If what Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said in his post-game press conference after Seattle's Week 17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers is correct then kicker Jason Myers no longer needs to have a job. An NFL kicker should be able to kick off and have the ball land in the opponent's end zone with ease. But apparently, Seattle did not think Myers could do that at the end of Week 17.
The issue was that Seattle had cut the Steelers lead to 30-23 with 2:01 left in the fourth quarter after Myers had kicked a 24-yard field goal and Seattle still had two timeouts left. The Seahawks had burned one timeout on a horrible challenge late in the fourth quarter after a Steeler had clearly stepped out at the Seattle 5-yard line. Pete Carroll and his staff thought there was a chance that Pittsburgh stepped out at the 7-yard line which would have made it fourth-and-one for the Steelers.
Of course, as one person commented to 12th Man Rising X (the artist formerly known as Twitter), after what the Steelers' running game had done to the Seahawks all game, "Why would Carroll think Seattle would stop the Steelers from picking up a yard?" The point is that Carroll challenged the spot, lost, and Seattle lost a timeout.
After Myers kicked the field goal with 2:01 left to cut the score to 7, Pete Carroll had several options on the ensuing kickoff and he chose the worst possible one. His reasoning post-game was that he didn't have much confidence that Jason Myers could kick the ball deep enough to get the ball into the Steelers' end zone for a touchback.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made a horrible decision at the end of Week 17
Maybe Carroll has a point in that regard. Myers gets touchbacks on 63.4 percent of his kickoffs, 27th in the NFL among kickers with at least 16 kickoffs this year. That's not a great percentage but seems more by design (the Seahawks' kickoff coverage is excellent) than an inability to kick the ball deep by Myers. Plus, if Myers truly cannot kick the ball into the opponent's end zone easily, he needs to not be back in 2024. This is the NFL, after all, where 17 kickers have an 80 percent or better level of kicking the ball into the opponent's end zone.
But Myers was able to kick the ball into the Steelers end zone in Week 17. He did so four straight times during the game. Carroll's excuse that he wasn't sure Myers could kick the ball into the end zone with 2:01 left is a poor one.
Instead, Myers attempted an onside kick that failed miserably. Plus, the boot set the Steelers up in Seahawks territory where even a short gain would have put Pittsburgh in field goal position to make the game a two-score game again. Pittsburgh instead felt more easily about throwing the ball since they were already in Seattle territory and picked up first downs and ran out the clock to finish the game.
Myers is not at fault for Pete Carroll's wretched clock management, though; Carroll is. Carroll had two other options than the onside kick. It should also be noted that teams in 2023 ahead of Week 17 were one for 31 on onside kick attempts this year. That is 3.2 percent of the time. Carroll basically weighed Myers' 63 percent chance of kicking the ball into the Steelers' end zone against the 3.2 percent chance of recovering an onside kick and thought the onside kick was somehow the better option.
Pete Carroll could have just taken a better chance and had Myers kick the ball deep when the Steelers were already preparing for an onside kick. There was as much of a chance of the Steelers taking a fair catch than a return. Or Carroll could have had Myers kick the ball deep out of bounds and the Steelers would have taken over at the 50-yard line at worst. That is still better than an onside kick.
On the onside kick, time ran off the clock and the 2-minute warning began. That cost Seattle a potential stoppage of play that they would have gotten had Myers kicked the ball into the end zone or out of bounds. The 2-minute warning would have acted as a third timeout for Seattle. In essence, Pete Carroll burned two timeouts in the fourth quarter of Week 17.
Carroll also doubled down on the decision on his weekly show at Seattle Sports 710 AM simply saying the Seahawks practice onside kicks often. That is a terrible argument, though. Seattle needed to be able to stop the clock and the Steelers. Carroll's decision to onside kick the ball not only gave Pittsburgh a 96.8 percent chance of recovery but allowed Pittsburgh to burn a lot of time while already being in Seahawks territory. Carroll has been a good coach but that kind of decision-making might get a less experienced coach whose team is fighting for a playoff spot fired.
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