For one blissful second, Josh Brown stood back and admired what he initially thought was the best kick of his life.
The ball rose through the air and sailed toward the center of the uprights, a perfect path set forth by flawless technique. Brown's plant step had been sturdy, his contact solid and his follow-through powerful. As the final second ran off the clock, he raised his hands. Like most of the Seattle Seahawks, he felt confident enough to celebrate.
"I thought," Brown said, "I'd just gotten the highlight of my career."
Instead, he got the opposite. Brown's kick veered left at the last second -- after the game he could not fathom how or why -- and smacked off the upright, allowing the Redskins to go on to a 20-17 victory in overtime. Brown's missed kick -- the lowlight of his career, he later said -- provided an appropriate end to a disastrous final 49 seconds of regulation for Seattle.
With a great chance to complete a fourth-quarter comeback and steal a road win, Seattle botched its final possession. The Seahawks ran twice, wasted 48 seconds of game time and forced Brown to kick a 47-yard field goal that would have been good from any closer distance.
"If I was a half-yard closer, that kick was good," Brown said. "I honestly think that's the best ball I've hit in my life, but for some reason it just went left. I was looking right through the uprights, and all of the sudden the ball disappeared."
Much like the game's final 50 seconds, which evaporated into an unusual series of plays the Seahawks will spend the next week deconstructing.
With 49 seconds left, Kelly Herndon intercepted a Mark Brunell pass at the Washington 35-yard line. The cornerback thought he could run at least 10 yards -- until he bumped into two teammates and eventually fell after gaining only two yards. "I thought I saw daylight, but everywhere I turned, I hit somebody," Herndon said. "If I hadn't run into my own guys, who knows how far I could have gone. I might even have run it for a touchdown."
Seattle running back Shaun Alexander ran for four yards on the next play, to the Washington 29. The Redskins defense immediately lined up again, expecting Seattle to move quickly and maybe try a passing play to advance the ball farther downfield.
Instead, the Seahawks lollygagged for 25 seconds, then gave Alexander a handoff that went for no gain. For the next 10 seconds, Seattle players stood around again. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck turned to the sideline in search of some sort of direction, and the Seahawks eventually called a timeout with one second left.
"I'd like to have gotten closer," Holmgren said. "By that time the clock was pretty low and we didn't really have a choice. I was not going to throw the ball. I didn't want to do anything that would be too difficult. I tried to get more, but I tried to get it with the run. [Brown's] comfortable kicking it there."
So, like his players, Holmgren watched Brown from the sideline and hoped his conservative strategy would work. He felt confident, he said later. After all, Brown had made a 53-yard field goal earlier in the game. Last season, he made 23 of the 25 kicks he tried, setting a team record for highest field goal percentage in a season. In his NFL career, he had made 13 of 19 kicks from 40 to 49 yards.
"The ball was in the air and we were all like 'Yes, we're getting out of here with a win. Josh did it again,' " said punter Leo Araguz, who holds for Brown. "I can tell when he gets a good kick, and he hit that ball square. Call me stupid, but I honestly started to celebrate."
Said Brown: "Fifty-two guys on this team battled for 60 minutes. I had one second, and it didn't work. I still can't really believe it."