Thursday night at CenturyLink Field was the Seattle Seahawks’ chance to answer an important question:
Do the Seahawks have any magic left?
After coming from behind to defeat the Green Bay Packers 27-24, the Seahawks proved that the magic light is still flickering.
“I would like to think we’ve instilled a belief that games are never over and we’ll keep hanging,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We have for a long time. There’s a lot of games on record there that it’s hard to beat us because we just keep battling.”
They also still seem able to access the good juju.
Thursday night featured the type of setting that came to embody the best of the Carroll/Russell Wilson-era Seahawks. A game at home, where Seattle created the best home-field advantage in the NFL. A game at night, which so energized the Seahawks one had to ask if they were infused with vampire blood.
Sure, Seattle’s season hung in the balance heading into this one. At 4-5 the Seahawks were working with almost no margin of error with regards to making the playoffs. But if ever there were circumstances that could launch the Seahawks on a dramatic late-season rally into the postseason, these were it.
Yet signs indicated the magic was draining away.
CenturyLink Field? If it were a fortress, then its parapets were beginning to crumble. The team that went 39-6 at home in the regular season and playoffs from 2012-16 had lost six of its past eight games on its home turf.
Prime time game? It seemed the rest of the NFL had located its garlic and silver daggers. The team that was 23-5-1 in night games under Carroll, including 7-1 on Thursday, lost two of its previous three evening contests.
The magic seemed on the verge of being extinguished for good.
But if ever there was a team whose visit could rekindle the magic, it’s the Packers.
Has any team served as CenturyLink fairy dust in recent years quite like Green Bay? Remember the Fail Mary game in 2012, when Golden Tate’s improbable touchdown reception on the game’s final play enraged the nation and ended the officiating lockout? Or how about the NFC championship game in 2014, when a miraculous fourth-quarter comeback was completed in overtime with a touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse, who was the intended target on four interceptions in regulation.
If the Seahawks were going to have an abracadabra moment this season, this was the game.
It sure didn’t look like the magic was present early. When Chris Carson fumbled on the game’s first play, and when the Packers sliced right through the Seattle defense to take a 7-0 lead just 74 seconds in, it looked like the Seahawks’ supply of rabbits in their magic hat had been exhausted.
The home-crowd advantage so renowned for causing false starts? Somehow the Seahawks false started five times Thursday. During the first half the most noticeable crowd noises came when the Green Bay “Go Pack Go” chant broke out on multiple occasions.
But in the second half that magic sparked back to life. Seattle’s defense, now devoid of so many of the players who became national names because of their play in nationally-televised night games, suddenly resembled the unit that dominated the NFL from 2012-16, making Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers look human.
Wilson, who spent the first half serving up a series of “what the heck” moments, found his game again, hitting his receivers in stride and even keeping the ball on the read option to pick up a key first down.
The final drive hearkened back to the days of Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks’s ability to bully the opposing defense into submission. Seattle received the ball back with 4:11 remaining, and even though the Packers knew Seattle was going to run the ball, there was nothing they could do to stop the Seahawks from picking up the first downs necessary to run out the clock.
No, the magic candle hasn’t been snuffed out yet.
“Even when we lose games when we think we should have won, they’re always close,” Carroll said. “We’ve been really good at that for a long time. I think that belief is deep, and that’s what sustains you, when you think something good is going to come if you just keep working. We’ve been preaching that for years, and I think it’s in the mentality.”
It doesn’t hurt to have a little magic on your side, too. After Thursday’s result, just maybe there’s enough magic remaining to carry the Seahawks into the playoffs.
Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.