SEATTLE — Steven Hauschka didn’t have a sense that he was headed for a big day.
Facing his former team on a cold, windy day, the Seattle Seahawks placekicker was distracted before the game and not kicking very well.
“The funny thing is I didn’t even kick well in warmups,” Hauschka said. “It was kind of a distraction during warmups because I knew half the guys on the other sideline.”
“But once I got that out of there, then I felt like I started kicking well,” he said. “It just kind of came together during the game.”
It sure did.
Hauschka tied a Seahawks team record with five field goals that made the difference in a 22-17 victory over Baltimore on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
None of his field goals was remarkable in and of itself as the longest was 39 yards, but on a blustery day that saw Baltimore (6-3) miss two out of three field goal attempts, the overall body of work was impressive.
“Steven did a great job kicking the football,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “That whole unit did a beautiful job to get five.”
Hauschka spent parts of two seasons with Baltimore, 2008 and 2009, and part of last season with Denver. Seattle (3-6) picked him up in September after Denver released him on the final cuts in September.
He is the fourth Seahawks kicker to make five field goals in a game. Norm Johnson and Olindo Mare each did it twice, and Todd Peterson did it once.
The field goals were part of an outstanding performance by Seattle’s special teams as two of the field goals were set up by fumble recoveries on kickoffs.
After Seattle’s only touchdown, in the first quarter, Ben Obomanu recovered a fumble on the kickoff by the Ravens’ David Reed to set up a 22-yard field goal that made the score 10-0.
In the second quarter, after Hauschka’s third field goal, Atari Bigby recovered another Reed fumble on a kickoff return to set up a 35-yard field goal that made the score 19-7, which was the halftime score.
In addition, Baltimore’s longest kickoff return was 25 yards, and its longest punt return was 11. Breakdowns in both of those areas have loomed large in Seahawks losses earlier this season.
“The special teams had an energy today. It was beautiful,” Carroll said. “The hitting. Forcing a couple of turnovers was extraordinary. We couldn’t ask for more than that.”
“We hadn’t done our part all year,” Seattle fullback and special teams co-captain Michael Robinson said. “We felt like we’ve been leaving a lot of plays out there on special teams, and today stuff just started happening.
“You’re going out there, you’re flying around, you’re playing 100 percent, and things seem to go your way after a while,” said Robinson, who forced one of the fumbles.
One of the many unsung heroes on special teams was rookie cornerback Byron Maxwell. At all of 207 pounds, his job on kickoffs Sunday was to sprint downfield and fling himself into the wedge.
That’s not the kind of thing that cornerbacks tend to dream about, but Maxwell did an outstanding job of it, frequently creating enough wreckage to clog up running lanes for Baltimore’s returners.
“On special teams, you’ve just to go hard. That’s it. It’s all about effort,” Maxwell said. “I’m just trying to follow the lead, baby.
“They tell me to go down there and break up the wedge,” he said. “I’m just doing what the team asks me to do. That’s what they need me to do right now, so I’m happy with it.
“Especially when we win,” Maxwell said. “It feels better with the bruises and stuff. You know how it is.”
Hauschka, who said the five field goals is a personal best at any level, also said he was just trying to do what was needed in a close, hard-fought game.
“It’s a team effort. I know it looks like five kicks is the difference in the game, but there’s a lot of plays that were in there by a lot of different guys that helped make that happen,” he said.
“Obviously, they have a great defense and it might come down to some field goals,” Hauschka said. “You never know what you’re going to get. That’s the cool thing about being a kicker.”