The Seahawks started practicing the fake field goal they ran against the Green Bay Packers this past Thursday.
That was the word from Jon Ryan, whose 19-yard loft to rookie offensive tackle Garry Gilliam marked the first postseason touchdown tossed by a punter since they started keeping track of the statistic in 1966.
It came on a fourth-down play in the game's third quarter as Seattle's special teams unit lined up for what would have been a 38-yard field goal try from kicker Steven Hauschka.
Instead, Ryan kept the snap as Hauschka followed through with his leg. Ryan raced to his left and when Packers defender A.J. Hawk collapsed on him in the flat, the Seattle punter lobbed a ball to the former Penn State tight end Gilliam, who had lined up as an eligible receiver and was left all alone in the end zone.
"We just saw a consistent look that they did where they brought rushers hard off the edge and we thought we'd take advantage of it," said Ryan, whose scoring strike provided the Seahawks' first points in a game they would go on to win 28-22 in overtime. "It was brought from the sideline and as long as we had the look on the field that we wanted to go with, we would stick with it, and that's what happened."
Gilliam admitted his duty was to do a "crappy" job at blocking on the play in an attempt to draw the defense in and escape uncovered toward the goal line. Consider it a "crappy" job well done.
"The person that I would have blocked if Jon would have ran shot toward him," Gilliam said. "So there was no one else to cover me. If he read it right the ball should have came to me, which he did."
Photos of the celebrations from the Seahawks after their come from behind win in overtime NFC Championship.
Ryan hoped to receive a chance to run the play this week, noting the last time he threw a pass for a score came more than a decade ago during his time at the University of Regina. He lobbied for the call all week to his head coach and special teams coordinator.
"I didn't get within five feet of Pete [Carroll] or Brian [Schneider] without mentioning it to them that we should run it," Ryan said. "So it was obviously open."
Ryan's promotion paid off.
"Coach Carroll actually came up to me plenty of times this week and was like, 'We're running that play. Be ready,'" said Gilliam. "And I was like, 'All right, I'm ready.' And we did."
It was Carroll's confidence in his punter that set the pivotal play in motion.
"I really believed in this fake," Carroll said. "I thought we had a great shot at it because I believe in Jon Ryan's ability to come out of there exploding like he did, and really it was the first opportunity we had.
"I couldn't wait to get the thing called."