The Seahawks can blame the officials for their season-opening loss in Green Bay.
Or they can say that their 17-9 defeat was the result of just two mistakes.
If they use either or both of those excuses, though, they’re kidding themselves.
Oh, there’s some truth in both claims: Replays appeared to show a very weak illegal block decision in one case, and failure to call pass interference in another instance — calls that cost the Seahawks two touchdowns.
And they’d also be correct that just two blunders turned the entire momentum of the game: Russell Wilson’s fumble on his own 6-yard line early in the third quarter, and later getting caught with 12 men on the field during a defensive personnel change.
GREEN BAY quarterback Aaron Rodgers is an absolute master of spotting free plays, when opponents have jumped offside or have an extra man between the lines.
Rodgers uses a one-word audible to a quick snap in those cases and always throws deep, since he has nothing to lose.
This time, A-Rod caught the Seahawks in a fouled-up change, saw a 12th man and quickly whipped a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson — turning a one-point game into a 14-6 Packers advantage.
As for complaints about the officiating, one call definitely looked wrong. Tight end Jimmy Graham was mugged in the end zone on a third-and-goal play, nothing was called and the Seahawks settled for a 21-yard field goal instead of a touchdown that could have changed the game.
But the other flags, thrown during Naz Jones’ interception of Rodgers and what appeared to be a first quarter pick-six, well...
Pete Carroll’s complaints about the ejection of cornerback Jeremy Lane for supposedly punching Devante Adams were justified, but the killer was Cliff Avril getting called for a block in the back as he gave Rodgers a cursory but obvious shove.
It wasn’t dirty, but it was incredibly stupid (a lot like having 12 men on the field, actually).
Naz was long gone and didn’t need a block from anybody, let alone on Rodgers.
“What were we doing with a block down there, anyway?” Carroll conceded.
FAIR ENOUGH, the Seahawks had some legitimate beefs about a call or two.
And yes, those two mistakes turned the game.
Seattle got mauled, and there’s no use trying to hide it.
The team that prides itself on running over you and physically dominating games got thoroughly handled in a street fight.
If Lane really did punch Adams, it was the only battle the Seahawks won all day.
A Green Bay defense that was porous a year ago apparently has taken that slight personally. The Pack thoroughly whipped the Seahawks’ revamped offensive line and forced Wilson to spend the entire afternoon running for his life.
Defensive tackle Mike Daniels spent more time with Wilson than his family.
Seattle simply could not move the ball, let alone get the thing into the end zone.
THE FINAL score looks pretty darn fair when you realize the Packers had huge advantages in total yards (370-225), first downs (26-12), plays from scrimmage (70-45) and time of possession (39 minutes to 21).
That brings us to another point: Although the Seahawks’ mighty defense held Rodgers and his mates to 17 points, they couldn’t get the Packers off the field when it really mattered.
Green Bay converted 9 of 16 third-down chances, the sort of situations in which the Seahawks normally claim they own you.
Wilson looked slightly more effective in a fourth-quarter, hurry-up offense, but at that point, the defense couldn’t get him the ball for any late heroics.
Deep down, Carroll knows good and well that this loss wasn’t about the officiating.
If this team is going to come anywhere close to its lofty goals, a lot more guys will have to throw blocks.
• • •
Steve Cameron is a special assignment reporter for The Press and the author of 13 sports books. Reach Steve at: email@example.com.