How Minnesota’s first three field goals may have factored into final miss, Seahawks’ win

Jan 11, 2016, 10:30 PM | Updated: Jan 12, 2016, 11:16 am
That Seattle nearly blocked Minnesota’s third field goal may have caused Blair Walsh to rush ...
That Seattle nearly blocked Minnesota's third field goal may have caused Blair Walsh to rush his final kick. (AP)
(AP)

RENTON – You could say that it was a handful of near misses for Minnesota that preceded the big one by Vikings kicker Blair Walsh.

Understanding how the Seahawks left Minneapolis Sunday with a 10-9 wild-card victory requires looking back at not only the Vikings’ final field-goal attempt but also their first three. What happened on each of those plays impacted Seattle’s defensive strategy on Minnesota’s last drive and also may have affected Walsh’s timing on his decisive miss.

Even in the thrill of victory, Seahawks feel for Vikings kicker Blair Walsh

That all came into focus on Monday with some explanations from coach Pete Carroll.

On Walsh’s third attempt, a 47-yarder that he made near the end of the third quarter, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman shot off the left edge and nearly got a hand on the kick. Carroll told “Brock and Salk” that the Seahawks had picked up on a cue that had allowed Sherman to time the snap.

However, Carroll said an official had told him that he could have flagged Sherman for being offsides. So instead of taking a chance at incurring a penalty on the final kick – which would have given Minnesota a first down at the 4-yard line – Seattle opted against having Sherman try to time the snap again. He didn’t come anywhere close to blocking the kick, but Carroll said Walsh hurried his final attempt, perhaps knowing how close Sherman came the last time.

“The final kick was kicked much faster than their other kicks,” Carroll said. “I don’t need to give you the times, but it was considerably faster. So for whatever reason, they sped up their mechanism.”

The Vikings had taken over on that final possession with 1:42 remaining, starting on their own 39 before driving to Seattle’s 10. As they got further and further within field-goal range, the situation was such that it may have actually been beneficial for Seattle to let Minnesota score a touchdown. That would have allowed the Seahawks to save their final two timeouts and get the ball back with potentially enough time to score a touchdown of their own.

The Seahawks were faced with that decision in a similar situation during a 2013 loss to the 49ers in San Francisco. Carroll acknowledged after that game that while the Seahawks chose to continue to play defense and try to force a 49ers field-goal attempt, they seriously considered the alternative.

Seattle made the same decision Sunday. By doing so, the Seahawks ran the risk of having to drive for the winning score with only a handful of seconds on the clock and no timeouts. That would have been the case had Walsh’s 27-yard attempt been good.

While a kick from that distance is considered a gimme – at least in normal conditions – Carroll felt there was no such thing in the frigid weather. Seattle had seen that the snaps on two of Minnesota’s three previous field goals were way off target, forcing holder Jeff Locke to make difficult catches before getting the ball down just in time. The Seahawks had an errant snap of their own on a punt. That led Carroll to believe it was entirely possible that Walsh could miss even from point-blank range, so that’s what Seattle played for.

“Because I kept thinking about all of the things that could go wrong for them,” Carroll told “Brock and Salk” about his thinking. “They’ve got to snap it, they’ve got catch it, they’ve got to put it on the ground, they’ve got to kick it. All of those things have to happen.”

And they didn’t.

“We were holding onto a great thought and fortunately we get to move on,” Carroll said.

Brady Henderson

Rees Odhiambo, a 2016 third-round pick, will compete with Matt Tobin to start at left tackle. (AP)...
Brady Henderson

Tom Cable: Rees Odhiambo, Matt Tobin are Seahawks’ preferred LT options

Tom Cable brought a bit of clarity to the Seahawks' plans at left tackle in the wake of George Fant's season-ending knee injury, saying Tuesday that Rees Odhiambo and newcomer Matt Tobin are the top two options.
5 years ago
Left tackle George Fant suffered an injury in the first half of Friday's preseason game. (AP)...
Brady Henderson

Seahawks injury updates: George Fant set for surgery, K.J. Wright returns

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday that left tackle George Fant is expected to be back by next season from the knee injury that will sideline him in 2017.
5 years ago
Matt Tobin, 27, started 21 games over seasons with the Eagles. (AP)...
Brady Henderson

Seahawks acquire OL Matt Tobin in trade with Eagles

The Seahawks have acquired offensive tackle Matt Tobin in a trade with the Eagles, making another move to shore up their offensive line after losing left tackle George Fant for the season.
5 years ago
Luke Joeckel played left tackle for his first three NFL seasons. (AP)...
Brady Henderson

Luke Joeckel? Rees Odhiambo? A look at the Seahawks’ LT options with George Fant out for the season

The Seahawks need a new plan at left tackle with George Fant out for the season. Moving Luke Joeckel there is one option, writes Brady Henderson.
5 years ago
Michael Bennett on Justin Britt standing by his side during the national anthem Friday night: “I ...
Brady Henderson

Justin Britt stands by Michael Bennett during national anthem: ‘A very emotional moment’

Seahawks center Justin Britt showed his support for teammate Michael Bennett Friday night, standing by him as Bennett remained seated during the national anthem.
5 years ago
Left tackle George Fant suffered an injury in the first half of Friday's preseason game. (AP)...
Brady Henderson

Seahawks’ George Fant needs ACL surgery, likely out for season

The Seahawks' offensive line was dealt a massive blow with left tackle George Fant suffering a knee injury Friday night that will likely keep him out all season.
5 years ago
How Minnesota’s first three field goals may have factored into final miss, Seahawks’ win