A half-yard short.
That’s how close Seattle Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister was from scoring the game-winning touchdown on Dec. 29, 2019 when Dre Greenlaw of the San Francisco 49ers stopped him inches away from the goal line to give the 49ers the NFC West title.
“I don’t even think it was a yard last year,” Carroll recalled of last year’s devastating loss in the NFC title game. “I mean, we’re right in this exact same situation, boom. We’re across there, we win.”
But 364 days after Seattle fell short of winning the NFC West, the Seahawks and Hollister got their shot at redemption.
With 2:45 left in the fourth quarter, Russell Wilson capped off a 9-play, 80-yard drive with a game-sealing touchdown to Hollister to give the Seahawks a 20-9 lead over the Rams. The 13-yard touchdown was fitting for Hollister, who was stopped inches away from the end zone in the division-deciding game a year earlier.
“It’s a good bit of poetry there,” Carroll said. “We’ve been here before. We’ve been this close. This time we really pushed it over the top and finished and left no doubt. Jake, he did come through. It was a great call; it was a great concept for that moment. Schotty knew exactly what we wanted, and Russ loved the thought and they worked it out perfectly...
Hollister’s fourth touchdown grab from Wilson was a determining factor in helping the Seahawks secure a 20-9 victory, clinching their first NFC West title since 2016.
But that wasn’t the only game-altering moment on Sunday. We have to discuss the third-quarter goal-line stand. Goff was stuffed on the third-and-goal sneak by Jordyn Brooks and K.J. Wright, and Malcolm Brown fell short of the goal line by an explosive Brooks again on a key fourth-down stop.
It is one of those moments Pete Carroll will savor forever.
“There was never a more heroic opportunity than down there on the goal line you know,” Carroll said. “It’s on the 2, first down. And the guys did not let it happen...
Since Week 10 when the Seahawks last played the Rams, Seattle has held Arizona to 21 points in Week 11, the Philadelphia Eagles to 17 points in Week 12, the New York Giants to 17 points in Week 13, the New York Jets to 3 in Week 14, the Washington Football Team to 15, and the Los Angeles Rams to 9 points, as evidenced on Sunday.
That’s an average of just 13.7 points over the last six games.
“I think this is the plan that we had at the beginning of the year when we had those Zoom meetings and we started training camp,” safety Quandre Diggs said. “This is what we dreamed about, going out there holding teams to nine points, really good offenses, a division opponent. On a championship day, heck, we did it.
“This is what we dreamed about it and we put it into a motion.”
While dreams were crushed one year ago when the Seahawks walked off then CenturyLink Field with a loss to the Niners in the regular-season finale, and then again in the postseason with a loss to the Packers in Green Bay, it finally feels like Seattle is on the cusp of greatness once again.
The Seahawks have found their winning formula late in the season, but whether it can continue into the postseason and onto the Super Bowl is a question only the Seahawks can answer.
For now, linebacker K.J. Wright is cherishing the moment. Seattle is the NFC West champion.
“This team is special. Our brotherhood, our togetherness brought us to this moment,” Wright said. “I’m so proud of everyone that is on this squad, from the coaching staff to the equipment guys, and the training staff on down. A complete team effort and this feels really good.”