RENTON — Maybe all you really want for the holidays is for the Seahawks to finally give you just a few moments of relaxation.
Just one game where they take the lead and keep it and you can spend the last hour or so with your feet up and a glass in hand, rather than sitting at the edge of your seat with a lump in your throat all the way to the end wondering if the Seahawks are going to be able to hold on one more time.
If it is to happen this season, then Sunday might be the day as a playoff-bound Seattle team still hoping to get the No. 1 seed in the NFC hosts a playing-out-the-string Arizona squad that is 4-9-1 and is the one team this year the Seahawks sort of blew out — a 27-10 victory in Glendale on Sept. 30.
Seattle is favored by 9 points, one of the Seahawks’ largest spreads this season.
The other time Seattle was favored by that much was the first game of the season against the Bengals, a game that set a tone for the year in just about every conceivable way.
The Seahawks had to fight to the final seconds against a team that has won just one game. But win the Seahawks did, 21-20, the first of what would turn out to be a constant stream of nailbiters this season.
The Seahawks had to fight to the end again last week to win at Carolina, even if for much of the day they figured to maybe, finally, be on the verge of a smooth ride to the finish.
Instead, a 30-10 lead with 7:18 left turned into a 30-24 escape in which the offense had to run out the final 3:14 to save an injury-riddled defense from embarrassment.
It was Seattle’s 10th win this season by a possession or less (or, eight points or less), which according to the Elias Sports Bureau has already tied an NFL season record.
The only other team to have as many was the 1978 Houston Oilers, who won all 10 of their games in a 10-6 season by seven points or less at a time when there was no two-point play.
Longtime NFL fans may remember that team as one of the famous “Luv Ya Blue’’ Oilers squads coached by Bum Phillips and led by running back Earl Campbell, then in his rookie season.
If you’re looking for a good omen, that team went on to win two playoff games, each oddly enough by more than one possession.
If you’re looking for a bad one, that team was eventually exposed when it was pounded by one of the great Pittsburgh Steelers teams in the AFC title game, losing 34-5.
Coach Pete Carroll laughed this week and said: “It would really be OK if we could win by a lot sometimes. That’d be fun.’’
But you haven’t been following the Seahawks if you’re surprised that they’ve decided to mostly look at the positives of winning close games — that instead of all the tight games maybe revealing some flaws that are often masked by having an elite quarterback playing at the height of his powers, they illustrate instead a closeness and toughness and perseverance that is hardening the team for what may be even tougher moments down the road.
“I think it’s only going to help us,’’ Carroll said. “I think all of the young guys that have been through those games, they’re not tensing up. They’re not worried about what’s going to happen next. Just keep thinking we’re going to find a way. That’s powerful. It really supports what the experienced guys have been around and how they think. It’s just the way it is. I’m sorry for the fans. Like I’ve said before, you’ve got to suck it up and enjoy the wins. Sometimes, they just come out later than you want.”
Still, the numbers back up that it’s been an unusually taut year for the Seahawks.
Their point differential of plus-26 is tied with the Rams for 11th in the NFL and is far behind a few teams with worse records such as Dallas, which is 7-7 but has a point differential of plus-90.
Pro Football Reference’s “Expected W-L’’ formula, which tries to calculate what a team’s record “should have been’’ given the team’s points scored and allowed, says Seattle should be 8-6.
To further make that point, while the Seahawks already have more wins than all but four other teams in franchise history, 16 other Seattle teams have finished with a higher point differential, including every team since 2012 (the lowest since then was the plus-40 of the 9-7 2017 team) and two teams that went 8-8 (including the season that got Dennis Erickson fired, the 1998 squad that won only half its games despite a point differential of plus-62).
But wins are all that really count, and Seattle has mastered the art this season of finding a way (with Wilson’s MVP-level season and famed ability to rise to the occasion where it all starts).
And if you’re worried that eventually it’s going to catch up to the Seahawks, that they’ll get in a hole they can’t climb out of or encounter a rally they can’t stop, there are no discouraging words to be heard about this trend in the Seattle locker room.
“I think it’s fun,’’ said middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. “If you blow a team out you have to sit on the sideline, that’s not fun. When it comes down to the last second, it’s fun. You stay engaged, that’s where you get your confidence. You grow your confidence as you get to the end of the season and get to the playoff run. You have those games where you’re down 10 or down seven and when you’ve been in that situation so many times, you believe in yourself, you believe in your team that you’re going to pull it out.’’
So come to the game or turn on the TV Sunday expecting to watch to the bitter end. Why change now?