RENTON, Wash. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll felt a mixture of frustration and optimism leaving New Orleans following a 34-19 loss.
There was plenty for Carroll to be frustrated about, from wasting Matt Hasselbecks best day throwing in six seasons, to a bevy of missed tackles that kept the Saints running game going, to the inability to make Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense even take a pause.
The optimism? That came from Seattles ability to at least hang with the defending Super Bowl champions.
Its a frustrating loss because it was such a good opportunity against such a good team, Carroll said Monday. We were feeling right and feeling like wed have a shot at it and went in there with that intention, of course. Then things just kind of happened and got away.
Despite the loss, the Seahawks remained in first place in the NFC West at 5-5, a game ahead of St. Louis. And now Seattle gets four of its final six games at home, beginning Sunday against Kansas City.
But there is plenty to correct coming out of New Orleans, beginning with a defense that again hemorrhaged a huge amount of yards through the air and suddenly struggled with tackling for the first time this season.
Brees threw for 382 yards, the fourth time this season three of them losses that a quarterback has topped 300 yards against the Seahawks secondary. Along with Brees dissection of Seattles defensive backs was a key 112 yards from Saints running backs, a huge chunk of those yards coming after first contact.
Carroll said Monday that the Seahawks probably didnt respect New Orleans running back Chris Ivory the way they should have. Ivory finished with 99 yards and a touchdown.
It isnt something thats shown up in other games. Team-wise we didnt do a good job of hitting it all the way we like to, and wrapping up in a real fundamental sense, Carroll said. Its something that we really have to work on. We cant let that be a factor. It changed kind of the complexion of how we played this game because they were seemingly effective running the football.
Carroll was also annoyed at a roughing-the-passer penalty against Raheem Brock late in the first half that kept a New Orleans drive going and eventually led to a touchdown that gave the Saints a 28-13 lead.
On third down at the Saints 32, Brees threw incomplete for Marques Colston. Brock hit Brees just after he released the pass, but was called for a personal foul on the play. Carroll said five years ago, that was probably not called a penalty.
It was a huge turning point in the game. I thought it was a normal football play. I dont know what was wrong with that play, Carroll said. Timing was just bang-bang, as fast as you can get. It looked like we didnt hear helmet to helmet or any of that kind of stuff that was roughing the passer. So I dont really know what the explanation is well get that during the week. Im anxious to figure that one out because we wouldnt tell the guy to do anything different until we know more.
Offensively, Seattle all but abandoned the run game and relied mostly on Hasselbecks arm. Despite playing with two cracks in his left wrist, Hasselbeck threw for 366 yards and a touchdown, the most yards hes passed for since throwing for 414 in a loss to Dallas during the 2004 season.
Carroll said he doesnt mind leaning mostly on the passing game, but said Seattle must still be able to run effectively in short-yardage situations, especially inside the 20. Seattle was forced to settle for four field goals from Olindo Mare on Sunday, rather than touchdowns.
We havent worried about (running), to tell you the truth, Carroll said. We wanted to make sure we were moving the football against the teams that we were playing. That changes by game plan, but the last two games we had reason to go for it. I wouldnt change any part of that other than the short-yardage situations we werent effective in.