Tuesday night saw the Seahawks botch their time management in a crucial situation. This issue has been an overly familiar one in Pete Carroll’s tenure as head coach, although the reasons for the mistake in their eventual 20-10 loss to the Rams looked as if they were growing overly besotted with their up-tempo mode of offense that had moved them down into the red zone.
After Russell Wilson completed a miraculous (it was intended for DK Metcalf) 34-yard pass to tight end Gerald Everett, the Seahawks had the ball at the Rams’ 14-yard-line. The following 1st and 10 situation with 53 seconds remaining in the half saw Wilson, moving up in the pocket to scramble, sacked for a loss of 2 yards.
And then Seattle chose to let the clock tick. The offense could have opted to take one of its three timeouts, keeping 49 seconds left to play. Instead, Wilson and company snapped the ensuing 2nd and 12 with 26 seconds remaining, essentially wasting 23 seconds of valuable time. The vanilla four verts passing concept resulted in a well-covered incompletion that brought up 3rd and 12. Seattle faced this down and distance with just 20 seconds left to play, despite having all three of its timeouts remaining.
The alternative for the Seahawks, if they had taken their timeout at the 49-second mark, would have been a more measured approach that could have played the red zone situation in a more neutral fashion. This was their first trip inside the Rams’ 20 and a major moment in the game. This would have allowed them to regather their play-calls and even brought the potential of a run into play—keeping the defense honest and from totally teeing off versus this pass.
Seattle was moving Los Angeles in its under-center, 12 personnel run game. Quick game opportunities could have been leaned on, plus more complicated double moves could have been called in from the sideline.
The 2nd and 12 scenario was not an “and goal” position, meaning that the Seahawks could have picked up a new set of downs. It’s this factor that dismisses the need for draining the clock to prevent the Rams from getting the ball back—especially when the Seahawks’ defense had held them to a measly three points up to that point in the game.
The opposite side of the time management argument is that Wilson only started to move the football versus L.A. with this up-tempo mode. In this light, the temptation to live and die by the hasty sword is understandable.
The Seahawks ended up false starting on the 3rd and 12 play before Wilson threw the subsequent 3rd and 17 out of bounds. Seattle settled for three points and L.A. kneeled the last 10 seconds out. Carroll was not asked about his end-of-half decision afterwards, although there is a strong likelihood that his quarterback was given full authority in the situation.