On one hand, credit the Seattle Seahawks for never, ever giving up and coming within seconds of stealing a Divisional Playoff win in Atlanta.
On that other hand however…credit the Seattle Seahawks with questionable decisions and timing that cost them dearly in pursuit of said win.
Second quarter. Five plus minutes before the half and Seattle is down 13-0. Fourth and one at the Falcons’ 11. The field goal team doesn’t come on. Instead…a handoff to Michael Robinson (not Marshawn Lynch, mind you) into the line (after Robert Turbin didn’t gain a yard doing the same thing on the play before). Stuffed again. Falcons score a TD shortly thereafter. Now it’s 20-0.
Next possession. Seahawks make a nice drive in the final four minutes. Ball is now on the Atlanta 10, third and one. Thirty seconds left. A pass from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate within the field of play is only worth four yards. Seattle now takes its final timeout. After a first down incomplete pass and a very untimely false start by lineman Russell Okung…Wilson throws an incompletion. Time for one more quick attempt at an end zone completion before having to kick a field goal and establish at least some momentum heading into halftime. Third down from Falcons’ 11.
Wilson takes a sack.
Tick, tick. Time runs out.
Now late in the third quarter. Seahawks down 27-7. A couple of big Wilson completions finds Seattle ending the period with a first down on the Atlanta’s 13.
While many will admittedly make more of what I’ve already outlined than what I’m about to point out…this next sequence of events was what had me perplexed as to the true sense of urgency and quality of coaching the Seahawks had at this point. They’re within thirteen yards of a touchdown. They are down twenty points. Fifteen minutes to go as the final stanza starts.
If it’s me I’m throwing the ball into the end zone every play. I want the clock to run as little as possible and get at max four, quick shots at somehow…finally getting back into this game. Score immediately and not let precious seconds run off that will be needed at game’s end.
What happened next?
1. Wilson completes another short pass to Turbin within the field of play…gains seven yards.
2. Turbin takes a hand off and moves the ball to the Atlanta 1.
3. Lynch takes another hand off. Stuffed for no gain.
4. Wilson goes back to pass, scrambles…and finally scores.
The clock ran the entire time.
A thirteen yard “drive” took one minute, fifty-nine seconds.
Maybe it’s just me but when Seattle got a gift possession starting at their own 46 after the Falcons’ brutal, horrible mis-squib kick…and now only needed a game-ending kick of their own to win…all I could think of was that lengthy, meandering thirteen yard “drive” to open the fourth quarter.
Only eight seconds were left for the Seahawks at this point.
In a 30-28 NFL game there are obviously many, many things you can point to as to why one team emerged victorious and one fell just short. We all choose to take away from sporting events multiple memories and varied viewpoints as to what happened, why it happened and what we’ll ultimately remember most. Some on a macro level, some of a micro variety.
For whatever reason, the time spent and logic displayed on that “drive” is gonna stick with me a bit.
Time marches on.
So does Atlanta.