Cornerback Shaquill Griffin took issue with one of the flags -- a pass interference penalty called against him that set up San Francisco's game-winning field goal in overtime.
"The penalty that they called on me, it was a terrible call," he said inside a silent Seahawks locker room, repeating a word he used a few times.
Griffin was in coverage against Dante Pettis on a second-and-15 play when he was flagged. The penalty moved the 49ers from their own 44-yard line to Seattle's 41. Robbie Gould kicked the game winner from 36 yards out four plays later.
"I kinda knew they was going to try to call a penalty on someone the way they were calling penalties on offense, and I made sure as soon as I seen the pass in the air that I wasn't going to touch him or grab him," Griffin said. "I was just going to stick my hand out, knock it down and roll over. That's exactly what I did. When I stood up and looked at the [official], he looked at me and threw it. So it's something I can't take back, and it sucks the way it ended, but it was a terrible call."
Griffin said he never got any explanation from the official who threw the flag.
Have To Adjust My Game ? https://t.co/0nppDq3N4R— Shaquill Griffin (@ShaquillG) December 17, 2018
Coach Pete Carroll said he didn't have a good enough look at the play to offer any thought on whether the penalty was warranted. He noted the poor timing of Griffin's pass interference and a holding penalty on backup right guard Ethan Pocic, which negated a 32-yard completion from Russell Wilson to J.D. McKissic on Seattle's first and only possession of OT. The Seahawks punted the ball away for good two plays later.
The loss means they'll have to wait at least another week to secure a wild-card berth. According to live projections from ESPN's Football Power Index, Seattle (8-6) still has a 99 percent chance of reaching the postseason.
"I can't tell you," Carroll said of the Griffin play. "I don't know, but it surely happened right at the crucial times. The hold happens on the big play. That's the big play for us to get out of there, and it's just unfortunate. Just the way it goes sometimes. It's not because we're not trying. Guys were busting their tails to get it done, but we just went too far, I guess."
Carroll pointed to the penalties as the difference in the game while rejecting any thought that the Seahawks' preparation or intensity weren't where they needed to be against a 49ers team that entered the day with three wins.
"I don't think any of that was what happened," he said. "I think we were sloppy with the penalty situation. All of the numbers matched up to how we play. The running numbers, the third-down numbers were the best we've had in quite a while. Defense kept the numbers down, played really well in the second half, gave up a couple field goals. So we did a lot of really good things like we normally do."
Penalties have long been a problem for the Seahawks under Carroll. Last season, they led the NFL in accepted penalties (148) and penalty yards (1,342) while breaking the franchise records in each category. Carroll cited that as his biggest regret of a season in which Seattle finished 9-7 and missed out on the playoffs.
It has been much better in 2018. The Seahawks entered Sunday with 93 accepted penalties (tied for 16th most) for 781 yards (18th most), according to ESPN charting. As Carroll noted, they were penalized only four times apiece in two of their previous three games.
"Fourteen today for 148 yards is just really hard to overcome that," he said. "We weren't able to in a close game."
Seattle's 148 penalty yards broke the previous franchise record of 145, set against Denver in 1979.
Pocic was playing because Jordan Simmons had left the game with a knee injury. Carroll said initial indications are that it's a first-degree sprain. Simmons was playing in place of D.J. Fluker, who has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury.
Strong safety Bradley McDougald left in the first half after reaggravating the knee injury that has bothered him for much of the season.
Pocic, a 2017 second-round pick, was flagged for another hold earlier in the game.
"He didn't work out very well," Carroll said of Pocic. "I haven't seen the calls or anything like that so I can't tell you, but we've got to be in position to keep our hands inside and not give them a chance to call it. [Left guard J.R. Sweezy] would tell you the same thing on a couple he had. It's just how it goes."
Several Seahawks players -- including Wilson, receiver Doug Baldwin and left tackle Duane Brown -- echoed Carroll's thought that neither the Seahawks' effort nor their focus were the issues on Sunday. They all pointed to the penalties.
"Whenever you have a chance to clinch a playoff berth and you don't get it done, it's very disappointing," Brown said. "I think the most disappointing part is how much we assisted in the loss. Take nothing away from them -- they played a really good game and came out with a lot of energy. But we had 14 penalties for over 100 yards. It's hard to win like that."