Well, at least it was exciting. The ‘Hawks lost their first game of the season — a 28-34 thriller to the Indianapolis Colts. What this game showed, above all, is the importance of closure. The Seahawks moved the ball effectively almost the entire game, but they mostly came away with field goals. The Colts didn’t move the ball quite as well, but they mostly scored touchdowns. That was the difference. To use a baseball analogy, the Seahawks put runners on base, but left too many stranded. The Colts got the big hits with runners in scoring position.
Now, in baseball, lack of clutch hitting is more bad luck than it is a legitimate shortcoming, and I hope the parallel is true in football. Because watching your team go 3 for 15 on third and fourth downs, while their opponents go 7 for 12, is absolutely brutal. It’d be better if the Seahawks just got blown out than had numbers like these in a close loss. Actually, it wouldn’t — of course it wouldn’t — but it’d be easier to watch.
On offense, Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson both had good games, but they each made a mistake at the most inopportune time. For Lynch, he didn’t turn around fast enough to catch a swing pass that would’ve been an easy third-down conversion, killing a drive. For Wilson, he overthrew an open-by-several-yards Golden Tate on a bomb just before the end the of first half; the ‘Hawks didn’t score on the drive. If the circumstances of either of those plays are different, they might not have been that big of a deal. As it was, they were back breakers.
On defense, it was a similar story. The ‘Hawks stymied the run all day, and they actually did OK against the pass as well. (They did a very poor job of not absolutely squandering their timeouts, however.) Andrew Luck wasn’t great the whole game, but he was great at the right time. His touchdown passes to T.Y. Hilton were beautiful, and then he converted third down after third down during the home stretch.* And — at the risk or sounding like a giant homer — I have to say, he got a few gifts from the refs on some PI calls, as well. Particularly, Brandon Browner got dinged on a 3rd-and-22 heave from the Colts’ goal line that was 15 yards over everybody’s head**. And then Richard Sherman got flagged on a crucial 3rd and 10 for some happens-on-every-play contact. It wouldn’t have been so bad if they called Darius Butler for hooking Sidney Rice on the Seahawks final drive, but they didn’t. (And while I’m talking about bad pass interference calls, what was up with that Golden Tate penalty that negated a huge completion? It wasn’t a huge deal, because Jermaine Kearse (another big game) caught a touchdown on the same drive, but I literally couldn’t tell why the ref threw a flag. It was just weird.)
Even on special teams, it was a matter of closure. The Seahawks could only get a safety on their blocked kick***; the Colts got a touchdown on theirs. It was just that type of game. Indianapolis had a little more mojo today. They Chuckstronged the ‘Hawks.
So 16-0 is out of the picture (yes, it actually was in the back of mind). The Seahawks are still good, just not perfect good. So be it. There’s been only one perfect man to ever walk this Earth, and he doesn’t “play football” anymore. He had long hair and a lot of revolutionary ideas. His name is Jim Kiick, fullback for the ’72 Dolphins.
Monday Note: I’m not a total homer. Bill Barnwell says the same thing I did about the pass interference calls in an article today. In fact, it’s almost exactly the same thing. If I didn’t first post this last night, I might think that I copied him.
*In that way, this game was very reminiscent of last year’s loss to the Detroit Lions in which the Lions went 12 for 16 on third down.
**To be fair, the only reason Luck even had the opportunity to throw it recklessly up the field is because the ‘Hawks jumped offside. But still, it should have been 3rd and 16 on like the 10. Not 1st and 10 at midfield. A big pet peeve of mine is when the offense gets bailed out on a ticky-tack penalty on a play that had no chance of working no matter what. The refs should take this into consideration. Getting defensive stops in the NFL is already hard enough.
***Jeron Johnson probably made a minor gaffe by sliding into the ball the way he did. The better play there is just to keep it in play punt coverage style. But it’s tough to say a guy did the wrong thing when the play easily could’ve been called a touchdown. That was one of those “so close neither team can complain about the call” calls.