence beat left tackle Charles Cross inside. The Cowboys drove down the field and took a 38-35 lead soon after.


“If you notice, (Lawrence) was almost a wide nine-technique, and he’s slanted from there. Charles couldn’t imagine that the guy would be coming down into his B-gap, so he targeted it wider,” Carroll said. (Cross) targeted it like you kind of think he should, but he needed to be more conservative in his angle to catch the guy in case he came down. And (Lawrence) penetrated and made the play in the backfield. It was a funky look. It’s not a traditional alignment right there. It was a little bit out of whack and Charles couldn’t interpret that that could even happen, and he got had right there.”

Second: Geno pressured immediately

With the Seahawks trailing 38-35 and facing fourth-and-4 right around midfield with just over three minutes to go, the Seahawks again had to go for it to try and tie the game or retake the lead.

But quarterback Geno Smith found himself under pressure almost immediately.

“We could have seen the front more clearly. And we didn’t. We squeezed down on the threat from the inside pass rusher, and the pressure showed up and he just had to chuck it and get the ball out,” Carroll said.

Smith threw it up in the vicinity of rookie receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who was still early in his route and it appears that he didn’t identify that the ball was in the air that early.

“(Smith) was anticipating that he would have had more time there. He didn’t think that was gonna happen like that,” Carroll said. “And again, that was just identifying (the defense) at the moment. We could have done that cleaner.”

And finally: Micah Parsons left unblocked

The third and final fourth-down miss is the one that’s being talked about the most.

With about a minute remaining and down six points, the Seahawks had the ball with a chance to go win the game.

The Hawks picked up 17 yards to Tyler Lockett before Smith connected with Noah Fant for eight yards.

Smith then couldn’t connect with Smith-Njigba on third-and-two, setting up a crucial fourth down.

The play didn’t work as All-Pro edge rusher Micah Parsons rushed Smith unblocked and Seattle’s quarterback had no shot to find running back DeeJay Dallas, who was the intended target going from left to right into the flat.

So what the heck happened on that play for the Seahawks?

“They loaded it up inside and we squeezed it,” Carroll said. “… The way we determined to protect it, which was not the way to do it, we should have opened up and we should have blocked out there with the tackle and we didn’t get that done … They fooled us a little bit with the look … I wish we would have blocked that with (right tackle Abraham Lucas) right there.”

“We had to read the front and then direct it so that we can take care of business,” Carroll later added. “And in the moment … I’m not sure if it was the call that pulled Abe down or if Abe just flashed and saw the threat.”

Is that a situation where Smith could have changed the blocking scheme to try and get someone on Parsons?

“Basically, the center handles all that stuff and then Geno works with him. And if Geno sees something, then he and (center Evan Brown) have to figure it out. It’s basically handled by the center,” Carroll said. “He starts the count and the point and then we work from there. Geno has the ability to override whenever he needs to. Those (fourth downs) were very difficult plays. And when I think back, I wish there’s a couple things we could have done differently that would have given us a chance to get the ball out on a rhythm … We can get the ball out sooner there. We just didn’t do it.”

Listen to the full Pete Carroll Show at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Good, Bad and Ugly: Seattle Seahawks sunk by flags, defense in loss
Seahawks Instant Reaction: What went wrong in loss to Cowboys?
• The Big Plays: Seahawks lose 41-35 to Cowboys, fall to 6-6
• Recap: Prescott throws 3 TDs, Cowboys beat Seahawks 41-35

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Carroll talks through Seahawks’ 3 failed 4th downs vs Cowboys