Seahawks kicker Hauschka takes his lumps from foe, teammates

Staff writerOctober 13, 2013 

Titans Seahawks Football

Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka (4) is examined by trainers and staff members after he was injured while trying — and failing — to make a tackle Sunday.

SCOTT EKLUND — AP

Steven Hauschka knows he will get teased and jeered Monday during film session.

Heck, the sweat hadn’t even dried from the Seattle Seahawks’ 20-13 win over the Tennessee Titans, and Hauschka’s teammates were shouting jokes and barbs at their place-kicker from across the locker room.

Of all the highlights and lowlights in Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field, Hauschka’s decision to stick his nose into the fray on a kickoff return left him bloodied, woozy and temporarily out of the game.

The Seahawks had taken a 7-3 lead with 2:41 left in the first half after Marshawn Lynch’s bullish 1-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1.

On the ensuing kickoff, Hauschka saw a gap in the coverage and Titans returner Darius Reynaud starting to burst through it.

Lack of tackling skill aside, Hauschka went right after Reynaud, thinking he needed to make the tackle. But instead of delivering a hammer-like hit, he was treated like a nail — getting pounded by Reynaud, who lowered his shoulder and blasted Hauschka backward to the ground while barely slowing down.

“I just saw a hole open, and I tried to cover that hole there,” Hauschka said. “Next thing I know, he’s lowering his head into me. I don’t make plays like that very often.”

It’s debatable whether that’s making a play or serving as a speed bump.

Hauschka was on the ground in a crumpled heap.

“I felt out of it for a couple minutes,” said Hauschka, who felt pain in a couple places.

“I felt it in my chest,” he said. “I had a little bit of a bloody nose. I felt it in the side of my jaw as well.” Because of the ferocity of the hit, Hauschka was taken into the locker room for mandatory concussion testing by the Seahawks’ training staff.

His absence led to a disastrous sequence of almost comic proportions just before halftime. Punter Jon Ryan tried to kick his first NFL field goal, safety Chris Maragos tried to hold — something he had never done in the NFL — and the Titans scored after it all fell apart.

Maragos botched the snap, then the ball was knocked loose as he tried to run with it and Jason McCourty returned the fumble 77 yards for a touchdown that helped the Titans pull ahead, 10-7.

Hauschka was in the locker room during the debacle.

“I was trying to get out as fast as I could,” he said. “But with the concussion protocol, I had to follow that. I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew they probably needed me, especially toward the end of the half. I haven’t actually seen the play yet. It’s unfortunate what happened. I was hoping to be out there.”

Hauschka was back taking practice kicks at halftime after passing the concussion tests.

“I aced that, so they let me get back out there,” Hauschka said. “I never want to let my team down like that again where they don’t have me.”

Coach Pete Carroll didn’t anticipate having him for the rest of the game.

“I didn’t believe it until he went out there,” Carroll said. “They said he was fine.”

So Carroll had him attempt a 31-yard field goal on the Seahawks’ second drive of the third quarter. The kick was good. Hauschka added a 29-yard field goal in the fourth.

Despite the fact that he finished the day with two field goals, Hauschka knows there is only one thing his teammates will be talking about during film. It’s a good bet that his pummeling will be played over and over in slow motion.

“I will close my eyes for that one,” he said. “I’m sure it’s not going to look good. I’m a bigger guy, and that’s the first time I’ve been popped like that. Usually I come out OK.”

Even with this experience, Hauschka said he would do it again.

“You never know when it could be a game-breaking play,” he said. “If it’s going to save a touchdown, then I will. You never want a guy to run it back on you, and I was trying to protect that.”

Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483; ryan.divish@thenewstribune.com; @RyanDivish

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