The Battlehawks’ first victory had a 1999 flavor; in Week 2 they reached further back in time.
The “Cardiac ‘Hawks” strike again?
A.J. McCarron and Austin Proehl delivered an encore performance as Jim Hart and Mel Gray vintage 1975, and for the second time this week, St. Louis rallied in the final minute to steal a comeback win on the road.
Proehl gained nine critical yards on the last offensive play, then called timeout with three seconds left to set up a game-winning 44-yard field goal by Donny Hageman and St. Louis (2-0) secured a frantic 20-18 win over Seattle (0-2) on cold night in the Emerald City.
Hakeem Butler made a dazzling touchdown reception in the fourth quarter for the second straight game to salvage what had been a middling STL aerial attack.
The Battlehawks trailed 12-11 with seven minutes remaining and faced third-and-4 from Seattle’s 44-yard line when McCarron starred down a blitz long enough to spring Butler for the go-ahead score.
Seattle turned the ball over on downs and St. Louis took over in Seattle territory with the chance to put the game away. But the Sea Dragons forced a six-yard loss on third down and Hageman’s 50-yard field goal attempt to seal the win was dead center but fell short of the crossbar.
Then it looked like St. Louis would wind up on the wrong side of a fourth quarter comeback.
Seattle regained the lead when Jordan Veasy caught an 8-yard strike on fourth-and-goal to cap a 60-yard drive with 1:21 remaining.
But that was just enough time for A.J. and the Cardiac Hawks.
McCarron scrambled for gains of 11 and 12 yards, then found George Campbell for 11 yards to move St. Louis to the Seattle 42-yard-line. Kareem Walker sprinted to the SEA 35 and set the stage for Proehl’s clutch reception that put St. Louis within range of Hageman’s leg.
The Battlehawks staggered offensively for much of the game.
St. Louis totaled negative yardage in the first quarter, while Seattle moved 61 yards in 13 plays on their second possession. When the drive stalled at Battlehawks’ 11-yard-line, Dominik Eberle booted a 29-yard field goal to draw first blood.
Ahead 3-0 when the second quarter began, the Sea Dragons landed a haymaker.
Ben DiNucci hooked up with Jahcour Pearson for a 54-yard score. Josh Gordon converted a 3-point try and Seattle was poised to knockout St. Louis early.
But McCarron nickeled-and-dimed the Battlehawks down the field on the ensuring drive, completing 4-of-6 passes and scrambling for a 14-yard gain. A personal foul penalty moved the ‘Hawks into the red zone and McCarron dove in from 1-yard out.
Marcell Ateman caught the 2-point conversion and Seattle held a 12-8 halftime lead.
The hosts tried to be gracious after the break, but St. Louis squandered every opportunity.
Pearson muffled a punt return after the Battlehawks went three-and-out to open the half, and St. Louis kept possession deep in Sea Dragons territory. After three plays produced just five yards, Hageman missed a 36-yard field goal try.
Moments later, LaCale London swatted the ball free from Seattle running back Morgan Ellison and Kevin Atkins recovered for St. Louis at the Sea Dragons’ 42-yard-line.
The offense stalled once again and Becht called on Hageman, who split the uprights from 44-yards away.
Two Seattle miscues yielded two drives in plus territory but the ‘Hawks mustered only three points. Seattle was on the cusp of extending it’s 12-11 lead when St. Louis received another gift – this time from the officials.
DiNucci appeared to scramble for a first down inside the Battlehawks’ 20-yard-line, but the referees marked him short of the line to gain. Replays showed DiNucci beyond the marker before he stepped out of bounds, but Seattle head coach Jim Haslett declined to challenge the play.
St. Louis’ beefy pair of defensive tackles made that decision hurt.
DiNucci attempted a quarterback sneak into a blue and gray wall. London pried the football loose and Atkins recovered again to bail the Battlehawks out of trouble.
Andy Carroll is a freelance sports writer living in the Ozarks with his wife and four great kids. He loves St. Louis, toasted ravioli and minor league baseball. You can follow him on Twitter @carroll_sgf and Instagram @andycarroll505