The Seahawks’ most astonishing stats may be that they haven’t lost a game by more than 10 points in more than 4 years and they have held a lead in an NFL-record 61 consecutive games.

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Of all the colorful images the Seahawks inspire, this is the one that keeps playing in my head. And it has nothing to do with how the Seahawks win. It has everything to do with how they lose.

There’s a scene in “Undaunted Courage,” the fantastic book about Lewis and Clark, where six members of the expedition see a grizzly bear along a riverbank. Naturally, this being 1805, they decide they should kill it.

They huddle and coordinate their attack, which starts when four men fire from close range. All four shots connect, but the bear doesn’t go down. In fact, it has the opposite reaction. The bear roars, charges, its mouth open in rage. Two more men fire, shattering the animal’s shoulder, but the bear keeps coming.


Cleveland @ Seahawks, 1:05 p.m., Ch. 13

At this point, it’s easy to imagine panic setting in. Two men flee in canoes. The others hide. They reload, firing again, but this only gives away their positions. Out of options, two men jump into the river. The bear follows. And just when it looks like the grizzly is going to prevail, someone fires a deadly shot through the bear’s head.

Lewis made light of grizzly bears when he began his cross-country trek, but the further west he traveled, the more he came to fear them. He remarked, with no pun intended, “It is astonishing to see the wounds they will bear before they can be put to death.”

That’s about as close as a 19th-century explorer could hope to get to describing a football team in Seattle. Teams that beat the Seahawks have to coordinate an attack, fire a bunch of shots and even then it might not be enough. Even then it might take a final blow to end the chase.

The Seahawks haven’t lost a game by more than 10 points since Oct. 30, 2011. That stat is as incredible as it is arbitrary. All but three other teams have lost a game by more than 10 points this season. And five teams have more blowout losses than the Seahawks have total losses (21) since Oct. 30, 2011.

The Seahawks have also had a lead in 61 consecutive games, an NFL record, which means it has been four years since Seahawks fans watched their team play an uncompetitive game.

Some of the oldest tropes in sports are about teams that don’t quit or refuse to lose. They are empty-calorie descriptions, but the Seahawks have somehow made them reality. And isn’t that one of the best parts of sports? When a player or team becomes the cliché?

The Seahawks do not lose easily in part by design. They play great defense. They limit turnovers. And by doing those two things, with a bunch of good players, the Seahawks are exhausting to put away.

But there is also a little magic behind it, a feeling that Seattle’s toughness wards off blowouts.

The first time I really felt this way was in 2013. The Seahawks lost their first home game since December 2011 against the Arizona Cardinals, and they looked dreadful on offense. The Cardinals had chances to bury the Seahawks but could never do it. It came down to the fourth quarter, and despite throwing four interceptions, the Cardinals completed a long touchdown pass, just past the outstretched hand of a Seattle defender, to win the game.

By the numbers

61  Seahawks have led in 61 consecutive games, an NFL record.

34-12  Oct. 30, 2011 vs. Cincinnati: Last time the Seahawks lost by more than 10 points.

If there is such a thing as a painful win, that was it. Beating the Seahawks is like going to the dentist. You know it’s good for you, but no one enjoys the process.

“I think the stat that’s pretty impressive is how hard we are to beat,” coach Pete Carroll said, adding, “I don’t really like the stat, because it’s kind of on the other end of the spectrum of stats. But after a while you look back and it does show that you have staying power and you finish well and you’re working to outlast your opponents in a big way. So I’m proud of that part of it. But I don’t bring that stat up, until you did.”

And yet he cares about it because it gets right at his team’s competitiveness and resolve — all the traits Carroll has preached for years. He wants his team to be the bear: ferocious and attacking until the very last moment, until it can’t anymore.

And for the last four years, the Seahawks have done that like no other team in the league.