If only the game was outdoor, in the rain, with mud slung all over the place and players slipping everywhere and fans wearing those rain poncho things. If only.
With a final score of 6-6, you’d think that both teams were struggling in some soaking wet conditions, unable to properly run or pass the ball because of the slippery pigskin. Instead, the game was played inside the marvelous University of Phoenix Stadium, with no weather bothering the players like an extra defender. You’d also think that would excuse both kickers from missing point blank layups with the game on the line. But, football is a weird sport, and weird things happen.
If you only watched the first three quarters or so of the game, you would have been treated to:
Et cetera, et cetera.
You get the point.
Seattle came in to Arizona smoking hot, winning three straight behind the success of Jimmy Graham and Christine Michael, and fresh off of a nail-biter against the Atlanta Falcons which could have easily gone the other way due to a missed pass interference call at the end (thanks refs!).
The dull first half of the Sunday night game was highlighted by a blocked field goal by Bobby Wagner in which he cleared the Cardinals’ long snapper and demolished the attempt by Chandler Catanzaro, much to the chagrin of Bruce Arians who thought there should have been a penalty on Wagner. The frustrated Arians was seen on the sideline screaming at the referee, and, I’m no lip reader but, it looked like he said something like “DUCK BOO” to the official — but again, I’m no lip reader, so uh, use your imagination.
After some back and forth futility by both teams, Seattle caught a break late in the fourth quarter when Tanner McEvoy blocked the life out of a Ryan Quigley punt to put Seattle in position to score — and score they did as Steven Hauschka hit a 40-yard field goal.
After an absolutely thrilling 3-3 tie to end regulation, Seattle sent rookie quarterback Trevone Boykin out for the coin toss. Boykin called tails, and the Cards got the ball to begin the free football session. Imagine if he would have called heads, who knows what would have happened? But that’s the beauty of a coin toss — you have a 50/50 chance to either win, or lose the toss. How appropriate it would have been had the toss landed on its side, with neither heads nor tails as the winner.
Former Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer began the overtime on his own 25-yard line and marched his boys all the way down to the Seattle 27 to set up a 45-yard Catanzaro field goal which he hit. Yes, a 45-yard field goal. Remember that.
Wilson, not to be overshadowed, began his own drive and brought the birds of the Northwest all the way downfield before overshooting Graham on a key pass in the red zone to eventually settle for another Hauschka field goal from 36-yards away. Yes, 36 yards. Remember that.
But Palmer, with the ball again and the NFL overtime rules on his side (next score wins), did what Carson Palmer was put on this earth to do — complete passes, hand the ball off, and make proper reads to put his squad in position to win. After completing a crazy third down pass, the birds of the Southwest were five yards away from the end zone, in prime position to take the W.
After a couple of David Johnson runs which went nowhere, the Cardinals were flagged for a delay of game penalty and pushed five yards back, which shouldn’t have been that big of a deal as it set up a 24-yard Catanzaro field goal.
Perhaps the memory of Bobby Wagner leaping and blocking his earlier attempt was fresh in his mind, or perhaps the close distance caused his concentration to drift. Or maybe he was absolutely certain the chip shot would go in and was already thinking about what he would say when given the game ball. Either way, the 24 yarder was his to make, with the hopes and dreams of Arizona behind his leg, and with the throngs of fans ready to congratulate him after defeating the rival Seahawks.
Who knows what was on his mind as the ball was snapped?
And as the kick went up, so did the hands of Arians in a victorious pose. Finally, the ugly game would be finished, and they could all go home and forget it happened.
But those uprights, those cruel, cruel uprights!
As the ball smacked the left side of the upright, pitifully falling short, Arians’ hands flimsily flopped to his side and he flung his play sheet down in woeful disbelief. Yes, a 24-yard missed field goal in overtime. Duck boo, Catanzaro. Duck boo! (Is probably what Arians said.)
And as Seattle got the ball back, and as Pete Carroll smiled, and Russell Wilson played like the Russell Wilson we’ve all come to know and trust, Catanzaro miserably knelt down on the sideline, praying that the phantom that caused him to miss his chip shot would come to haunt Hauschka.
Wilson valiantly led the ‘Hawks to the 10-yard line, eventually setting up “Hausch Money” for the winner in what was the craziest game of the year. And as Hauschka lined up, and the clock ran, and Chandler Catanzaro knelt, and Pete Carroll smiled, and some fans presumably left, he booted the ball waaaaaay to the left in what was a worse kick than Catanzaro’s.
And as the ball missed, and Palmer later heaved an unsuccessful Hail Mary to end the game, and Catanzaro was lifted off the hook, the National Football League was treated to its best game of the year: a 6-6 tie that absolutely no one predicted because, well, ties in the NFL don’t happen. No one knows what to do, or how to react. Football is a weird sport, and weird things happen.
Carroll and Arians shook hands, because that’s what coaches in the NFL do after games. But it was a weird moment, as if they were just shaking hands after running into each other on the street randomly and saying “hello.” Yes, it was a strange game, but, deep down, that’s why we all watch sports, right? For weird instances like this, that bewilder the mind and make our love for the game even stronger.
Now if only Boykin had called “heads.”
The Seahawks are now at 4-1-1 (still undefeated since SEATTLEITE began coverage, just saying). They travel to New Orleans next week (where our beer correspondent Kevin Hurless currently is at this moment, hopefully sampling some tasty beers) to take on the 2-4 Saints.