Offering no apologies, coach Pete Carroll defended his fake field goal call as part of his overall belief in aggressive plays and playcalling that has served the Seahawks well.
The fake field goal play that failed Monday night in the three-point loss to Atlanta will live long in the video archive of Pete Carroll’s legacy. Despite much criticism, the Seahawks coach Tuesday was undaunted and unapologetic, and likely will use it again if circumstances warrant.
“Fans say, why didn’t you know” it wouldn’t work, he said Tuesday on his weekly post-mortem on 710 ESPN radio. “Well, if we we knew it wasn’t going to go, we wouldn’t have done it. We prepared it well, spent a ton of time on it. It was a chance to walk into the end zone. It would have been a huge play.
“I like being aggressive when we have our chances. The situation was right. The time frame was challenging. I was comfortable we had talked through it.”
With seven seconds left in the first half and trailing 24-17, the Seahawks, facing fourth and one with one timeout left, were set up to kick a field goal from the 17-yard line. Instead, holder Jon Ryan shoveled a pass to TE Luke Willson running along and behind the line of scrimmage. Immediately, he was clobbered by DT Grady Jarrett for a four-yard loss.
“We get waylaid by the tackle; we didn’t think that guy would ever make it to the play,” he said. “That’s a big call — that’s what my job is.
“So the points aren’t on the board, and sure enough, here comes (the absence of) those points” as the difference in the outcome.
The aggression that has always been a Seahawks hallmark played out perhaps even more significantly in two costly plays that helped create 10 Falcons points in their 34-31 win. While praising the overall play of CBs Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell, the injury replacements for Richard Sherman (tendon surgery) and Shaquill Griffin (concussion), Carroll cited two pass interference penalties that were critical.
On Atlanta’s opening drive that begin at its 48-yard line, QB Matt Ryan quickly tested Lane on a deep ball to Mohamed Sanu in the end zone, where Lane’s otherwise good coverage included a brief jersey grab. One play after the 25-yard penalty, it was 7-0 Falcons.
In the second quarter, Maxwell, who figured to get only spot action in his first game back with Seattle after being cut at midseason by Miami, was busted along the sidelines at the Falcons 43 for a 15-yard PI. It sustained a drive that became a field goal for a 24-17 lead.
“Maxey came off the bench and played really well,” Carroll said. “He looked like us again. You could see the style come back. (But) the difference was probably the PIs. We weren’t quite chilled enough to let those plays happen.
“Jeremy’s in the end zone all over the guy, and had a little bit of a grab. That’s legit. Maxey didn’t have to (foul). He had it covered up. Those were significant plays. Other than that, I thought those guys did fine. Having backgrounds with those guys helped. They weren’t out on an island, having never done it before.”
Along with a 15-yard personal foul on Earl Thomas for unnecessary roughness, Carroll noted that the secondary accounted for 63 of the 108 yards in penalties as the Seahawks continue to pad their NFL lead in football crime.
Carroll suggested the lost yardage was the cost of doing business the way the Seahawks do it.
“Our play (in the secondary) is very aggressive, maybe it’s expressed more there than any place else on the field,” he said. “It’s our style. for a long time. I’ve coached that way throughout my years. We’re in guys’ mugs all day long. When you’re not, there’s more room to stay away” from penalties.
He pointed out where the aggressive style worked on special teams. In the second quarter after a field goal closed the deficit to 21-10, PK Blair Walsh blooped a kickoff to the Atlanta 15, where it was mishandled and recovered by Seattle’s Tedric Thompson at the 11. A subsequent short TD run by Russell Wilson brought the Seahawks back into the game.
“It was worth a chance and it worked out beautifully,” he said. “If we don’t work on those things (repeatedly in practice), I don’t do them.”
Aboushi out, Joeckel likely back
Regarding the Seahawks’ growing casualty list, Carroll confirmed RG Oday Aboushi will miss Sunday’s game in San Francisco after dislocating a shoulder Monday. But the O-line was likely to get a boost from LG Luke Joeckel, who looks good to return from a six-week absence due to arthroscopic surgery.
LT Duane Brown pushed through a sprained ankle and “came out of game better than when he went in,” Carroll said.
RB Mike Davis, who came off the practice squad last week to start Sunday and looked good before straining a groin muscle, is “unlikely” to get well in time for the 49ers game, he said. That likely means that Thomas Rawls, who was a healthy inactive Sunday for the second time this season, will likely play Sunday along with fellow RBs J.D. McKissic and Eddie Lacy.
The Seahawks rushed for 136 yards, but 86 belonged to Wilson on seven carries. The running backs gained 50 yards on 16 carries.
There was no update on Griffin, who is in the concussion protocol for the next few days.