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O’Neil: Seahawks’ Pete Carroll should take a cue from Ravens’ Harbaugh

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has been reticent to go for it on fourth down this season. (Getty)

There was a time that Pete Carroll was heralded for the size of his … um … courage.

That time was not the second half of Sunday’s game.

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With just under 6 minutes left in the third quarter of a tie game, the Seahawks coach opted to attempt a 53-yard field goal – in the rain – instead of going for it on fourth-and-3. That decision was debatable. The result was disastrous. Jason Myers’ kick missed to the right, which was a relatively minor indiscretion given the sheer volume of mistakes the Seahawks made in a 30-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Seattle’s second home loss of the season.

There were plenty of problems to point to in this game, starting with the fact that Russell Wilson played significantly less than excellent for the first time this season and the wheels almost immediately came off the offense. The Seahawks’ offense was responsible for more Baltimore touchdowns (two) than the Ravens’ offense (one). Seattle’s defense didn’t create a single turnover in the game and forced only one punt in the second half.

And for all those flaws, the biggest difference in Sunday’s game was spelled out in a pair of third-down coaching decisions. Both Carroll and Baltimore’s John Harbaugh faced a fourth down with the score tied 13-13.

**Spoiler alert: The one who ended up attempting the field goal would be the one whose team would end up kicking itself.**

That would be Carroll. With 6:51 left in the third quarter, his team faced fourth down at the Baltimore 35. The score was tied 13-13, and Carroll opted to settle for a field-goal attempt instead of gambling that his quarterback could find a way to convert it. It was reminiscent of his decision to attempt a field goal against New Orleans back in Week 3, and the results were no less disastrous this time around as Myers missed. Again.

Baltimore took over, and marched steadily down the field. The Ravens ran the ball six of the first seven plays of the drive, the only pass being a third-and-5 conversion as tight end Hayden Hurst made a diving catch on the sideline to extend the drive.

The Ravens reached the red zone only to teeter on stalling out. Two incomplete passes and a delay-of-game penalty had Baltimore facing third-and-15 when Lamar Jackson took a designed run for 13 yards.

The Ravens initially sent out their field-goal unit only to have Harbaugh call timeout. He sent his offense back onto the field, loaded with about every blocker he could get his hands on, Baltimore sealing off the right side of Seattle’s defense and leaving Jackson to run 8 yards for a touchdown without Seattle ever coming close to the tackle.

It was Harbaugh’s guts that gave Jackson a chance to be great, and in that regard, Carroll should take a lesson. When his offense gets past midfield, he needs to go for it on fourth down way more often for two reasons. First, it gives his quarterback more chances to impact the game and – strangely – Wilson’s worst performance of the season only underscored how little else this offense has going for it. The second reason is that Seattle’s defense simply isn’t good enough to win with field goals.

I don’t know if the Seahawks would have won Sunday’s game even if they had converted that fourth-and-3 and paid that drive off with a touchdown. The Seahawks showed they were more than capable of finding another way sabotage themselves on Sunday.

What I’m certain of, though, is that playing for a touchdown in the third quarter instead of settling for a field goal would have given the Seahawks their best chance at winning.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny O’Neil on Twitter.

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