Missed opportunities, penalties hamper Seahawks in 25-20 loss to Saints

NEW ORLEANS -- For a team that has seen a seemingly endless supply of fourth quarter heroics, this was the one that wasn't.

The final play of the game landed the ball in Jermaine Kearse's hands. But he was just outside of the end zone. And the Seahawks were just outside of a win, falling 25-20 to the Saints.

The blame for the loss falls on any number of subjects. Eleven penalties for a total of 76 yards . A sputtering offense that missed crucial opportunities. A beleaguered defense with more time on the field in the past two games than any other team in the league.

Which ever way you shake it, the Seahawks will need to make adjustments moving forward.

The game in New Orleans got off to a promising start, familiar start.

Early in the first quarter, safety Earl Thomas picked up a fumble from Saints running back Mark Ingram and ran the ball back 34 yards to put the Hawks on the board. Following a Saints field goal in the second quarter, a stronger-looking Wilson led the Hawks 75 yards down the field to put the Hawks up 14-3.

The drive snapped a touchdown-less streak for the Seahawks offense dating back to Week 6 against the Atlanta Falcons.

But the Saints answered.

Quarterback Drew Brees kicked it in to high gear in the second quarter, leading the Saints down the field just before the end of the first half to put the Saints close at 14-13.

Brees and the Saints dominated time of possession throughout the game, grinding down a Seahawks defense that played more than 45 minutes in an overtime game against the Arizona Cardinals the week prior.

Twenty-eight first downs by the Saints -- combined with time of possession -- were too much for a beleaguered Seahawks defense.  Twenty-five points against the Hawks is the second most scored all season, and questions arise as the Hawks defense looks to hunker down without star defensive end Michael Bennett.

The offense looks to move ahead, too. Wilson and the offense only scored 13 points against a typically feckless Saints defense. Coach Pete Carroll noted the offensive struggles, saying after the game the team's rhythm continues to look off.

"We could have won that game today," Carroll said in his postgame press conference.

The Seahawks look to right the ship next week against the Buffalo Bills in prime time. The teams will face-off at 5:30 p.m. Monday night at CenturyLink Field.