For once, the Seahawks might hope that the playoffs are a little bit different than the regular season. Under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have been known for fast finishes that have foreshadowed at least some playoff success. But this year, Seattle went 3-3 down the stretch.
Of the position players on Seattle’s active roster, none has played in more postseason games than safety Kam Chancellor — a somewhat fitting 12.
And when he talks to some of the younger Seahawks about what playoff games such as Saturday’s wild-card contest against Detroit are like, he offers simple advice.
“I just tell them it’s just football,” Chancellor said. “People put a name on it — playoffs, whatever they want to call it. It’s just football. It’s nothing new. It’s the same thing.”
For once, though, the Seahawks might hope the playoffs are a little bit different than the regular season.
Under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have been known for fast finishes that have foreshadowed at least some playoff success.
Seattle went 26-6 in the second half from 2012-15, years in which they won at least one playoff game each season, going 7-3 overall in the playoffs, twice advancing to the Super Bowl.
But this season, the Seahawks went 3-3 in their last six games, beaten twice by nine points or more and another time at home.
The uncharacteristic losses led to Seahawks general manager John Schneider deciding one day recently to study how much a fast finish has mattered when it comes to the playoffs.
“History would tell you it’s random,” he said last week on his regular pregame radio show.
Indeed, each of the last 10 Super Bowl champs lost at least one game after December, with eight losing at least twice, and three having losing records.
Included in that group are the 2013 Seahawks, who after an 11-1 start went 2-2 from December on.
“I don’t think that month means everything,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “I don’t think that. There’s obviously been a bunch of different teams that have done different stuff going in and then turn on a real good show and get going in the playoffs. We’ll see what happens.”
Still, clinging to the idea that not playing all that well down the stretch doesn’t mean much when it comes to the playoff is a different tune than Carroll was singing in October. He said then that the Seahawks “have a chance” to be the best team he’s coached.
That comment came after a rout of the Jets in New York that had Seattle at 3-1 heading into its bye week.
A few weeks later came a win at New England to start the second half of the season, which engendered further optimism.
But then came some uneven performances and unfortunate injuries.
Tyler Lockett and C.J. Prosise, who combined for 225 of the team’s 420 yards of total offense against the Patriots, won’t play against the Lions (Lockett out for the year with a broken leg and Prosise out since Nov. 20 with a broken shoulder blade). And free safety Earl Thomas, who first suffered a hamstring injury the following week against the Eagles, is out for the year with a broken leg suffered against Carolina.
Quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Thomas Rawls have also continued to deal with various injuries all season as the offense has been jarringly inconsistent — five points one week, 40 points the next.
The inconsistent performances have led to the question of which team is the real Seahawks, or if that’s simply who the Seahawks are this season — a team capable of greatness but also more prone to moments of vulnerability than any since the rise began in 2011.
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin, often the team’s harshest self-critic, acknowledged this week that the good news is that Seattle has a chance to invent itself anew in the postseason.
“I think that we’ve had our ups and downs but we’ve been able to be successful at times and we’re still in the playoffs,” he said. “So we have an opportunity to do what we set out to do.”
Seattle could hardly have asked for a softer postseason landing.
The Lions lost their final three games to finish 9-7 and come to Seattle with quarterback Matthew Stafford nursing a dislocated middle finger on his throwing hand, an injury suffered Dec. 11. Detroit also has an offensive line that could again be without two starters, and a defense that allowed opponents to completed 72.7 percent of passes this season — more than five percentage points more than anyone else in the NFL.
They also come in having won just one playoff game since 1957, following the 1991 season.
Seattle, meanwhile, comes in as an eight-point favorite, the betting public deciding that either the Seahawks are ready to flip the switch back on once the playoffs come — or that they simply are a better team than Detroit.
Chancellor dismissed the idea the Seahawks have simply been waiting for the playoffs to reveal their true selves. They just need to be a little better version of the self they have already shown.
“I don’t think (the switch) ever flipped off,” he said. “It never flipped off. Nothing is going to be perfect. The outside world expects us to be perfect, but it never flipped off. It’s just about us coming together now and just finishing.”
|Stumbling to the Super Bowl|
|Here’s a look at the past 10 Super Bowl champs and how they fared from December to the end of the regular season:|
|Team||Regular- season record||Dec.-Jan. record|