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Seahawks’ Carroll optimistic despite 4-5 mark after loss

November 12, 2018
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Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny, left, scores past Los Angeles Rams inside linebacker Cory Littleton during the first half in an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Seattle coach Pete Carroll had every reason to be frustrated after his Seahawks dropped a second straight game in the final minute.

However, Carroll wasn’t sounding the alarm on his team’s season after a 36-31 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

“We aren’t slowing down. We’re going to keep running the football, keep setting the tempo,” Carroll said. “I love the way we’re playing. We just have to stay alive and keep going.”

The success of the Seahawks’ running game is what has Carroll confident about his team’s hopes of contending for a playoff spot. Seattle (5-6) ran for 273 yards — the eighth most in a single game in franchise history — despite Chris Carson missing the game due to a hip injury. Rashaad Penny, who was selected in the first round of last April’s draft, had his first 100-yard game as a pro with 108 yards on 12 carries.

Penny missed most of training camp due to a broken finger before slowly working his way back into the rotation once he improved in the pass game and on pass blocking.

“I feel like I’ve grown up the last two to three weeks,” Penny said. “I told myself the whole game that I can do this and the coaches trust me.”

Russell Wilson, who was 17 of 26 for 176 yards and three touchdowns, had just 11 pass attempts going into the fourth quarter. That was the lowest number of pass attempts through three quarters in his seven-year career.

A turnover by Wilson has loomed large in both of Seattle’s recent losses. Last Sunday against the Chargers, he threw an interception in the fourth quarter that was returned for a touchdown. This week, he fumbled the ball on a strip sack by Rams linebacker Dante Fowler that was recovered at the Seahawks’ nine yard line with less than six minutes remaining. One play later, Brandon Cooks scored on a nine-yard run to give Los Angeles a 36-24 lead.

Seattle scored on its ensuing possession and got the ball back after holding the Rams to a three-and-out. Wilson got Seattle to the Rams 36 yard line with 39 seconds remaining, but three straight incompletions ended any hopes of a comeback.

The Seahawks haven’t been able to force a turnover in either loss, which has frustrated the defense.

“We just needed one tip ball or on the ground to flip the script and we didn’t come up with it,” defensive end Dion Jordan said. “We played these good teams hard twice and didn’t come up with the win. Pete doesn’t want us to get down on ourselves. This has to be turning point for us going into these last couple games.”

Seattle’s decision to call a surprise onside kick down 26-24 with under 10 minutes remaining ended up costing them. Carroll said Sebastian Janikowski hit the ball wrong, which led to an easy recovery by Rams wide receiver Josh Reynolds. The short field ended up leading to a 20-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein.

“Before that play, actually, I see them talking to the ref and kind of pointing in that area. Something’s a little up. And then I saw his approach,” Reynolds said. “I used to be a kicker in high school, so I saw his approach change right when he was about to kick the ball, so I knew what it was.”

The Seahawks have five of their final seven games at home, but it is not an easy stretch drive. It starts on Thursday night against Green Bay and also includes a game at Carolina (Nov. 25) and home games against Minnesota (Dec. 10) and Kansas City (Dec. 23).

“We feel like we are a lot better than our record shows,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “We had some plays get away from us and we lost some games. There’s still a lot of football left. We’re confident that we’ll pull it out.”

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