Many articles during this time of year are going to tell you how to feel or give you perspective on the season, and I'm not going to be any different here. The sting of the loss is still fresh enough for me to write this article. So many people wanted this to be the year, that's okay, I understand that. So many were heartbroken and some were burning with rage over the loss. I understand all that too. I was there in 2004 with a injury-plagued Seahawks team that lost it's 3rd consecutive meeting with the St. Louis Rams, after a dropped pass in the end-zone in a Wildcard game at home. I've been through these battles before and so have many of you loyal 12's.
The 2004 team didn't tell us much of what the future held for this team. Its defense was injured and its linebackers across the board needed help. This team's identity was an offense that scored at will and a defense that sort of showed up sometimes to make a big play. Famously in 2004, in a first meeting with the Rams, the Seahawks gave up a 17 point lead in six minutes and lost. I pushed through all of that though. Gunning for next year as most fans do.
This season, I looked at a win in Atlanta as a bonus. Some people likened it to playing with 'house money'. If it happened, great, if it didn't, there were so many things that have a chance to improve for next year that I felt okay either way. When it came down to the last 31 seconds? I still was in the same mindset. I had not said 'Superbowl or bust' after the TD. I'd seen Matt Ryan all year and he utilized his experienced weapons to win those games all year, much like our own '05 team. Atlanta was just ready to break through and so I was prepared for a loss however it may have come. That's part of sports.
This team had it's own issues. Most of them have been on offense though. The team grew throughout the year, but if you were to really look at some of their tough losses you'd see the offense struggled for most of it. So for me, when evaluating this team, I have realized how much both sides of the ball have to work in symbiosis for a team to win championships. This team wasn't quite there just yet.
Being a fan who writes about the team, the perspective for me has been a lot like being a father. Watching your child ride their bike a little too fast. They've learned to ride and now the world is theirs for the taking. They don't see any of the other possibilities and that's okay. Fans, just like the team, took a fall on Sunday. Scraped their knees and perhaps shed some tears of pain and the humiliation of the fall, and that's okay too.
My only concern now is that we realize what happened, where we are, and both fans and the team know that this is going to be a hard road. We don't get up in our anger and frustration and kick the bike, or get back on the bike and instantly try to go as fast as we can only seeing the playoffs and risk falling again. This is about being patient. Seeing the steps ahead and guiding ourselves to the goal of a championship.
It's so amazing how this season turned out when you consider where we were midseason. We still had questions about Russell Wilson and calls for Matt Flynn, and there were doubts that Pete could win in the NFC West. Then, the team started to pedal and the fans began to follow. Then the three-game slaughter happened after a bit of a wiggle of the back wheel in Chicago. A little bit of confidence and Seattle swept their divisional opponents at home.
Now it was all about the air ripping at our faces as we cheered and screamed coming out of the wildcard round.
"I did it."
I'm not going to rush to talk about next year just yet. If you need, take your time. Go away for a few weeks and come back to it with resolve and dedication. This season meant more than just a stepping stone to the possibility of next year. So let's all recognize how far we've come in 4 preseason, 16 regular season, and 2 postseason games. It was an amazing journey that's worth some consideration. There will be plenty of time to think about the future in a few weeks.
I was reserved, but enjoyed reading the jubilation felt by the fans and the team. I was nervous, but I didn't let that stop me from taking pride in being a fan too. The fall was heartbreaking, but sort of expected for me, so being the father figure in this situation, for those looking for guidance and some hope, will you wipe your tears away and let me help you get back on the bike this offseason?
No one realized just how much different the team would be in 2005 after just one offseason. I remember the first story I read about how Mike Holmgren had to call off a practice in mini-camp because the defense was flying around and hitting too hard. The Seahawks went from '2004: The team that couldn't finish' to '2005: The art of high football drama' in one offseason. This offseason, anything can happen, remember that.
If you're already over the Atlanta loss, well, then you're ahead of the curve. If you're still mourning, don't feel bad. I'll be ready when you are. See you around draft time.