SEATTLE -- A team can’t end a first half worse than the Seattle Seahawks did Sunday.
The botched field-goal attempt that went the other way for a touchdown was the capper in a run of ridiculous mistakes. Still, the Seahawks still managed to win 20-13 over a Tennessee Titans team whose offense was inept without starting quarterback Jake Locker.
The 10-point swing on the field-goal debacle was a prime example of unthinkable craziness. It was easy for the Seahawks to laugh about after winning, but not so much at the time.
The Seahawks drove down the field and had a chance at a 22-yard field goal on the final play of the half. But their regular kicker, Steven Hauschka, was in the locker room being check for a possible concussion after he'd been walloped in the nose on a kickoff return earlier in the second quarter. That meant the Seahawks' punter, Jon Ryan, was in to kick -- and since he's usually the holder, that job also was being performed by a backup in safety Chris Maragos.
The result can only be described as a complete disaster. Maragos fumbled the snap, tried to get up and run but fumbled the ball away. Tennessee cornerback Jason McCourty scooped it up and took it to the house for a 77-yard touchdown.
So instead of leading 10-3 at halftime, Seattle trailed 10-7.
“I really wanted the field goal,” Ryan said. “All these years of playing [pro] football and I’ve never scored a point. I wanted to give that ball to my mum.”
Ryan is Canadian, in case you couldn’t guess by the reference to his mother.
“The last time I attempted a field goal was a preseason game in 2004 in the Canadian Football League,” Ryan said. “I kicked in college, but I was really bad. But I’m sure I would have made that one.”
Maybe, but the end result was one enormous downer entering the locker room at halftime.
“We were frustrated,” Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin said. “At the time, everybody on offense just wanted us to go for it. Hauschka was hurt. We felt like we should have gone for it. But I don’t think it deterred us in any way. We always talk about [how] you don’t win games in the first half.”
Even Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he should have let the offense go for it instead of risking the field goal with a new kicker and holder, but Maragos wasn’t a greenhorn at holding for a kick.
“I held all four years in college at Wisconsin,” he said. “But I messed it up. I didn’t get the snap down, so then it’s a fire call and you try to roll out. But I should’ve just gone down. Our defense was playing well all game and I should have just taken a knee.”
Should that situation arise again, Carroll said quarterback Russell Wilson would be the holder. The field-goal failure was the second time in the last two games that Seattle has given up a touchdown return on a field-goal attempt.
Against Indianapolis last week, Hauschka’s 48-yard attempt was blocked before Delano Howell ran it back 61 yards for a score. This time, Hauschka was in the locker room and didn’t see the play.
“I didn’t know what happened,” Hauschka said. “I still haven’t seen the play. It was a big blow for us. I was trying to get back out there as quickly as I could, but I had to finish the concussion tests.”
It was Hauschka's aggressive play to make a tackle on a kickoff that started the chain of events that led to the botched attempt.
"I’m a bigger guy," said the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Hauschka, "and that’s the first time I’ve been popped like that. I felt out of it for a couple of minutes. We did the concussion protocol and I was fine."
Ryan said: “I don’t know if [Hauschka] is the toughest guy. Me, yes, but him no.”
Easy to joke about it now. Cornerback Richard Sherman was asked if he feels an obligation to teach Hauschka proper tackling technique.
“I feel an obligation to teach Hauschka how to get out of the way,” Sherman said.