SEATTLE (Reuters) - Seattle coach Pete Carroll took the risks, his Green Bay counterpart Mike McCarthy played it safe and in the end, the gambler won.
The Seahawks’ remarkable 28-22 comeback win over the Packers in the NFC championship game on Sunday cannot be put down to a single decision but the outcome was certainly influenced by the differing approaches of the two coaches.
Twice in the first quarter, Green Bay found themselves at fourth and one deep in Seahawks territory and twice they settled for field goals.
The result was six points instead of perhaps 14 but for the Packers’ McCarthy the decisions made sense.
“We knew that points were at a premium. Frankly, I would have liked to have gone for it there on fourth down, but based on what we saw, on second and third down, I just felt that you had to take points,” said McCarthy.
“I didn’t think a lot of points would win this game, (that) was my thinking coming in. I felt great about our defense all week, just the way they’ve been building here in the last eight, nine weeks. So, that’s why we had to take the field goals.”
For Carroll, though, fortune favored the brave.
The Seahawks had been struggling to find any kind of rhythm on offense but, needing to get on the scoreboard, they turned a field goal try into a touchdown.
Trailing 16-0 in the third, the Seahawks went into field goal formation but handler Jon Ryan caught Green Bay by surprise as he stood up and threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Garry Gillam.
“What a fantastic play, ” said Carroll, who paid tribute to special teams coordinator Brian Schneider.
“Brian did so well to put that together. They did it well in practice and it looked great and they pulled off.”
Then, after a Russell Wilson’s one-yard run had put Seattle within a touchdown with 2:09 left, Carroll had to decide whether to kick deep or risk an onsides kick. He chose the latter and it worked, allowing his team to score the go-ahead touchdown.
Chris Matthews recovered the ball after Green Bay’s Brandon Bostick failed to collect a bouncing kick.
“To come through on the onsides kick, it is something you work on but you never know when it is going to happen,” Carroll said. “Everyone was scrapping there but it happened to be Chris who had the chance. We were very fortunate but all of a sudden there we are, another great moment of the game.”
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Gene Cherry