CLEVELAND -- You can never count the Seattle Seahawks out of a game. At no point did you look at the Cleveland Browns 20-6 lead in the first half and say, “welp, this one is over.” If anything, your reaction was likely, “I’ve seen this team come back from far greater deficits.”
And that’s because it has. Climbing out of a hole and clawing out victories is what Seattle does best.
They’ve been doing it for years now, but that tendency has been accentuated in 2019. The Seahawks have scored first in just one game this season and four of Seattle’s five wins have come by four points or less.
“I think that’s our style,” Shaquill Griffin said. “I think every game is going to be close. I think that’s just how we like it. I apologize for giving everybody who’s watching a heart attack, but I think it’s just us. We make it tight, but we know how to win. We know how to finish.”
But is that style sustainable for a team that has playoff aspirations? It’s hard to fathom that Seattle can continue to spot opponents points in the early going and just bank on the heroics of Russell Wilson and others in the fourth quarter.
These wins, while sloppy, illustrate the team’s biggest strength. The Seahawks are as mentally tough as any team in the NFL, and, via great leadership from Pete Carroll, Bobby Wagner and Wilson to name a few, Seattle’s never-quit mentality has become part of the locker room’s DNA.
There’s never any panic, and Sunday’s game was a prime example. Trailing 20-6 in the first half, both Wilson and Wagner rallied the troops.
“We’re made for it. We’re built for it,” Wilson told his teammates. “The biggest thing was to stay the course.”
Wagner told the defense that turning the game around was as simple as eliminating the missed assignments and having everyone do their job.
The Seahawks went on a 19-0 run and took a 25-20 lead. Seattle’s defense forced four turnovers on the day, none bigger than Tedric Thompson’s interception in the end zone at the end of the second quarter. That resulted in at least a 10-point swing with Wilson throwing a 17-yard touchdown to Jaron Brown just before halftime.
After Cleveland retook the lead, 28-25, Seattle responded with a nine-play, 79-yard touchdown drive that Chris Carson capped with a 1-yard run. K.J. Wright then put the game on ice with his first interception of 2019.
“These wins are important because you figure out how to win games,” Wagner said. “Down the stretch, when you’re playing late in the season, you know how to gut a win out. We get a lot of knowledge on that.”
But again, is this sustainable? Wagner didn’t seem overly concerned by Seattle’s run of narrow victories.
“At some point, we’ll turn it and play how we’re supposed to play. But a win is a win. We’ll take the wins. If we were losing these games it would be a whole different story and a whole different energy throughout the whole building.”
I suppose that’s the point. A few dropped passes and favorable calls helped tip the scales in the Seahawks favor against the Browns. Two feet on Greg Zuerlein’s missed field goal at the end of Week 5 is all that it would have taken to turn Seattle’s epic win against Los Angeles into a loss. An overturned pass interference call played a huge role in the Seahawks win against the Steelers in Week 2. You get the picture.
Seattle’s greatest asset, its ability to always find a way, seems to simultaneously keep the team from altering the script.
“It’s a good thing and a bad thing,” Wright said. “You don’t want to rely on climbing uphill. I don’t like that. Let’s find a way to come in and dominate guys like we know we can do. We have that trait to where we can bounce back, but we won’t be able to sustain those. We’ve got to do right from the beginning.”
Wins are hard to come by in this league, and an ugly victory is still a victory. So this isn’t to knock or diminish Seattle’s 5-1 start. But it is to say that the Seahawks are getting too close to the sun, and they’re bound to get burned at some point.
“I’m not a fan of winning like this,” Wright said. “I like having winning football. We all know what winning football looks like. I’ll take these wins. But at some point we’ve just got to do right and find a way to win in our style. Eventually (playing like this) will come back and bite you.”