SEATTLE — Turns out, it’s not always “about the ball” as Pete Carroll preaches. Because the Seattle Seahawks were minus-3 in turnovers on Sunday.
And, no, coach, you can’t always win the game in the fourth quarter.
Sometimes, Sunday, for instance, you have to go into overtime to pull your wins out from whatever competitive abyss you’ve dug for yourselves.
But one truism remains intact in the aftermath of the Seahawks’ 27-24 overtime victory over winless Tampa Bay: This team, and quarterback Russell Wilson, are apparently impossible to defeat at CenturyLink Field.
There’s no other explanation of how the Seahawks could fall behind by 21 points, make so many mistakes, violate so many tenets of winning football, and still come away with their 12th consecutive win at the Clink.
Stretching back to the end of the 2011 season, the Hawks haven’t lost here — the entire length of Wilson’s career.
“Great teams find ways to do something special,” Wilson said afterward.
The Seahawks were hardly a great team in this one. Resilient, volatile, and certainly audacious. But hardly great. And that’s what made the outcome seem so absurd.
A couple guys were particularly involved in extracting the rabbit from Sunday’s hat, and the master, once again, was Wilson.
“The biggest thing is having that poise, and being calm in those situations,” Wilson said. Wilson was under pressure the entire game, and took a beating, but he was never sacked.
He completed 14 of 17 passes in the third and fourth periods, including a couple when on the verge of physical destruction. He now has nine fourth-quarter comeback wins in his first 25 games, and four of the Hawks’ eight wins this season have been late rallies he’s led.
But for the second straight week, the Seahawk defense got pushed around before solving its problems. They again gave up more than 200 rushing yards, but shut down the Bucs on their final five possessions.
“We felt like we were playing a really good team,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said of the 0-8 Bucs. “When we came out, they kicked us in the mouth, but we were able to bounce back.”
Even when down by three scores, Wagner said there was never a doubt on the Seahawks sidelines. “No matter what, we always feel we can win,” he said. “To come back and win from down 21-0 speaks volumes for our team.”
Yes, it was a homely display for most of the day. But don’t you know that New Orleans (a 26-20 loser to the Jets Sunday) would have loved to notch an ugly win, but instead now leave Seattle as the NFC’s lone one-loss team.
“Coaches keep telling everybody that we’re still in this game … it ain’t over yet,” safety Kam Chancellor said. “We’re a team that won’t back down. All these guys have big hearts. When we really needed it, everybody steps up and says, ‘enough is enough’.”
The Hawks have plenty of alibis for shaky play if they want to look for them. The injury-depleted offensive line was further weakened Sunday when All-Pro center Max Unger suffered a concussion.
Running back Marshawn Lynch was sick part of the day, and receiver Percy Harvin’s return is still pending.
And for the past month or more, the post-game narrative has been: Well, they won, but they certainly didn’t play their best.
Which leads to the suspicion that the 8-1 record might be misleading, that flaws will end up keeping the Seahawks from attaining the post-season success that their regular-season record would foretell.
Wilson can’t continue to take this kind of beating. The offense has to be more productive; the defense more consistent.
But it hasn’t cost them so far, and another such win on Sunday only reinforces the sense of invulnerability.
“When you have a great team down like that, you have to choke them out,” said Tampa Bay cornerback Darrelle Revis. “You have to choke them out because great teams come back, and they’re a great team.”