With the Seattle Seahawks trailing the San Francisco 49ers 17-13 early in the fourth quarter, kicker Steven Hauschka was about to be called upon to attempt a 53-yard field goal that would have closed the gap to one.
A 53-yard field goal into the open end of CenturyLink Field was a daunting task. It was the same end of the stadium that Jay Feely missed three consecutive field goal attempts for the New York Giants in the fourth quarter and overtime against the Seahawks in 2005 – coincidentally the year of Seattle’s last Super Bowl appearance.
When faced with the chance to make a big kick for his team, Hauschka instead did something rather unusual. He turned down the kick.
“I didn’t really want to kick it, to tell you the truth,” Hauschka said, via Tom Rock of Newsday. “It was into the wind . . . I didn’t think it was the right decision and I let coach Carroll know that.”
A miss would have given the 49ers the ball at their 43-yard line with a chance to quickly drive into scoring range. Carroll said it was beyond the range Hauschka had converted in pregame warmups and they elected not to force the issue.
“We weren’t going to punt it, so the other option was to go for it on fourth down,” Carroll said postgame.
The decision ultimately took a timeout to determine their plan of action instead of a field goal try. Seattle elected to go for it on fourth-and-7 and Russell Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse for a 35-yard score to give the Seahawks their first lead of the game instead.
“I love the honesty,” Carroll said Monday. “Most guys go and say ‘I can make it’ and go out there and plunk it down at the goal line. I thought it was a great moment for us and it was a great decision.”
Hauschka converted all three field goals he attempted in the game with the longest – a 47-yard attempt – extending Seattle’s lead to 23-17 with 3:37 left to play and forcing the 49ers to need a touchdown to win and taking a tying field goal out of the equation.