By Brady Henderson
Supporters of Tarvaris Jackson have noted the quarterback's toughness, leadership and ability to effectively manage a game this season while arguably exceeding some of the expectations that came with his arrival in Seattle.
No one, however, would call the Seahawks quarterback clutch. Not with his inability to lead a game-winning drive this season.
Jackson took the brunt of the criticism (see Mike Salk's column) for the Seahawks' 19-17 loss to the 49ers on Saturday, and rightfully so. After all, his fourth-quarter fumble on the Seahawks' next-to-last possession ended their best shot at a comeback.
Tarvaris Jackson has struggled late in some of the Seahawks' close games, including their Week 12 loss to Washington. (AP)
It happened against Atlanta in Week 4 (though in fairness to Jackson, a false start penalty on Sidney Rice complicated the team's efforts to kick a game-winning field goal). It happened in a six-point loss to Washington in Week 12 when Jackson was intercepted on Seattle's last possession.
It happened again on Saturday. Seattle got the ball back following Jackson's fumble, but his fourth-down pass sailed out of bounds, well over the head of tight end Zach Miller.
Coach Pete Carroll sees a common theme.
"I don't think we're as sharp as we'd like to be at just taking what they're giving us," Carroll told "Brock and Salk" on Monday.
Specifically, Carroll pointed to a third-and-2 play on the final possession in which Jackson threw incomplete deep down the middle of the field. Carroll said throwing a check-down pass instead would have gained about 15 yards.
"The guy was open enough but he could have been a little more conservative there," Carroll said. "So it's those kinds of things. It's just taking advantage of the opportunities as they present and we just haven't been as sharp to get that done and unfortunately we haven't got those couple wins."
Carroll also mentioned Justin Forsett failing to get out of bounds on the final drive, saying that Forsett's decision to try to pick up a few extra yards cost the Seahawks as many as 10 seconds.
"There's an execution error right there," he said.
That might not have mattered had it not been for Jackson's fumble on the previous possession, which was his second in as many weeks and fourth this season. When asked about Jackson's fumbling and his tendency to take unnecessary sacks, Carroll said part of it can be attributed to the quarterback's competitive nature, while not necessarily excusing it.
"He competes to try and finish the play and see if he can get something done and he believes in himself in such a manner that there have been a few times where he has held the ball too long," Carroll said. "He did throw the ball away well [Saturday], did a nice job of getting rid of the football a couple times, [but] could have avoided maybe another two sacks by throwing it away again.
"But he's a battler and he's a competitor, and in those situations I think he's going to grow to learn that 'I've got to take the other choice in the matter and not get hit and not let them get to us.'"
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson