There’s been a lot to appreciate about the Seattle Seahawks since I began covering the team in 2015.
I appreciated the defensive excellence of the Legion of Boom, which I got to see at the tail end of its prime. I’ve appreciated the wizardry of quarterback Russell Wilson, who may be the most remarkable athlete I’ve ever had the pleasure to cover. I’ve appreciated Seattle’s sustained success of posting winning records in each of those seasons, something that’s not easy to do in a draft-and-salary-cap world.
But I think what I’ve appreciated most is the entertainment value.
The Seahawks once again gave observers their full money’s worth and more in Sunday night’s dramatic 27-26 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field, and if there’s one thing we can depend upon it’s that Seattle will make sure we stay tuned in until the final second ticks off.
Sunday’s victory saw Seattle become the first team in the NFL to reach 5-0. But this has not been a case of a juggernaut flattening the competition like a herd of kindergartners stomping over a field of dandelions. No, the Seahawks have established that no lead is safe, and no deficit is too big to overcome.
Of Seattle’s five victories this season, four have been decided by a single score. Not only have they been close, three of them featured touchdowns being scored in the game’s final two minutes, and two of them were decided on what was effectively the game’s final play.
This is no new phenomenon for the Seahawks. Since 2015 Seattle has played 92 games, including the regular season and playoffs. Of those 92, 58 were decided by one score. By this measure, 63% of Seattle’s games could have gone either way.
This trend has only gotten stronger over time. In 2015 and 2016 exactly half of the Seahawks’ games were decided by one score. In 2017 that increased to 63% (10 of 16). In 2018 it was 71% (12 of 17). In 2019 it reached 78% (14 of 18). Through five games this season it’s all the way up to 80%. This team’s games just get more exciting.
And Seattle’s proficiency in these close games also is ascending at a rapid rate. From 2015-18 the Seahawks went 17-22-1 in one-score games. But last season Seattle was 11-3, tying the NFL record for most victories by one score in a single season, and of course this season the Seahawks are a perfect 4-0.
At the end of Seahawks games, because of the anxious energy expended, I often find my head spinning at 100 mph while I pound out my stories, only to collapse from exhaustion the moment the last one is filed. That’s for someone who’s primary stake in the game is that it finishes in a reasonable time and therefore doesn’t create any additional deadline pressure. I have no clue how Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, at 69 years old, has avoided a nervous breakdown.
After Sunday’s game Carroll was asked why he enjoys the close ones. His answer: “Why is that? Because it’s so much freaking fun!
“But it’s way more than that,” Carroll continued. “One, I like to feel like I felt in that fourth quarter, where I was chill about the whole thing, so I can think clearly, operate well, function well for these guys and do whatever I can to contribute. That’s to expect those situations can arise, so you’re comfortable. That’s part of it. But we’re making memories, y’know. We’re making memories. These are memorable situations. That’s the two.
“Another thing is the experience these guys have, it just fortifies why they believe. It just adds on and adds on to why they should keep hanging in and fighting tough and outlasting people that we’re playing, because when you finish you have to outlast the other guys. That’s what our guys understand, and they know it, and they’re developing a discipline based on the experience and confidence they’re getting, because that’s all we’ve been doing for five weeks now. It’s just going to make us that much stronger facing whatever the odds are or the issues are coming down the road. This is all just a process of building the mentality of a really successful team. These guys are doing everything, they have all the stories we need right now, and we’ll keep building.”
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) October 12, 2020
Does winning games repeatedly by close margins make for a championship team? I’m not so sure about that. There’s something to be said about a team that has the type of superior quality that allows it to blow the competition off the field. If one looks at the Super Bowl winners over that same period since 2015, only one of the five — the 2015 Denver Broncos — played one-score games in even as many as half its contests.
But one thing I can say with certainty is that with the Seahawks entering their bye week, there will be a massive void next weekend. That weekly dose of captivation will be missed.
Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.