Originally published October 6, 2011 at 8:30 PM | Page modified October 7, 2011 at 4:44 PM

Pete Carroll's Seahawks will take risks for big payoff

Coach Pete Carroll is willing to err on the side of optimism even if it risks costing his team points.

Seattle Times staff reporter


Seahawks @ N.Y. Giants, 10 a.m., Ch. 13

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RENTON — The past few days haven't made Sunday's 61-yard field-goal attempt any more makeable.

That doesn't mean Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has been kicking himself over the attempt, though.

"I'm fine about it," the coach said earlier this week. "I knew clearly what I wanted to do at the time and went for it. I'm not looking back at it."

He remains positively Pete. He is a coach who doesn't just expect the best-case scenario, but relies upon it. He's willing to err on the side of optimism even if it risks costing his team points.

And it has. Trying a 61-yard field goal in a stadium where no one has ever made one longer than 55 is just the latest example of end-of-the-half play-calling that could charitably be described as aggressive and in retrospect can look foolhardy.

Make it and a coach is praised for his guts, miss it and the intellect gets questioned. While you can wonder about the wisdom of Carroll's risk tolerance, the one thing you have to give him is that he's consistently brazen. Or did you forget Game 3 of last season, and that fire drill that occurred at the end of the first half against the San Diego Chargers?

The Seahawks had the ball at the San Diego 2 with 22 seconds left, facing third-and-one. Seattle had just spiked the ball to stop the clock, and had no timeouts remaining. Seattle had time to run another play and still have a chance to kick the field goal, just not the play the Seahawks decided to run: a quarterback sneak. Because when Matt Hasselbeck was tackled short of the goal line, the Seahawks couldn't get their field-goal unit on the field and snap the ball before time ran out.

It was a debacle that Carroll claimed ownership of afterward.

"I got a little bold about our situation," Carroll said last year. "We need to take care of business better. I need to do a better job, and make sure that we get our points when we get our opportunities."

Sounds great, right? Well, the next week at St. Louis, the Seahawks lined up to attempt a 51-yard field goal with 1 minute left in the first half only to call a fake. Holder Jon Ryan was tackled for a 9-yard loss. The Seahawks didn't cross midfield the rest of the game.

More than a month later, Seattle was tied 10-10 at Arizona, facing fourth-and-one at the Arizona 16 with 1:10 left in the second quarter and the Seahawks once again busted out the quarterback sneak. This one not only cost Seattle a chance at kicking a field goal as the play was stopped, resulting in a turnover on downs, but Hasselbeck suffered a broken wrist on his non-throwing hand.

Carroll is simply not going to play it safe. Not even when he says he's going to play it safe.

Seattle has a coach that believes so resolutely in the bright side of a play that he leaves his team vulnerable on the other end when it doesn't work out. It is the swagger he wants his team to play with, but there's a risk to playing so bold.

It's not that he fails to understand what he's risking, but that he's willing to take risks that others wouldn't. He isn't going to err on the side of conventional wisdom and old coaching bromides. He's going to trot a field-goal kicker out to attempt the longest kick in franchise history to win a game, and he's willing to do it into the wind to boot.

He is positive, unflinching even in the face of those odds. He wasn't willing to look back even when Steven Hauschka's longshot attempt landed short and to the left.

"It's one of those coach's choices," Carroll said.

And Carroll has shown he's a coach who is willing to choose a riskier path in pursuit of a bigger payoff.

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