The Seattle Seahawks capped off their 2016 regular season with an annoyingly difficult 25-23 win over the 2-14 San Francisco 49ers. It secured the #3 seed for the Seahawks, thereby avoiding a wild card game against the New York Giants, who are the only other NFC playoff team apart from Seattle who rank in the top 10 in DVOA on defense.
The Seahawks were down 14-3 to San Francisco in the 2nd quarter, which marked their first double-digit deficit against their hated rivals since a certain NFC Championship Game. This game didn’t have nearly the quality football or the drama as the NFC CG did, but it ended in a victory that assured Seattle of its fifth straight 10-win season. While the 10-win streak continued, one less notable (and far less desirable) streak mercifully came to an end before it could reach 10.
Heading into today, the Seahawks had lost their last nine regular season games when trailing by at least 10 points during any stretch of the game. Don’t believe me? That’s fair, sometimes I make things up just to mess with people, but this stat is all too true. Check out the numbers from the past 3 seasons.
2016 (0-3 prior to 49ers game)
Seattle eventually tied or took the lead in four of these nine games (at STL 2015, at GB 2015, vs. ARI 2015 and 2016), but the defense immediately gave up the game-tying or game-winning score on the ensuing possession at St. Louis, as well as in both Arizona games.
If you include the playoff games from the previous two seasons, the Seahawks DID rally from 16-0 down to beat Green Bay in the 2015 NFC Championship Game, and came up just short after getting blown out 31-0 in the 1st half of last year’s divisional round game at Carolina. That’d still leave you at a still fairly troublesome 1-10.
For comparison, the 2012 Seahawks went 1-1 in the regular season when down by at least 10, losing to Arizona but beating New England. In the postseason, they overcame a 14-0 hole to beat Washington, then lost at Atlanta after rallying from 27-7 down in the 4th quarter. Your Super Bowl team went 2-0 in the regular season under the same circumstances, defeating both Houston and Tampa Bay in overtime after trailing 20-3 and 21-0, respectively. Their second quarter deficit of 10-0 to San Francisco was erased in the 4th quarter, and the rest is history.
Long story short: The awesome, some might say “magical” 2012 and 2013 teams went 5-2 (postseason included) when at least 10 points down, while the 2014-2016 teams are now 2-10 as of Sunday’s triumph over the 49ers.
Granted, San Francisco had already blown leads of 14-0 (vs. DAL), 14-0 (vs. TB), and 14-0 (vs. NYJ) this season, so Seattle was hardly unique in their accomplishment in Santa Clara, but it is nevertheless a streak-buster that may have greater importance down the line than we may think. It now only takes one Dallas loss and two Seahawks wins to guarantee that CenturyLink Field will be hosting the NFC Championship Game for the third time in four years.
That’s the sort of pattern we’re hoping for more of.