So ends the season.
Last week was fun, but today was another reminder of how far this team is from being great. But we knew that, so let's not go there just yet. There's an entire offseason to pick apart this roster and figure out how to improve.
From the first snap of the regular season, the Seahawks were underdogs. Matt Hasselbeck targeted John Carlson, Nate Clements undercut the route and intercepted, and the already heavily favored 49ers took the ball on the Seahawks 29. Seattle went on the win in blowout fashion.
The Seahawks surged out to a 4-2 record, including wins over the Chargers and Bears. For a little while, the run defense looked great. For a little while, Hasselbeck was healthy. And for a little while, there was rational hope of this team overcoming all odds and doing something special with this season.
That hope was crushed over the next few weeks. Seattle was stomped by an at-best mediocre Raiders team. Over the next nine weeks, every competent opponent stomped the Seahawks. The defense collapsed. The run defense collapsed. Hasselbeck did everything he's done for three straight seasons. Seattle's promising wide receivers proved only promising, and too often discouraging. The run game became a sinkhole. The season felt lost but for a weak NFC West.
The week before the Seahawks played for the NFC West title, Hasselbeck injured himself on an uncontested scramble. Charlie Whitehurst substituted in and looked hopeless. The Buccaneers ran through, around and over the Seahawks; Josh Freeman had a breakout game within a breakout season; The Seahawks fell 38-15 to a Tampa Bay team that was much better than the Seahawks, but would not make the playoffs.
Then the last two weeks happened. The win over the Rams to make the playoffs--that was fun. The win over the Super Bowl Champion Saints--that was incredible. A lost season, played by an objectively bad Seahawks team, kept alive by a historically weak division, came to life. For a week maybe longer, Seahawks fans had a reason to buy into the big lie and believe good things happen for no reason to people with no reason to expect them. That football is something important, and that greatness isn't achieved through talent and struggle, but timing and sloganeering and getting hot at the right time.
Well that all came crashing down today. The Seahawks fell behind early and couldn't mount a comeback until far too late. The Bears, by no means a great team, did what most mediocre teams were able to do to the Seahawks: win in runaway fashion. And this team, underdogs from the start, were out of it in the first half--were out of it in the first quarter. The Seahawks, 7-9, preseason favorites for a first overall pick, looked like a team that didn't belong.
And that Seahawks team, objectively bad, out of the game in the first quarter, beat down, injured, dominated, fought and fought and fought and fought. Seattle scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Seattle did their damnedest to rail against impossible odds. It wasn't fun, but it was admirable. Maybe a sign of better things to come. Maybe as meaningless as most of this season has felt.
It was in many ways a fitting end to a long, hard season that left Seattle with something like a narrative, but nothing like a direction. This was a season to remember. This was a season for true Seahawks fans. This was the most gut wrenching, earth shaking, trying, triumphant and unpredictable season I have ever lived through. What a weird life a fan leads. Maybe, apart from conventions, affiliations, sport or interest, being a fan is just being alive: You suffer what you love, you covet what you can not have, and when you're happy, it's totally unexpected.