Not that the Seattle Seahawks wanted to make people learn the hard way, but Seattle’s loss in San Diego served as a good reminder of something that has at times become easy to forget around these parts.
Winning in the NFL is hard. Really hard.
Now, I know that’s hardly earth-shattering news. The NFL is a league that’s geared toward parity, and year after year we see teams that nobody expected to be good make the playoffs, and teams everyone thought would dominate end up with losing records.
Yet when our memories of the Seahawks in the last two meaningful games prior to Sunday were the annihilation of the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, followed by a season-opening 20-point win over the Green Bay Packers, that can cause fans, and yes, media, to forget just how balanced the NFL really is.
It turns out, the gap between the Seahawks and the rest of the NFL might not be quite as big as it has looked of late. While doing a radio interview last week, I was asked if an undefeated season was possible, and as absurd as that discussion is one week into a season, it did sort of seem plausible. The Seahawks had looked that good beating the Packers, another of the NFC elite, and going back to February, dominating a historically good offense in the Super Bowl.
But then the Chargers served notice that just about any team, and especially a good one, can get the better of even the most-talented team.
Sometimes, even the best teams run into a quarterback like Philip Rivers who, as Pete Carroll put it, “played near-perfect football.” Sometimes even one of the team’s best players like Percy Harvin fumbles and in doing so hands the opposing team seven points. And sometimes, even a team that forced the most turnovers in the league a year earlier can come up empty in any given game.
“We played a really tough football game, a tough team that was ready, and were up against a team that played really, really good ball,” Carroll said. “We needed to make some plays when the opportunities were there for us, and we didn’t get that done. It really came down to the third-down situations. San Diego was able to control the football, and they really controlled the game by doing that, and they got a great win.”
Even if Sunday’s loss served as a reminder that there are other good teams capable of knocking off the Seahawks on any given week, it doesn’t mean Seattle isn’t still capable of winning enough games to win its division or earn home-field advantage. If you look back to last season, the Seahawks did win plenty of games comfortably, but the difference between, say, 10 wins and the 13-3 record they had was that the Seahawks won a lot of those tight games.
Yes, they fell just short at Indianapolis, at San Francisco and in a surprising home loss to Arizona, but they also pulled off remarkable comebacks against Tampa Bay and Houston, and did just enough to win close games at Carolina and at St. Louis. That’s seven nail-biters out of 16 regular-season games for a team that went on to one of the more impressive Super Bowl wins in recent memory.
In other words, no matter how good the Seahawk are this year, even if they repeat, it isn’t going to be easy every week.
The Seahawks get that expectations are through-the-roof high this season, and even after this recent loss, they’re well positioned to live up to them, but for even the best teams, a championship season occasionally requires bouncing back from disappointment, something the Seahawks are trying to do this week with Denver coming to town seeking revenge for their Super Bowl beat-down.
“We don’t take these easily,” Carroll said. “There are very high expectations we live with here and everybody knows that. The main thing is everybody took to heart the changes and adjustments and things we can fix. I think we came out of here together on what we felt happened and all of that.”
The Seahawks are still one of the best teams in the NFL, likely the best team. They will be just fine, but Sunday’s loss is a good reminder that in the NFL, even the best teams will face some tough times over the course of a season.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.