Things seemed to be spiraling out of control for the Seahawks on what to that point had been a promising drive.
On their first possession of the second half of Sunday's game against the Chargers, an eventual 37-23 victory, the Seahawks were moving well after starting backed up at their own 7-yard line. When the drive reached Chargers territory, the Seahawks faced third-and-5 when whistles blew and the Seahawks believed they had drawn the Chargers offside, a penalty that would have set up third and less than a yard. Instead, officials called Austin Blythe for a false start for a head bob that looked to be a pretty routine move for a center.
The Seahawks were heated, with Pete Carroll and Geno Smith having heated discussions with officials about the call. The situation was further complicated by right guard Phil Haynes being removed from the game due to the independent spotter noticing something, requiring him to come out to be evaluated for a concussion—a process Carroll praised after the game. After the Seahawks burned a time out with the play clock winding down, Smith eventually began walking away from the sideline towards the huddle when, in an exchange caught on the TV broadcast, Carroll yelled, "hey Geno!" to get his quarterback's attention. Carroll then calmly looked at his quarterback and did a quick motion with his hand, rubbing it down the front of his sweatshirt, a quick gesture Smith said helped calm things down.
Moments later, Smith fired an absolute laser over the middle to Tyler Lockett for a 12-yard gain and a first down to extend a drive that ended with a Jason Myers field goal after the Seahawks had burned 10 minutes and 20 seconds off the clock, a possession Carroll called "the drive of the game."
Instead of punting from midfield, the Seahawks were able to take another five minutes off the clock and extend their lead to 13 points near the end of the third quarter. That time used and those three points didn't guarantee a victory, but it made things a lot more difficult for the Chargers.
"That was a big drive for us," Smith said. "It was our first drive of the second half… (The penalty) kind of frustrated us, but we've got to do a better job of not letting things like that get us riled up and stuff like that, because there's still a game to be played. I thought Coach Carroll did a great job of just bringing us back to square one, getting us calmed down because, 'Hey, we've got to go out there and still convert this third down.' To pick it up, obviously we're fired up because we get to extend the drive, and it's a big drive in a game we want to win. Overall, I thought it was a pretty cool moment. I thought it was a cool moment for us as an offense, and as a team just to see the emotion, but also the calmness to get the job done."
Carroll joked that his gesture to Smith was not about calming him down, but rather, "That was the signal for the 12-yard rip it and make a first down."
Though Carroll did go a bit more in depth on the topic on Monday during his weekly appearance on Seattle Sports 710 AM.
"It's just the motion—Geno and I, we've got good communication, and there's a time when I need him to do something, and there's a time when he needs me to do something, so we're just working together at it," Carroll said. "When I did that, he looked at me and just gave me a little nod; he knew exactly what I was getting at. We're practicing our communication skills whether we can talk to one another or not, so that's all that was."
That moment wasn't a particularly unusual one for Carroll, but because it occurred on TV and has since made the rounds on social media, it has helped shine a light on one of Carroll's best traits as a coach—the way he connects with and understands his players.
"He does that to me often," Smith said. "He does it to me after big plays—if we score on the first drive, he'll come up to me and be like, hey. It's just his way of letting me know, 'Hey, stay even keel, don't get caught up in the emotion. Just stay ready for the next play.'"
The Seahawks and Lumen partnered together to donate $40K to Y-WE Tech's tech library, along with 60 refurbished laptops, helping provide the necessary equipment to support their STEM program for young women. Y-WE is one of the team's Spirit of 12 partners.