BRADY HENDERSON

Seahawks’ Stephen Hauschka: ‘I feel like I let the team down’

Oct 24, 2016, 1:18 AM | Updated: Dec 24, 2016, 9:47 pm
Stephen Hauschka spent six seasons with the Seahawks. (AP)...
Stephen Hauschka spent six seasons with the Seahawks. (AP)
(AP)

Stephen Hauschka had no explanation for how he missed a 28-yard field-goal attempt that would have given the Seahawks a 9-6 win over Arizona on Sunday night but instead forced them to settle for a 6-6 tie. The snap was OK. The hold was fine. The Cardinals’ rush didn’t appear to be an issue. Yet Hauschka pulled it left by a wide margin.

“I don’t know,” he told reporters afterward. “It’s unfortunate and I feel like I let the team down.”

Hauschka gave a similar answer to a follow-up question that asked essentially the same thing: what happened?

“I’m not really sure,” he said. “It’s unfortunate. I feel like I let the team down. I just, um, I don’t really know. I think we just, ya know, we might have been, yeah, I don’t really have any answers for you there.”

And so it remains a mystery how one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history missed the football equivalent of a gimme putt with the game on the line Sunday night. Arizona’s Chandler Catanzaro had given Seattle life with an improbable miss of his own on the Cardinals’ preceding drive in overtime, clanking off the left upright a 24-yard attempt that would have won the game. It evoked memories of Seattle escaping with a wild-card win over the Vikings after a similarly short miss by Blair Walsh.

And the Seahawks were in position to steal a win in Glendale Sunday night like they did last January in Minneapolis after Russell Wilson drove Seattle 70 yards following Catanzaro’s miss. Hauschka had hit from 40 yards out in the fourth quarter and from 36 earlier in overtime. On the 40-yard attempt, replays showed Hauschka kicking up grass as his foot appeared to skim the turf before connecting with the ball. He immediately looked down, suggesting that it took him by surprise.

Speaking about Hauschka’s miss, coach Pete Carroll said he was watching the lead-up to the snap and was prepared to call a timeout if it seemed that Seattle would have had to hurry to get it off in time, which could have thrown off the timing of the kicking operation. But everything “looked fine,” he said, so he didn’t. Seattle snapped the ball with 3 seconds left on the play clock and 11 seconds left on the game clock.

“We’ll do that tomorrow,” Hasuchka said when asked about the process of evaluating the miss, “and it’s the same whether it’s a win or whether it’s all great kicks. It’s the same thing, so same thing every week. We’ll just look at that tomorrow and find out what happened.”

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was critical of Catanzaro when asked what he told him after his miss, saying, “Make it. He’s a professional. This ain’t high school. You get paid to make it.”

Carroll, as he tends to do, took a much different tact with Hauschka.

“Hausch made his kicks to give us a chance and unfortunately he didn’t make the last one,” Carroll said. “He’s been making kicks for years around here. Everything was in sequence, everything went OK timing-wise and all that, we just didn’t hit it. But he’s going to hit a lot of winners as we go down the road here. It’s going to be much different and we’ll get different outcomes that that one.”

Carroll also said of Hauschka: “Just checked in with him. He’s been making kicks for us for years, and I love him and he’s our guy.”

Hauschka’s miss continued what has been some personal misfortune at University of Phoenix Stadium. He entered the game having made 168 of 193 career field-goal attempts, good for an 87-percent rate that ranks third in NFL history. But he was only 12 of 19 (63.2 percent) at the Cardinals’ home field entering this game. According to the NBC broadcast, that’s his worst percentage at any NFL stadium with a minimum of three attempts.

Hauschka went 0 for 3 there in 2014, though each of those attempts was from long range (52, 50, 47). He missed one of four attempts there last season (40) plus a PAT, pulling both wide left. But those were inconsequential misses in blowout victories.

This one cost Seattle a win.

“We’re in this together,” Hauschka said of his teammates. “They know how hard I work at this. I’m sure they’re bummed to tie, but we all love each other in this locker room.”

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