SEATTLE – One of the great sports calls of the century came in 2008, when Tiger Woods knocked in a 12-foot putt to put him in an 18-hole playoff at the U.S. Open. This was when Woods was at the peak of his powers, seemingly invincible despite playing on a torn ACL and a stress fracture in his leg.
And when that putt trickled in, NBC’s Dan Hicks verbalized what everyone watching the tournament was thinking.
“Expect anything different?”
Which brings me to the Seahawks. No, I am not saying this group is the NFL’s equivalent to Woods circa 2008. There are obvious flaws on their roster, particularly on defense, where the 493.7 yards they’ve allowed per game is the worst in the league.
What has been undeniable over the past two seasons, however, is their ability to engineer wins in close games. Sunday’s 38-31 win over the Cowboys was the latest example. Expect anything different?
When Greg Zuerlein’s field goal put Dallas up 31-30 with 3:59 to go in the game, it forced the Seahawks to score on their next possession if they wanted to win. After a fourth-down conversion midway through that drive, that score came via a 29-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Russell Wilson to receiver DK Metcalf, who redeemed himself from a premature celebration that cost him a touchdown earlier in the game.
Following a 2-point conversion that gave Seattle a seven-point lead, the Cowboys drove to the Seahawks’ 22-yard line, but after a sack by rookie Alton Robinson and an interception by practice-squad call-up Ryan Neal, Seattle preserved the victory.
“I think for us, we just had to find a way,” said Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett, who had three touchdown catches on the day. “Dallas did a great job adjusting and they were holding us down. We weren’t able to get in a rhythm like we were in the first half. I think the biggest thing that everybody could figure out about this team and about Russ (Wilson) is that we’re always going to find a way.”
If the Super Bowl-era Seahawks were defined by stomping out their opponents’ souls, “finding a way” characterizes this current group. Seven days earlier, Seattle denied the seemingly unstoppable New England quarterback Cam Newton at the goal line to beat the Patriots 35-30.
That’s just this year, though. With essentially the same core last season, the Seahawks went 10-1 in games decided by one score and 5-0 in games decided by four points or less. Last November, I asked the question: Were these close victories the result of grit or luck?
The law of averages would suggest that eventually these types of games would start to get away from the Seahawks – that perhaps that 11-5 record in 2019 and 3-0 record now are inflated. When the same thing keeps happening over and over and over again, though, you start to think this might be more about fortitude than fortune.
“It’s kind of almost embedded in us now, that we just keep hanging on and keep clawing and scratching and trying to do things right longer than the other guys and finish these games,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “I know it’s terrible for the fans, they’re all tearing their hair out and all that, but I always tell you, you got to suck it up. That’s the way it is. That’s the way we do it. I know this sounds kind of sick, but I kind of like it like that.”
One other factor that can’t be ignored is that the Seahawks have Wilson and other teams do not. Since entering the league, the quarterback has 22 fourth-quarter comebacks and 29 game-winning drives. If he doesn’t come through on that fourth-and-3 late in the game Sunday, Seattle doesn’t win. If he doesn’t drop that TD pass into Metcalf’s hands, Dallas could have won with its late field goal.
I asked Wilson Sunday if he likes to win in that 200-heartbeats-a-minute fashion the way his coach does.
“I would rather win by a lot, but I don’t mind. I don’t mind winning either way,” Wilson said. “No matter what we face, we always feel like we can find a way to win a game and find a way. Just do right and just stay in the midst of it and we have been able to do that. I think you gotta be clutch, too.”
The Seahawks have been just that. Clutch. Will it last? Based on their track record, it’s getting harder to say no.
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