Out of their hands – and off their feet.
That’s the way the Seahawks’ 2017 season ended Sunday, with an immaterial 48-yard Blair Walsh missed field goal that secured a 26-24 win for the visiting Arizona Cardinals.
Immaterial because the Falcons had already made it that way, defeating Carolina 22-10 in Atlanta and assuring themselves the final NFC playoff berth – and ensuring the Seahawks’ playoff streak would end at five.
The Seahawks won nine games in the 2017 season. They needed to win 11. Or to win the right 10. There were more than enough reasons they came up short.
Walsh again costs Hawks
Walsh’s 29th field-goal attempt this season resulted in his eighth miss, enough to cost the Hawks not only this game, but two other crucial ones.
He had three misses against the Redskins in a home game Seattle lost 17-14. Win that and Seattle held its fate Sunday.
He had one last-second miss (in four attempts) against the Falcons in a home game Seattle lost 34-31. Win that one in overtime and the Hawks were in last week.
And then he had Sunday’s miss, immaterial or not, that would have won the home game versus the Cardinals.
The guy Walsh replaced? That would be Steven Hauschka. The Hawks didn’t believe he was worth the money he wanted after spending six seasons in Seattle, so they let him walk to Buffalo.
Where he was money, connecting on 29 of 33 field goals this season in a place where the kicking conditions are considerably more challenging at times than they are in Seattle.
Including in those 29 made kicks were seven from beyond 50 yards, which are seven more than Walsh made this year.
Overall, the new Seahawks kicker was 21 of 29 on field-goal attempts, with his 49-yard connection against the Cardinals early in the fourth quarter Sunday his season long.
There’s no guarantee Hauschka would have made any of the three Walsh missed against the Redskins. It was a day the weather made kicking tough. But there is little doubt he’s more accurate than Walsh, something he’s proved throughout his career.
Hauschka has been successful on 87.3 percent of his attempts in 10 seasons; Walsh just 82.8 in his six.
Mistakes hurt more than usual
When the Seahawks had a dominating defense, stupid penalties didn’t seem to matter. They found a way to overcome them.
This year those mistakes did matter. And did again Sunday.
In the second half alone, there were three 15-yard penalties that either killed momentum – Thomas Rawls’ unsportsmanlike taunting penalty on his last play in the game (and possibly his Seahawks’ tenure) – or kept alive Arizona drives – the most egregious of which was Bobby Wagner’s roughing-the-passer penalty on the Cardinals’ field-goal drive in the final minutes.
Wagner’s was out of character for the defensive captain, a guy who wins games with his mind as often as he does with his feet and arms.
On a third-and-7 at the Arizona 17, Drew Stanton missed on another second-half throw. But Wagner seemed to go out of his way to throw his shoulder into the quarterback after the ball was gone, earning a much-deserved flag and keeping the drive alive.
A drive that ended with Phil Dawson’s 42-yard field goal with 2 minutes, 21 seconds left, giving the Cardinals the lead.
Time for a change at the top?
Early Sunday Fox’s Jay Glazer spoke about possible coaching changes.
In his report he mentioned Pete Carroll.
“It’s gonna be Pete’s decision whether or not he moves on,” Glazer said, as quoted by 710 ESPN reporter Stacy Jo Rost. “They could be in a rebuilding year here, but Pete may or may not actually retire.”
That was enough to set social media ablaze, including the Twitter account of one Pete Carroll, who took time out before the game to respond.
“People talking about retirement,” Carroll tweeted. “I ain’t old enough to think about retirement.”
Carroll is 66 years old. He will turn 67 early next season. He is also currently the oldest NFL head coach. The oldest ever? That would be George Halas, who retired at 70.