ARLINGTON, Texas — This was supposed to be the Sunday when you turn the clock back an hour.
The Seahawks turned it back a year or two.
And by recapturing even a few of the qualities that fueled them in those times, they topped Dallas 13-12 on Sunday and maybe saved their season in the process.
Dismiss the Cowboys all you want; it was a team that had lost four in row with a replacement quarterback.
But there were so many ways the Seahawks (4-4) could have lost this game and gone tumbling toward a competitive abyss. So don’t for a second overlook the underappreciated value of victory as an absence of a demoralizing defeat.
Had they been 3-5 heading into a midseason bye, a team conditioned to contending easily could start making business decisions rather than tackles, and hitting the snooze alarm instead of studying extra film.
Instead, the Seahawks came away convinced they’re positioned for a second-half rally like those that have taken them to the past two Super Bowls.
“We made it back to even,” head coach Pete Carroll said of the record at the midpoint. “I feel like we’re OK right now and we’re ready to go to work.”
The game, he said, was “an opportunity to observe what it was like to be where we’ve been.” That’s a round-about way to say that Sunday’s win felt like some good ones in the past.
It looked that way, particularly in the team’s resilience in the face of flaws and adversity.
How? Well, in the second half, their first three drives resulted in a punt, an interception, a blocked field goal, and then, finally, when it was most crucial, they constructed a 17-play, 79-yard drive to the field goal that won the game.
They finished with a modest 113 rushing yards (3.6 average), but the protection kept quarterback Russell Wilson without a sack for the first time this season.
And tight end Jimmy Graham continued to fit into the scheme, leading the Hawks with seven catches for 75 yards. On a couple of occasions, Graham made convincing run blocks — not heretofore considered the strength of his game.
The much-maligned offensive line was more than just functional. They kept quarterback Russell Wilson without a sack for the first time this season.
“It’s about time, right?” guard J.R. Sweezy said when asked about the timely victory. “I wish we weren’t .500, but we had to work our butts off to get here. Things feel like they’re right now, though. We’re finally playing ball the way we can. It shows what we’re capable of and we’re just going to keep growing from it.”
Cornerback Richard Sherman, who drew the assignment of shadowing Dallas receiver Dez Bryant, newly returned from a broken foot (two catches for 12 yards), was more cautious. He talked of how the Seahawks have gone about “weathering the storm.”
He added his opinion, though, that “this game isn’t going to win us any other games.”
I don’t know if I agree with that. Because now they get a week off with the bye and then play three straight games at home.
Momentum and confidence are two powerful qualities in the NFL. They’ve always had the latter, and with a pair of wins in row, now, they’ve built a little of the former.
“The last two weeks we’ve played tough, physical, running football,” Carroll said, citing improved communication and emotion. “It’s a good sign for us in terms of giving ourselves a chance to have a real good second half of the year.”
Carroll made a good point about the Cowboys. Despite their record, they were desperate for a win. And that kind of opponent is dangerous.
The Seahawks saw their slim lead slip away in the fourth period, and could have started feeling a sick reminder of other losses this season.
Instead, they scored when they needed and got a defensive stop when they needed.
It reminded them of a team they used to know.
“It feels like we’re the Seahawks again,” Sweezy said.
They found themselves by going back in time, and it helped them head toward a strong finish.