The would-be miracle kick landed short and to the left, an inadequate line drive to match a dubious decision.
This was, coach Pete Carroll said, the Seahawks’ best chance to win: a 61-yard Steven Hauschka field-goal attempt with 13 seconds remaining instead of giving a quarterback having a career day a chance to convert on fourth-and-eight.
“I wanted to give them a chance to win it,” Carroll said.
So he bought a lottery ticket and crossed his fingers.
He could have just trusted his offense.
“We’re going to take a shot on making a historic kick,” Carroll said.
How about making an unlikely fourth down instead?
That was the choice — unlikely vs. unprecedented — and while neither is an attractive option, Carroll made the wrong decision. Do something that the Seahawks have never done before, or reward Tarvaris Jackson and an offense that had exploded for 239 yards in the second half with the opportunity to make one difficult play?
Unlikely trumps unprecedented.
And so, after an incredible game, after the Seahawks rallied from a 27-7 third-quarter deficit with what Carroll called a “powerful” breakthrough, the coach’s ears will be ringing this morning, not because this contest was so exciting, but because he won’t be able to escape the piercing sounds of being loudly second-guessed.
The Atlanta Falcons beat the Seahawks 30-28 Sunday at CenturyLink Field mostly because of their fast start. But the end will be the biggest storyline. To be fair, you should resist oversimplifying Carroll’s choice and saying it cost the Seahawks the game. A victory would have required an amazing play either way. But consider what Carroll requested by giving the order to attempt what would have been a franchise-record field goal.
The Seahawks have made only one field goal longer than 55 yards in franchise history. That was Josh Brown’s 58-yarder in 2003. The longest field goal in this stadium’s history was a 55-yarder from Brown in 2005. Only nine players in NFL history have made field goals of 60 yards or longer. Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski made a 63-yarder, which is tied for the NFL’s longest, three weeks ago to beat Denver. But that attempt broke a tie score. In the Seahawks’ case, Carroll put everything on Hauschka’s desperate try.
“I didn’t want to not have a chance to win the game,” Carroll said. “We had an opportunity, and an old coach told me that if you have a chance to win on the last play of the game, you go for it.”
None of the players questioned the move afterward. Then again, the Seahawks aren’t that kind of bunch. They’re largely a collection of newbies still searching for their place within the franchise, and they haven’t built enough equity to declare the offense deserved a chance on fourth down.
They did deserve the opportunity, however. Jackson threw for 319 yards and three touchdowns. Seven Seahawks receivers caught at least three passes. The offense was functioning well enough to warrant some trust.
Carroll didn’t want to end the game on an incomplete pass or a play short of a first down. I understand the logic. But once again, unlikely trumps unprecedented. It was fourth-and-eight, not fourth-and-18. Thirteen seconds remained, and the Seahawks had a timeout to use if they converted. Eight or more yards, and Hauschka, who had neither made nor attempted a field goal longer than 54 yards in a game, would have a legitimate shot to win the game.
“You can easily replay it and say we should have did this, we should have did that, but who knows?” Jackson said. “So, we’re going to stick to what we did. We did what we thought was best.”
Jackson said the kick gave Seattle a chance to win, adding, “That’s all you can ask for.”