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In praise of Pete Carroll’s 4th down decision making

Yes, Pete Carroll’s 4th down decision making.

New York Giants v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

When the Seattle Seahawks lost to the Atlanta Falcons back in September, I lamented Pete Carroll’s decision to both waste a timeout and kick a field goal on 4th and 2 at Atlanta’s 8. The Falcons would score a go-ahead touchdown and Seattle didn’t get any more points after that.

It was one of the many examples we can point to over the years of Pete’s historic tendencies not to be aggressive on 4th down calls when going for it is at least statistically advisable.

Even in Sunday’s win against the New York Giants, Seattle punted on 4th and 5 from the Giants’ 41, as opposed to kicking a long field goal or going for it. The trusty 4th Down Bot suggests this should’ve been a go situation.

Michael Dickson’s punt went for a touchback so the net was just 21 yards.

But wait! Here’s where the story turns itself around!

4th and 1 at the Giants 19 after Marquise Goodwin dropped a touchdown pass — the broadcast said it was a pass breakup, but it went through Goodwin’s hands — and Pete green lights going for it. Shane Waldron dials up Tyler Lockett in the backfield, and Geno finds him on the soft toss to beat the blitz.

Geno Smith makes a sneakily important decision to tuck and run on 3rd and 8 instead of A.) Throwing a bad pass into coverage or B.) Throwing it away. His effort to get close to the sticks sets up 4th and 2 at the Giants 6. This could’ve been a kick situation given this is pretty much what happened against Atlanta, but Pete’s put the trust in his offense one more time.

Enter the shovel pass to Will Dissly!

The Seahawks scored two plays later on a throw to a wide open DK Metcalf to give them a 7-0 lead. A 15-play, 69-yard drive with a couple of nice 4th down conversions turned a likely 3 points into a definite 7.

I don’t expect Carroll to turn into Sean McDermott or John Harbaugh overnight, but it should be acknowledged when Pete gets it right. If they’d failed on those 4th downs then you’d just live with the result depending on the context of the playcall and the execution. Ultimately, the Seahawks succeeded on both occasions and increased their chances of winning.

It’s been that kind of year of the unexpected from this team, including from the head coach.