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Seahawks give up punt TD
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Notebook: Carroll, Seahawks say costly Week 3 mistakes are fixable

Saints WR Deonte Harris returned the Seahawks' first punt for a touchdown. (Getty)

The first score in the Seahawks’ 33-27 loss to the Saints ended up being the one that mattered the most.

Saints 33, Seahawks 27: O’Neil’s column | Instant Reaction | Recap

It started with a three-and-out. A false start penalty during the Seahawks’ initial punt attempt moved them back to their own 15-yard line. Michael Dickson’s 38-yard punt was caught by Saints rookie Deonte Harris, who took off, evading a handful of Seahawks special teamers along the way, for a 53-yard return touchdown.

The Seahawks knew Harris was speedy. The 5-foot-6, 170-pound return specialist went undrafted, but that was a result of size more than skill – he owns the NCAA Division II record for career combined return touchdowns.

“We knew this kid can run all over the place,” Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin said postgame. “He had good speed and really good cuts and we had to make sure that we contained him. I feel like once we got that kickoff, everybody was all over the place. No one was hitting their lanes right. And that’s something we’ve got to be able to key on and it’s something we’re really good at. For us to not do something that we’re used to doing, that’s what tends to happen.

“I feel like we got back together after that. But sometimes you can’t wait until after something happens to get things right. We’re gonna get back in this week and key in on that and make sure we get back to where we need to be at.”

Whether it set a tone or simply served as the point difference the Saints needed in the final score, the return touchdown was the first of a series of self-inflicted wounds.

It was those mistakes that made Sunday’s loss feel “unusual” for Pete Carroll, and Seattle’s head coach didn’t shy away from placing blame on himself.

“So many things happened in this game that just hurt ourselves,” Carroll said. “(We) made mistakes and errors – the big plays and returns – and the mistake in the kicking game that gives them another chance for another touchdown. That’s like a turnover. We just had a really hard time getting out of our own way… I had a particularly bad day. There’s too many chances I had to make some things happen and I tried too hard at times.”

Those mistakes were also the difference in a game that saw Seattle outgain New Orleans in most statistical categories. The Seahawks controlled the time of possession, had fewer penalties, performed better on third down, had more first downs, gained more yards per play, had more rushing yards, more touchdowns on offense, and nearly doubled the Saints’ net yardage (515 yards compared to 265 for New Orleans).

Both quarterback Russell Wilson and wide receiver Tyler Lockett performed well; the former threw for over 400 yards and had four touchdowns (two passing and two rushing), and the latter had 11 receptions on a career-high 14 targets for 154 yards. Lockett’s Week 3 performance comes just one week after he saw what was then a career-high 12 targets.

If great teams don’t make mistakes, then it’s fair to say good teams learn from theirs. The Seahawks will put their effort to self-correct to the test next week with a road game against the Arizona Cardinals.

“There’s all kinds of stuff (that’s fixable),” Carroll said. “Not lining up on top of the center on the field goal. That’s just the rules, I don’t know how we made that error. I’ve never seen us ever do that. I don’t know why that happened; we’ll find out. I could have changed the situation on fourth down some (where Seattle was 1 for 4). I could have kicked the ball and done a couple more conservative things that I like to do often, but I felt pretty good about how we were playing D. I tried too hard. It was one of those deals – we can easily fix those.”

That sentiment was echoed by Griffin.

“There’s a lot of small things when it comes to the mistakes we made today,” Griffin said. “It was so small that you’re (thinking), ‘I can’t believe I did that.’ It’s an easy fix, but when you don’t do the small things right it can turn into a big thing. That’s just something we’ve got to key in on. I’m glad it happened now instead of along the line later on in the season. Fix the problem now and let’s just become a great team.”

Injury notes

Left tackle Duane Brown exited the game with an arm injury. Carroll said Brown could have gone back in, but admitted the team will need more information on the veteran’s injury.

“He had a little upper-arm strain,” Carroll said. “We have to figure out what that is. That’s as far as we know right now. It’s very early.”

Running back Rashaad Penny (hamstring) was among Seattle’s inactives but got some running in during pre-game warmups. Carroll said Penny will have a chance to return Thursday but implied the team will be careful with their 2018 first-round pick.

Wagner hits the record books

All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner finished with a career-high 18 tackles. The Seahawks congratulated his game with a Tweet noting that Wagner’s tackle total ties for second-most in a single game in franchise history.

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