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The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, 17-16. After Rams head coach Sean McVay made a questionable coaching decision on the drive that gave them the lead, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll responded with one of his own.
For the Rams, McVay’s decision didn’t cost him the win. Carroll’s decision, however, ultimately did.
The Rams got the ball with 6:43 left in the game trailing by two points. Puka Nakua took a jet sweep and gained 7 yards to set up a first-and-goal just after the two-minute warning. Following the carry, the Seahawks used their first timeout with 1:52 remaining.
The Rams then had two choices. They could run the ball three times, force the Seahawks to burn their remaining timeouts, and kick a short go-ahead field goal with around 50 seconds left on the clock.
Or, they could try to pass three times (or fewer) and attempt to score a touchdown. While that wouldn’t have run much time off the clock or cost the Seahawks their two remaining timeouts, it would have forced Seattle to score a touchdown on the final drive.
Option 2 is riskier because if the Rams don’t score the touchdown, they take a one-point lead while leaving Seattle with plenty of time and two timeouts. However, forcing Seattle to have to score a touchdown would obviously be a much higher mountain to climb.
Personally, I’m in favor of the aggressive option. Especially in a game where the Seahawks hadn’t scored a touchdown since the first quarter.
Strangely, the Rams didn’t really choose either option. They ran it on first down, passed it on second down, then ran a safe pass (wide receiver screen) on third down. While they did force the Seahawks to use their remaining timeouts, they left over 90 seconds on the clock.
Rams coach Sean McVay makes curious coaching call, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll responds with one of his own
The Rams converted the field goal to take the lead. Following a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, Seattle got the ball with 91 seconds left on their own 25-yard line. Seattle started with a 13-yard pass from Geno Smith to Tyler Lockett. Then, three plays later, Smith found D.K. Metcalf across the middle for a 21-yard gain to the Rams 39-yard line.
That put the Seahawks in position for a potential 56-yard game-winning field goal attempt. The best course of action appeared to be having the offense run up to the line of scrimmage and spike the football.
Seattle got to the line with around 30 seconds left. However, instead of spiking the football, Smith handed the ball off to running back Zach Charbonnet. After a short gain, Seattle spiked the ball and settled for a 54-yard field goal attempt.
But, why? They had 30 seconds left to give themselves a much closer field goal. That’s plenty of time to complete another pass and spike the ball if needed. Possibly, they could get out-of-bounds. Even on an incompletion, they’d have time for another play.
Of course, kicker Jason Myers missed the long-range field goal and the Seahawks lost the game.
Certainly, Geno Smith played a role in the decision as well. But, the onus falls on the head coach. Either his guys didn’t know what to do in that situation or that’s what he told them to do in the moment. Either way, the decision backfired in a big way.
Which bailed out Sean McVay’s questionable decision.
Not exactly a great display of end-of-game management for either head coach.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on X – formerly known as Twitter: @RealDanZak