Can't win on the road in the playoffs? Offense is holding the defense back? Aren't built to come back? If you're still assuming this about Seattle, think again.
RENTON — The quarterback too short to succeed in the NFL was at the helm of an offense ill-equipped to rally from a deficit and playing for a team that struggles on the road.
Those are just some of the misconceptions the Seahawks put to bed Sunday afternoon in Washington, coming back from their largest deficit of the season behind rookie quarterback Russell Wilson to end an eight-game road losing streak in the playoffs.
Welcome to the Seattle edition of “Mythbusters,” where we examine descriptions of this young Seahawks team that may have applied at one time, but are tired, outdated or just flat-out wrong.
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I. Seattle is wasting a championship-caliber defense.
This was the chorus in September after the Seahawks scored fewer than 20 points in four of their first five games. Seattle was 3-2 after winning at Carolina on Oct. 7 despite having not allowed an offensive touchdown for 128 minutes.
Well, Seattle’s offense has come a long way since then, its relentless ground game combining with an increasingly aggressive game plan for its effective young quarterback to create an efficient, above-average NFL offense. Seattle’s last two losses in the regular season were the result of defensive breakdowns in the fourth quarter. And on Sunday, it wasn’t the offense that put the Seahawks in a 14-point hole, but a defense that gave up scoring drives on each of its opponent’s first two possessions for the first time this season.
Seattle’s offense came back to score on its next three possessions to climb back into the game. The surprise wasn’t that the Seahawks came back to win, but that it took so long for Seattle to get out of its own way.
“We’ve grown and become more together and more in tune with our QB and what he can do and all that,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We’re a pretty hard team to beat right now.”
II. Seattle is not built to come back from big deficits.
This is a logical assumption given the Seahawks’ propensity for running the ball. Seattle rushed on 55 percent of its plays during the regular season, the highest percentage in the league. And for all Wilson’s success, he has yet to throw for more than 300 yards in a game.
Doesn’t sound like a team that can play catch-up, does it? There’s also not much of a sample size in that regard, as Seattle scored first in 13 of its 16 regular-season games.
But Sunday was the third time this season Seattle found itself down by double digits, and the second consecutive time it came back to win. The Seahawks trailed the Patriots by 13 points in the fourth quarter and scored two touchdowns in the final nine minutes to win in October. At Washington, the Seahawks were more methodical, running their way back into the game.
III. The Seahawks can’t win on the road.
There was a time you could make this argument. That, however, was in November when Seattle had lost five of six games on the road, and each of Wilson’s interceptions had occurred away from Seattle.
And while it’s true Seattle hadn’t won a road playoff game since 1983, it’s also true that 44 of the 53 players on Seattle’s roster weren’t alive when that streak started. So while it’s easy to make road games seem like this franchise’s bogeyman, it’s not exactly accurate after Seattle won at Chicago on Dec. 2 and beat Buffalo in Toronto two weeks later. That didn’t keep safety Earl Thomas from fielding these questions in the locker room after Sunday’s game:
Question: “It has been a long time since the franchise has won on the road — can you talk about getting rid of that?
Thomas: “Not really. We won against Chicago, went against Buffalo and won.”
Question: I mean in the playoffs.
Thomas: “Well, this is my second year in the playoffs so I’m just living in the moment, taking it week by week and see what happens from there.”
Maybe it’s time to follow suit and take a fresh look at this team that is turning some of those assumptions into misconceptions.