For Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, Monday night marks not only the beginning of the last stand of the 2021 season, but a trip back in time to where it all began.
The three most vital participants of the best run in Seahawks history could point to a handful of games and stadiums as the true starting point of their journey.
But one of the undisputed turning points for the Carroll-era Seahawks arrived at Washington’s FedExField, where Wilson, Carroll and Wagner got their first playoff win together in January 2013, overcoming an early 14-0 deficit to beat Robert Griffin and company 24-14.
It was a win that erased any doubt about the validity of a then young-and-emerging Seahawks team that had won the last five regular-season games of 2012 to get into the playoffs, a run that set the stage for the Super Bowl-winning season that followed.
Now, almost nine years later, the Seahawks again visit FedExField hoping to jumpstart a similar late-season run with a win Monday at Washington. Kickoff is 5:15 p.m. on Ch. 7 and ESPN.
Carroll, Wilson and other Seahawks have all talked frankly this week of having set a goal of going 7-0 to end the 2021 season, realizing that with a 3-7 record, winning out is probably necessary to get to the postseason again.
But does talk of winning seven in a row betray the usual one-game-at-a-time NFL ethos?
Carroll says no.
“I don’t think it’s a problem of thinking ahead in the sense of what you would like to get done, but it does us no good unless we are focused on exactly what is right at hand,” Carroll said Saturday. “That’s something that we have been practicing for a long time, and I’m hoping we can pull it off right now. Regardless of what our record is right now, we want to win the next seven games and that doesn’t change at all. I have no problem with that thought because that’s how we think in general.”
The Vegas oddsmakers, though, are pessimistic.
Seattle opened as a 3.5-point favorite for Monday night’s game, via VegasInsider.com. But that line had shifted to Washington by 1 at some books by Sunday.
The Seahawks are also likely to be underdogs in three other games the rest of the way — they are already as much as a 2.5-point underdog against the 49ers Sunday and are sure to be underdogs in road games against the Rams (Dec. 19) and Arizona (Jan. 9).
The line for Monday’s game moved as much as it did in the wake of vastly conflicting results for each team Nov. 21.
While Seattle was losing at home to an Arizona team led by backup QB Colt McCoy, 23-13, the WFT went into Carolina and beat the Panthers, 27-21, its second straight win following its bye week. Washington defeated defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay the week before, 27-19.
And while the Seahawks can point to two overtime losses and another by three points as factors in their worst 10-game start since 2009, Seattle also has lost four other games by nine points or more.
As telling as any stat to depict Seattle’s woes this season is one of the most basic — yards per game.
Seattle has been outgained by 80 yards or more in each of its past four games and seven times overall this season.
The defense is allowing 401.8 yards per game, 31st in the NFL and on pace to be the worst in team history (the 2000 team allowed the most yards in team history, 399.4 yards per game).
And the offense is gaining just 298.6 yards per game, 30th in the NFL and on pace to be the worst since the 2010 team averaged 297.8 yards per game.
The offense has gained 266 yards or fewer each of the past four games and has scored just one touchdown in its past 20 possessions since Wilson returned from a finger injury two games ago.
But if a memory of the distant past — and what a game at FedExField once meant to the Seahawks — is sure to cross Wilson’s mind Monday, he says the real task is to forget the team’s recent history.
“I think what our offense needs to do is forget about the past,” said Wilson, who turns 33 Monday. “Stay focused on the present. Stay focused on what we’re doing right now. All the talk, all this and that. We’ve got great players, we’ve got a great line, we’ve got great playmakers. We’ve got a great play caller in Shane (Waldron). We’ve got a pretty decent quarterback. We can make plays. We don’t need to do anything else but forget about the past and stay focused on the moment. We can’t let all the distractions and anything else be a hindrance to the gift. I think that’s where our focus is right now.”