Conspiracy Corner: A 61 Yard Field Goal?!

I apologize for being late with this article.  I’ll do my best to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

I originally planned to write a more in-depth look at the offensive line focusing on one player in particular.  Then I thought more about the end of last Sunday’s game against the Falcons.  I have to admit, I was taken aback when I saw the Seahawks’ kicking team come out on the field.  I felt that the odds of making a field goal from that distance were miniscule.  There were several factors working in the Seahawks’ favor, but none would aid in attempting the field goal.

I read Keith’s post earlier this week about the attempt.  He was being extremely generous when trying to determine the likelihood of the field goal being successful.  I would guess that the chance of success for a field goal of that distance (61 yards) would be about 40% – if the only players on the field were the snapper, holder and kicker.  With the rest of the kicking team and the Falcons’ field goal defense unit on the field, that number drops precipitously. 

It’s important to consider that the kick was also towards the north goal, which has proven to be a far more difficult try than one towards the south goal (Just ask Jay Feely!).  Finally, Steven Hauschka is far from being a proven clutch kicker in the NFL.  He has a strong leg, but has been nothing more than a journeyman placekicker in his career.  I doubt he had attempted a more important, pressure-packed kick as a professional.  Taking into account these factors, I would estimate the odds of success for the field goal to be about 5%, and I think I’m being generous.

Pete Carroll had to be aware of these things, which makes the decision to attempt the field goal puzzling.  Not only that, the Seahawks had several things working to their advantage, and they chose to ignore them.

It was 4th down and 8 yards to go on the Atlanta 43 yard line with 13 seconds remaining.  The Seahawks had one timeout remaining.  It wasn’t a question of kicking the field goal or trying to get about ten yards for a first down and then attempting the kick.  The Seahawks had a plethora of options at their disposal.  They could throw deep towards the end zone.  They could try to get enough yards for a first down.  They could call a 15-20 yard pass play, or a 25-30 yard play.

With so much time left and a timeout in their possession, the Seahawks could have called a play for anywhere on the field.  They weren’t limited to sideline routes or quick throws.  They could have called any play in their playbook and, if successful, still had plenty of time to attempt the field goal.  With the timeout in hand, they could have chosen to throw a pass over the middle of the field.  All of these options had a likelihood of success that were, at the very least, no worse than that of attempting the field goal.

If Carroll decided to attempt the kick to prevent Tarvaris Jackson from being booed if the team chose not to kick and Jackson failed to convert the first down, then that was a huge mistake.  Like it or not, Jackson is going to be booed the rest of the season.  Jackson could complete thirty passes in a row, but if he missed the 31st, he would be booed.  It may not be fair, but that’s the way it is.  Carroll, Jackson and the team are going to have to get used to it.

I consider myself a hardcore conspiracy theorist, yet even I can’t claim that Carroll chose the option with the least likelihood of success to win the game for that reason.  I attribute it to poor game management.  He made mistakes at the end of the first half in a couple of games last season, and I view this decision in a similar light.  Carroll had never been given the opportunity to make such a decision, as this was to be the first game in Carroll’s tenure as Seahawks Head Coach that the team had lost by less than 13 points.

This would have been an amazing game to win, but the team dug itself too big of a hole with an uninspired first half.  Several people in the media have viewed the team’s showing against Atlanta as evidence the Seahawks won’t be in the running for the “Andrew Luck Sweepstakes”.  I’m not so sure.  The team is exactly where I feared they would be at this point in the season.  The next three games should be an excellent barometer of where the Seahawks will be headed for the rest of the season.  Hold on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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Tags: Pete Carroll Seattle Seahawks Steven Hauschka

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