Seahawks lament missed chance in loss to Niners

Across the backs of numerous shirts printed up since Pete
Carroll took over in Seattle is the word ”finish,” a reference to
making sure his Seahawks close strong in every game.

Instead of finishing, the Seahawks flopped in their season
opener.

A combination of an absent offense and a late special teams
meltdown had Carroll’s club lamenting a missed opportunity on
Monday after falling 33-17 to San Francisco.

The Seahawks had trimmed a 16-0 deficit to 19-17 with less than
4 minutes remaining on Doug Baldwin’s 55-yard touchdown
catch-and-run. Then Ted Ginn Jr. returned the ensuing kickoff 102
yards for the decisive score. He added a 55-yard punt return
touchdown just moments later.

”It really came down to getting caught up and getting out of a
lane and giving Teddy Ginn a chance to use his speed, and he did,”
Carroll said. ”That’s a classic mistake that you make in
containment and we’re going to use it as an illustration of doing
things right until the finish, as we always talk about.”

The late special teams problems were the capper of a day where
Seattle’s new-look offense stumbled through the entire first half
and the defense could only do so much in keeping them close.

New quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was again barely given time to
throw for the first 30 minutes – getting sacked three times – and
Seattle’s offense managed only three first downs and 37 yards of
offense before halftime.

The second half was a response Seattle’s offense needed. Jackson
was given time in the pocket and was 14 of 26 for 155 yards and two
scores as Seattle rallied. The Seahawks had 15 first downs in the
second half alone.

”I made sure today in the team meeting to show them that there
was a big contrast from first to second half. They need to know
that they’re capable and feel it and have that confidence,”
Carroll said. ”I think it was clear and the coaches did a good job
of pointing that out in the meetings today to at least make sure
that they feel right about it.”

Injuries played a part in Seattle’s special teams problems at
the end. Fullback Michael Robinson and rookie cornerback Byron
Maxwell, who both play on every kick coverage unit, suffered
sprained ankles and weren’t on the field in the fourth quarter when
Ginn had both his scoring returns.

Neither Robinson nor Maxwell is expected to play Sunday in
Pittsburgh, leaving the Seahawks without a healthy fullback on
their roster and with concerns on special teams.

”Those guys are core players, they play every single snap of
our special teams and they’ve both been effective,” Carroll said.
”Mike was a leading tackler in preseason and Maxwell was the most
impacting player (of the preseason), so those guys force us, not
being available this week, to have to do some other things and
shuffle some things around.”

Carroll said the team would be looking to see if there was an
available fullback that would fit the Seahawks’ needs.

The first-half struggles offensively and the late special teams
issues took away from a defensive performance that was impressive
and carried Seattle much of the day. The Seahawks held San
Francisco to just 1 of 12 conversions on third-down, 209 total
yards and 12 first downs total.

Frank Gore, who had tormented the Seahawks in the past with some
of the biggest games in his career, was held to 59 yards on 22
carries. The play of the front four, along with the emergence of
young safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas stood out to
Carroll.

”Just that whole center of the defense was really solid and
probably what was most notable was how consistent it was, from the
start all the way to the time they were on the goal line and we
knocked them back and got them out of there and forced that second
field goal attempt there,” Carroll said. ”The consistency and the
toughness of it was really obvious and were very good signs.”