Most people figured the Seahawks would lose one of the tough back-to-back road games in Houston and Indianapolis, so it's not a surprise that the Hawks emerged from those at 4-1.
It's just the way they did it that galls many -- starting fast in Indianapolis only to have the Colts turn the tables on the Seahawks and use their own MO of strong finishes against them. And with that 34-28 loss ended a nine-game winning streak covering the past two seasons.
Poor decisions doomed the Seahawks all day Sunday -- from Jeron Johnson's choice to slide out of the end zone with the ball after a blocked punt to the secondary playing the wrong zone coverage on a 73-yard touchdown pass to the Hawks burning all of their timeouts with nine minutes left.
This game was unlike any the Hawks have played under Pete Carroll.
They actually started fast for once, dominating the first half everywhere but on the scoreboard.
"The thing I was most happy about in this game was we came out just right," Carroll told 710 ESPN Radio on Monday. "We were better this week than last week. We made a conscious effort to fire on all cylinders."
Leading 10-0, the Hawks got a bonus score when Jermaine Kearse blocked a punt and Johnson chased it into the end zone and tried to corral it as he slid out of bounds. The Seahawks thought they should have received a touchdown, but that was one of those plays that had to stand as called on the field -- a safety -- because it was not conclusive on review.
If Johnson had simply stopped the ball and picked it up while standing in the end zone, they would have had the TD. He really has no one to blame but himself, and the Hawks have no valid complaint.
So the Hawks were up 12-0 instead of 17-0 in the first quarter, and the Colts stayed in it on a couple of huge plays: a 73-yard touchdown pass and a 61-yard touchdown off a blocked field goal.
Carroll said those were both pretty flukish plays.
The 73-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton was the longest play against Seattle since Carroll took over in 2010. On that play, Richard Sherman did not drop deep enough and Earl Thomas could not get over the top of Hilton.
"We're a terrific team at preventing long plays," Carroll said. "We made a mistake in coverage, misread what was going on … and we just didn't get back there.
"(Hilton) did it a couple of times, and those were costly plays in the game," Carroll said, referencing Hilton's 29-yard score against Brandon Browner that cut Seattle's lead to 28-23 in the third quarter.
As for the blocked field goal, Carroll said it was a perfect scenario for the Colts. "They had only one hand up, and that guy (Lawrence Guy) happens to get it," followed by a perfect bounce to Delano Howell, who ran for the score.
Those plays kept the Colts in it in the first half despite being dominated in every other way by the fast-starting Hawks, who outgained the Colts 267-117.
In fact, the Seahawks dominated that game in almost every category but the final score and -- most pertinent to that score -- third downs.
The offense, still short three starting linemen, continued a trend of failing to convert. They were just 2 of 12 in Indy after going 3 of 14 in Houston.
Meanwhile, the Colts went 7 for 12 on third downs, converting 6 of 7 on their final three drives as they scored 17 points.
And that was the game.
Some fans are arguing the game was decided by the referees, but that is incorrect. Yeah, Ron Winter's crew was very inconsistent on interference calls, but there were only two blatant misses: the PI call on Golden Tate on a 28-yard play to the Colts' 31-yard line in the second quarter and a "12 men in the huddle" call on the offense in the third quarter (TV review showed just 11 Seahawks).
The Hawks ended up with a field goal on the latter series, and they probably would have gotten just three points on the Tate drive as well, the way they were going. Still, Tate was understandably miffed, saying, "I'm almost appalled with some of the calls."
The calls were inconsistent, yes, and the officials were not very good overall, but the Hawks also benefited. Chris Clemons could have been called for a hit to the head of Luck on his forced fumble in the third quarter. The Hawks ended up with a field goal out of that. So they went both ways.
The Seahawks really were just their own worst enemy, and Carroll knows it.
"We only concern ourselves with the things that we can control, and we can't control the way they call their calls," Carroll said, "so to spend energy on that and to spend a lot of time and remorse and all that, it doesn't do you any good.
"There's nothing you can do about it. I want to spend our focus on the things that we can do right and we can do well and that can change the game, and there's a bunch of those. .. So that's what we're going to focus on."
The Hawks had several unexplainable personnel problems, which led to burning three timeouts with nine minutes left in the second half. They played one defensive snap with just 10 players and nearly didn’t get the 11th guy out there for the next play. Then they spent two timeouts in a four-play span early in the fourth quarter, including just before the Colts' two-point conversion.
In the end, the game swung on third downs and the Hawks surrendered a game they should have had well in hand.
"We really gave that game to them," Carroll said. "They were there to take it. They did a great job. They get all the credit. But there were plays there that we make normally …"