By John Boyle Herald Columnist
Get it right on the road.
That’s been the mantra all week long for the Seahawks, who know their playoff hopes hinge on being able to win one — and maybe both — of their remaining road games this season.
And if this sounds familiar, well, it should. In preparing for a game in Miami last week, the Seahawks talked about needing to fix their road woes, needing to bottle up the formula that has led to a 5-0 record in Seattle and take it with them on a cross-country flight.
Then, for the fifth time in six tries on the road, the Seahawks came up short on the road. And as was the case in each of the previous road defeats, Seattle had chances to win the game late, but couldn’t make the crucial play at the crucial moment to secure a victory.
“We’ve just got to find a way to get the job done, that’s all I can say about that,” said safety Earl Thomas. “It’s really the little details, and we just haven’t been able to get the job done in clutch time. On the road, we’ve definitely got to be able to win games on the road.”
As Thomas points out, it’s time — past time, actually — for the Seahawks to be a better team away from Seattle.
Sure there are plenty of reasons why the Seahawks struggle on the road, this season and historically. For starters, home-field advantage is a real thing in football, perhaps more so than in any other sport, and the Seahawks’ remote location means the Seahawks regularly rack up more miles than any team in the NFL. All West Coast teams, not just Seattle, also face a big disadvantage when they play in games kicking off at 10 a.m.Pacific Time, which the Seahawks have done three times this season — losing all three — and will do again today.
But unlike Seahawks teams of the past two years, this one is too good to fall victim to those excuses — too good to be leaps and bounds better at home than on the road. That’s not to say the Seahawks should win as many games on the road as they do at home, but one road victory just isn’t good enough for a team with this kind of potential
If in 2012 the Seahawks could just live up to the modest standard they set last year, going 3-5 on the road, they’re likely a playoff team. As it stands now, they could end up on the outside looking in if they don’t turn things around, starting today in Chicago.
It could be looked at as encouraging that Seattle’s five losses have come by a combined 24 points when two seasons ago all nine losses were by double digits. These tightly-contested losses show just how close the Seahawks are to having a much, much better record than their 6-5 mark as they battle for a playoff spot.
“We’re better than we were (two seasons ago),” Carroll said. “We have a chance to win every game that we play, a legitimate chance to win every single one of them, and it’s really frustrating to us, in particular on the road. We have found our way at home, but we’re so much closer to really being a legit team and a team to contend with. We feel like we’re really close.”
Which brings us to this particular road game, and at least one reason for the Seahawks to be optimistic that today is the day when their fortunes change on the road. In two-plus seasons under Carroll, the Seahawks have won three road games that kicked off at 10 a.m. PT. Two of those were at Soldier Field, where thanks to the quirks of NFL scheduling, Seattle is playing for a third consecutive season.
And as much as Carroll likes to look forward and say past results don’t matter, it can’t hurt that a lot of players on his current team know what it feels like to win in Chicago not once, but twice, dating back to the 2010 season.
“We’ve been there, we know we can win there,” linebacker Leroy Hill said. “They have new pieces, it’s a new team, so you can’t base it on that, but for some guys it might help just to know that we can win there.”
Maybe pointing out past wins is grasping at straws, but hey, when you’re 1-5 on the road, when you’ve blown three fourth-quarter leads away from CenturyLink Field, and when your playoff hopes hinge on winning a game or two on the road down the stretch, it just might be straw grasping time.
The Seahawks know they need to get it right on the road. Fortunately for them, they might just be in the right city to do so.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.