The Seattle Seahawks’ shocking loss to the Carolina Panthers isn’t because of a curse or bad luck, says columnist Matt Calkins, but the cold, hard truth is harder to swallow.
Before Sunday, they felt like flukes and aberrations.
The Seahawks’ losses weren’t a matter of them being outplayed so much as they were the result of cosmic intervention.
Nothing to worry about, right? Just a series of freak scenarios, yeah?
Actually, no. Sunday, we learned that this is who the Seahawks are.
SEAHAWKS vs. PANTHERS »
Feel free to press the panic button, folks. The bump in the road has grown into a boulder.
Seattle is 2-4 and coming off consecutive fourth-quarter collapses. This team used to inspire fear in its foes — now it just inspires hope.
Since 1990, only 14 of the 168 NFL teams that have begun the year 2-4 have made the playoffs. That’s 8.3 percent.
And while some might say that it’s different with the Hawks — that they are too talented to finish with anything but a winning record — those who have watched closely would ask, “Are you sure about that?”
After Seattle’s 27-23 loss to Carolina on Sunday, a few press-box wags were saying that the Seahawks could easily be 5-1 given their late-game slips vs. the Rams, Bengals and Panthers. What they failed to mention was that they could also be 1-5 if not for Kam Chancellor’s last-second strip against the Lions.
The truth is, aside from that Monday-night miracle, Seattle’s signature playmaking simply hasn’t been there this year. And the players are well aware.
“Me and Kam were talking, and he was saying, which I agree with, that something just don’t feel right,” said Seahawks safety Earl Thomas. “He went so deep to say that it feels like a curse.”
It certainly hasn’t been a blessing. Just look at how this season has unfolded.
It started with Chancellor’s holdout, which went two games into the season and may have cost the Hawks two wins. It continued with Marshawn Lynch’s hamstring injury, which forced him to miss two games and seriously hampered his production in Week 3.
Richard Sherman is still without an interception. Russell Wilson has been sacked a league-high 26 times.
And while it’s true that every Seattle loss has been decided in the final two minutes, that speaks to the difference between this year’s group and those of years past.
Don’t worry — this isn’t an obituary. Any team that has led in the fourth quarter in all six of its games cannot be dismissed. But unlike last season, when they started 3-3 before winning nine of their next 10 en route to the NFC West title, the Seahawks haven’t shown any signs of an imminent breakout.
The offensive line continues to be a five-man turnstile. Lynch has averaged a mere 3.3 yards on 55 carries. And perhaps most significantly, the depth on the defensive line and in the secondary is nowhere close to that of the past two seasons.
All that said, the team doesn’t seem to be in hysterics quite yet. Seattle’s locker room was surprisingly calm after the game, with players showing far less frustration than you would expect after a second straight giveaway.
“We have to face adversity, look it in the eye and refuse to blink,” said left tackle Russell Okung.
“We’re still confident,” added linebacker Bruce Irvin. “We still feel as if we’re one of the best teams in the league.”
There have been plenty of times this year when the Seahawks looked like their old Super Bowl selves. Before the disaster in Cincinnati, the defense had allowed just 10 points in an 11-quarter span. And had Seattle not blown its nine-point lead in the fourth Sunday, the story around here would be Jimmy Graham’s eight-catch, 140-yard performance.
There is reason for optimism. But at this point, there is more reason for the opposite.
The signature moment during Sunday’s game came just after Carolina’s go-ahead touchdown pass, when Sherman and Thomas looked at each other in total confusion over what just happened. You get the feeling 12s all around the Northwest are doing the same thing right now.
They want to know why Seattle is off to such a shocking start. They want to know why the Seahawks aren’t performing anywhere near the level they did in the two magical years before.
Or maybe they just don’t want to hear the answer — that this team just isn’t as good.
|Can it be done?|
|Since 1990, 14 teams have made the playoffs despite starting the season 2-4.|
|Year, team||Start||Final W-L||Playoffs|
|2011 Denver||2-4||8-8||Lost in divisional game (at New England, 45-10)|
|2008 Miami||2-4||11-5||Lost in wild-card game (vs. Baltimore, 27-9)|
|2004 Green Bay||2-4||10-6||Lost in wild-card game (vs. Minnesota, 31-17)|
|2002 Cleveland||2-4||9-7||Lost in wild-card game (at Pittsburgh, 36-33)|
|2002 Tennessee||2-4||11-5||Lost in conference title game (at Oakland, 41-24)|
|2002 N.Y. Jets||2-4||9-7||Lost in divisional game (at Oakland, 30-10)|
|1999 Minnesota||2-4||10-6||Lost in divisional game (at St. Louis, 49-37)|
|1996 Jacksonville||2-4||9-7||Lost in conference title game (at N. England, 20-6)|
|1995 Detroit||2-4||10-6||Lost in wild-card game (at Philadelphia, 58-37)|
|1994 Detroit||2-4||9-7||Lost in wild-card game (at Green Bay, 16-12)|
|1993 Houston||2-4||12-4||Lost in divisional game (vs. Kansas City, 28-20)|
|1992 San Diego||2-4||11-5||Lost in divisional game (at Miami, 31-0)|
|1990 New Orleans||2-4||8-8||Lost in wild-card game (at Chicago, 16-6)|
|1990 Philadelphia||2-4||10-6||Lost in wild-card game (vs. Washington, 20-6)|