The Seattle Seahawks looked outmatched against San Francisco 49ers, they were outplayed most of the game by their division rivals, and in the end, the NFC West division championship was taken right out from under the Seahawks to close out the final game of the decade at CenturyLink Field.
But even after the 49ers looked like the better team on paper and on the field, somehow, someway, the Seahawks were seconds and inches away from stealing the West crown, a sight that has become common for fans in the Northwest.
“It was a wild one, you know, you have so many opportunities to make a play and sure enough we came a half inch short there, unfortunately,” Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. “I thought it was an amazing game just to go back and forth, back and forth from offense to defense on both teams – great teams going after it.”
Coaching mistakes cost Seattle (11-5) their game against San Francisco, 26-21, from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll deciding to go for it on fourth and inches in the final minute of the first half when the offense moved just outside the 49ers goal line.
Choosing to go for a field goal would have put points on the board and cut the 49ers (13-3) lead to two scores heading into the half, instead the Seahawks trailed 13-0 after Marshawn Lynch being blown up at the line of scrimmage by 49ers rookie defensive end sensation Nick Bosa.
“Kind of growing understanding about our team. We’re never out (of the game),” Carroll said. “We didn’t play well in the first half. We couldn’t get anything going at all, and really we felt fortunate (the score) to be 13-zip. And then our guys did what they do – they found a way to get back. They didn’t dominate the second half, but we certainly put ourselves to win a championship right there.”
A field goal at that point would have made for a very different decision late in the game instead of the a non-pass interference call and game-saving tackle by 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw against Seahawks tight-end Jacob Hollister.
“I thought I did have it, honestly,” Hollister said. “We came out in the third quarter trying to get some momentum going, so that was really good for us. Everybody stuck together like we always do.”
The 49ers earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC and a first round bye.
We can complain that the Seahawks lost the division title at home as well as losing the No. 3 seed and a home game against Minnesota Vikings (10-6), a team they beat at CenturyLink Field earlier in the season. But it’s not as bad as it looks as the Seahawks finished 4-4 at home while finishing a franchise-best 7-1 on the road.
“We definitely have confidence (to go on the road), but at the end of the day, the season starts over,” Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “Anything you did during the regular season doesn’t matter because there’s not going to be another week or two to bounce back.
Instead, they will travel east to play the NFC North champs in Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) at Lincoln Financial Field, a place the Seahawks already won at this year, in the Wild Card round on Sunday afternoon.
“It is a new season, so we’re just going to piggyback on it and try to carry it on,” Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers said of the team’s success on the road this season.
“Right now we’re just going to continue focusing on trying to wear teams out,” cornerback Shaquill Griffin said. “We’re going to give them (Eagles) everything we have. We’re going to be seeing San Fran(cisco) real soon.”
Even though the decade closes out with a Seahawks loss, the past decade was one of the best in franchise history where Seattle, all led by coach Carroll, finished the decade with 100 wins and besting their previous decade best of 91 win set from 2000-2009.
Seattle captured four more NFC West titles adding their franchise total of eight NFC West crowns – and two AFC West titles – which matches their previous best decade total.
“I think it’s a new season. Where we’re going is a new season,” said Wilson who passed Matt Hasselbeck to set the Seahawks franchise record for career passing yards with 29,724 in his eight seasons under center.
“The great thing is that it all starts with an 0-0 record. It comes down to winning football games and that’s the thing we’re looking forward to,” the eight year veteran added. “I thought we showed tremendous fight. I thought we kept battling and it was a showdown that I think everybody wanted to see. They definitely got to see that.”
Wilson also tied with Tom Brady for the NFL in wins over their first eight seasons with 86, and the Seahawks’ franchise quarterback became only the third player joining Brady and Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks to have a winning record over their first eight seasons.
“I know they are playing a lot better than when we played them (Eagles), and we didn’t blow them out neither [sic]. They’re a good team,” Flowers said.
It wasn’t just the Seahawks who had a great decade as the division led the NFC in Super Bowl appearances (4), where they were only surpassed by the AFC in appearance (5) – all appearances made by the dynastic New England Patriots (12-4).
- NFC Super Bowl appearances: West – 4; South – 3; East – 2; North -1.
- AFC SB appearances: New England Patriots 5; North – 2; West – 2; South – 1.
That’s an incredible feat and shows the parody in the NFL where a new team has reached the postseason in each of the past three decades. With the Seahawks (2 appearances), San Francisco (1) and Los Angeles Rams (1) each reaching the Super Bowl, and if you add Arizona Cardinals (5-10-1) appearance in 2009, no other division has had every team at least win a division and reach the Super Bowl in that time span.
Only the South has had three separate teams reach the big game with New Orleans Saints (2010), Carolina Panthers (2016) and Atlanta Falcons (2017), but that is still one less than what the West has accomplished in the NFC.
“We’re confident and we understand we can win on the road,” Wagner said. “We have to take that knowledge into the playoffs and play aggressive.”
With the 49ers resurgence from a top 5 pick to the NFC’s top seed heading into the playoffs, and with the Rams coming off a Super Bowl appearance and the Cardinals looking like an up and coming team that has a dynamic quarterback in rookie Kyler Murray, the Seahawks will have a tough time remaining as the team to beat in the West.
But with what has been seen over the past decade-plus from Seattle, there’s little need to worry about where the Seahawks are heading over the next ten years.
“We’ve played great on the road all year, so it’s playoff time,” Hollister said. “One game and you’re done if you don’t win. We got to be ready to go this week and we’ll be excited to go there.”
Whether or not the 2019 season ended on a sour note with the loss against San Francisco, the Seattle Seahawks were the team of the past decade in the NFC, and they look to do more of the same the next decade starting with Sunday’s Wild Card game against Philadelphia.