Seattle not ready to point fingers

Updated: November 24, 2003, 10:45 PM ET
Associated Press

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Mike Holmgren and his players blamed themselves Monday -- and not a mistake by the officiating crew -- for costing the Seattle Seahawks a road win at Baltimore.

"Maybe they didn't do their part, but we didn't do our part, either," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said.

NFL supervisor of officials Mike Pereira said both the 40-second clock and the game clock should have been restarted after an officials' conference over a penalty call with 58 seconds left in regulation.

Hasselbeck said the NFL office should be given credit "for being honest."

"I think that was obviously something that hurt us," Hasselbeck said. "But as players, we realize there were opportunities to get things done and the officials never should have been a factor."

Baltimore won 44-41 in overtime.

The confusion began with the Seahawks (7-4) leading 41-38 late in regulation. Tackle Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack was flagged after a third-down play for failing to report as an eligible receiver in a double tight end formation.

That was the officiating crew's first mistake. Womack had reported on first down and again on second down in the series -- as his coaches had emphasized to him all week in practice.

"Yes, I checked in. Not once but twice," Womack said.

Players are not required to check in again unless they leave the game. Womack checked in on second down as a precaution.

"We drilled Pork Chop on it," Holmgren said. "We ran it on first down, then he reported again. He didn't have to, but he did."

Linesman Ed Camp threw the flag against Womack after Shaun Alexander's third-and-inches run. On television replays, Alexander appeared to have enough for the first down, but the ball was spotted for no gain.

"Looking back at the TV copy of the third down, we thought that play was good," guard Steve Hutchinson said.

Realizing their error, officials waved off the penalty flag against Womack. But that's when they made the key mistake by failing to restart the clock with 58 seconds to go.

Had the clock been running, Seattle could have run off another 40 seconds before snapping the ball on third down. Baltimore coach Brian Billick said that's what he was expecting, and he was prepared to use his final timeout.

"As they were getting it done, the clock wasn't starting," Billick said. "I thought, 'Let them run that and then we'll call timeout."'

Instead, Baltimore regained possession with 39 seconds to play when Hasselbeck was denied on a fourth-and-inches sneak. Holmgren had planned to leave the Ravens without their timeouts and only about 12 seconds remaining on their own 30.

"That's time for one play," Holmgren explained. "That's how I was thinking. Then all of a sudden everything changed."

Aided by a 44-yard pass interference penalty, the Ravens moved downfield and forced overtime on Matt Stover's 40-yard field goal as time expired. Stover won it with a 42-yarder in overtime.

"It's like losing a game on a Hail Mary deal," Holmgren said. "That's only happened to me one other time, when I was an assistant coach. You're pretty sure your game is won and then it's lost."

Still, neither Holmgren nor his players would criticize the officials.

Linebacker Chad Brown pointed to the 41 points allowed in regulation, which included a Baltimore touchdown on a special-teams breakdown. Hutchinson and other offensive players said they couldn't get a first down to run out the clock.

"I don't think we have any cause to be pointing fingers anywhere else," Brown said. "Yeah, the officials blew the call. And we gave up 41 points."


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

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