It wasn’t just that the Seattle Seahawks’ fake field goal was ill-conceived, ill-timed and plainly strange, it was that it reeked of desperation.
The Seahawks went for a fake field goal with seven seconds left in the first half on Monday night. It came at the Atlanta Falcons’ 17-yard line and it needed to score because the Seahawks had no timeouts left. The shovel pass to tight end Luke Willson was tackled for a four-yard loss. It was hard to figure out what the Seahawks were doing. ESPN’s Lisa Salters said after halftime that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll didn’t even have a great explanation to her for why he did it.
It looked really looked bad by the end of the game, when the Seahawks trailed 34-31 in the final two minutes with the ball. The game doesn’t play out exactly the same if Seattle took that field goal at the end of the first half, but the Seahawks sure could have used the three points. Russell Wilson drove Seattle in position to try a 52-yard field goal in the final few seconds, but beleaguered kicker Blair Walsh missed it short. The Falcons hung on for a 34-31 win (Carroll also wasted a timeout on a bad challenge of a second-half Doug Baldwin dropped pass, and that might have helped at the end too. It wasn’t Carroll’s best night, let’s say).
“That would have been a real good call had we made it,” Carroll said. “It was something we saw we wanted to do. Terrific opportunity right where we wanted it. The defensive tackle made a better play to get in the backfield. He wasn’t supposed to be there.”
You have to wonder if Carroll might have called the fake because he could see Seattle wasn’t going to be able to get many stops. The Seahawks defense has taken on too many injuries to be the same unit anymore. Safety Kam Chancellor is out with a neck injury, and there’s concern he might not play again, Cornerback Richard Sherman is out with a torn Achilles. His future is in doubt too because of a large contract and his age. On Monday night a lot of backups couldn’t get enough stops to keep the Seahawks in the game. In the glory days of the “Legion of Boom,” scoring 34 points in Seattle seemed impossible.
Seattle is 6-4 and can still make the playoffs, but expectations will be lowered. It’s not just the injuries on defense, though they’ve been plentiful (the loss of defensive end Cliff Avril has hurt too). The running game is a hodgepodge of disappointing running backs. The offensive line still doesn’t protect Wilson well enough. Wilson is a remarkable, exciting talent, but he’ll have to play at an MVP level to carry this version of the Seahawks. He’s capable of doing that, but it’s asking a lot. He almost pulled it off Monday night, but it’s hard to win when the opponent scores 34 points.
This surely wasn’t the “Legion of Boom” on the field Monday night, and it looked little like the Seahawks we’ve come to expect either. It’s too early to wondering how close their championship window is to closing, but it might be headed that way. Monday night clearly wasn’t a positive step for the rest of this season, at least.
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