RENTON — As the Seahawks go for a win in Los Angeles on Sunday that would clinch a playoff spot and could move them to the top of the playoff-seeding ladder in the NFC, they will also attempt to make a little team history.
The Seahawks are 6-0 on the road and one more win would set a team record for most road wins in a season (as well as clinch Seattle’s eighth playoff berth since Pete Carroll arrived in 2010).
The 2013 team that won the Super Bowl set the road-game gold standard at 6-2. No other team in Seahawks history has won more than five road games.
But as the calendar hits December, a Seahawks team that has confounded skeptics and experts in a number of ways all season is still in reach of becoming just the eighth team in NFL history to go 8-0 on the road (the last to do it was the 2016 Patriots, who lost to Seattle at home but were perfect on the road).
There probably isn’t one real “ah ha’’ reason for why this year’s team has been so successful on the road.
The reality is, Seattle has been pretty good on the road since Russell Wilson arrived in 2012 — and his presence remains the biggest reason for everything good this team does. The Seahawks are 34-19-1 on the road since 2013 and have gone 5-3 on the road three times since 2014 as well as 6-2 in 2013.
Seattle has done a couple of basic things to prepare for road games for a while now — leaving two days before games played in the Central or Eastern time zones (which doesn’t apply this week, when the Seahawks left Saturday for L.A.), and starting more of their training camp practices at 10 a.m. so that playing games in that time slot feels more familiar (a move the team went to in 2013 — Seattle has gone 15-6 in its past 21 10 a.m. starts).
A few years ago, coaches also added a little extra inducement, letting veteran players have their seats in first class on plane trips back from away games that the Seahawks won.
One specific change made this year that players have cited is a decision that all players take the same bus from the team hotel to the game for road games. The team offers multiple buses from the hotel to games for all the players, coaches and others affiliated with the team, and players used to spread out over two.
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner was one of the team leaders who brought up the “one bus” idea to coach Pete Carroll earlier this year and the Seahawks tried it for the win over the Steelers — the first on the road — and have kept with it since.
“We had to do something a little bit different because we had a lot of newer guys and it was a younger team, so it was hard to educate everybody separately,’’ Wagner said. “… The one bus thing was just for everybody to be more connected. Instead of separating the groups, having everybody come together. Everybody preparing together, everybody coming out together. I feel like it speaks to that closeness. When you’re around the guys so much it makes you learn who you’re playing with and builds that camaraderie.”
Maybe within that explanation is the real story — that this team likes being together.
That some of the big-name veterans of past seasons had grown apart as the years progressed has been well-chronicled and maybe a bit overblown in its impact on the field.
But there is no question that any tension that may have once been felt in the locker room has long since evaporated.
Linebacker K.J. Wright, one of four players left from the team that won the Super Bowl (Wilson, Wagner and Luke Willson are the others) this week made something of a lighthearted reference to the team’s past image but one that also contained an insightful view of the team’s current climate when he was asked about the locker-room atmosphere.
Wright laughed about how he knows the perception used to be of “people hating each other on the team. That does not exist on this team. It feels good. Everybody is happy. Everybody just wants to win. Life is good around here. It’s a good locker room and I’m happy.’’
That togetherness has been tested time and again this season, most recently last week when there was first a pick-six and then a late drive allowed by the defense, that allowed Minnesota to take a 17-10 halftime lead.
But as they have done almost every time this season, the Seahawks hung together to score 24 in a row, and then hung on in the face of a Minnesota rally for a win that moved Seattle into first in the NFC West and into second in the NFC playoff seedings.
Now the Seahawks take their show again on the road, and if the 49ers beat the Saints on Sunday, Seattle can move to the top of the NFC with a win.
Wherever they end up, they promise to have gotten there together.