SEATTLE -- The Seahawks gained over 500 yards of offense against a New Orleans Saints team that was playing without starting quarterback Drew Brees.
And lost convincingly.
For just the fourth time in franchise history, the Seahawks put up 500 yards of offense and lost. A punt return touchdown, fumble return touchdown and poor game management were the biggest downfalls for a Seattle team that looked very un-Seahawk like on Sunday afternoon. The running game was mostly ineffective. The defense couldn't tackle Alvin Kamara, and Pete Carroll's game management may have been the worst showing of his Seahawks' tenure.
The Seahawks hold the edge in just about every team statistic in the game. More first downs, more yards, better third down conversion rate, more offensive plays, more yards per play, better time of possession, didn't allow a sack, etc. And yet, it was a 33-14 game with three minutes left to play.
A six-point margin in the end skews what was really a blowout loss for Seattle. Here are the takeaways from an ugly 33-27 loss for the Seahawks:
-- First game is ages where Seattle felt poorly managed across the board.
The Seahawks have won and lost plenty of games under head coach Pete Carroll. Rarely do they feel as though they are ill-prepared or poorly managed like they did against the Saints.
Carroll, to his credit, owned that fact after the game.
"I had a particularly bad day," he said.
The Seahawks mismanaged the clock and the scoreboard, attempted four fourth down conversions and succeeded with just one, and allowed special teams and defensive touchdowns by New Orleans to put themselves in a three-score hole.
"There were too many chances I had to make some things happen and I tried too hard at times," Carroll said. "And I kind of got in the flow of it and it was really disappointing, just disappointing across the board.
Trailing only 13-7 with 2:37 left in the second quarter, Carroll elected to go for a fourth-and-1 at the Saints' 41-yard line. The Carson run was stuffed and the Saints got the ball with great field position to mount a final drive before the half. Seven plays later, Teddy Bridgewater hit Alvin Kamara for a 29-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 20-7 with half a minute to play.
Seattle then blew a chance at three points to end the half themselves. With 29 seconds left in the half, Wilson got pressured and fired a quick pass to Nick Vannett for nine yards in the middle of the field. Seattle had two timeouts left but didn't use one as the clock continued to run.
It took until 10 seconds were left before Wilson got his next snap. After buying time, Wilson delivered a strike to DK Metcalf for a 54-yard gain up the left sideline to move Seattle into field goal range. However, the clock had expired before Seattle could get the timeout called and the Seahawks didn't get a chance to kick the 34-yard field goal try that would have potentially lessened the gap to a 10-point game before the break.
Seattle ended up having two unused timeouts in their pocket at the half having run out of time to get off a field goal try.
"I thought right at the end of the half I didn't do that well," Carroll said. "And I wished we would have kicked the ball and made them go the long way and not give them a chance to score, which they did.
"We were on the wrong side of the field and all of a sudden the big play hits and we pop. WE had already been kind of stung by the sequence before, and it's a long ways home, but Russ came up with some magic and made a great play with DK. If we knew that was going to happen, I would have called time out earlier. But it didn't work. That was just kind of how this thing went. It was one of those days."
The errors didn't stop there. Defensive tackle Al Woods was flagged for an illegal defensive formation on a 53-yard field goal try in the third quarter that was missed by Will Lutz but game the Saints a fresh set of downs.
"He just said my shoulder pad was over the center," Woods said of the penalty.
Bridgewater would connect with Michael Thomas on a 1-yard score at the end of the drive as the foul ended up being a seven-point penalty. Tedric Thompson, not in uniform due to a hamstring injury, drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for entering the field of play after the team recovered a muffed punt from Deonte Harris. That drive would result in a turnover in downs.
In fact, Seattle ended up with three possessions ending on downs, including a failed fourth-and-1 from their own 28 that allowed the Saints to put the game out of reach with another Kamara touchdown at the end of a five-minute drive.
Two final touchdowns drives narrowed the margin of victory for the Saints, but the game was not close despite the six-point final margin.
Carroll also messed up the score management at the end of the game. When Seattle scored on an 8-yard Wilson scramble with 2:48 remaining, Carroll should have tried for a two-point conversion to make it an 11-point margin. Instead, they kicked a extra point to stay 12 points back, requiring two touchdown drives to make up the distance instead of a possible touchdown, two-point conversion, field goal scenario.
"We didn't do that right either," Carroll said.
It's one of the very few times where a Carroll coached Seahawks team has felt completely out-managed.
-- More fumble issues for Chris Carson.
Starting running back Chris Carson lost a fumble for the third game in a row. For a coach that harps on ball security, Carson's fumbling issues have become a huge problem very quickly.
"I’ve got to protect the ball. That’s it," Carson said.
Cornerback Eli Apple punched the ball free of Carson's grasp after a terrific 23-yard run that took advantage of a great pulling block from guard Mike Iupati.
"He's had three remarkable, remarkable punches that have knocked the ball out," Carroll said. "He was covering it up and he knew, he was conscious (of it). It was the right in the right place and it happened again."
Carson lost a fumble in both the Cincinnati and Pittsburgh games as well. Even if you give him the benefit of the second fumble in Pittsburgh - as Carroll and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenhiemer did for several reasons last week - Carson has been involved in four plays in three games where the ball has ended up on the ground and resulted in turnovers.
"Just try to keep getting better. The defense is going to try to go after the ball so I’ve got to be aware of that," Carson said.
-- Seahawks can't wait for the magic something to show up every week.
Wide receiver Tyler Lockett sets career-highs with 11 catches for 154 yards with a touchdown against the Saints on Sunday. However, it was what Lockett said after the game that was maybe most notable.
Lockett said the team can't keep waiting around and think that they're somehow going to find a way to win game every week just because it's something they have found a way to do so before.
"At the end of the day you can’t expect things like this to happen like it’s happened in other games and everything just continues to go our way and we find a way to win," Lockett said. "At some point it was going to have to stop being in disguise and it was going to have to reveal itself to us that we can’t shoot ourselves in the foot. We can’t continue to do these things thinking that we’re still going to win.
"We have to be able to be on our P’s and Q’s because we’re playing great teams. We’re playing teams that are playoff caliber teams, Super Bowl caliber teams and you can’t put yourself in the hole and expect to just find a way to be able to always come back every single time. For us, I think it’s a learning experience and it helps us down the road. It’s a process."
The Seahawks certainly have found a myriad of ways to win football games that they appeared to have no business winning. But as Lockett said, the expectation can't be that it's just going to happen all the time because it's happened before. Carroll's mantra of winning the game in the fourth quarter only goes so far. Because while you may not be able to win a game in the first quarter, or first half, you can certainly lose it. This was one of those games and Lockett wants to make sure they don't happen again.
-- Defense couldn't contain Alvin Kamara.
The eye-test can still be pretty illustrative. Alvin Kamara is a hell of a football player and he put on a show against the Seahawks on Sunday.
Kamara mixed a blend of shiftiness and power to amass 161 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns with a number of missed tackles along the way.
"He's a great player who runs hard as s---," defensive end Quinton Jefferson said. "But we watched film. We knew he ran hard. So I don't know why guys were out there arm-tackling. You have to put your body on him and run your feet. He's a Pro Bowl player. He's not going to just go down with an arm tackle. We never gave ourselves a shot. We were just doing stuff we never do. We're not making tackles, getting penalties, turnovers. It just wasn't a good game."
Kamara was held to just 69 yards rushing on 16 carries as the Saints' ground attack wasn't all that effective. But Kamara was a big weapon in the passing game. He made linebacker Mychal Kendricks miss a handful of tackles and led the team in receiving with nine catches for 92 yards.
"He's got my respect, for sure," linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "He's definitely one of the best in the game. Watching his balance and watchingt he way he hits holes. We hit him a couple times and he came back for more.
"You definitely have got to run your feet on him. He does a great job of keeping his balance, keeping his feet going."
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 22: Running back Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints rushes for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 22, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)