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KERRY EGGERS ON SPORTS/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/Brees-less Saints win in a breeze as Seahawks can't overcome their own mistakes

COURTESY PHOTO: MICHAEL WORKMAN - Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson slings a pass against New Orleans on what was a big day for him, statistically, though not on the scoreboard.SEATTLE — The Seattle Seahawks won't have a perfect record as they head for Phoenix next Sunday to face the Arizona Cardinals, and they mostly have themselves to blame.

With Drew Brees home in New Orleans after thumb surgery, the New Orleans Saints (2-1) earned a 33-27 victory over Seattle onSunday at CenturyLink Field.

But, really, the Seahawks (2-1) lost it as much as the Saints won it.

With Teddy Bridgewater stepping in ably at quarterback, New Orleans prevailed in a game that wasn't as close as the final score would indicate.

The Seahawks scored a meaningless touchdown on the game's final play. And even though their offensive stats were impressive — 26 first downs, 406 yards passing, 515 yards total offense — they played themselves out of what could have been their first 3-0 start since 2013.

New Orleans (2-1) managed only 15 first downs and 265 yards total offense, but scored a pair of touchdowns on special teams and benefited from a few questionable decisions by the Seattle coaching staff.

Pete Carroll's perfect record at home in September during his 10 years with the Seahawks? Kaput.

"An unusual game," said Carroll, who had been 15-0 in September games at C-Link. "So many things happened that we just hurt ourselves. Even the coach got hurt in this one."

Or just before it. Adding injury to eventual insult, Carroll took a football tossed in his direction by rookie linebacker Cody Barton in the nose as the Seahawks were running off the field following pregame warm-ups.

"I didn't see it coming," said Carroll, who wore a butterfly bandage over a gash at the bridge of the nose as he met with media afterward.

Was the nose broken?

"It's been broken many times," the veteran Seattle coach quipped.

With Brees sidelined and Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson enjoying perhaps the greatest statistical day of his eight-year NFL career, the Saints should have been ripe for the pickings. Untimely penalties, breakdowns in execution and puzzling play calls helped lay the Seahawks to rest.

"We made mistakes," Carroll observed. "We just had a really hard time getting out of our own way. Sometimes a game goes like that. You try to recover, but we just didn't get it done."

It was bad from the start. After a Seattle three-and-out, New Orleans' Deonte Harris returned a punt 53 yards for a TD and a 7-0 lead just 2:54 into the game.

Seattle running back Chris Carson, who gained only 53 yards on 15 carries, slipped and fell to the turf three times in the first 16 minutes. Vonn Bell scooped up Carson's second-quarter fumble and raced 33 yards to paydirt to give the Saints' a 13-7 lead, one they extended to 27-7 in the third quarter.

By that time, Seattle's decision-making was in serious question.

"I had a particularly bad day," Carroll confessed. "There were too many chances I had to make things happen, and I tried too hard at times."

After New Orleans scored on a 29-yard screen pass to Alvin Kamara for a 20-7 lead with 33 seconds left in the first half, Seattle took over at its 21-yard line with two timeouts in hand. Wilson completed a 9-yard pass to tight end Nick Vannett with 14 seconds left, but the Seahawks didn't use one of their timeouts. With the clock winding down, Wilson launched a 54-yard bomb that rookie DK Metcalf hauled in at the Saints' 16 as time expired, costing the Seahawks a field-goal opportunity.

"If we knew that big play was going to happen, I'd have called timeout earlier," Carroll said. "That's just how this thing went. It was one of those days."

Late in the third quarter, with New Orleans comfortably ahead 27-7, a muffed punt gave Seattle the ball at the New Orleans 48-yard line. On third-and-7 from the Saints' 14 — an obvious passing situation — the Seahawks ran Carson up the middle for a yard. On fourth-and-6, Tyler Lockett couldn't hang on to a pass in the end zone from Wilson, and the Seahawks turned the ball over on downs.

Inside 10 minutes left, the score now 27-14, Seattle faced a fourth-and-1 on its 28 — an obvious running situation. Wilson's deep pass to Malik Turner fell incomplete.

"We got checked out of the play we were running," Carroll explained. "(The Saints) had everybody on the line of scrimmage. We were trying to take advantage and score a touchdown right there. ... a very aggressive thought.

"We get choices in this game. Sometimes we do it right; sometimes we don't."

The Seahawks also lined up illegally for a field-goal attempt and were penalized, which eventually turned into a New Orleans touchdown. And Seattle safety Tedric Thompson — injured and not in uniform — was flagged 15 yards for running onto the field to celebrate a play.

"We've celebrated too much before," Carroll said. "Nobody gets to go onto the field, not even the coach. We just have to do a better job on that."

Wilson completed 32 of a career-high 50 passes for 406 yards and two TDs with no interceptions. It was the second-best passing yardage game of his career, behind only his 452 yards against Houston in 2017. He also ran seven times for 51 yards and a pair of scores.

"Russell was exceptional," Carroll said. "Except for a few low balls that he threw, he was spectacular all day long. His scrambling was excellent. He is playing great ball right now."

It was wasted, though, on a lost day at the CLink.

Seattle ran 26 more plays than New Orleans, had 11 more first downs and 250 yards more total offense.

The Saints had only two scoring drives of more than 28 yards. And still lived to celebrate at game's end.

"Too many miscues," Wilson said. "We have to play smarter. We have to play sharper. We have to be cleaner."

Yep. All of those.

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@kerryeggers


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