Sixty-one yards. That was all that stood between the Seattle Seahawks and their second win of the season Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
Instead of attempting to go for a manageable, albeit, improbable fourth down and eight, Head Coach Pete Carroll elected to send out 26-year-old kicker Steven Hauschka to midfield for what figured to be an impossible 61-yard field goal to win the game.
As expected, the kick landed short and to the left. The game and comeback coming to an abrupt, heart-breaking finish. For the second time this year, a second-half comeback effort once again was in vain leaving the team 1-3.
Carroll’s decision to attempt the long field goal has drawn overwhelming criticism from a fan base steeping with frustration. While neither option looked attractive, Carroll undoubtedly chose the more unsightly of the two and hoped for a miracle.
“I didn’t want to not have a chance to win the game,” Carroll said after the game. “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.”
Accountability always looms large after losses. Carroll’s honeymoon period with the Seahawks has reached its end as the coach is beginning to take his first licks from fans and media alike.
We can play the blame game all day; it just isn’t fair to only scrutinize one play. Look at the false start penalty the preceded the kick, look at the defense’s inability to stop Atlanta on multiple third and long situations late in the game, and look at the team’s inability to score in the first half. Trust me, there’s plenty of blame to go around.
It’s really quite a shame that such a brilliant second-half comeback and such an outstanding effort by Tarvaris Jackson has gone overlooked for the most part. Like a beautiful song ending on a sour note, people will only remember that sour note.
Look, I am as fed up with losing as the next guy. I can’t stand the fact that Seattle teams are seemingly stuck in a perpetual rut, constantly yearning for the greener grass of next season.
While this loss stung, it left me feeling completely different about this young team and the direction in which it’s headed.
The game could have ended in a blowout and boy it was looking like it in the first half. Down 27-7 in the third quarter, Tarvaris and the Seahawks staged an unprecedented comeback against a team that led the NFC with 14 wins a year ago.
It was the kind of performance that re-instills confidence in what previously seemed to be an anemic offense. The Hawks managed to cut a 20-point deficit to two points in the second half.
Something clicked in the second half for Tarvaris and the offense. As soon as the offense switched to no-huddle tempo and rhythm set in and for the first time all season, the offense became a legitimate scoring machine.
For a short time Sunday, Jackson silenced all the doubters and “Charlie” chanters with his career high 319 passing yards and three touchdowns. Though I still don’t believe he will be the team’s next franchise quarterback, if Tarvaris can capture that rhythm, this season could be better than expected.
"I thought Tarvaris showed us what we've been counting on, what we've been seeing, what we felt," Carroll said. "Tremendous play, tremendous throws, sense, poise, toughness again and ability to execute when it's really hard."
Weapons like Sidney Rice, Mike Williams, Zach Miller and Marshawn “Beastmode” Lynch are in place. All Tarvaris must do is play point guard, distribute the ball, manage the game and most importantly, find his rhythm.
Losing is always tough, but if there is such a thing a good loss, the Seahawks showed it Sunday. Will the team build off of the second-half effort, or will they prove the doubters right and fold under adversity? The season is hanging in the balance; what comes next will surely define who the Seahawks truly are.