The Seahawks are supremely confident that two agonizing, end-of-game losses — in the Super Bowl and to the Rams — are just temporary setbacks. They’ll need that mindset Sunday in Green Bay.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Seahawks of the Pete Carroll era have always had an undeniable aura. All the great teams do, and it’s both internal and external.
Within the locker room, there has been a conviction bordering on cockiness that they will prevail, no matter what the adversity or hardship conspiring against a victory. And they’ve counted on imposing their will on opponents — breaking them, at some point in the game.
Call it intimidation. Call it an unwavering belief in their own invincibility. But the Seahawks, during their recent rise to glory, have thrived on it. Each triumph, each improbable victory, each prime-time rout, has merely fed the beast.
Maybe it began when Russell Wilson hit Golden Tate with the Fail Mary to beat the Packers in 2012. Maybe it peaked when Wilson connected with Jermaine Kearse to cap their comeback from near-certain defeat against the Packers in the NFC title game last season.
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But the Seahawks, more than any other team, have pulled out games they had no right winning (15 fourth-quarter or overtime comeback victories in Wilson’s 57 career games), and thrived under the national spotlight (a 13-1 record in prime-time games since Carroll became coach in 2010, outscoring opponents 367-154).
They’re brash, they’re outspoken, they’re in your face. But they’ve backed it up.
Not always — cough, cough — but enough to maintain their swagger.
Now, as the Seahawks prepare to face the Packers on Sunday, they have to be concerned that their aura is dimming. I’m not saying this is a crisis, mind you, or that the era of Seahawks dominance is over.
But once the facade of invincibility is shattered, it’s hard to get it back. Just ask Tiger Woods, who for more than a decade had most of the PGA Tour field beaten before he even teed off. So strong was his aura that opponents cowered in his wake.
Then, by virtue of his own personal foibles and failing health, Woods became fallible. And once golfers realized he was no longer the Great and Powerful Tiger, once the curtain was pulled back, well, the aura was shattered. And Woods is now a shadow of his old self. No one on the tour fears him in the slightest.
Seattle’s past two games — separated by seven months — have had all the elements of a classic Seahawks story arc. Only without the payoff at the end.
We all know what happened in the Super Bowl, an end-of-game breakdown that will live in infamy.
Last week, in St. Louis, the Seahawks let another chance to pull out a victory slip away, by virtue of a late Rams touchdown in regulation, and a fourth-and-one play in overtime that fizzled.
Again, it’s just the opening game of the season. The good news is that the Seahawks have plenty of time to seize back their aura. Defeating the Packers in Green Bay would be a huge step in that direction, of course. Win this one, with two home games looming, and the defeat against the Rams becomes an afterthought.
Getting Kam Chancellor back, the sooner the better, also would hasten the process. Even in the rough, tough NFL, the Seahawks have felt in the past that some players shy away from Chancellor — or at least approach him with trepidation. No doubt that Chancellor’s thunderous hits, and the knowledge that you might be the next victim, has been a major contributor to the Seahawks’ aura.
Richard Sherman said Wednesday he doesn’t feel the Seahawks have lost any of their intimidation factor with Chancellor in absentia. He points out that the heart of the NFL’s best defense remains unchanged, minus the missing strong safety.
“I think the intimidation factor is still there,’’ he said. “I think guys just need to execute like we always have, and we just didn’t do that last week.’’
Safety Earl Thomas subscribed to a similar theory, that whatever struggles the Seahawks had last week were about nothing more than performance breakdowns.
“It’s all fixable stuff, and I guarantee we’re going to fix it,’’ he said.
That’s the Seahawks’ self-confidence we’ve come to know and love. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell spoke to the same spirit when asked about Wilson’s unwavering confidence in Kearse last season in the NFC title game against the Packers. Though Kearse had dropped several balls, Wilson still had the faith to target Kearse for the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
“It’s hard to shake Russell,’’ Bevell said. “He just has so much confidence in himself …To have that firm conviction and belief in themselves to know, ‘Hey, I’m going to make the next one that comes to me.’ That speaks volumes to those two guys at the end.”
The Seahawks have built an entire persona, fashioned a world view, based on precisely that kind of thinking. This would be a good time for them to show that it’s still going to work for them.