A week after benefiting from a non-call by the back judge on the ”illegal bat” by K.J. Wright, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made the curious call of not getting the ball into Thomas Rawls’ hands in overtime at Cincinnati.
With Marshawn Lynch missing his second straight game with a hamstring injury, the undrafted rookie rumbled all over the Bengals in regulation, running for a 69-yard TD, part of a career-best 169-yard game.
When Cincinnati erased a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit and sent it to overtime, the Seahawks got the ball first and Fred Jackson was at running back instead of Rawls.
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”We just changed the packages like we often do,” Carroll said.
Jackson ran once for no gain and Russell Wilson ran twice in overtime. Rawls got in for the second series and had one carry that was wiped out by a penalty.
The Seahawks gained just a dozen yards in overtime and Mike Nugent’s deflection off the left upright with 3:36 remaining left Cincinnati 5-0 for the first time since 1988, the last time the Bengals went to the Super Bowl.
The 17-point collapse matched Seattle’s biggest meltdown ever.
GOING FOR IT: Chip Kelly went for it on fourth-and-7 from the Saints 39 on the Eagles’ opening drive, and on fourth-and-9 at the Saints 35 in the second quarter Sunday. Both times Sam Bradford threw incomplete to Riley Cooper.
But the Saints did nothing off the ensuing possessions. While going for it didn’t work out for Philadelphia’s offense, Kelly sent a message to his defenders that he believes in them even against the likes of Drew Brees.
Asked why he didn’t punt in those situations to pin the Saints inside the 10-yard line, Kelly said, ”Because I have confidence in our defense.”
NOT GOING FOR IT: Broncos coach Gary Kubiak also has tremendous trust in his defense – one that has 22 sacks and 14 takeaways, something no team has done through five weeks in the last 17 seasons. But he has a lot less faith in his struggling offense right now.
So, facing fourth-and-2 feet from the Oakland 44 at the two-minute warning while leading 16-7 Sunday, he elected to punt.
The Broncos’ banged-up O-line can’t protect Peyton Manning well enough for him to hit deep passes down the sideline, which means defenses keep stacking the box. That in turn makes it all the harder for Broncos running backs, who rank 30th in the NFL in yardage.
Twenty-nine times the Broncos have run for zero gain or negative yards, including four such runs Sunday.
Kubiak’s decision ultimately panned out, but it nearly backfired.
Sebastian Janikowski’s field goal with 1:45 left made it a six-point game, but Demaryius Thomas recovered the onside kick for Denver. After the Broncos went three-and-out, David Bruton Jr., recovered the fumbled punt return at the Oakland 27 with no time left.
IMPERFECT PACKER: Aaron Rodgers’ NFL-record streaks of 587 pass attempts and 49 touchdown passes at home without an interception ended in the first quarter on linebacker James Laurinaitis’ diving pick of a tipped ball.
That one was fluky, but not his second pick, when Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson jumped a short route on a pass intended for James Jones.
”The second one was just a nice break,” Rodgers said. ”We actually kind of quick-counted them, and if we hadn’t he might have been in his backpedal.”
GOING DEEP: In a 35-33 loss to the Colts in Week 3, Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt put the ball in the hands of rookie fullback Jalston Fowler instead of Marcus Mariota’s when he needed a 2-point conversion for the tie.
Needing a field goal for the win Sunday, he let Mariota throw deep to Kendall Wright in hopes of putting the Titans in field goal range. But cornerback Stephon Gilmore leapt over Wright for the interception at the Buffalo 38 to seal the Bills’ 14-13 win.
AP Pro Football Writers Rob Maaddi and Teresa M. Walker and Sports Writers Joe Kay and Genaro C. Armas contributed.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton