KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Seahawks coach Pete Carroll knew that Kansas City had not allowed a rushing touchdown all season, so he opted to throw for the end zone on fourth-and-goal at the 2-yard line.
It was the first of three fourth downs that the Seahawks failed to convert.
By the time Russell Wilson threw incomplete in the final minutes Sunday — the last of those failed fourth-down attempts — the Chiefs had preserved a tense 24-20 victory and moved into a tie with the Denver Broncos for first place in the AFC West.
"We didn't capitalize on our opportunities," Carroll said. "We had plenty of chances."
Wilson threw for 178 yards and two touchdowns, and Marshawn Lynch had 124 yards rushing for Seattle (6-4). But the star running back, fresh off a four-touchdown game, was stuffed twice by the Kansas City defense with the outcome hanging in the balance.
The Seahawks' last-chance drive ended when Wilson threw incomplete on fourth-and-18 at their 20-yard line with 1:13 left in the game. Kansas City simply ran out the clock.
"It was a heartbreaking loss," Wilson said. "We thought we could have or should have won it but they played a great game and we played a great game. Two great NFL teams going after it, and in a tough environment. For us, we're just looking for the next opportunity."
The first of Seattle's fourth-down miscues came with about 6 minutes to go. Lynch was stuffed after a two-yard gain on third down, and Carroll elected to gamble at the Chiefs 2. Wilson rolled out and overthrew Doug Baldwin in the corner of the end zone.
"I was interfered. It was obvious," Baldwin said.
Seattle held to get the ball back, and appeared to get a first down with a completion at the Chiefs 35. But coach Andy Reid challenged the spot and replays showed that wide receiver Jermaine Kearse was a full yard short. Again going for it on fourth down, Lynch was stuffed for no gain, giving the Chiefs the ball back with less than 4 minutes to go.
By the time the Seahawks got the ball back one last time, they were pinned so deep in their own territory and had such little time left that it hardly mattered.
"On both sides of the ball we can keep getting better," Reid said. "We certainly haven't hit where we can be, and we'll keep working on that, but that guys did play well today."
It made sense the two playoff contenders would wage an old-school, back-and-forth affair. Both are built in the same mold, featuring stout defenses and strong running games.
Kansas City struck first with a grinding, meandering 15-play drive that took up more than 9 minutes of the first half and ended with Charles' 1-yard touchdown run. Seattle answered with its own 16-play drive, chewing up exactly 9 minutes and ending with Wilson's TD pass to Baldwin.
Nothing really changed the rest of the half as the teams kept grinding away.
Charles broke off two long runs on the Chiefs' next series, including a 16-yard touchdown scamper. Lynch came back with a punishing series of carries to help set up a first field goal.
The Chiefs made their first major mistake late in the half, when Travis Kelce fumbled near midfield. The Seahawks took over with 1:09 left, enough time to convert another field goal.
After the Chiefs answered with a field goal of their own early in the third quarter, they committed their second major mistake. Charles was fighting for extra yardage again near midfield when he was stripped of the ball and the Seahawks recovered.
Five plays later, Wilson hit tight end Tony Moeaki — who spent most of his first four injury-plagued seasons with Kansas City — with a short touchdown toss for a 20-17 lead.
Once again turning to Charles, the Chiefs marched the other way to answer. The elusive running back put a nifty juke on Earl Thomas and scampered 47 yards before getting pushed out of bounds. Gassed, Charles watched as Davis capped the drive to give the Chiefs a 24-20 lead.
Then he watched his defense make it stick.
Notes: Seahawks WR Ricardo Lockette was ejected in the second half for throwing a right hook at Chiefs CB Kurt Coleman. ... Seattle C Max Unger was carted off with a high ankle sprain and twisted knee midway through the fourth quarter. Patrick Lewis finished in his place. ... Charles had not run for 100 yards in any game this season.
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