As epic a collapse as the Seahawks committed in Cincinnati, for the first time in franchise history blowing a 17-point lead they carried into the fourth quarter, we’re going to go ahead and agree with Pete Carroll:
“Look, we’re not anywhere like we are dead and gone (at 2-3). We don’t feel like that at all. We’ve just got some things we have to get fixed up, and I think we can.”
In 39 seasons plus four games, the Seahawks had been 71-0 (9-0 under Carroll) in games in which they led by 17 or more entering the fourth quarter, according to Pro Football Reference’s database. On Sunday, they became the first NFL team since 2006 to suffer the ignominy of losing such a game. (Mike Holmgren’s Seahawks blew a 17-point lead in 2004, when they scored early in the fourth to go up 17 and then let the Rams rally to win in overtime.)
Seahawks fans have every right to be upset and disheartened by this massive meltdown, but to think it signals the end of the season or the end of Seattle’s Super Bowl window is an emotionally shortsighted reaction.
If the Seahawks had trailed that game the whole way and lost, everyone would have said, “Well, they were supposed to lose. Let’s get back to .500 next week.” But the historic nature of the defeat has disheartened a lot of people and perhaps made some (many?) feel the Seahawks are going nowhere in 2015.
Let’s remember a few things:
The teams that have beaten Seattle are 12-3 (Green Bay and Cincy are both 5-0) and the Seahawks — despite their flaws — have played the Rams, Packers and Bengals down to the wire. Three road losses are not the end of the world.
Then there’s the fact that the Seahawks always struggle after Monday night games. They are 1-4 since Russell Wilson became their quarterback in 2012, and the win came in overtime after they rallied from a 21-0 deficit against 0-8 Tampa Bay in 2013.
After the loss to Cincy on Sunday, Earl Thomas said the defense had a “weird” energy he could not explain and felt out of sync. It probably was the fact that they were playing a 10 a.m. game on a short week.
As much as the Seahawks have struggled in the first five games, there are reasons to think they are about to turn the corner and step on the gas.
The offensive line took a big step forward vs. Cincy, plowing the way for 200 rushing yards and protecting Wilson pretty well for most of the game.
Thomas Rawls showed once again that he’s a more than capable fill-in for Marshawn Lynch. Rawls’ 169 rushing yards were the most by a Seahawk since 2006. (Another sign that loss was historically odd: The Seahawks had been 15-2 when they had a 160-yard rusher.)
The Seahawks also got their first first-quarter touchdown and first interception of the season, and the defense scored on a fumble return.
Seattle dominated the undefeated Bengals for two-plus quarters — and you can bet Carroll won’t let them lose another lead in the fourth quarter this season. He took the loss personally, saying it was such a complete breakdown that “I’ve got to look right at me” to figure out how to finish better.
He got his team to finish well last year.
Many thought the Seahawks were out of it after a 3-3 start in 2014, but they turned it around in the seventh game, beating Carolina and going on to win all but one game the rest of the season.
With that in mind, it seems appropriate that Carolina is coming to town this week. Sure, the Panthers are 4-0, but the game is in Seattle and Cam Newton is 0-4 against Wilson and the Seahawks, who should get it together enough to beat Newton again.
Then they will go to San Francisco and Dallas to face struggling former contenders. The 49ers (1-4) are a mess and the Cowboys (2-3) are missing quarterback Tony Romo.
After the bye, the Seahawks have three straight home games — vs. Arizona (4-1), San Francisco and Pittsburgh (2-2 and missing QB Ben Roethlisberger).
So, if they can flip their switch this week and put it all together now, the Seahawks could turn 2-3 into 7-4. From there, they could almost run the table and finish with 11 wins.
If they hadn’t done it before, you could scoff. But they rallied from 4-4 in 2012 to finish 11-5, and they turned 3-3 into 12-4 last year.
As upsetting as their historic third loss was, the Seahawks are far from “dead and gone.” In fact, that might have been the event that ends up making them alive and well.