The Seattle Seahawks lost the game Sunday. More importantly, they lost their cool and lost some respect.
Fortunately, the loss of composure at the end won't cost the Seahawks any key players entering the most important game of the season. ESPN reported Monday afternoon that no one will a suspension from Sunday's altercations.
A 30-24 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars became a secondary story in the final seconds with an ugly scuffle after the game was decided. Seattle defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was ejected for throwing a punch. Defensive end Michael Bennett dove at the knees of Jacksonville center Brandon Linder.
All this happened while the Jags were in victory formation to simply run the final seconds off the clock.
And defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson, who also was ejected, almost went into stands in anger after fans threw drinks and ice at him as he left the field. Hopefully, the fans involved will be identified, arrested and kept out of any NFL games in the future.
The Seahawks were angry over a critical fourth-down play on their final possession when receiver Paul Richardson was pulled to the ground and no flag was thrown.
“It ignited us and we didn’t handle it very well,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday morning on 710-AM ESPN radio. “That’s the wrong way to go. We got too emotional.”
That’s the NFL. Calls are missed. Mistakes are made. It doesn’t excuse what happened afterward. It was awful. It was disgraceful. It was embarrassing and luckily didn't bring suspensions from the league office this time.
Pro Bowl linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright left with injuries in the second half (their status for the Rams game is uncertain) on a defense already without Pro Bowl players Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril.
The Seahawks couldn't afford to lose Bennett, Richardson and Jefferson to suspensions heading into the critical game with Rams.
In the locker room afterward, quarterback Russell Wilson tried to emphasize what matters the most: “Next week we go for first place,” Wilson said to his teammates as he walked around the room.
Despite the loss Sunday, the Seahawks (8-5) still control their own destiny in the NFC West. A victory over the 9-4 Los Angeles Rams next weekend at CenturyLink Field would place the Seahawks on top of the division by having two victories this season over the Rams.
“We’ve got to clear our heads,’’ Wilson said. “We have guys who have better judgment than that. The reality is we’re playing for first place. I think we can be better as players and better as people.”
Coach Pete Carroll, knowing he would be penalized, ran on to the middle of the field at the end to try and calm his players.
“I was trying to slow them down,’’ Carroll said afterward. “There wasn’t a chance to get the ball back at that point.
“It’s really disappointing how it ended. We have to be more poised than that. But I loved the way we fought (to come back from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit.) There was no thought that we couldn’t come back.”
In the big picture, the outcome of the game doesn’t mean a lot. The Seahawks did what they needed to do the last two weeks by splitting tough games against the Philadelphia Eagles and the Jags. And they caught a break when the Rams lost on Sunday to the Eagles.
So all is not lost. The Seahawks still can accomplish their goals. They also can regain their composure in the process if cooler heads prevail.