It would have been different in Seattle.
That refrain was recited following the Seahawks’ loss in the second round of the NFL playoffs. Play that game in Seattle, and the outcome would be different, the problem not being the way the Seahawks played so much as where they played.
But enough about how their 2007 season ended.
See, last week in Atlanta wasn’t the first time Seattle was dusted on the road to a team that was coming off a bye. It happened nine years ago when the Seahawks gave up 42 consecutive points to the Packers, leaving them buried amid a snowstorm in Green Bay.
The next day in Seattle was bright and sunny and I can remember clearly how the discussions were that the loss showed the importance of being at home.
And that might very well be true. But there was a lot more troubling that Seahawks team than the site of the divisional playoff game.
And while there’s not as much wrong with this team, it would be a mistake to write off how Seattle finished this season as the result of where the Seahawks played their divisional playoff game.
There need to be some hard questions asked about this team on both sides of the ball, starting with an offense that had more than 102 rushing plays that either failed to gain yardage or actually lost ground. When you consider that Seattle had 403 rushes total, that means that on one out of every four times the Seahawks carried the ball, they would have been better off setting themselves on fire.
But it’s more than that. It’s a pass rush that saw the number of sacks slide from 27 over the first eight games to 15 over the final eight and a secondary that failed to pick off a pass after Earl Thomas was lost for the year in December because of a broken leg.
Maybe this year was an injury-induced aberration. That’s possible. Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett and Thomas all missed at least a month and Russell Wilson played through injuries to his ankle and knee that were so severe that the strained pectoral muscle from October was only the third-worst thing to happen to him.
But there’s more to this than just the injuries. By the end of the season, Wilson was more mobile, Chancellor and Bennett were back and the Seahawks were still unable to summon the sort of run that defined this team for the previous four seasons under Pete Carroll.
For the first time since Carroll’s first year in Seattle, the Seahawks got worse in the second half of the season, and the fact they were playing on the road in the divisional round of the playoffs was a symptom of the team’s issues, not the cause.