I have to admit, I didn’t pick up on this, and wouldn’t have had Charlie Whitehurst not mentioned it. The go-head touchdown pass from Whitehurst to Doug Baldwin the 4th Quarter wouldn’t have happened had it not been for a very smart play from RB Leon Washington.
On the play Osi Umemyiora jumped offsides. It was one of those obvious calls. Offenses call them “free-plays” because they can throw the ball deep and see what happens. Those passes rarely work, and tend to result in an interception more often than a touchdown, but it doesn’t matter. You just accept the penalty, take the 5 free yards and move on. If the ball is caught, as it was in this case, they you simply decline the penalty, take the touchdown, and start celebrating.
The problem is that in cases as obvious as this one, the play usually never happens. If the officials believe that the offsides defensive player has a clean shot at the QB, they’ll blow the play dead. Umenyiora was clearly past Tyler Polumbus. It looked like it would be a classic “unabated to the Quarterback” ruling and the play was going to be blown dead. I believe that’s what a few of the Giants players stopped playing on the play. They just expected the whistle to come, but it didn’t.
Why not? Why wasn’t the play blown dead?
It was because Leon Washington recognized what was going on and jumped in front of Umenyiora. Washington had a different assignment on the play. He was supposed to be running a route trying to get open and giving Whitehurst another option. But this was going to be a free play, and Washington’s route was a check-down option underneath the defense, and you don’t throw underneath on free plays. So Washington decided to block Umenyiora to help buy time for Baldwin to get to the endzone.
Washington’s split second decision is the only reason the Seahawks got the free play and were able to score the touchdown. While there was still time for a lot of things to happen after that play, you never know, that one choice might have been the only reason the Seahawks were able to win the game.