Clayton’s Observations: Making sense of Seahawks’ mess of a loss to Saints
You could tell from the start it was going to be a bad day for the Seahawks against the New Orleans Saints.
It started with a football hitting Pete Carroll in the nose, an injury that required five stitches. What followed was one of the most mistake-prone games of the Carroll era in Seattle.
Basically, the Seahawks handed a talented Saints team 21 points with a punt return for a touchdown, a Chris Carson fumble that was returned for a touchdown and an alignment penalty that wiped out a missed field goal and gave the Saints the chance to keep driving for a touchdown.
In the big picture, the Seahawks are still alright. They are 2-1, and I figured before the season that if they could get a split in the Pittsburgh-New Orleans pairings, they would be in decent shape.
Let’s look through the mess of Sunday’s loss.
• Chris Carson needs a quick lesson in how to come to the ground after a running play. In each of the first three games he didn’t tuck in the ball as he landed on the ground. The result has been three fumbles, and costly fumbles at that. The team remains confident in Carson, though, because he is one of the best runners in the league after contact.
Two things happened after Carson’s fumble that put the Seahawks behind the Saints 13-7. First, C.J. Prosise came on the field more. The second thing that happened was the Seahawks fell behind 20-7 at the half and 27-7 in the third quarter, so they had to abandon the run.
Carson had 53 yards on 15 carries for the game, including 48 yards on 12 carries in the first half. Prosise saw more opportunities because Rashaad Penny was inactive due to a hamstring injury he suffered in Friday’s walkthrough. Penny should be back this week.
• Carroll was 1 for 4 on calling for the Seahawks to go for it on fourth down. He was too aggressive. The one he probably regrets the most was one before the end of the first half. The Seahawks had a fourth-and-1 at the Saints 41, and Carson was stopped for a 1-yard loss. The Saints got the ball at the 42 and drove 58 yards in seven plays to open up a 20-7 lead.
• The pass rush was missing Sunday. Saints coach Sean Payton had a good plan for Teddy Bridgewater, who was filling in for the injured Drew Brees at quarterback. Payton had him throwing short passes and getting rid of the ball quickly. Bridgewater had only one pass that went 15 yards through the air.
Ziggy Ansah made his Seahawks debut but wasn’t noticeable. He had no sacks, no tackles and no pressure. He also looked a little out of shape because he seemed tired after a couple plays, which is understandable knowing that he hasn’t played since last year. As a result, Ansah had 19 plays.
The Seahawks had no sacks and just two pressures on the day, and Jadeveon Clowney wasn’t as active as he had been in the first two games.
• The strangest stat is that the Saints only had 88 yards rushing. It looked as though they had 150.
The reason for the strange stat is the running of Alvin Kamara, whose 161 combined yards of offense included 92 yards receiving, mostly on short passes. He’s amazing. His balance in keeping his body alive and not hitting the ground is incredible. Defenders tried to wrap him up but he kept going. He broke 18 tackles after contact, and Carroll compared his running style to former Houston Oilers great Earl Campbell.
• The most reliable receivers for Russell Wilson, who completed 35 passes for 406 yards, were Tyler Lockett and tight end Will Dissly. Lockett caught 11 passes for 154 yards. Dissly worked the seam routes perfectly in catching six passes for 62 yards. David Moore finally got back on the field after missing two games with a shoulder injury and had a 29-yard reception. Wilson completed 16 of his first 17 passes for 180 yards.