KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Seattle Seahawks gambled and lost. Three times in the fourth quarter while trailing by four points, the Seahawks rolled the dice and went for it on fourth down. And they failed all three times.
Had they converted any of those chances, maybe things would have turned out differently instead of a 24-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Minnesota Vikings last season were the last team to go 0-for-3 by going for it on every fourth-down attempt in the fourth quarter. It was a 23-7 loss to the New York Giants in a Monday night game on Oct. 21, 2013.
Obviously, it’s rare for a team to go for it every time, but there was no reward for the Seahawks’ bravery. Not this time.
“We knew we were playing a great football team and we had to take some chances,” Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. “We were down and we had to take some shots. They were able to stop us. They made some great plays.”
The first fourth-down stop was the most controversial. The Seahawks had fourth-and-goal at the 2 with 7:11 to go in the game. A field goal would have made it a one-point game, but the Seahawks wanted the lead.
Wilson lofted a quick throw to receiver Doug Baldwin, who was running to the back corner of the end zone. There was contact with Kansas City cornerback Sean Smith, which Baldwin felt was interference, but no flag was thrown.
“I was pushed," Baldwin said. “It was obvious. As far as I know, when the ball is in the air I'm not supposed to be touched by the defender. Period. That’s the rule.”
Kansas City took over at the 2, but the Seattle defense held and forced the Chiefs to punt from their own end zone. The Seahawks started at the Kansas City 45 and had a fourth-and-1 at the 36.
They went with the obvious call and handed the ball to Marshawn Lynch. Why wouldn’t you? He rushed for 124 yards in the game, but he was held to no yards on that carry.
What are the chances the Chiefs stop Lynch there, even though everyone in the stadium assumed he would get the ball?
“Very slim, but it happened,” Seattle tight end Luke Willson said. “I don’t know if you want to call it lucky for them or we just didn’t execute, but that doesn’t happen very often.”
The Seahawks thought they had a first down one play earlier when a slant-in catch by Jermaine Kearse was ruled down at the 35, but the Chiefs challenged the call and replays showed he was down at the 36.
Perhaps the Lynch run would have ended differently if starting center Max Unger hadn't left the game with a leg injury.
“He’s really the leader of our squad," Willson said. “When you lose a guy like that, it’s going to be tough.”
The final fourth-down attempt was in desperation time. The Seahawks had fourth-and-18 at their 20 with 1:18 to go. Wilson made a deep sideline throw intended for Paul Richardson, but he was well covered by Smith.
Three strikes and you’re out.
“All you can ask for in any game is to have a chance at the end,” Wilson said. “We had our chances and didn’t get it done.”