On the chilly Sunday evening of January 12th, the Seattle Seahawks’ 2019 season came to an end. After five charmed months of narrowly winning close games, the magic ran out at Lambeau Field. For 12’s throughout the PNW, proudly wearing team jerseys and flying flags, the season was officially over.
The Hawks fell two wins short of their goal: representing the NFC at Super Bowl LIV.
It was heartbreaking to watch the Hawks fight through yet another one-score game but fail to close it out. It’s probably how every other team felt this year whenever Russell Wilson played his signature brand of football and sent the Hawks home with the win. It’s a special kind of pain that only comes with close-but-not-quite-enough losses.
It hurts and haunts forever—with too many ‘what could’ve been’ questions left unanswered to ever fully heal. Somewhat reminiscent of throwing an interception on the 1-yard line in the Super Bowl, albeit with slightly smaller circumstances and stakes.
The game itself was a classic tale of two halves, with the Green Bay Packers dominating the first and the Seahawks dictating the second. As with most close games, the team statistics are about the same on both sides. Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers had comparable games and the rushing & passing attacks of both teams were similar as well.
However, two key stats tell the story of how this one got away from Pete Carroll and the Seahawks: first downs and third downs.
Green Bay was afforded three first downs by penalty, which helped keep their drives alive and further exhausted our defensive players. Additionally, when facing a third-down situation, the Seahawks only converted 3 of 9 chances, while the Packers successfully converted 9 of 14.
In and of itself, only converting three of your third downs would explain just about any offensive shortcomings, but more importantly, it was the Hawks’ defensive inability to stop the Packers on third down that turned out to be the decisive blow in the contest.
In the final minutes of the game, when Green Bay was eager to maintain possession and prevent Wilson from getting his hands back on the ball, they twice faced third and long. The first was a third-and-8 situation and Rodgers threw a 32-yard dart to wide receiver, Davante Adams to convert for a new set of downs. Then, when facing third-and-9, Rodgers found tight end and former Seahawk, Jimmy Graham, for a much-contested and barely successful conversion for another new set of downs.
And that was that. Nice season, nice try.
Personally, it was a devastating loss. After months and months of close games, many of which the Seahawks somehow found a way to win, I had bought in. I had become convinced that by almost sheer determination alone, Russell Wilson could stare into the abyss of impossible odds and conjure the perfect throw in the perfect moment to save the day.
It just didn’t happen this time.
An unreasonable conviction led me to a false sense of betrayal, leaving me with nothing to appropriately answer for my deep sadness…except reflection and rationalization.
My reflection tells me that the 2019 Seahawks over-performed, winning more games than they should have. They also suffered serious injuries at the worst times and there’s only so much you can do under those circumstances. And it did allow Marshawn Lynch to return for three games, and that’s spectacular in its own way. Losing in the playoffs hurts, but it doesn’t diminish the success of the season that came before. Like when the team unlocked and exploited Wilson’s ability to slice and dice defenses with Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, both of whom bode well for the Seahawks offense of the future.
My rationalization tells me that, while football may be over in the Pacific Northwest, the Seattle Mariners will be playing games in a few short months. And now that the Seahawks are done, I can shift my focus in that direction.