Ego Writing Checks Your Body Can't Cash, dept.
See it, Feel it, Do it mantras


This is one of the greatest things I've ever heard in sports.   Courtesy of Field Gulls, natch.

You remember in the 49'er game, that the Seahawks were behind 17-13 early in the 4th quarter.  It was 4th and 7 from the enemy 35-yard line.

Initially, they decided on a field goal; they called a time out, changed their minds, and tried for the first down.  (If you don't watch much football, the problem with a punt is that any punt from just outside the 20, into the end zone, --- > puts the ball back on the 20, and so much of the time you've got the equivalent of a badly-shanked punt.)

Steven Hauschka went to Carroll and said, please don't make me kick, please ... well, no.  But here's what he said:


"I didn't really want to kick it, to tell you the truth," Hauschka told Newsday after the game. "It was into the wind . . . I didn't think it was the right decision and I let coach Carroll know that."

"We had decided on a certain range," he said, "and depending on the conditions of the game we were going to stretch it past the 30-yard-line. At that moment, I didn't feel like it was the right time to stretch it."


1.  This is one whale of a great way to get yourself labeled a p .... er, wussy.  

2.  So why did Hauschka do it?

3.  Turns out that Steven Hauschka is --- > A GOLFER.  Three handicap.  Which means he is a golf "master" or "virtuoso," in the absolute sense.


Golfers, as you know, are interested in making the right decisions on the fairway.  Very, VERY often the right decision is to choose the "wussy" shot.  They are born-and-bred to lay up in front of that little creek in front of the green, if ... if what?  

If, playing the course 100 times, their average score will be better after 100 lay-ups than it would be after 100 glory shots.  Any golfer who fails to gain control of his ego will quickly fall to Darwin's law.

There's a moral here.  Or two.  Or five.  But my favorite one comes from chess (and golf):  if you had this position every day the rest of your life, would you play it this way every time?

Hauschka -- if you're scanning too quickly to take the point -- lined up the field goal like he would line up a 220-yard shot into a protected green.  And he realized that the right shot was not to go for it.  He advised Carroll of this, risking his own street cred, and because of that we're all getting ready for the Super Bowl.


This might be one reason we all prefer baseball.  Compared to the NBA and the NFL, our game has a lot more "golf" in it.  Wouldn't you say?  So we, as fans, find it easy to think along with the golfers ... er, pitchers.  And batters.  And especially managers.


Football is high-testosterone and very emotional.  It does not lend itself to laying up in front of the green.  NFL teams should have a golf pro in the booth, to assist with these decisions.  

In life, who is your golf pro?


Dr D



The brave decision is frequently the one where you are right on the edge, yardage-wise, of a particular club's carry distance.....and you go for it.
The prudent decision is facing the same shot, with a slightly "iffy" lie......and you hit the lay up.
Scott Hoch did that one year on Sunday at the Masters....on #15. He was one stroke back, I think with 220-ish yards to carry the water to a front pin. He was right on the edge of his 4-wood carry yardage, from a skinny downhill lie. Hoch, a great wedge player, layed up and failed to make birdie. His caddy even accused him of a wussy decision. So did the TV guys. I thought it was exactly the right decision. He wasn't don't make the swing. But he got beat up...because he failed to win.
But remember David Toms laying up with his 2nd shot on #18 on Sunday at the PGA, needing a par to win......on a Par 4! He was right on the edge of his 5-wood carry distance. He basically chipped it down the fairly then he wedged it up to 8 ft, or so...and made the putt to beat Mickelson. Toms was lauded for his "smart" decision.
Was Toms any less "manly" than Hoch? Nah......
But he did win.
If the Seahawks had lost, would the average fan and talking head look at that "non-kick" decision in the same way as they do now?
They should.......


you gotta figure the probability of a W in that specific game was:
~ 45% if the FG is hit
~ 35% if the FG is missed and it's on the 42 yard line for the other guys
~ 42% if the punt goes for a touchback (ball on 20)
~ 41% if the attempt at first down is failed and you're anywhere between the 35 and the 29
~ 50% if they convert on fourth down.
The largest gap in outcome has to be between doing ANYTHING else and whiffing on the FG. Because if you get three points, you're still losing and the difference in your chances of winning on your next drive is relatively small (between hitting that FG and missing it). So at that point, the question is field position. And the punt has a high probability ot being not much better than going for it not go for it.


A wedge from there ... you realistically expect to get it within 8 feet?  And if so, then what's the %?
Finally, what's your chance of getting up-and-down from where he did, as opposed to his chance of hitting the approach onto the green?
Any route you take, there is risk in somewhere, right Mo ... you therefore go with the shots where you can See it and Feel it ... in this case Toms liked his short game that day ... or not...


Great numbers Matty.
My first question would be, if you miss the kick short, is there a lot of psychological impact for the 49'ers?  Letting them be the "taller men" that you were not confident in confronting?  Whereas if you snarl and go for it on 4th, you haven't given away an inch as far as the staredown.

bsr's picture

This is a verrry interesting read over at Hawkblogger. His prediction is Hawks offense blows Denver off the field. Like, putting up 40+ points.
Part of the reason being that they have really not faced many running offenses like ours, nor has their offense faced a run D like ours. And they've struggled (relatively) when they did.
Hmmmmm would Carroll and Bevell do such a devious thing as open up the offense after using such a high profile conservative strategy over the past two games? >=)
Pondering. It is interesting to look back at the FIRST TIME good teams had to play the Hawks...they often got run off the field. Niners, Saints, Cardinals. All three teams clearly eventually "solved" many aspects of playing Seattle, but they had to go back to the drawing board to do so. (Colts and Panthers would be a counterpoint to this, both played us well the first time.)


Those numbers were entirely guessed, just so we're clear...I don't know how to calculate a win probability in football that I would consider reliable. I'm going by raw intuition as to the likelihood of various events following the next play in that scenario.

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.