The Seattle Seahawks pieced together a furious rally against the Atlanta Falcons after being down 17 points at halftime, and the result was a very tight game in the latter half of Saturday's fourth quarter. The Seahawks closed to within 30-28 and the game came down to a 61-yard field goal attempt by Steven Hauschka.
That kick ended up being a little short and to the left, and with the loss we are left to ponder what could have been if the kick had gone otherwise for this next week. According to Curtis Crabtree of Sports Radio 950 KJR, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has no such regrets.
Seattle regained possession of the ball with 1:43 left in the game at their own 15-yard line, and quarterback Tavaris Jackson led the team down the field to the Atlanta 43-yard line. The Seahawks found themselves facing a 4th-and-8 with 16 seconds left, and Carroll opted to try the 61-yard potential game-winning field goal instead of going for it on fourth down.
It was a bold move by Carroll. There have been only nine successful field goal attempts in NFL history from over 60 yards, and Hauschka's career-best mark is 54 yards. The odds at that point were certainly stacked against the Seahawks. Wouldn't it have been better to go for it on 4th-and-8?
Maybe not. Converting 4thand-8 is very challenging in itself, and the resulting field goal (assuming that the Seahawks converted) would require a 53-yard field goal attempt or better. That's one that Hauschka can definitely hit, but those three points would have been no sure thing either.
The controversy here comes down to whether the Seahawks had a better chance of converting both the 4th-and-8 and the 53-yard field goal or of hitting the 61-yard field goal by itself. We won't ever know what could have happened, but you have to respect that Carroll stood true to his decision. That's the sign of a confident head coach, something that the 1-3 Seahawks will need in the coming weeks to right the ship.