Just a couple days out from a year ago, the Seahawks were in the driver’s seat to accomplish a goal that currently sits in front of them, right for the taking, once more.
It was 2nd and Goal, Seahawks down by five, just a yard away from stealing the NFC West crown from the 49ers after John Ursua reset the chains with a clutch grab. In that moment, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ offense suddenly appeared dysfunctional, awkwardly spiking the ball on first down then suffering a delay of game penalty on second down after Marshawn Lynch took too long to enter the game. As Seahawks fans are, unfortunately, too well aware, being backed up five yards wound up being too much to overcome, with Jacob Hollister falling inches short of the goal line - and certain victory - in the closing seconds. The 49ers took the division and eventually the conference on their way to the Super Bowl, while the Seahawks put up a respectable 1-1 effort in their two road playoff matchups.
Much like this season, the Seahawks weren’t in a position to earn a bye week in the playoffs with a win, unlike the 49ers, and would have had to still go on the road in the Divisional Round had they advanced, anyway. Still, losing a home playoff game and the division stung, and it’s hard to imagine the pain of that doesn’t still linger in the back of some of the players’ - and coaches’ - minds.
Enter 2020: the possible redemption arc for Seattle, who go into Sunday’s upcoming game against the Rams with the opportunity to clinch the NFC West title under more favorable circumstances.
After the Rams shockingly lost to the abysmal Jets last week, the Seahawks now hold a one-game lead over Los Angeles for the division lead, so even a loss for Seattle in this one wouldn’t technically take them out of the running for the NFC West just yet. However, the Seahawks would need help from the Cardinals, who play the Rams next week, and would also need to beat the 49ers in a game that feels destined to get weird.
The Rams have been a weird team to watch this year. They’ve looked dominant at times on the back of their stellar defense, but when the game has fallen into the hands of Jared Goff, things tend to go a bit haywire. If Los Angeles can’t develop any semblance of a run game, their offense has sputtered and Goff has been unable to right the ship. Even against a Seahawks defense coming off its worst statistical effort under Pete Carroll in Week 10, Goff and the Rams offense only managed 23 points and needed Russell Wilson to have one of the worst performances of his entire career to come out with a win in that one. With that said, it feels like the Seahawks - who’ve gotten healthier and have played significantly better since then - have the advantage.
But keep in mind that Seattle’s schedule has also gotten severely easier since that point and they’ve looked inconsistent at best over that stretch. This is the first time they’ve faced a team that poses a legit threat on both sides of the ball since their Week 11 victory over the Cardinals.
It’s hard to know which version of the Seahawks we’ll see on Sunday. Will it be a seemingly disciplined team that still finds a way to be dumbfoundedly dysfunctional at times, or will they finally put it all together, establish their dominance, and carry some real momentum into the postseason?
The former will lead them back to heartbreak two years in a row. That’s not a place they want to return, nor should they. If there’s anything we’ve learned about the Seahawks over the years, despite some of the frustration they’ve caused their fanbase at times, they rarely make the same mistake twice. For the Seahawks, it’s time to right the wrongs of a disappointing end to 2019 and reestablish themselves atop the NFC West as they’ve done so many times since 2002.