It was the coaching decision that launched a thousand second-guessers.
The Seattle Seahawks had the ball on the opening drive of the third quarter of their game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at SoFi Stadium. It felt like Seattle had been hammered by the Rams in the first half, yet somehow the Seahawks emerged trailing just 17-13, and Seattle received the ball to start the second half.
On third down quarterback Russell Wilson scrambled, and his dive left the Seahawks inches short of the first-down marker at their own 43-yard line.
During the first half the Rams steamrolled the Seahawks’ defense, opening the game with three consecutive long scoring drives. It appeared Seattle and its historically-bad defense was going to need every point it could muster to have a chance at winning this one.
However, needing just inches near midfield and having the league’s top-ranked offense, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll elected first to try and draw the Rams offside, then to let the play clock expire for a delay-of-game penalty before punting the ball away. Los Angeles proceeded to march 88 yards on 14 plays for a touchdown that made the score 23-13, and Seattle was never really in it after that.
Cue the Monday morning quarterbacking.
After the game Carroll vigorously defended the decision, saying he would “probably do it the same way again.
“That early in the game, when there was so much going on and so many opportunities, I don’t want to give them the ball at the 40-yard line,” Carroll explained. “That’s a turnover. That’s just like handing them an interception if you don’t make it. If they penetrate, make a play in the backfield, knowing (punter Michael Dickson) can kick to ball inside the 10-yard line and do something good with that, we’ll go ahead and play defense. That’s believing that we’re going to be all right. There are times when you go for it when the logic doesn’t add up the same. But that one right there, it was too early in the game, I was believing in our guys, we’re going to pull it off and have plenty of time to get back and play well. I didn’t want to give them a turnover right there, I felt like it wasn’t worth it.”
Quarterback Russell Wilson gave a tepid endorsement of the decision:
“I think it could go either way,” Wilson said. “Obviously you want to be able to go for it just because you want to convert and get that opportunity to keep going. But at the same time we’re on the other side of the field, so I don’t think it was a bad decision.”
Clearly the decision didn’t work out the way the Seahawks wanted. The offense never sparked to life in the second half, and the long field proved no deterrent to the Rams. One could argue that single decision cost Seattle game. On the other hand, Carroll was right. While the defense didn’t get the stop on the next possession, it did prevent Los Angeles from scoring the rest of the game, so to an extent the defense did justify Carroll’s faith.
What do you think? Should the Seahawks have gone for it on that fourth down, or did Carroll make the right choice in punting? Express your opinion by voting here: