For the Seattle Seahawks fans who have recovered from the defibrillation, there might be solace in the fact that they’re going forward with championship-caliber talent.
They’re young enough and combative enough. And you pretty much can be guaranteed they’re going to have a great deal of motivation.
But the question now becomes whether they can emotionally rebound from a stunningly heartbreaking defeat to New England in Super Bowl 49.
Can they regain that confidence? Can they regain whatever degree of composure they surrendered at times as this went from an apparent win to a loss that will carry scars?
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The 28-24 defeat is all the more devastating because it was there for them. Just 1 yard away. Just 1 yard from a second straight Super Bowl title. One yard from being considered the new NFL dynasty.
One yard from further validation of their entire approach on how football should be played in the NFL.
One yard. Marshawn Lynch picks up yards all over the place, sometimes with 11 guys on his back.
But Lynch didn’t get a chance. They called a pass play on second-and-goal from the New England 1 with 26 seconds and one timeout remaining.
Russell Wilson’s pass was intercepted, and coach Pete Carroll was left to explain why in the world the ball was put in the air.
The logic of his explanation was faulty. He explained that the Patriots put in their run-stopping goal-line package when the Hawks had three receivers on the field.
The matchup mandated a pass play. He said if it scored, great, if it didn’t, they could run it on third down.
“We were going to run the ball to win the game, but not on that down,” he said.
Well, did they ever waste it.
If you’re going to risk burning a down, do it by handing it off to the best, toughest, most forceful and tenacious back in the NFL. Do it twice if you have to because you’re not going to lose the game that way.
The best way to lose the game is to throw a pass and have it intercepted.
No way around it, this was botched. Either some heads need to roll, or there must be some serious reconsideration of how they operate in the red zone.
As Carroll said when he took the podium, “… all of the things that happened before are really meaningless to you now.”
Yes, and that’s a shame. This looked like another giant triumph in so many ways. Another unknown castoff player, receiver Chris Matthews, had a breakout game with four great catches.
The defense had largely throttled Patriots icon Tom Brady. Jermaine Kearse made another indescribable catch in the clutch.
And quarterback Russell Wilson had masterfully directed what would be the winning drive in the final minutes — again.
But it stopped 1 yard short, when a pass play was called.
In some ways, though, it started unraveling before that. When the Hawks took a 24-14 lead in the third quarter on a pass to Doug Baldwin, Baldwin celebrated the occasion by miming a defecation in the end zone.
It drew a penalty, as it should. It wasn’t some kind of statement. It certainly wasn’t an expression of joy in scoring in the Super Bowl, of taking a big lead in the world’s biggest game.
It was crass and classless. And inexcusable.
And from that point, they were outscored 14-0.
Carroll took the blame. Wilson tried to take the blame, too.
Wilson has won so many games that might have been loses, it’s easy to just see this as a defender making a great play on a route that shouldn’t have been called.
And when affixing the blame on Carroll, here’s what you have to remember: Without Carroll and whatever other decisions he’s made, and the way he’s handled these guys and the way he motivated them, this team might have finished 8-8 this season.
When this thing was on the verge of unraveling, he pulled them together, reminded them that their greatness lies in their collective beliefs. That meeting got them here.
“What we’ve got to do is come back and train harder to be sure we get those opportunities to get back,” said defensive end Michael Bennett, who played a spectacular game. “We lost this game, but it doesn’t determine the rest of our legacy.”
I tend to agree with him. Wilson will get his contract and will only improve. The defensive core will be intact.
And hints are that Lynch will be back, too, maybe even with more money.
The talent is here.
And when they get within a yard next time, they need to do the simple, logical thing: give the ball to Marshawn.