Before Blair Walsh's late-game field goal miss ensured the Seahawks of a 10-9 win in the wild-card round at TCF Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings kicker had given his team a 9-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter by connecting on boots from 22, 43, and 47 yards out.
Walsh's 47-yard strike to cap the third quarter was nearly blocked by Seattle's Richard Sherman, who came roaring off the left edge in pursuit of the football. Sherman timed the 4th-and-12 play perfectly, moving into Minnesota's backfield just as the ball was snapped. The Seahawks cornerback came within inches of knocking down Walsh's attempt, and postgame, Sherman said that close-call "might have had a factor" in Walsh's miss that helped send Seattle into next weekend's divisional round against the Carolina Panthers.
"You'd have to ask him, I can't tell you what he was thinking," Sherman said of Walsh. "But I think how close I got on the last one might have factored in."
In the Minnesota locker room after the game, Walsh assumed complete fault for what went wrong, "The whole thing is on me and I accept that," he said. The Vikings kicker also offered an explanation as to why his final field goal sailed wide.
"When you pull it to the left like that you didn't stay long enough into the kick and commit through it enough, and that is what I didn't do," Walsh said. "I had done it all day, so I am not sure why I didn't there, but it is frustrating, no doubt."
During his Monday afternoon press conference at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Pete Carroll was asked what impact Sherman might have had on Walsh's miss. The Seattle head coach responded by noting that Walsh's final try "was kicked much faster than their other kicks," an indication that Sherman's near-block on Walsh's third attempt may have played a role.
"I don't need to give you the times, but it was considerably faster, so for whatever reason they sped up their mechanism," Carroll said. "Sherm couldn't have been closer, we can't figure out how he didn't get it. So they went quite a bit faster."
Here's a couple more things we learned from Carroll's Monday meeting with the media:
Carroll "Had a Blast" Coaching in the Minnesota Cold
Sunday's temperature measured at minus-6 degrees just prior to kickoff at the University of Minnesota. The reading made the Seahawks-Vikings wild-card matchup the third-coldest playoff game in NFL history. The subzero temps significantly impacted the kicking game, as Seattle's Steven Hauschka can attest, and made it "as challenging as a game can be" in all phases according to the Seahawks head coach.
But given a day to reflect - and perhaps more importantly, time to thaw - Carroll called Sunday's frigid playoff win "a blast" and "so much fun because it was just so crazy."
"Everything about it is just crazy," Carroll said. "The preparation part of it, the mental side of it that everybody was dealing with to get right so that they could be at their best, you could feel it and see it. There was a big energy about that with our players and our coaches, too, because they didn't want to succumb to it, they didn't want to give into it, and nobody did. So there was a real kind of uplifted emotion about just taking on the challenge of not being overwhelmed by the elements. The whole thing was fun."
Marshawn Lynch Didn't Suffer a Setback
Even though Marshawn Lynch (abdomen) was ruled out of Seattle's wild-card game late Friday after being listed as questionable earlier in the day, Carroll confirmed the Seahawks running back did not suffer a setback during the week of practice that saw him fully participate each day, his first workouts with the team since undergoing surgery.
"He just didn't feel like he could go," Carroll said. "He really didn't have the confidence that he would be able to go. I said earlier today that this is his first surgery ever and it happens to be right in his core and you all that have watched him, you know what kind of runner he is, all of the lateral things that he does with his body, they're so abrupt and so sudden. He needs to feel that he can do those things. Even though he could run fast and look like he's moving, he didn't have the confidence that he could go out there and react to guys and do that yet. So there's nothing we can do about that."
Carroll said they'll handle Lynch's status "one day at a time" and that the decision on whether or not he'll play in this weekend's playoff game against the Panthers could go all the way to game-time.
"It really could, yeah," he said. "I don't know, I can't tell you. He doesn't know yet, so we'll have to wait and see."
The Seahawks hit the road and traveled to Minnesota for the second time this season for the NFC Wild Card Playoff matchup at TCF Bank Stadium and escape with a 10-9 victory to advance to next Sunday's NFC Divisional round.