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A Fake Field Goal, a Bad Challenge, and a Long Night for Pete Carroll's Ill-Fated Seahawks

Did the absence of Chancellor and Sherman play into the coach's foolhardy decisions?

We got a vintage Seahawks-in-Seattle performance during the fourth quarter Monday night. There were crushing hits by the defense, Russell Wilson calmly moving the ball down the field with his legs and his arm, and what felt like a million screaming 12s. But then, with two seconds left, Blair Walsh's game-tying attempt from 52 yards fell short. The crowd went silent. Wilson stared blankly on the sideline. And Richard Sherman, out for the year with an Achilles injury, wheeled himself off CenturyLink Field after a 34-31 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Without Sherman and Kam Chancellor, out for the year because of neck problems, the Seahawks just didn't have enough magic. And judging from some baffling decisions, deep down maybe they knew it. 

Right before halftime, Pete Carroll's field-goal unit ran a fake instead of taking a 35-yard attempt—especially confusing because, with only seven seconds left, Luke Willson would have had to get into the end zone from 17 yards out, not just convert a first down. He was slung down behind the line of scrimmage, leaving the score at 24-17 going into the half. Then, trailing by eight with less than 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter (and with one timeout already burned), Carroll challenged what was an obvious drop by Doug Baldwin on a third-and-1 play. Carroll explained his thought process on the fake field goal afterward. "It would've been a really good call if we made it," he said. "We figured we were going to break it." And of the Baldwin challenge, he said he "trusted" his star receiver, who said to throw the challenge flag. Perhaps if not for the depleted secondary, the position group that has been the core of this team, Carroll wouldn't have felt the need to be so bold. An additional three points, and/or an extra time out, would have come in handy as Wilson shredded a seemingly collapsing Atlanta defense late in the game.

So, where does this leave us? The Falcons and Seahawks, two preseason NFC favorites, are now both 6-4. They're currently tied with the Lions for the final NFC wild-card spot, with Atlanta owning the tiebreaker over both teams thanks to head-to-head wins over each. If a tie still holds at the end of the regular season, it will be hard to forget a couple strange decisions Carroll made on a Monday night in November.

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NOW ON THE MMQB: Drew Bledsoe pens a first-person piece remembering the late Terry Glenn ... Connor Orr explains the Mike McCoy firing ... Andy Benoit examines the Jaguars' Super Bowl hopes ... and more

LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Jenny Vrentas on how the Chiefs fell apart ... We update our Power Rankings Poll ... Tim Rohan catches up with retired Ravens guard John Urschel ... and more. Stay tuned.

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1. A day after rookie Nathan Peterman threw five interceptions in his curtailed first career start, Bills coach Sean McDermottsaid he was "still evaluating" whether Peterman or Tyrod Taylor would play going forward. "We'll take it one day at a time right now," he added, whatever that means. 

2. President Donald Trump tweeted his displeasure regarding Marshawn Lynch's decision to sit during The Star-Spangled Banner but stand as normal for the Mexican national anthem before the Raiders-Patriots game in Mexico City on Sunday. "Marshawn Lynch of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem," Trump wrote. "Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down." Lynch has not responded publicly (he hasn't addressed the media at all in over two months), but his mother fired back at the President. At the same time, Chiefs corner and Lynch friend Marcus Peters tweeted at Trump, asking for an opportunity to chat about the issues at hand.

3. ​Still trying to understand the Giants' win over Kansas City Sunday? Here's one explanation: normally subdued Eli Manning reportedly gave a fiery pre-game speech to the team.

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4. Long Live the Butt Fumble.


5. Former Patriots wideout Terry Glenn, 43, died Monday in a car crash in Texas. "TG overcame horrible adversity to become a really good man," Drew Bledsoe wrote on Instagram. "May your soul rest in peace my friend."

6. Vikings receiver Adam Thielen has 916 receiving yards, the most by any Viking not named Randy Moss 10 games into a season. “Obviously Randy is an idol of mine, a guy who made me want to play the game and made me want to play receiver,” Thielen said. ​"But I’m not really even thinking about stats right now or anything like that. Just trying to win games.”​

7. QB uncertainty continues to hang like a cloud over Denver. After Vance Joseph let offensive coordinator Mike McCoy go, he said he'd consult with newly promoted Bill Musgrave about who to play under center going forward.

8. Coming off their best offensive performance of the season, the Steelers will now be without right tackle Marcus Gilbert for four weeks after he was suspended for using performance-enhancing substances. "Regretfully I inadvertently took a banned substance," Gilbert tweeted. "I promise to come back in great shape and will be ready to play when my suspension is over.”

9.Jameis Winston (shoulder) will miss at least one to two more weeks, Terrelle Pryor (ankle) is out for the season, Eagles kicker Jake Elliott (concussion) could play Sunday.

10. How long has it been since the Lions game was the most intriguing Thanksgiving affair? It certainly is this year, as the Vikings come to town.

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An Atlanta MARTA bus pulled up and parked itself in contention for Meme of the Year.

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