O’Neil: Without missed kicks by Blair Walsh, Seahawks wouldn’t have missed the playoffs
It wouldn’t have mattered.
That’s about the only thing to take the sting out of the 48-yard field-goal attempt that Blair Walsh missed near the end of the Seahawks’ 26-24 loss to Arizona.
It wouldn’t have mattered because of the 52-yard field-goal attempt that Walsh left short in Seattle’s Monday night loss to Atlanta on Nov. 20, which would have sent that game to overtime.
And while it’s too simple to boil down Seattle’s 2017 season to those two kicks, those kicks were the difference in Sunday’s game and in the season. Even if Walsh had made that game-winning attempt in the final minute, Seattle wouldn’t have made the playoffs because the Falcons held a tiebreaker advantage by virtue of their head-to-head victory.
So that’s it. The Seahawks finished the season 9-7 and will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2011, which was the year before Seattle drafted Russell Wilson.
“Painful,” said receiver Doug Baldwin, whose two second-half touchdown catches keyed a comeback.
Seattle went 4-4 at home, its worst home record under Pete Carroll, and Arizona won for the fourth time in its past five games at CenturyLink field.
Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson kicked a 42-yard field goal with 2:21 left, his fourth field goal of the game. All were from more than 40 yards out.
The Seahawks outgained Arizona in the second half 272 yards to 69. They outscored the Cardinals 17-6 in the final two quarters, with Baldwin making a pair of touchdown catches, but the Seahawks couldn’t quite complete what would have been a pretty admirable comeback after a cringe-worthy first half.
The Seahawks had more points (seven) than yards (0) in the first quarter. The Seahawks had 24 yards of net offense at halftime, their lowest first-half total in a game in Carroll’s eight seasons as head coach, and Tyler Lockett’s 99-yard kickoff return was the only time Seattle crossed midfield until the third quarter.
The comeback came up short only because Walsh missed right.
“For me, it’s just like a shooter in basketball or any other sport,” Walsh said afterward. “It didn’t go where I wanted it to go.”
Kind of like Seattle’s season, which seemed pointed toward the playoffs when Seattle started December with a 24-10 victory over Philadelphia. But then Seattle lost three of its final four regular-season games, the offense sputtering for 10 of the final 12 quarters the Seahawks played.
The Falcons (10-6) earned the NFC’s sixth and final playoff berth, beating the Carolina Panthers 22-10. Cam Newton was picked off for the third time with 8 seconds left in a game that ended when Seattle was driving for what it hoped would be a game-winning field-goal attempt.