Turning points don’t always present themselves clearly.
But in the rise of the Pete Carroll-era Seahawks, one quietly arrived on Nov. 13, 2011 against the Baltimore Ravens at CenturyLink Field.
In the third game in which Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman started together in what would soon become the Legion of Boom secondary, the 2-6 Seahawks were seven-point underdogs against a Baltimore team that the following season would win the Super Bowl.
In front of a crowd that had no idea it was seeing the beginning of the team’s rise, Seattle used its defense and running game to surprise the Ravens 22-17.
The victory started a run of five wins in six games that set the stage for the unprecedented success that has followed.
Sunday, against an Eagles team that has the best record in the NFL at 10-1 and in what is the just the third game Seattle has played without both Chancellor and Sherman since 2011 — all coming in the last three weeks — the Seahawks are the biggest underdog they have been in any home game since then.
It’s a game that comes at the end of a week that began with the team not only publicly confirming rumors that Chancellor was out for the year with a neck/stinger issue — joining Sherman, already out with an Achilles injury, on the sidelines — but acknowledging that his future is unclear.
And if the Eagles fulfill Vegas’ faith in them and emerge with a significant victory over a 7-4 Seattle team, Seahawks’ historians might someday view this week as one in which things began to change forever.
A Seahawks loss and a Rams’ win at Arizona in a game they are favored by a touchdown would put Seattle down two games in the NFC West with four to play and make even getting to the playoffs a challenge.
Seattle also needs a win to avoid losing three in a row at home for the first time since 2008, the kind of skid that would give that much more ammo to those who wonder if the window is closing more rapidly than anyone hoped.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, though, said what might be expected — that the focus is on Sunday, and Sunday only, and that any larger storylines will be left for others to sort out.
“I hope it is no different than any other week in the sense that we try to make every week the biggest game in the world,’’ Carroll said of how his players may be viewing the game. “That’s what it is. It’s the only one we got. This is a championship opportunity for us against a great club. There are some natural things that happen and occur during the course of the week and all that, but as far as us going for it or our expectations, this is everything we got, this weekend.”
That the Seahawks are entering some uncharted waters as significant underdogs at home, though, wasn’t lost on everyone at the VMAC (it is just the second time Seattle has been a home underdog since the third home game of the 2012 season, the other coming in the most recent home game against Atlanta when the Falcons were a one-point favorite and won 34-31).
Linebacker K.J. Wright, suddenly one of just six players left who was with the team in 2011, responded with what sounded like a pep talk to Seahawks nation on Wednesday when told by a reporter about the odds against Seattle on Sunday.
“Don’t sleep on us, man,’’ Wright said. “This team is really good. We are still talented. We can be the best of the best. We are the best of the best. And so just because we have injures don’t mean that things will change. We are going to be good out there.’’
On paper they will have to be the best they have been all season to get the win against an Eagles team that arrives with an impressive array of streaks and stats.
To cite maybe the most significant, no team in the NFL has scored more than Philly’s 351 points and only two have allowed less than the Eagles’ 191.
As the NFL Network revealed this week, that makes the Eagles just the sixth team since the 1970 merger to score more than 350 points and allow fewer than 200 in the first 11 games of a season. Each of the other five went to the Super Bowl, three winning it (one that didn’t was the 2007 Patriots who went 18-0 before losing in the big game).
The Seahawks, though, have to look back barely a year — Nov. 20, 2016 — to recall a formula that beat Eagles, Seattle winning 26-15 that day at CenturyLink.
Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, though, said this week that history is just that — history.
“I mean, it doesn’t really matter,’’ Wagner said. “Last year is last year. I’m pretty sure they don’t care what happened last year. They are 10-1 right now. We have to come in with the same mentality to do our job, fly around, hit them, and pull the win out. I feel like we are very confident that we can do that.”
The Seahawks as they have come to be known since that November day in 2011 so often have.
Now comes a chance to show that those Seahawks aren’t history themselves.
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