The Seattle crowd was apparently so loud on Monday night that Pete Carroll couldn’t listen to reason—and it may have cost his team a win.
The Falcons jumped out to an early lead on Monday Night Football, but the Seahawks clawed back with great play on kick returns. That superb special teams play didn’t last long.
Down 24-17 in the second quarter, Seattle ran a one-minute drill that, by the grace of God and Russell Wilson, got to the Falcons’ 17-yard line with seven seconds left in the half. Kicking a field goal and entering halftime down four would have been a major win for Seattle, but Pete Carroll had other ideas.
Seahawks second-string tight end Luke Willson took a shovel pass from holder Jon Ryan and was immediately swallowed by Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. This had to be the worst fake since the Colts ran this travesty against New England in October 2015. The play itself isn’t bad on fourth-and-1—but it’s an incomprehensible call with seven seconds left on the clock. Running this play means you think you can reach the end zone. That’s a tall order for any player in the league. That Seattle chose Willson as the man to sprint 20 yards to the end zone was … optimistic. (To be fair, he had decent blocking around the edge.)
Seattle, which trailed all night despite a herculean effort from quarterback Russell Wilson, would ultimately lose 34-31 when kicker Blair Walsh missed a 52-yard field goal attempt as the clock ticked to zero.
Wilson did everything he could have to pull out the win. He completed 26 of 42 passes for 258 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, but that does not come close to capturing his performance. Wilson rushed seven times, picking up six first downs and one touchdown. He had 86 yards on the ground, while the rest of the team rushed 16 times for 50 yards.
He also performed a Jedi mind trick on the Falcons’ defense, which I have watched—in all seriousness—at least 80 times.
The Seahawks’ offense always depends on Wilson pulling off the miraculous—not just to win games, but merely to sustain drives—and he routinely delivers. Wilson entered Monday night accounting for over 82 percent of the Seahawks’ yards from scrimmage, which would be the most for any player in the Super Bowl era, according to NFL research.
The Seahawks were already at a disadvantage on Monday, missing both Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, and things got dicey for Seattle immediately when the next man up, cornerback Shaquill Griffin, went out with a possible concussion 30 seconds into the game. When the Seahawks needed Wilson more than ever, he delivered an eye-test MVP-candidate performance. And yet despite Wilson’s heroics, Carroll’s boneheaded antics blew the game for Seattle. Wilson is used to winning without any help from his offensive line, but he can’t overcome terrible decisions from Seattle’s coaching staff (insert Super Bowl joke).
At halftime, ESPN’s Lisa Salters asked both coaches about the failed fake. Falcons head coach and former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said he told his defense to be on alert for a fake. As for Carroll, Salters said, “He just kinda shrugged and said, ‘Look we were trying to score; we were trying to take a shot.’”
After that shot, Seattle could have used a chaser.