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Mistakes add up as Seahawks suffer first loss, 33-27 to Saints

When you follow the Seahawks, you tend to hear the phrase “You can’t win in the first quarter” often. Well, that adage is especially true if that’s the only quarter in the game the Seahawks even have a share of the lead.

Saints 33, Seahawks 27: O’Neil’s column | Rost’s notebook710 reaction

Despite facing a New Orleans Saints team playing without star quarterback Drew Brees, mistakes loomed large as the Seahawks lost 33-27 at home for their first loss of the 2019 season on Sunday afternoon.

The Seahawks’ offense played well, and their defense allowed just one touchdown on a drive that started farther than 58 yards away from the end zone. But TDs allowed on special teams and an offensive fumble allowed the Saints to take a 13-point lead into halftime, an advantage they continued to build upon as Seattle made unforced errors in a disastrous third quarter.

New Orleans was led by running back Alvin Kamara, who not only ran for one touchdown but added another in the passing game and led the Saints with 92 receiving yards on nine receptions.

Quarterback Russell Wilson had another strong performance for Seattle despite the loss, throwing 32 for 50 for 406 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions and adding a pair of rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Tyler Lockett had a huge game as Wilson’s top target, catching 11 passes for 154 yards and a score.

Here’s a quarter-by-quarter look at the Seahawks’ loss.

First quarter

Seahawks 7, Saints 7

With rain having been a steady presence all day at CenturyLink Field going into the game, you might think it would be an advantage for the hometown team. It sure didn’t look that way early on – at least not for the running game.

Seahawks running back Chris Carson struggled both with his footing on the slick turf and a New Orleans defense geared up for Seattle’s attempt to establish its ground attack. As a result, Carson had just one yard to his credit on his first five carries.

The Saints, meanwhile, made the most of their first opportunity to touch the ball. Deonte Harris turned a punt by Michael Dickson at the end of Seattle’s opening drive into a 53-yard touchdown return, giving New Orleans a surprising 7-0 lead just three minutes into the game – and before the Saints even made an offensive snap.

The Seahawks had an answer, however.

Backed by an especially vocal home crowd, Seattle benefited from two penalties to force a three-and-out on the Saints’ first possession. That was even with an 11-yard scramble on third down by Teddy Bridgewater, who got the start at quarterback with Drew Brees out of action due to thumb surgery he underwent last week.

Seattle pulled even on its next series thanks to success through the air. Russell Wilson bought himself some time on third-and-5 from the Seahawks’ 41 and found Tyler Lockett for a 32-yard gain. Carson followed up with his best run of the game, a 16-yard rush up the middle, and Wilson connected with Lockett one more time for an 8-yard touchdown pass.

NO – Deonte Harris 53 punt return, 12:06 (Wil Lutz kick, 7-0 NO)
SEA – Tyler Lockett 8 pass from Russell Wilson, 2:29 (Jason Myers kick, 7-7)

Second quarter

Saints 20, Seahawks 7

Just looking at overall play on offense and defense, the Seahawks were clearly the better team in the first half of their meeting with the Saints. The story of the half was told elsewhere, however.

The Saints first took the lead on special teams with Harris’ punt return in the first quarter, and they took the lead again in another unusual way – a 33-yard fumble return by safety Vonn Bell midway through the second quarter.

That lost fumble is a serious cause for concern for the Seahawks. It came at the end of a 23-yard rush by starting running back Carson, which means Carson has fumbled once in each of Seattle’s first three games this season. To make matters worse, all three fumbles have been lost.

Due to the style of play Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is known for, he is especially averse to turnovers, so it was no surprise to see C.J. Prosise as the featured back when Seattle got the ball back after Bell’s TD. Carson had a chance to redeem himself on that same possession, but the Saints were ready for him as Wilson handed off on fourth-and-1 at the New Orleans 41. Carson lost a yard and the Seahawks turned it over on downs just before the two-minute warning.

Then Alvin Kamara happened.

The star Saints running back took a short pass in the flat from QB Teddy Bridgewater, and he got the blocks he needed to go 29 yards for a very important touchdown with 33 seconds left before halftime to push the New Orleans lead to 20-7.

Seattle nearly had an opportunity at adding three points at the end of the half as Wilson found rookie receiver DK Metcalf in double coverage for an incredible 54-yard pass, but time ran out before the Seahawks could get a timeout and stop the clock.

A look at the box score showed Seattle leading in most categories, most notably total yards (245 to 115). But the most telling stat was defensive/special teams TDs – two for the Saints, none for the Seahawks.

NO – Vonn Bell 33 yard fumble return, 7:05 (kick failed, 13-7 NO)
NO – Alvin Kamara 29 pass from Teddy Bridgewater, :33 (Lutz kick, 20-7 NO)

Third quarter

Saints 27, Seahawks 7

Sometimes bad becomes worse. That was the third quarter for the Seahawks.

Already trailing by two scores, the defense had a chance to hand the ball over to the offense at Seattle’s own 35-yard line with 11 minutes on the clock when Saints kicker Wil Lutz was short on a 53-yard field goal attempt. The Seahawks were flagged for an illegal formation on the field goal try, though, and New Orleans was allowed to keep driving. That turned the whole series into a 12-play, 75-yard ordeal that ended with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Bridgewater to Michael Thomas on fourth down – after Seattle stopped the Saints on back-to-back goal-line runs.

All of the sudden the Seahawks were in a 20-point hole, and it wasn’t long before the Seahawks stubbed their toes again when they should have been getting a break.

Dickson’s punt with six minutes left in the quarter was muffed by Harris, and rookie linebacker Cody Barton recovered the ball for Seattle at the New Orleans 33. But the Seahawks got a little too excited about their reversal of fortune and they were pushed back 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Seattle still had a shot at points on the ensuing series, but Carson was stopped on third-and-6 from the 14 and a hurried Wilson overthrew an open Lockett in the corner of the end zone to turn the ball over on fourth down.

NO – Michael Thomas 1 pass from Teddy Bridgewater, 7:44 (Wil Lutz kick, 27-7 NO)

Fourth quarter

Saints 33, Seahawks 27

As is customary with the Seahawks, they showed some life in the final quarter. They reached the end zone for the second time on the day on a 10-play, 78-yard drive that opened the fourth. Wilson had passes for first downs to Will Dissly, Lockett and Prosise, the latter of which was on fourth-and-3, and Seattle’s QB eventually found paydirt on a 2-yard keeper.

The Seahawks’ defense did its part to keep Seattle in the game, forcing New Orleans into a three-and-out that took less than a minute off the clock. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, their offense couldn’t make good on the following possession, turning it over on downs on four plays.

That gave the Saints the ball at Seattle’s 28, and eight plays later they put the game essentially out of reach with a 1-yard Kamara touchdown run to make it 33-14.

Wilson added an 8-yard TD run to close the gap to 12 points inside the final three minutes, and Dissly caught a 4-yard pass from Wilson with no time left to make it a six-point loss for Seattle

SEA – Wilson 2 run, 11:51 (Myers kick, 27-14 NO)
NO – Kamara 1 run, 4:19 (run failed, 33-14 NO)
SEA – Wilson 8 run, 2:48 (Myers kick, 33-21 NO)
SEA – Will Dissly 4 pass from Wilson, :00 (No PAT, 33-27 NO)

Follow’s Brent Stecker on Twitter.

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