It’s hard to believe now, but 43 games into Pete Carroll’s career with the Seattle Seahawks, things were not going so well.
Not many held the opinion at the time that Carroll was any sort of transcendent coach that could succeed in the NFL in the same way that he was successful at USC. He had gone 7-9 in his first two seasons with the Seahawks, and if he didn’t get them to the playoffs in 2012, plenty of people felt that the “experiment” should be ended. Maybe they would have even been right — if Seattle went 7-9 or 8-8 that year, could you trust the guy who started a rookie quarterback during a season when the defense was actually starting to look legit enough to get them to the playoffs?
It was the question everyone was asking and after a Week 12 loss to the Miami Dolphins dropped them to 6-5, “Should Carroll be fired?” quickly became the query of the town.
November 25, 2012. The Seahawks traveled over 2,700 miles in the air to play the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. For the first time in a long time, fans started to feel good about the team. They started out 4-4 but the losses were at least close, winnable games, and then they dropped fairly easy victories over the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets to get to 6-4 and that put them well within striking distance of stealing the NFC West from the San Francisco 49ers.
Roughly 52 minutes into the game, Seattle held a 21-14 lead after Leon Washington returned a kickoff 98 yards to negate the touchdown by Daniel Thomas that had just tied the game. Per Pro-Football-Reference, they were over 90% to win the game at that point. But Reggie Bush picked up 33 yards on just three carries on the next drive and Ryan Tannehill found Charles Clay for a 29-yard touchdown. But still, the Seahawks should still have an advantage because that only tied the game and there was still five minutes left. At worst, you’d hope they could at least force overtime.
In the words of Dennis Nedry: Nah-ah-ah. Nah-ah-ah. Nah-ah-ah.
Seattle had 1st-and-10 at the Miami 40, just shy of field goal range, but lost yardage on each of the next three plays. Jon Ryan pinned the Dolphins back to their own 10 with under two minutes left, but on his next three passes, Tannehill picked up 19, 15, and 25 yards. It became an easy 43-yard field goal attempt for Dan Carpenter and Miami sucked the life out of the Seahawks’ faithful.
Carroll was now just 20-23 in his Seattle career ... but I still didn’t think it was time for fans to give up. Here’s what I wrote the day after that loss:
I'm not going to pretend like I am happy about terrible November 25th. It was a disaster. But disasters are followed by recovery, and sometimes it's rather quick. Maybe it could have been worse, but here's what I know for sure: I'm not about to fucking give up now.
I've toiled over the last near-300 days with the hope that Seattle was going to finally break through to that place. If I give up now, I'm just adding another 70-odd days to my next sentence of Seahawks fandom. I don't invest this emotion lightly and I don't start looking towards the draft when the team is leading a Wild Card spot in Week 12. On pretty good November 24th the road looked difficult but manageable. Today it looks like a Satanic version of the Aggro Crag, which I guess would be Mordor. But even those little Hobbits managed to (spoiler alert) screw over Sauron and liked Mount Doom so much they put a ring on it. I'm ready to see this team get their own rings and until the day comes that they are technically eliminated, my hope is there. It's the last thing we have and the first thing we reach for.
I’m not entirely proud of all the language used in that post (I’m talking about “Satanic version of the Aggro Crag,” not the word “fuck.”) but I am happy with the message. And it paid off.
I'm going to keep my hope alive that I'll still cash in on that emotional investment one day. Maybe not a day that far away after all.
The following week, the Seahawks went to Chicago to play the 8-3 Bears and they pulled out an incredible 23-17 OT win. The next week, they beat the Arizona Cardinals 58-0. Then the Buffalo Bills 50-17. Then the 10-3-1 49ers 42-13. After that loss in Miami, you could easily make the argument that Seattle was the best team in the NFL.
That same team pulled out a road playoff win over Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins before nearly pulling out an incredible upset and comeback vs the Atlanta Falcons.
Carroll was 21-24 with the Seahawks (including playoffs) after that loss to the Dolphins but is 47-16 since with a Super Bowl championship.
I’m glad we all stuck around to see it, as devastating as that loss was. Here’s to hoping those good times continue when they play the Miami Dolphins on Sunday afternoon.