SEATTLE — It all seemed oddly appropriate.
It was a valiant, gallant, wishful-thinking long shot of an attempt that fluttered quietly, hopelessly, harmlessly to the ground.
And as the Seahawks’ last-gasp try of a 61-yard field goal dropped a little bit short and a little bit left Sunday, you didn’t have to look far to find the metaphor. You didn’t have to think very hard to see how the final kick off the foot of Steven Hauschka encapsulated the current state of the team.
The Seahawks came up short, falling 30-28 to the Atlanta Falcons, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort or a lack of will or a lack of desire. They fought back from a deficit that stood at 27-7 early in the third quarter and had a chance to win the game in the final seconds.
Yet all the effort in the world wasn’t going to make Hauschka’s kick go any farther or any straighter, and all the desire in the world isn’t going to turn these Seahawks into contenders.
Not that coach Pete Carroll would ever believe that.
“I had to tell the guys in the locker room that we found something today that was powerful — the willingness to hang in there when it was 27-7,” Carroll said. “We grew more today, and it was something that needed to be noted. We’ll see where it goes from here.”
Carroll is right about that. The Seahawks (1-3) didn’t give up.
But while the coach would never use the exact words, the fact that he was lauding a moral victory in the fourth game of the season is a condemnation of Seattle’s status.
Yes, there were positives.
After spending the first 30 minutes getting dissected, the defense held Atlanta to two field goals in the second half. After spending the first two quarters rushing for a total of 5 yards, the offense put three touchdowns on the board the rest of the way.
For an offense that had scored a total of 37 points in the first 3½ games, it was a breakthrough of sorts.
“The guys could have easily given up,” quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said after throwing for a career-high 319 yards. “But we kept fighting. It really shows the character of this team — we have a bunch of fighters.”
That was enough to bring Seattle to the brink of victory.
Taking over on their own 15-yard line with 1:49 to play and a 30-28 deficit, the Seahawks picked and prodded and plunged their way into Atlanta territory.
They got to the Falcons’ 45, only to have a false-start penalty against Sidney Rice move the ball back to midfield. They completed a 7-yard pass; they threw an incompletion. They faced a fourth-and-8 with 13 seconds to play and one timeout remaining, and that’s when Carroll made a decision that will be endlessly debated.
“They put us in position to win; we took a shot,” Carroll said, contemplating the possibility of not making a first down. “I didn’t want to not have a chance to win the game. I wanted to see if we could win, do something great.”
It’s a worthy goal, this idea of greatness. But it would be a more realistic one if Hauschka had ever made anything longer than a 54-yarder in his four NFL seasons.
“I thought he was going to hit it,” tight end Zach Miller said. “He’s done it in practice. There was no doubt in my mind he was going to make it and we were going to walk off the field winners.”
He didn’t, and they didn’t.
And that might be all we need to know about this year’s Seahawks.
Greg Jayne is Sports editor of The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4531, or by e-mail at email@example.com. To “Like” him on Facebook, search for “Greg Jayne - The Columbian”