It’s become clear that this stretch of seasons under coach Pete Carroll has become the Seahawks’ Golden Age. But the past five games must then be platinum, or whatever is even more precious and rare.
In part, it’s because of Seattle’s degree of dominance, with Sunday night’s 35-6 win over Arizona running the Seahawks’ combined scoring margin to 114-33 in five games.
But it is all so much more stunning given where the Seahawks were before this streak, in some disarray, with talk of divisiveness in the locker room, looking as if their postseason and divisional hopes were only a long-shot, mathematical possibility.
That was when Carroll called the players in for their now famous heart-to-heart, and they came away healed. Renewed. Focused and revived.
And better than ever.
Carroll didn’t want to look at it that way, falling back on this: “We’re doing things the way we want to do them. We’re playing defense the way we want; we’re committed to the running game and we’re taking care of the ball — we didn’t turn it over again. To continue to play like this, at this kind of level, gives us real confidence going into the last football game — with a lot of stuff at stake — that we can do it again.”
The Seahawks earned their ninth ticket to the postseason in the past 12 seasons, with the NFC’s top seed and homefield advantage in their grasp as they face St. Louis at home on Sunday.
All of which makes it hard to believe that halfway through the season they were dealing with the biggest failure of their reign, getting rid of Percy Harvin, who had been the team’s most expensive mistake.
National media was swarming the headquarters to chronicle the team’s unraveling, broadcasting the ways in which the Seahawks had become the clichéd post-Super Bowl failure — just another team that couldn’t handle the weight of its own success.
You remember: Marshawn Lynch was disgruntled and had no future with the team, and Russell Wilson was not fully supported by his teammates. Or so it was suggested.
But since the loss to Kansas City in November, the Seahawks swept their two toughest divisional rivals and scored another win in a rugged road trip to Philadelphia.
Lynch? All he did on Sunday was rush for 113 yards and unleash a 79-yard scoring run that might match, for sheer physical relentlessness, the famed Beast Quake run against New Orleans in the playoffs of 2010.
Wilson? He may have had his greatest game, passing for 339 yards and rushing for 88 more on just six carries.
And the defense? Well, let’s allow defensive lineman Michael Bennett offer his assessment: “We’re the best defense to ever play football; it’s as simple as that.”
They certainly put their names in the debate.
And for as much as Cardinals coach Bruce Arians deserves the praise and consideration for coach of the year that he’s been getting for having elevated the Cardinals to 11 wins despite a contagion of injuries, Carroll’s effort is worthy, too.
It certainly was a tougher job this season for Carroll, as he had to herd a roster of willful cats, whereas last season was riding the momentum of a team on the rise.
His management and manipulation of this team’s psyche was masterful. Because they’re not just winning, they’ve once again become a team that is stronger than its separate components.
The immediate results are a berth in the playoffs. With another win, they’ll earn homefield advantage through the postseason — positioning that led them to their two previous Super Bowl appearances.
This group feels it once again. A critical mass of confidence has been built. They know exactly what’s ahead. Just like last year, when they thumped the Giants on the field where the Super Bowl was going to be played, they had to be thinking about coming back here on February 1 for Super Bowl XLIX.
Nobody will say it, of course. But they feel invulnerable again. And the last time they felt that, they rolled to a championship.
All over Phoenix there are countdown clocks, telling how many more days it is before they host the Super Bowl. As of Sunday night, it was 42 days.
The Seahawks may be looking at only one game at a time, as their coach has preached.
But they’re certainly playing like a team fully capable of making a repeat appearance.