SEATTLE – Inside the Seahawks locker room late Monday, there were Canadian-themed onesies and Kevin Durant throwback jerseys and sneakers adorned with spikes and diamond-studded sunglasses worn indoors. There was Tupac growling from the speakers. There were players sick with the flu that tore through team headquarters last week and teammates who danced in delirium after another game won by single digits.
And there was, of course, the most resilient team in pro football, if not the best, or the most impressive, or the most dominant. Minutes earlier, that team’s coach, Pete Carroll, had stood before his latest version of the Seahawks and told them, essentially, do right, longer. That was his theme. That’s what he kept repeating. Because so far this season, Seattle has been team Do Right Long Enough.
On Monday night, in the kind of strange and strangely beautiful game that has come to define the Seahawks under Carroll, Seattle fell behind at halftime, rattled off 24 straight points, blew a double-digit lead and held on, somehow, to triumph. The Seahawks have now played nine games this season that were decided by seven points or fewer. They have won eight of them, including this latest seesaw affair. They’re also 4-0 in games decided by a field goal or less and, by virtue of their latest victory, they have climbed above the 49ers, atop their division and into the No. 2 position in the NFC.
This might seem like some sort of preferred style, a personality quirk, similar to all the onesies and creative touchdown celebrations. (The latest, a recreation of a New Edition dance on Monday night, ranks among this season’s best.) But this is not, repeat not, how Seattle wants to play. It’s a method preferred over all other alternatives—like, say, losing close games; or, worse, falling by large margins—but, as guard D.J. Fluker said in that victorious locker room, “We want to blow teams out. We’re trying to establish that consistency.”
Do right longer, more or less. For a team that is endearing in both style and fortitude, that has rebuilt around quarterback Russell Wilson in recent years, that waved goodbye to Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett and so many others, the Seahawks reinforced on Monday night that they are capable of another Super Bowl run. That is not, repeat not, to say they’re now the favorite. Nor is that to say they are without flaws. But in an NFC where it’s possible to make cases for or against the Saints, Seahawks, Packers, 49ers and even Vikings, the team that just keeps winning is as good a bet as any down the stretch.
Monday was proof of all of that. Proof that the Seahawks defense can, at times, resemble a sieve, like on the Vikings opening march for a touchdown, or when Laquon Treadwell shook loose behind some badly blown coverage for a 58-yard fourth-quarter score. Proof that the Seahawks can now deploy two starting-caliber running backs in Chris Carson (who has had fumble issues) and Rashaad Penny (who has seemed to realize his potential the past two weeks). And proof that Wilson, the signal-caller who has won and lost Super Bowls with Seattle, has become a bonafide MVP candidate. (Most would rank him behind Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson but not by a huge gap, although an admittedly biased Fluker says he thinks Wilson deserves the nod.)
Against the Vikings, the Seahawks allowed 354 yards. D.K. Metcalf lost a fumble. Wilson threw a pick-six that started when his pass was batted into the air, then batted by him back into the air as if engaged in some beach volleyball near the 10-yard line, then snagged by Vikings safety Anthony Harris, who sprinted 20 yards into the end zone. They did all that and still won, which could be said about so many of their games this season (and, in this one, they were aided by the absence of star Vikings wideout Adam Thielen and the early departure of both running back Dalvin Cook and tackle Riley Reiff to injuries). Still, all wins count, and the Seahawks now have 10 of them with four games remaining.
One could make a case both ways for several other contenders. The Saints still have their offensive firepower and now have built an increasingly stout defense. But their quarterback, Drew Brees, will turn 41 in January. The 49ers look like a complete team, balanced in all aspects, and yet they’ve lost two games recently on the final play. Would you bet on Jimmy Garoppolo over Wilson? The Packers look awesome some weeks and less so in others; some of their losses (Chargers stumble, Week 10; 49ers shellacking, Week 12) are difficult to explain, as are even some of their wins (Chicago, Week 1).
Point is, the Seahawks can present as compelling a case as anybody. That doesn’t mean they’ll win the Super Bowl, or even advance past their first playoff game. But just-before-season or in-season additions by general manager John Schneider—like defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, safety Quandre Diggs and, perhaps, wideout Josh Gordon—now look prescient. The Seahawks defense can, at times, appear good enough for January. A home game or two would help. Plus, well, Russ. He’ll keep the Seahawks in games, keep them close, give them a chance to win. “We’re playing our best ball right now,” tackle Duane Brown said, even while acknowledging that, in a few weeks, sloppy wins and squandered leads simply won’t be enough. Not for the Seahawks to get where they really want to go.
For now, 10-2 beats pretty much any alternative. Do right longer? Then maybe this team becomes Carroll’s latest reclamation project, rebuilt around an MVP-candidate at quarterback, a group that can turn a strange season into something more. Maybe.