The Seahawks lost to the Falcons 34-31 Monday night, but apparently you can’t say they lost without blaming someone. I didn’t realize it, but suddenly Pete Carroll has gone from a potential Hall of Fame coach to the biggest idiot in town. And Blair Walsh, what a choker he is for not making a game-tying 52-yard field goal.
I understand that people say irrational stuff when they’re upset over a loss by a team they passionately follow. But when the second-guessing is followed up with third-guessing and opinions fly in the face of facts, I don’t get it.
Carroll has taken a lot of heat for trying a fake field goal with seven seconds left in the first half. With a successful kick by Walsh, they would have trailed 24-20 and received the second-half kickoff. They lost by three points, and if they had just had those three points at the end of the first half, they might have won in overtime. That’s one of the crazy storylines, as if the game would have played out exactly the way it did if Walsh had been allowed to kick that 35-yard field goal.
Grady Jarrett blew up the fake field goal by tackling Luke Willson after he caught a shovel flip from holder Jon Ryan. What a stupid call! In hindsight, not really. The Seahawks saw something with the Falcons’ field-goal defense that caused Carroll to think a trick play would work.
It blew up in his face, but what if it had worked? The Seahawks would have tied it up, 24-24, erasing a 14-0 deficit and taking all kinds of momentum into the second half. Do you really think Carroll would have tried the fake field goal if he didn’t think the risk was worth it? If it had worked, he would have been praised for having the guts to try it.
Here’s what would have happened if Willson had scored on the play: Carroll would have been praised for his unconventional decision. SportsCenter would have played and replayed Willson’s touchdown over and over again. We would have seen the most surprising flute-playing techno celebration ever.
And let’s say Willson got the first down but was stopped short of the goal line. There still would have been one or two seconds left on the clock, and the Seahawks had a timeout. They still could have kicked a field goal.
Carroll took what he thought was a calculated gamble. Sometimes the dice crap out. But I hope it doesn’t change his aggressive philosophy. I’m sick of NFL coaches always going by the book. It’s one of the reasons I like the college game more than the professional game.
Did you see the Eagles-Cowboys game Sunday night? After their kicker got hurt in the first half, the Eagles were forced to go for it on fourth down in field-goal territory and when they scored, they were forced to go for two. It made it more interesting, just like it’s more interesting when a coach like Mike Leach goes for it as often as he does on fourth down.
And boy did Carroll screw up by challenging the non-catch by Doug Baldwin when replays showed that the ball hit the turf. They sure could have used that extra timeout on the final drive. I’ll give you that complaint, but there are probably other decisions he made Monday night that gave the Seahawks a chance to win, against all odds with a depleted defense facing a high-powered offense.
With Walsh, come on. Go ahead and rip him for missing three make-able field goals against the Redskins three weeks ago. And I know the 52-yarder he missed Monday night was make-able too. But Danny O’Neil did some research and found that on field goals of 50 yards or longer since Century Link Field opened in 2002, kickers were 28 of 53. I’m guessing that the percentage is even lower toward the north end of the field, which has always given kickers more trouble than the south end.
Plus there might not have been any wind, but it was 39 degrees. I’m guessing if it had been 50 or 60 degrees, that kick would have sailed through the uprights. Give Walsh a break on that one. I also give him slack for being a stand-up guy and giving reporters an explanation after the game. He didn’t “drive it” as much as he should have, striving for accuracy over power at that end of the field.
It sounded like a golfer who was trying to hit it 250 yards to the middle of the fairway as opposed to 300 yards and worrying about it going violently left or right.
It’s not Carroll’s or Walsh’s fault that they lost the game. No one person or player is ever responsible for a defeat in a football game, and let’s leave it at that.