Greg Zuerlein has been under more pressure before, nailing a 57-yard field goal in overtime to win the NFC Championship. He'd made three other field-goal attempts earlier Thursday night, including a 47-yarder. So, when Greg "The Leg" lined up a 44-yard attempt with the game on the line in Seattle, it seemed destined for the L.A. Rams to sneak out with the win.
The snap was good.
The hold was good.
The kick slide was not good.
Zuerlein blamed a poor leg swing on the botched kick, noting he didn't play the draw enough, with the boot sliding just wide right.
"I thought it had a chance to come back in," Zuerlein said, via the L.A. Times, "but any time I swing like that it's usually not a recipe for success."
Golfers around the world nod, knowingly.
The Rams got off to a wobbly start Thursday, with Jared Goff completing just two of his first seven passes in the first quarter, as L.A. settled for field goals. But the L.A. offense kicked it into gear, with Goff making some gorgeous throws to keep pace in a back-and-forth tilt in Seattle. Starting with the final drive of the first half, L.A. scored on four of five possessions at one point.
Sitting with a one-point deficit deep in the fourth quarter, the Rams' D stopped the Seahawks following a Goff interception, which bounced through the hands of rising tight end Gerald Everett and Tedric Thompson somehow got his hands under. L.A. had one more shot to come back for the win with less than two minutes remaining. With no timeouts and 1:38 on the clock, Goff calmly led the offense from its own 7-yard-line, making some wonderfully placed sideline shots to the Seattle 26 to set up the game-winning attempt.
Had the kick been a few inches to the left, the narrative of the day would have been wholly different. Instead, the kick didn't draw to the left, as Zuerlein planned. It stayed right, and the Rams headed home with a rough road loss.
"He just missed it. We have a lot of confidence in Greg," coach Sean McVay said. "It's one kick, he has made a lot of kicks for us. He will continue to make a lot of kicks for us. There were a lot of plays in this game, one play will never really determine the outcome. I know that was the final one. We did a lot of really good things on both sides of the ball. Special teams did some stuff. I thought it was a very high caliber football game. Credit Coach (Pete) Carroll and the Seahawks, they did enough to get the win tonight. We will take a couple of days and get ourselves healthy. We will look in the mirror and figure out what we can do better and we will respond."