By Chuck Schilken
10:31 AM PST, January 22, 2014
Steven Hauschka is a football genius.
The Seattle kicker was sent out to attempt a 53-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's NFC championship game against San Francisco. If successful, the kick would have pulled the Seahawks to within 17-16 of the 49ers with plenty of time to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl.
But the selfless Hauschka had a much better plan. Why not go for it on fourth-and-seven, draw the 49ers offsides and have quarterback Russell Wilson take advantage of the free play by heaving the ball to Jermaine Kearse in the end zone for a 20-17 Seahawks lead?
OK, so that's not exactly what Hauschka had in mind when he told Coach Pete Carroll that attempting the field goal at that point wasn't a good idea.
"I didn't really want to kick it, to tell you the truth. It was into the wind," Hauschka told Newsday. "I didn't think it was the right decision and I let Coach Carroll know that."
Hauschka -- who connected on field goals of 32, 40 and 47 yards during the game -- added: "You have to be honest with yourself. It was the wind at that moment. Sometimes you can make that, but I felt the wind at that moment was into the face enough to not want to try that kick. I grabbed him on the sideline as I ran out because I could see the flags [on top of the uprights] and I told him: 'We shouldn't kick this.' "
But since the field-goal unit was already on the field, Hauschka had to stand out there for several awkward seconds. Hauschka said he was expecting a delay-of-game penalty followed by a Seahawks punt, but Carroll had other ideas.
"We wanted to get points," Carroll said. "We weren't going to punt."
And that's exactly what happened, with everything playing out as described above and the Seahawks never relinquishing the lead en route to a 23-17 victory.
So maybe it's Carroll, not Hauschka, who is the football genius.
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