RENTON — So, did Seahawks backup quarterback Geno Smith call heads or tails for the coin flip before overtime in Monday night’s game against the 49ers?

Even Seattle coach Pete Carroll on Tuesday sounded a little unsure — though in the giddy aftermath of the team’s stunning 27-24 overtime win over previously undefeated San Francisco he also didn’t seem to be giving the matter a lot of serious thought.

(Rich Boudet / The Seattle Times)


“How about that?’’ Carroll said with a smile when asked what he heard Smith say, a question that briefly dominated social media Monday night as many thought Seattle’s backup quarterback said tails while referee Alex Kemp immediately declared that Smith called heads.

The coin came up heads, and Seattle got the ball first to start overtime.

The Seahawks drove to the 49ers 14, where Russell Wilson threw an interception. Seattle failing to score to start OT makes it sort of a moot point.

But on Twitter and elsewhere, the debate raged with many listeners claiming not to be able to tell (Smith took to Twitter to say he called heads, in one tweet noting of the erupting controversy that that’s “basically how the media works nowadays’’ — and right around 5 p.m. Tuesday jokingly tweeted “HAILS,” a combination of heads and tails).


When first asked about Smith’s call, Carroll initially smiled and said “blue’’ and then “laurel,’’ references to past social media “what did you really see or hear?’’ debates.

Carroll admitted he wasn’t totally sure what he heard in this case, saying “it didn’t sound like heads when you really watch the TV copy.’’

But Carroll arrived quickly at one concrete reason for thinking the officials got it right — that former Seahawk Richard Sherman, never known to hide an opinion and who was the 49ers’ representative for the coin toss — didn’t argue.

“I mean, Richard would have griped, I think,’’ Carroll said. “He would have for sure if he thought he heard something different than what happened. So I’m going with that more than anything.’’

It was the second straight week that the Seahawks won an overtime coin toss, and Carroll said Seattle players chanted “Geno, Geno,’’ as he took the field for the toss to start overtime.

NFL rules state that the visiting team gets to call the coin toss, so against Tampa Bay, Smith hadn’t done anything other than stand there and accept congratulations when the toss went the way of the Seahawks.


That proved pivotal when Seattle drove the field for a touchdown on the opening possession to win the game.

But Monday night, Smith had to make the call.

And according to Jim Trotter of the NFL Network, Smith said he called heads because the Seahawks had called tails to win the coin toss to start the game. Smith told Trotter that the percentages are better if the team doesn’t make the same call twice in a game.

Carroll laughed and called it “the magic of Geno.’’

Seattle’s coin toss success the last two weeks has revived memories of the 2014 season when backup QB Tarvaris Jackson was also on the field for two overtime flips that went the way of the Seahawks — in a regular game against Denver and then in the NFC title game against Green Bay. Each time, the Seahawks then drove for the winning TD without Denver or Green Bay getting the ball.

Like Smith last week, Jackson actually didn’t do anything other than stand there as the visiting team made the call and the flip came up the opposite.

But Jackson earned a rep as a good-luck charm that Smith is on his way to replicating.

“T-Jack was pretty good,’’ Carroll said with a laugh. “He had a real knack, too.’’


Some might wonder why Seattle sends its backup QB out for the OT coin toss as opposed to the captains — a group that this year includes Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner — who handle it before the game.

Carroll said there’s a pretty simple reason — so that the captains, and specifically Wilson, can spend time getting ready for the overtime period.

Carroll said he’s used a backup QB for the overtime coin toss “for as long as I can remember’’ and at least back to his days as coach at USC from 2001-09.

“The idea is that instead of sending Russell out there and he’s talking to the referees out there he can be talking about the next series coming up and all that kind of stuff,’’ Carroll said. “(That’s) what’s behind of all that, to give the quarterback a chance to get prepared for the next series.’’

Late Tuesday afternoon, Smith provided a fitting coda to the “controversy” tweeting, simply “HAILS.”