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One Gut Punch After Another

Seattle, how you feeling this morning? I ask because last night’s game was just one gut punch after another. Already playing without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, they lost cornerback Shaquill Griffin two plays into the game and that was just the start of the pain, both physical and emotional. Because Russell Wilson threw a int on his second pass attempt. And then did fumbled in the second quarter.

That is a brutal combination and yet, somehow, they found a way to get back into the game with Wilson finding Doug Baldwin for a 29-yard touchdown with 3 minutes left. The ensuing two-point conversion made it a three point game and somehow, the Seahawks had a chance to rip it. The 12s were screaming, the Link was rocking, and then Sheldon Richardson came knocking, sacking Matt Ryan. And now not only does Seattle have a chance of ripping it, they have a damn good chance of ripping it. Only a shoestring tackle from Deion Jones on a Russell Wilson scramble kept Seattle from getting deep into field goal range, but they did enough to give Blair Walsh a look from 52. Vikings fans and Seahawks fans probably both had a good sense how that was going to end.

I’ll be honest. That was kind of weird. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t betting that he’d make it, but when was the last time you saw an NFL kicker leave a kick inside 55 yards short? I’m not saying that’s a chip shot, far from it, but these guys absolutely smoke the ball. And they’ve turned 52-yarders into 42-yarders. If they’re going to miss, it’ll be to the left or right, not short.

And I know the fresh take after that miss was that it wasn’t on Walsh. That if Pete Carroll hadn’t called for a fake field goal in the first half or wasted a timeout on a foolish review, they would’ve been in a better spot. And I don’t completely disagree. That review was bizarre and Peter’s explanation wasn’t much better.

“Doug and I have been through this for years, and he’d been right a bunch of times. The ball may have touched the ground, but he knew he had secured it. That’s what he said, and I believe him. I trust him.”

I love that trust that he has in his players. That’s why he’s Pete Carroll and you’re not. That said, maybe you trust your eyes a little more. Or maybe you make sure you have someone in your ear who’s saying “Coach, it hit the ground” because you can’t afford to be giving away timeouts like that.

And as for the fake field goal, well, that was something special. Just to recap, from the Atlanta 17, Seattle decided to have Jon Ryan throw a shovel pass to Luke Willson, who was promptly dumped for a four-yard loss. The problem wasn’t so much that it was fourth down and resulted in a turnover on downs, which it did, or that you were passing up a great chance for three points which might come in handy later, which they would’ve, but that you needed your tight end to score from the 17 in order for you not to run out of time, which he didn’t.

So what’s the explanation for passing on three points for a shovel pass from your punter to your tight end in an attempt to get a touchdown?

“It would have been a really good call if we would have made it. It was a terrific opportunity, right where we wanted it. The defensive tackle made a better play. He wasn’t supposed to be there.”

I see you working, but by definition, any call would be a really good call if it works. If you called a Hail Mary there, it wouldn’t have been a good call, unless it worked. That’s how it goes.

But I’ll be honest. I like the call. No, I love it. Not because I thought it was a good call, but because I liked watching it. I love the idea of a shovel pass to the tight end and seeing if he can find the end zone. That’s way more exciting than just taking a 35-yard field goal. Don’t get me wrong, if I was a Seattle fan, I’d be bent because taking that 35-yard field goal gives you three more points and could’ve completely changed the game if the rest of it played out the same way.

But I’m paid to not root for Seattle or anyone for that matter, which is why I liked the call. Don’t me wrong. It’s not a good call. In fact, it was a horrible call but I liked it. In fact, I’d like to see more NFL coaches pass on short field goals for wacky fake field goals. 35-yard field goals are boring. Shovel passes to the tight end are wacky. And awesome. Especially when they DON’T work.

Hate to bring up painful memories, 12s, but it’s certainly not the first time that Carroll has made some unorthodox calls. And it won’t be the last. He’s not a run-of-the-mill coach. He’s a gum-chomping, fast-talking, riverboat gambler. That’s why you have a Super Bowl ring. And that’s also why you don’t have two Super Bowl rings. Did that call cost you the game? Maybe. Did it hurt your playoff chances? Possibly. Probably. But that’s the Pete Carroll Experience. Enjoy it and embrace it. That’s your dude. But now you may need some help to get in playoffs. I just wouldn’t expect it to come from your coach; this cat keeps rolling the bones and they keep coming up snake eyes.

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