RENTON — If the Seahawks hadn’t just changed ends of the field, maybe they would have decided to kick a field goal facing a fourth-and-seven at the 35-yard-line in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the 49ers.
Instead, a little wind that picked up at the open north end of CenturyLink Field helped coach Pete Carroll decide to go for it rather than attempt a 53-yard field goal.
And that confluence of events resulted in a 35-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse that proved to be the go-ahead points in a 23-17 win.
As Carroll explained later, his choices were to go for it, punt and try to pin the 49ers deep, or try a 53-yard field goal.
Carroll initially decided on the field goal, sending kicker Steven Hauschka onto the field.
As Hauschka explained Thursday, though, the distance was just beyond what he and Carroll had decided before the game was a high-percentage kick when heading to that end of the stadium, especially once the wind began to blow a little harder, which Hauschka said made it “a tricky kick.”
“If it was the other way (kicking to the south end) I would have easily had that,” Hauschka said. “But not that direction.”
Hauschka said he relayed his thoughts to Carroll as the Seahawks were lining up for the kick, which resulted in Carroll telling the field-goal unit to stay on the field and let time run down until he called time out and sent the offense back out to go for it.
“It wasn’t that I didn’t think I could make it,” Hauschka said. “I just didn’t think it was the right decision.”
Hauschka said his usual pregame routine is to attempt kicks from different spots and get a sense of where his range is, given the weather and other factors.
“We had decided on a certain range and depending on the conditions of the game we were going to stretch it past the 30-yard ine,” Hauschka said. “At that moment, I didn’t feel like it was the right time to stretch it.”
Carroll said it’s not common for a kicker to make such a decision.
“That’s a little bit unusual,” he said earlier this week. “I love the honesty. Most guys go and say ‘I can make it’ and go out there and plunk it down at the goal line. I thought it was a great moment for us, and it was a great decision.”
Wright confident he’ll be 100 percent
Linebacker K.J. Wright, who started the first 13 games of the season before suffering a broken foot Dec. 8 at San Francisco, returned to action in the NFC title game in a reserve role, on the field for 16 snaps.
Thursday, he said his foot was sore afterward, but he expects with the extra week to prepare for the Super Bowl that he will be 100 percent.
“I should be out there full-go come next Sunday,” he said.
Wright played mostly at strongside linebacker in the NFC title game, instead of at his usual weakside linebacker. But Wright said he expects now to return to the weakside, where Malcolm Smith has started since Wright was injured.
Quinn passed over
The Cleveland Browns hired Buffalo’s Mike Pettine as their coach Thursday, bypassing Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Minnesota, another team considering Quinn, hired Mike Zimmer last week.
So is Quinn frustrated that Seattle’s Super Bowl run might have affected his candidacy?
“No, no,” he said Thursday. “I couldn’t be more fired up to be a part of (this team) and moving forward here, just keep the focus on the team, which it is.”
Browns CEO Joe Banner told reporters in the announcement that passing over Quinn was probably the “toughest decision” in the process.
“Both those (teams) have hired some great coaches, so it was a great experience to go through,” Quinn said.