CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Seahawks lost by seven points on Sunday.
Three points may have turned out to make all the difference, though. Specifically, the three points that Seattle sacrificed at the end of the first half when Pete Carroll passed on attempting what would have been a 25-yard field-goal attempt with 2:22 remaining.
Instead, Seattle went for it on 4th-and-5 from the Carolina 18.
“We talked all about it,” coach Pete Carroll said. “I didn’t want to give up the three points, but I thought we had a chance to make the fourth-and-5. I felt like we had a little momentum.”
Wilson threw to receiver Doug Baldwin who was stopped almost immediately after catching as safety Roman Harper came up strong to hold Baldwin to a 4-yard gain and force a turnover on downs.
Those three points loomed large on what turned out to be Seattle’s final possession when the Seahawks trailed 31-21. If Seattle had converted that first-half field goal, the Seahawks would have conceivably trailed 31-24 and been able to tie the game with a touchdown.
Instead, Seattle kicked a field goal with 76 seconds left, and when Carolina recovered the onside kick, the Panthers needed only to take a knee three times to run out the clock.
Of course, it’s always dangerous to assume that would have been the case. If Seattle had been three points closer, the Panthers may have changed their strategy in the second half.
The other consideration is that the sort of aggressiveness that Carroll showed in going for it has been hard-wired into his approach. It has come back to bite Seattle before. In fact, in Seattle’s playoff loss at Atlanta in the 2012 season, the Seahawks’ clock management cost them a field-goal attempt at the end of the first half when Russell Wilson was sacked.
Carroll has even joked about being hormonal at times, but it’s hard to complain about those instances in which the aggressiveness has cost the team when you compare it to the broader success Seattle has achieved under his unflinchingly go-for-it mentality.
And with all that said, it sure would have been nice to have those three points at the end.
“I’ll be kicking myself,” Carroll said, “because we didn’t convert on the fourth down in the first half. Fourth-and-5. To make that a good decision you’ve got to win it.”