What happened to the magic?
What happened to that nod from the gods the Seahawks turned to whenever they needed a boost?
It used to be a constant for this team — a cosmic force that helped Seattle recover onside kicks, force fumbles at the 1, or push an opponent’s game-winning field goal left. But now, the magic … well, the Seahawks have made that magic disappear.
It’s not that Seattle has failed to come back from deficits this year. The Seahawks trailed against the Dolphins, Falcons, Jets and Patriots at some point in each game and still came away with victories. But over these past few weeks, whether it’s on the road at the Saints, Cardinals or Buccaneers, or at home Saturday against Arizona – that winning surge fans have grown accustomed to just never quite materialized.
Oh, sure, Seattle almost made it happen this time. Trailing 31-18 with 4:10 remaining, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson engineered two touchdown drives as part of his 187-yard fourth quarter. But then kicker Stephen Hauschka missed an extra point with one minute to go, and Arizona kicked the game-winning field goal from 43 yards as time expired.
Final score: Cardinals 34, Seahawks 31. And based on the way this season has gone, you can’t blame fans who thought “yeah, that sounds about right.”
It wasn’t long ago, you see, that the Seahawks were like Tiger Woods circa 2000. They’d either smell blood and close out with authority, or they’d make a miraculous push to win in an inimitable fashion.
They don’t inspire that kind of fear anymore, though. They aren’t completing those story-for-your-children comebacks.
Few will dispute that the Seahawks (9-5-1) are still a good team. But it is fair to question whether they are good enough.
There really isn’t an area on this squad in which one can feel totally confident anymore. The offense? It has failed to score a touchdown in three different games this season, features a line that allowed five first-half sacks Saturday, and has two running backs battling shoulder injuries.
Special teams? In addition to Hauschka’s missed extra point (his fifth of the season), the Seahawks also had a field goal and punt blocked Saturday. Arizona scored a touchdown on the drive following the blocked punt.
The defense? They might not be able to rely on that, either. Since Earl Thomas went down three weeks ago, the Seahawks have surrendered 38 points to the Packers and 34 points to the Cardinals – the two largest opponent point totals of the season.
It would be one thing if this were like 2014, when Seattle started 3-3 before winning nine of its final 10 regular-season games en route to a Super Bowl appearance. In this case, however, the Seahawks are dealing with many of the same problems in Week 16 as they were in Week 1. And it’s unrealistic to expect a sudden fix.
Having said that, the tenor of the season would have changed completely had Seattle taken the lead in the final minute Saturday and hung on to win.
Had the Seahawks done that, they would be one win from clinching a first-round bye instead of praying for Atlanta and Detroit to lose upcoming games. But that didn’t happen, and as a result, it’s hard not to hearken back to similar outcomes this year.
It’s hard not to think of that 25-20 loss in New Orleans, when Wilson’s fourth-down pass from the Saints’ 10 fell incomplete as time expired. It’s hard not to think of that tie in Arizona, when Hauschka missed a 28-yard field goal that would have won it. It’s hard not to think of those final three quarters in Tampa, when the Hawks’ D shut the Bucs out as the Hawks’ O managed just three points.
That’s how it has gone this season, though. People keep waiting for the breakthrough when, in fact, the team may just be broken.
The Seahawks have lost several key players that aren’t going to return this season. But it’s the absence of the magic that has doomed them so far.
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