'You Gotta Get Your Heart Broken Before You Can Win'

Kevin C. Cox

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -- Bilbo Baggins

Listen, whenever this gets posted I'm sure that most of us will still be feeling the sting of heartbreak. This was just one of those "sports are crazy" days, and we did not come out on top. Two point losses pretty much always sting, regardless of circumstances. Much less on the road in the divisional round after mounting an AMAZING comeback from deepest of deep holes to take a late lead.

Game breakdowns will likely be forthcoming from those more talented than I on the .gif-istrator. So I won't go there.

I will simply take this moment to remind us all, as sports fans...

THIS is what you signed up for.

If you ever wanted this team to be relevant in any meaningful discussion about title contention then this is the deal. You lay it out there as a fan. You bare your heart and soul, knowing that it can be broken at any moment because every team in the playoffs is capable of doing something special.

I heard my favorite sports cliche first from Doug Collins, the NBA coach and former analyst for TNT. "You gotta get your heart broken before you can win in the playoffs," he used to say. Now, suffering heartbreak before winning is a sports cliche for a reason. It's imprecise. It's impossible to verify empirically. Yet, it rings true as a morality tale. As poetry rather than as formula. To be clear, I like nothing about today's heartbreak. I don't subscribe to any Calvinist notions of redemptive suffering. But there's only two ways to walk off the field in the playoffs: exuberant or heart broken. When it's the latter, the suffering that accompanies it can either cripple a young team or strengthen its resolve and will. To come so close only to fail teaches a painful lesson. Every play counts in every game. Seattle has a gaggle of one-possession losses, where points were left on the field. Blocks were missed. The defense lapsed in its gap discipline, and that's the difference between winning and losing the division. Between getting a top seed and a bye.

Teams that have championship caliber resolve play at a high level through the bounces--both lucky and unlucky. That often determines the winners, as much as talent and scheme. One of the many things to love about this Seattle team is that it has that kind of resolve and will already on both sides of the ball, and the core is so young. But I want to highlight resolve and will at another level, from Hall of Fame-to-be Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez, who won for the first time in the playoffs in his illustrious career. In my opinion Gonzo was the difference today. Unlike Zach Miller (who was fantastic) who was wide open on most of his catches, Gonzalez made contested catches all day. He might have easily failed to bring in several balls today and it wouldn't have even been noticeable. He really only made one outstanding catch, on the TD. But, he simply was not letting the ball touch the ground today. I thought there is no way he can keep that up for four quarters. He did.

Take heart Seahawks. Take heart 12s. The future is bright but traveling the championship road hurts. You took your first step today and found that it is rocky and rough. Its incline is steep. To travel this road requires the kind of resolve and will you displayed for parts of the game, but you saw displayed by Tony Gonzalez all game.

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