Stephen Hauschka misses late PAT as Seahawks’ kicking woes continue
Dec 24, 2016, 9:56 PM | Updated: Dec 26, 2016, 1:04 pm
With the issues the Seahawks have had with their place-kicking this season – before, including and since Stephen Hauschka’s missed field goal at the end of their first meeting with Arizona – it seemed like it may only be a matter of time before another miscue would cost them with a game on the line.
That time came Saturday in the closing minutes of their 34-31 loss to the Cardinals. Seattle had just erased a 13-point deficit with back-to-back touchdown drives, the second of which ended with a 5-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Paul Richardson that tied the game at 31 with 1:05 left. But Hauschka yanked what would have been the go-ahead extra point, missing it wide left the same way he missed the game-winning attempt in overtime against Arizona back in October.
The snap from Nolan Frese was high on this one, and while holder Jon Ryan got it down, coach Pete Carroll said the timing of the operation was “just a little bit challenged.”
“I’ve got to do better,” Hauschka said in a somber Seahawks locker room. That was all he said Saturday as he channeled Marshawn Lynch with a canned, one-line response to the handful of questions he was asked.
What happened on the missed PAT?
“I’ve got to do better,” he said.
Any similarities between that miss and the blocked field-goal attempt from earlier in the game?
“I’ve got to do better,” he said.
Steven Hauschka answered a handful of questions the same way, simply: “I’ve got to do better.” pic.twitter.com/1ai9bdjl46
— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) December 25, 2016
Hauschka’s 45-yard attempt late in the first quarter was blocked by an Arizona defensive tackle, another error in a miserable day for Seattle’s special teams. That blocked helped keep the Seahawks scoreless until Hauschka made a 27-yarder in the final seconds of the second quarter. Carroll said his trajectory was too low on the attempt that was blocked, which has been a factor in the Seahawks’ kicking problems this season.
So have some poor snaps from Frese, a rookie who took over after Seattle released Clint Gresham in an offseason cost-cutting move that seemed curious at the time and now foolish in retrospect. Along with the final PAT, his snap to Ryan was high on a third-quarter punt that Arizona deflected. The Cardinals weren’t coming after the punt, but tight end Brandon Williams offered such little resistance to Alex Okafor’s edge rush that he easily got a hand on it.
Arizona took over at its own 39 and took a 21-10 lead with a nine-play touchdown drive.
“They weren’t trying to block the kick,” Carroll said. “That was a one-man rush. He just pressured and got it. I think we probably didn’t block it as well as we needed to. I didn’t see that, though.”
The Seahawks have had one of the more sound special-teams units in the NFL in recent seasons, and Hauschka has statistically been one of the most accurate kickers in league history. But Seattle has now missed five of its 33 extra-point attempts this year, four of them the result of blocks. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, for what it’s worth, said Arizona would have blocked Hauschka’s final PAT try had it been kicked straight.
The Seahawks didn’t lose this game because of that miss. With a one-point lead, Seattle’s defense still would have had to stop Arizona on the ensuing possession, which it was unable to do while allowing the Cardinals to drive 50 yards on seven plays before hitting the game-winning field goal as time expired. And there was plenty of blame to be cast elsewhere on a day in which Seattle’s offense struggled throughout the first half.
But with the playoffs approaching and with an offense that often has a hard enough time on its own scoring points, the Seahawks can’t afford any more recurrences of their season-long kicking issues.
They’ve got to do better.