Could've, should've, would've.
The Seattle Seahawks 28-34 loss to the Indianapolis Colts was a result of the many plays the team could have made but missed out on. If only Jeron Johnson had controled the ball in the end zone after Jermaine Kearse blocked a punt in the first quarter. If only the secondary had seen T.Y. Hilton breaking free at the end of the first quarter. If only they had converted more than two of their 12 3rd down chances.
“This was a terrific football game," Pete Carroll said at his postgame news conference. "Two good teams going at it and battling. I think the tale of this game will come down to the big plays that they made and they came through and we had our shots we didn’t get the ones we needed.”
In many ways, it was a tale of two quarters. The Seahawks looked dominant in the first quarter, as Houschka kicked a field goal, Russell Wilson threw a TD pass to wide receiver Golden Tate, and the blocked punt that was recovered out of the back of the end zone for a safety gave Seattle a 12-0 lead. But in the 4th quarter, Andrew Luck came through with a long touchdown drive to overcome a 28-23 deficit and orchestrate another 4th quarter comeback win, the ninth of his short career.
"I don't think anybody's built better to win these close games, especially down the stretch, especially in the fourth quarter than this team," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.
One week after their defense keyed their own fourth quarter comeback, Seattle was victimized by one of their own. Richard Sherman was flagged for a pivitol, and questionable, pass interference call on the deciding drive, and a coach's challenge awarded Indianapolis with a first down on a pass that had been ruled just short of the marker. That allowed running back Donald Brown to get into the end zone for the deciding score.
Special teams were big for both teams. In addition to the Seahawks blocked punt, the Colts blocked a Hauschka field goal and returned it for a touchdown.
The Seahawks also got a strong effort from their ground game. Marshawn Lynch rushed for a season-high 102 yards, as did quarterback Russell Wilson.
Yet the deciding factor was the Seahawks inability to convert on third down, settling for four field goals instead of touchdowns.
“We really struggled on third downs,” coach Pete Carroll said. “That was the difference.”
The Seahawks will wrap up their four game stint against the AFC South when the host the Tennessee Titans next Sunday.