After reviewing the game video, coach Pete Carroll was most impressed by his team’s effort “in terms of playing hard and fast and physically getting after it,” he said.
Even though this was a 1 p.m. start on the East Coast (not the 10 a.m. eye-opener that has caused so many past issues), this was still “a good accomplishment,” he said. “We have some trips to deal with it (three more to into the Eastern Time Zone), so it’s always good to know you can handle it, I thought the guys did a good job with that.”
But the frustration over costly mistakes was still fresh a day later. “It was a very frustrating game … we were playing well and doing some really good things. We felt we could be ahead and taking command of the football game and we weren’t able to because we were getting in our own way. In the first half we had a couple key penalties that made a big difference, and in the second half we gave them the football three times in the third quarter, that was just crazy.”
The Hawks were flagged for seven penalties and 65 yards, but the numbers are misleading since several nullified big plays, particularly the holding on right tackle Breno Giacomini that brought back a 56-yard Russell Wilson completion to Golden Tate.
Carroll said he’s tried to re-enforce the message, particularly with Giacomini, how costly these infractions can be, but “I’ve got to start reinforcing a lot better than I’m doing. … We’ve got some very aggressive guys,” he said. “We sought them out, and now we’re dealing with it.”
Carroll said he wasn’t sold on a personal foul penalty called against Giacomini. The whistle clearly hadn’t been blown when Giacomini made contact, he said.
The focus of last week was improvement on third-down conversion rates, and Carroll said he saw “enormous improvement.” Offensively, they converted seven of 14, and held Carolina to two of 11.
Carroll cited improvement by Wilson, who “did some really good things,” he said. “We got the ball down the field better than we had.” Efforts by tight end Zach Miller, receiver Sidney Rice and running back Marshawn Lynch contributed to that, Carroll said.
Wilson improved his season passer rating to 75.3 — 27th in the league — by going 19-for-25 for 221 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He finished with an 82.3 rating. Carolina’s Cam Newton, last year’s Rookie of the Year, came away with a 56.8 rating (12 for 29, 141 yards).
Prior to the Monday night game, the Hawks had the No. 1 defense in the NFL. Carroll was asked the relevance of the ranking at this point in the season.
“It doesn’t mean much right now … it’d be really nice to be No. 1 at the end,” he said. “It’s a good statement at the beginning of the season that our guys have gotten off to a great start. … I think we should improve… I think we should count on our guys to continue to get better. The way the (rankings) go, I don’t care. It’s fun for those guys to know, it’s a very prideful group, but does it mean anything? Not really. What are we going to do this week is what counts.”
Improvements contributing to the statistical ranking? The Hawks have 16 team sacks through five games, nearly half of last season’s total (33). Carroll pointed to the team speed displayed by rookies Bobby Wagner and Bruce Irvin, and also by Earl Thomas and Wagner on a play to drop Newton at the goal line.
But speed is ineffective if not properly applied. “(Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley) is doing a great job of keeping these guys clear about their assignments so they can play fast. It’s the No. 1 issue for us to play quick every time we go out there.”
Some numbers of note: As of Monday afternoon … Sunday’s opponent, New England, is rated No. 1 in the league in offense. The Seahawks are the NFL’s most frequently penalized team (44 flags). … Lynch dipped to second in the NFL in rushing as Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles outgained him 140 to 85 yards on Sunday. The Hawks are still No. 32 in Red Zone offense, but have moved out of last place in passing offense — now standing No. 31.