Russell Wilson’s goal-line interception is the invisible shadow that has lurked over the team for nearly two years, only occasionally coming into the light of day. Thursday night was one of those times, the subtext to Sherman’s sideline outburst in Seattle’s win over the Rams.
It had been 684 days — that’s 16,416 hours, or 984,960 minutes, or 59,097,600 seconds — since the most painful football moment any Seahawks player will ever experience.
You know the one. Super Bowl XLIX. Second-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Seahawks down by four, 26 seconds left. Russell Wilson pass intended for Ricardo Lockette, intercepted by New England’s Malcolm Butler. Hearts and souls crushed throughout the Northwest. Multiplied by infinity inside the Seahawks’ locker room.
Pete Carroll said afterward that the anguish from that misplay would be “lifelong,” a reality he said hit him instantly, even as he was still trying to absorb what had just happened in the surreal aftermath.
Indeed, it’s the invisible shadow that has lurked over the team for nearly two years, only occasionally coming into the light of day. Thursday night was one of those times, the subtext to Richard Sherman’s sideline outburst in the third quarter of Seattle’s 24-3 win over the Rams.
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It’s a funny thing, Carroll said Friday, musing about the link between that distant interception and Sherman’s tirade, and all the simmering days in between. You have to push that play out of your mind, and yet you need to make sure it never goes too far away.
Sometimes, that delicate balance is too difficult to maneuver — such as when Wilson’s pass to Jimmy Graham from the 1 on Thursday nearly got intercepted, raising Sherman’s ire.
His postgame comments made it crystal-clear his visible fury aimed at Carroll was linked to the coach’s decision back then not to hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch — as Sherman and Carroll discussed in an hourlong cleansing session Friday.
“We don’t feel any different about what happened,’’ Carroll said. “We shared that. That’s never going away. That’s just one of those things. That’s OK. It’s where you put it and how you deal with it and how that manifests, and in him it came blasting back up.
“For the most part, those of us who felt that really deeply — and some did, some didn’t, and most everybody felt it to some extent — it’s not going away. If you really care, it’s not going away.”
You can question his methods, but no one can ever accuse Sherman of not caring. That goes for all the strong-minded Seattle veterans who shared that agony and, like Carroll, are still trying to process it. And always will be.
To Carroll, who admitted in an interview shortly after the Super Bowl that he cried in the early morning hours the next day when the defeat hit him, it’s what fuels him.
“There ain’t nothing wrong with that,” Carroll said of the lingering impact of the crushing loss. “It’s how you deal with it, it’s how you move forward with that and how you let it affect you. I’ve got a lot of those. That’s not the only time. I’ve got stuff I still use and feed off of.
“I tried to explain, in some crazy way, it’s a good thing. It’s helpful. It keeps me on track, it keeps me on edge. I don’t want to back off. I’m not slowing down. I’m not going to let up and get soft about stuff because I can brush stuff off. That stuff sticks in me as deep as it can go. But I don’t want it to get in the way of the next thing that’s coming up. That’s something we were talking about today.”
As with most traumatic events, it can be outside your sphere of consciousness for stretches of time, only to come flooding back in an instant — “pretty randomly,” Carroll admitted.
And Carroll says he tries to use his own reaction to that Super Bowl loss as a road map for his players.
“I’ll say it like this: It’s the choice I make in how I want to demonstrate how I deal with it,” he said. “From the instant I had to talk about it way back when, going right to you guys (the media) immediately as that game’s over, first to the team and then to you guys, I knew what was going on.
“I knew what I was getting into. I knew what had happened. I knew it in a flash. It’s the choice you make in how you want to deal with what you’re facing. I like to think I’m getting pretty good control of that. I understand where I want to go.”
There surely were many underlying causes of Sherman’s displeasure Thursday night, some of which may come to light when he addresses the media next week. But there’s no ambiguity when he says he was letting Carroll know “we’re not comfortable with your throwing the ball at the 1. … We already know how that goes.”
Carroll said Sherman now understands he didn’t express himself appropriately, but the coach empathizes with the wellspring of feelings that caused Sherman to burst.
“It was a teachable moment that came up, and we seized it,” Carroll said. “I’m really excited about it, because he’s going to be better than ever.”
Shortly after the Super Bowl, the unthinkable loss still fresh, Carroll sent out a tweet: “One moment does not define you; the journey does. We will outlast this.”
Nearly two years later, the journey continues for the Seahawks.