Early-era Seattle Seahawks football did not rack up a lot of wins. But it was hardly boring.
And former coach Jack Patera liked running risk-reward gadget plays — particularly fake field goals.
It was time to turn back the clock to the 1970s Sunday when the new-generation Seahawks needed a lift at a crucial juncture in the NFC Championship Game against Green Bay.
After being shut out in the first half, and trailing by two scores well into the third quarter, Seattle lined up for a safe way to get its first points — in a field-goal formation with reliable Steven Hauschka.
What ensued wasn’t a Hauschka boot, but a Jon Ryan bootleg. The punter converted a successful fake field goal by tossing a 19-yard touchdown pass to offensive tackle Gary Gilliam.
Seattle went on to rally for a 28-22 overtime victory over the Packers at CenturyLink Field to advance to Super Bowl XLIX.
“I really believed in this fake,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said “I thought we had a great shot at it because I believe in Jon Ryan’s ability to come out of there exploding like he did. Really it was the first opportunity we had; I couldn’t wait to get the thing called.”
Seattle’s offense sputtered much of the game as Green Bay built a 16-0 lead.
After Russell Wilson’s 29-yard pass to Doug Baldwin, the Seahawks reached the Packers’ 19.
The series stalled on an incompletion to running back Marshawn Lynch with 4 minutes, 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter. On trotted Hauschka.
“Coach Carroll came up to me plenty of times this week and said, ‘We are running a (fake field goal) play, so be ready,’ ” Gilliam said. “I said, ‘All right, I am ready.’ ”
The snap was perfect to Ryan, who was the holder. And Hauschka went through his normal kicking motion – right at the moment Ryan — who began his NFL career with the Packers in 2006-07 — pulled the football away, tucked it and started running to his left.
“I didn’t have to do anything after that,” Hauschka said. “Jon did a great job of getting out of them and running.”
Ryan took a few steps and saw Gilliam — a former tight end at Penn State — in the clear for an easy score.
“We started practicing (it) on Thursday,” Ryan said. “It wasn’t a super complex play. We (practiced) it enough until we were comfortable with it.”
The punter’s throw in the game Sunday came out more like a shot put than a football pass.
“He is pretty tight through the shoulders —he is a strong guy,” Hauschka said. “He got it done.”
Added the snarky Ryan: “1 for 1,” he said. “There are no pictures on the state sheet, so I’m 1 for 1.”
In the locker room, Gilliam must have been asked 20 times about how long Ryan’s pass stayed in the air.
“Felt like forever,” he quietly admitted. Gilliam’s last reception came in Penn State’s 2012 season finale against Wisconsin — the year before he was converted to right tackle.
“(Ryan) is in great shape. He can run, too. I am just glad he passed it.”