When you see this kick, the last thing that enters your mind is that it was a botched kickoff. It looks like a perfectly plausible onside kick, which is what made Pete Carroll's postgame explanation so confusing. How could the Seahawks have intended to squib kick with Steven Hauschka's body facing the sideline? Had they intended to kick the ball into the club seats? It didn't make any sense -- until Carroll gave us the full story.
The first hint that the kick was a mistake is how Hauschka struck the ball. Instead of kicking the ball into the ground (as is standard on an onside kick) he kicked directly off the tee.
Seahawks were trying to chip it over front line and get ball. Wasn't supposed to be onside.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) September 13, 2015
Seattle intended for a hybrid kick. Not quite an onside, nor was it a squib. It's unclear how often Hauschka has tried to chip the ball like this before, or why it was the call in a tense overtime game. Only the Seahawks can answer that.
Hauschka took full blame for inside kick saying he didn't hit it right.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) September 13, 2015
Tactically the call was sound. Putting the ball over the front line receivers would have forced players with worse hands to make a play at the ball. If Seattle can somehow recover, they're getting the ball inside field goal range and essentially dodging the NFL's new overtime rules. A recovered onside kick would have counted as St. Louis already having possession, therefore allowing the Seahawks to win with a field goal.
One thing is clear: It was risky. This kick was a low percentage play, even if it's something the Seahawks have practiced scores of times before. The counterpoint, however, is that Seattle would have won if they recovered. That's what makes this complicated.
Ultimately it comes down to one thing: If the play succeeds, Carroll is lauded as a tactical genius who trusted his defense even if things went wrong, but it didn't succeed. Seattle lost, which means this gets lumped in with the team's decision in the Super Bowl not to run with Marshawn Lynch. It's unfair, but the NFL rarely is.
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