The failure to account for a receiver on the fake field goal? Ridiculous. Without their 12th man in St. Louis, the Seattle Seahawks forgot that the opponent lines up with 11 of them.
It was a mistake that would frustrate the coach of a sixth-grade flag football squad, let alone an NFL team with the talent to compete deep into the playoffs.
After the Seahawks presented a gift-wrapped 19-13 victory to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, a reporter asked Seattle coach Pete Carroll if the four-point swing the Rams gained on Danny Amendola’s reception off the fake kick was a momentum-turner.
“Of course it was,” said Carroll. “That was their only touchdown for the day.”
As inexcusable as the special-teams breakdown was, mistakes happen. And give Carroll this much: Unlike his players on the field, he noticed Amendola in position to score on a fake kick. Carroll waved his arms for a timeout, but it was too late.
Snap, crackle, pop. You or I or Oprah Winfrey could’ve hauled in that touchdown pass.
More maddening was the Sea-hawks’ pattern of unforced mental errors. Trailing 13-7 after allowing the lonesome-man touchdown and a subsequent field goal late in the first half because of some inefficient clock management, Carroll chose to begin the third quarter with an onside kick.
It’s fair to wonder if the head coach had been embarrassed by the fake field goal, and saw an opportunity to surprise the Rams with a gambit of his own. Whatever his motivation, the onside kick suggested a sense of needless desperation. The Seahawks had 30 minutes to make up a six-point deficit against a team whose only touchdown required tomfoolery.
The game plan after halftime was self-evident: Kick deep, trust that a stellar defense would do what it does, and then go to work battering the Rams with the combination punch of Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. It shouldn’t have been complicated.
But Carroll rolled the dice with his beef-brained assumption the Rams would be asleep at the wheel, and St. Louis recovered at midfield, and shortly thereafter – as in three plays worth 6 yards – Greg Zuerlein launched a 60-yard bomb through the uprights. Zuerlein’s kick, by the way, was preceded by a first-half field goal of 58 yards, which would’ve been good from 68 yards.
Opening the second half with an onside kick is not always a misguided strategic ploy. But opening the second half with an onside kick against a team whose cannon-legged rookie looks at 60-yard field goals as if they’re two-foot putts?
The very definition of an unforced mental error, and it wouldn’t be the last.
Late in the third quarter, the Seahawks, down 16-10, begin a drive at their 45-yard line. An offense that has minimal potential for spontaneous combustion is working on all cylinders. Blocks are crisp, holes are created, Lynch is on a roll. Seven yards off left tackle. Nine yards off right guard.
When Lynch needs a breather, Turbin replaces him and the beat goes on. The rookie from Utah State is a load, can’t be stopped.
So now it’s third-and-2, at the Rams’ 10, and Lynch has returned to pick up the first down that will set up a goal-to-go sequence. But as the huddle breaks, there appears to be some confusion between Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson.
Is Lynch unfamiliar with the play? Possibly. It’s also possible he’s thinking: Ya gotta be kidding me, because the play is calling for a quarterback draw.
On a day Lynch will finish with 118 yards on 20 carries, and Turbin will finish with 45 yards on six carries, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell concludes the best chance at a first down is for Wilson to carry the ball, with Lynch serving as a blocker.
Lynch crouches low to take out defensive end William Hayes, but the block is whiffed, and Wilson is dumped for a 2-yard loss. If Lynch gets the carry, the Sea-hawks either gain a first down or consider some options on fourth-and-inches. There are no options to consider on fourth-and-4. Although the chip-shot field goal is made, a march that has the look and feel of a winning drive concludes with more deflation than elation.
Wilson threw three interceptions on Sunday, and though the first pick can pinned on the suddenly unsure hands of slot receiver Doug Baldwin, and the third pick can be pinned on tight end Anthony McCoy losing his footing, the rookie quarterback’s passing numbers are bleak after four games.
Is it time to put the offense in the hands of Matt Flynn? Maybe.
But Wilson wasn’t solely responsible for the Seahawks losing a game they had every chance to win. Pete Carroll and Darrell Bevell contributed to the debacle.
They thought too much. They got too cute. The Sea-hawks are good, but they’re not good enough to survive a day when their miscues on the field were compounded by mental errors on the email@example.com