A successful Blair Walsh field goal could have at least allowed Seattle to win a 10th game for a sixth consecutive season. Instead, Seattle’s year ends shy of the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
A victory at least might have allowed the Seahawks to feel a little better about a season gone wrong.
But even that was not to be Sunday as Blair Walsh’s 48-yard field-goal attempt with 32 seconds left sailed wide right.
And when it did, it allowed Arizona to escape Seattle with a 26-24 victory over the Seahawks.
A few minutes earlier, Seattle had officially been eliminated from the playoffs with Atlanta clinching a 22-10 triumph over Carolina to secure the final spot in the NFC postseason.
But a successful Walsh kick could have at least allowed Seattle to win a 10th game for a sixth consecutive season.
Instead, Seattle’s season ends shy of the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
It is a season that will be remembered for the lost opportunities of the two last-minute home losses to Washington and Atlanta in November that ultimately made the difference in playing into January and staying home.
Now comes a long offseason that will be filled with intrigue.
While Seattle was within a game of the playoffs, the Seahawks have also gradually trended downward since winning the Super Bowl following the 2013 season and with an aging and beatup roster, significant personnel changes are likely.
Among those whose Seattle careers could be over are defensive stalwarts Cliff Avril, Kam Chancellor and possibly Michael Bennett, as well as Jimmy Graham and Sheldon Richardson, who can be free agents.
Richardson was acquired before the season as the Seahawks decided to go for broke in a year when it felt it had a chance to win it all but also knew that its veteran roster meant there might not be a lot of years left.
Now, the Seahawks will go home for the first time in December since Russell Wilson was drafted in 2012.
Seattle’s final game was lost in a sea of untimely mistakes and another too-typical slow start as Arizona took a 20-7 haltime lead.
A roughing the passer penalty by Bobby Wagner on a failed third down play gave Arizona the ball at its own 32 and then few plays later Stanton hit D.J. Foster out of the backfield for a 17-yard gain to convert a third-and-two and give Arizona the ball at the Seattle 32.
Phil Dawson then made a 42-yard field goal to give Arizona a 26-24 with 2:21 left.
Seattle moved into range for Walsh’s game-winning attempt.
But a field goal kicker who struggled all season saw another one sail to the right and maybe the last image of this season was as it was meant to be.
The first half was a complete disaster for the Seahawks save for one play — a 99-yard kickoff return by Tyler Lockett following Arizona’s first touchdown
It was Lockett’s first return for a touchdown since the third game of his rookie season against Chicago in 2015 and tied the game at 7.
Afterwards, the entire kick return team gathered as if posing for a photo taken by team mascot Blitz in the end zone in celebration.
It was the only moment in the first half worth remembering.
An Arizona running game that has been one of the worst in the NFL all season — and is down to its third-team tailback in Kerwynn Williams — managed some consistent gains with 77 yards in the first half to help set up two Cardinals’ touchdowns.
And the Seattle defense also allowed Drew Stanton just enough time on a few critical plays to complete 13-23 yards for 113 yards in the first half.
But the biggest issue was an anemic Seattle offense that just did nothing in the first half.
Seattle had zero yards in the first quarter and just 24 in the first half, punting five times on six possessions.
The only reason Seattle didn’t punt on its sixth possession is that the Seahawks decided to let the clock run out following a 15-yard sack of Wilson that proved a fitting end to the half.
Seattle had just one first down in the first half and never got past its own 40.
The Seahawks knew it might be difficult to move it much against an Arizona defense that has been one of the best in the NFL in recent weeks, having pitched a 23-0 shutout of the Giants last week and allowing just 27 points in its last three games.
And Seattle came into the game following two of its worst offensive performances in years with just a combined 285 yards in its previous two games against the Rams and Dallas.
But the Seahawks could hardly have imagined the way it would be dominated in the first two quarters as Seattle had just 11 yards rushing on eight attempts while Wilson was 4-8 for 36 yards.
He was sacked only twice but under duress on almost every dropback and appeared increasingly frazzled and jittery as the half wore on.
As the Seahawks left the field following the second sack of Wilson, boos rang out from a crowd realizing Seattle was in danger of blowing a golden opportunity to make a sixth straight postseason appearance.
But then everything turned, as it so often has for the Seahawks under Carroll and Wilson
A holding penalty on Patrick Peterson on the first play helped jumpstart the Seattle drive. A Davis 13-yard run was longer than all of Seattle’s rushing yards in the first half.
But the key play was a fourth-and-six at the Arizona 35.
After taking a time out, the Seahawks got the conversion when Wilson found Graham settled all by himself in the middle of the zone for a 20-yard gain.
Two plays later Wilson found Baldwin all alone in the back of the end zone for an 18-yard TD.
On Arizona’s next play of its next series, Stanton tried to hit Jaron Brown deep and threw a wild pass that was picked off by Shaquill Griffin and everything suddenly seemed to be going Seattle’s way.
But Seattle couldn’t move it and a short punt gave Arizona the ball at its own 46.
The Cardinals then moved into position for a 53-yard field goal attempt by 42-year-old Phil Dawson.
It was a dicey decision by the Cardinals — a miss would give Seattle the ball at its own 43 and only down six.
But Dawson made the kick to put Arizona up 23-14 with 4:22 to play in the third quarter.
Seattle moved quickly into Arizona territory on its following possession.
But then a came play that may live in infamy for a while.
Seattle running back Thomas Rawls hauled in a pass for a first down to the Arizona 25.
But as he got up he stood over Arizona safety and former Washington State University standout Deone Bucannon and said something that got him flagged for taunting.
Moved back to the 40 the Seahawks couldn’t move the ball and had to punt.
Seattle had another chance early in the fourth quarter when on a third-and-one play Luke Willson broke wide open down the left sideline. But Wilson’s pass was a little behind him and Willson dropped it as he came back to try to catch it.
That forced Seattle to settle for a 49-yard field goal by Blair Walsh to cut Arizona’s lead to 23-17 with 13:04 to play.
Seattle quickly got the ball back and then took its only lead of the day on a 29-yard TD pass from Wilson to Doug Baldwin with 10:24 to play — the TD was Wilson’s 34th of the season tying his club record.