RENTON — Grit, or luck?
Which has been the bigger contribution to the Seahawks’ surprising start to the season?
Has it been composure, or the cosmos that has allowed this team to go 8-2 despite outscoring opponents by only 21 points so far?
This franchise has built a reputation for edging out victories under coach Pete Carroll for the better part of this decade. It is well-documented that quarterback Russell Wilson’s 21 fourth-quarter comebacks — four of which have come this season — are the most in the NFL since he came into the league in 2012.
But something about this year’s come-from-behind wins seem even more pronounced, doesn’t it?
“It’s been pretty consistent. Our guys have a real comfort that sometimes it’s not going to be going right and they just keep hanging,” Carroll said. “I’ve felt that many times over the years with our clubs. I don’t know if this one’s better, (but) Russ is the best he’s been. So that gives everybody confidence that it gives us a chance.”
Chance is the operative word here, because the Seahawks have definitely had fortune on their side. Twice an opposing placekicker has missed a field goal — the Rams’ Greg Zuerlein from 44 yards and the 49ers’ Chase McLaughlin from 47 — that would have dealt the Seahawks a loss. And twice the Seahawks have won the coin toss before overtime — once vs. the Buccaneers and once vs. the 49ers — en route to a victory.
So I asked Pro Bowl linebacker K.J. Wright: Grit or luck?
“I’ll say 70/30. Seventy percent grit,” he said.
But Wright made sure to emphasize how poised the defense has been while also praising his QB.
“This past game, I was really impressed with our overtime. To go out in overtime twice, and give our quarterback the ball back is really impressive,” Wright said, highlighting the stop on third-and-one before McLaughlin’s missed field goal. “(When Wilson has it) it feels like the game is over.”
The Seahawks are 5-0 in games decided by four points or less, and that doesn’t include the six-point overtime win over Tampa Bay. Two weeks ago, football analyst Scott Kacsmar pointed out that only five teams since 1976 that started 7-2 or better had a smaller point differential than the Seahawks’ plus-18. Only two of those teams (the 2003 Panthers and the 2004 Falcons) had a lower point differential than the current Seahawks’ plus-21 after winning the following week.
In other words, Seattle looks like one of the worst 8-2 teams in history, but when you’re 8-2, who really cares?
Grit, or luck? I asked defensive end Quinton Jefferson.
“I don’t think it’s really luck. There’s always luck in football. You have to put yourself in a position to even get lucky,” he said. “Even when we were down 10 (vs. San Francisco), nobody wavered. We didn’t flinch. We knew no matter what the score was, we were going to do what we have to do to win this.”
The 2013 Seahawks, who started 9-1, ended the season 13-3 with a scoring differential of plus-186. The 2014 Seahawks, who were 6-4 through their first 10 games, ended their season 12-4 with a scoring differential of plus-140.
This year’s Seahawks haven’t mirrored the sheer dominance those other squads showed at some point in the season, but they’ve notched victories nonetheless. And it’s worth noting that the aforementioned Panthers team ended up getting to the Super Bowl, while the ’04 Falcons won their division and reached the NFC championship game.
Carroll said Monday that the nature of these close wins haven’t been ideal for the fans, but they’ve built up a sense of resilience among his players. The truth is — it’s been both grit and luck.
But in the NFL, both are required to win.