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From the Sidelines: Seahawks at 49ers
SAN FRANCISCO — One game does not make a season.
And fortunately for the Seahawks, one game does not break a season either.
The Seahawks move on from Sunday’s season-opening 33-17 defeat at the 49ers with an 0-1 record but, surprisingly enough, a load of positives, momentum and, most importantly, lessons learned — even if it was via the hard and painful way.
So with just one game down and a lifetime of a season left, the team presses on, knowing exactly what needs to change for Week 2 and beyond.
The recipe for improvement lies inwardly for the Seahawks, who weren’t necessarily outplayed but instead simply made mistakes — penalties, turnovers, special team miscues — that radically changed the tone and outcome of the game. That knowledge — coupled with the momentum and internal belief that was born on Sunday in San Francisco — can only mean better things from here on out.
The theme that wove itself through the beginning, middle and end of the season opener was almost prophetic on Coach Pete Carroll’s part — the final score would be based around whether the Seahawks performed like they’re capable of.
“It’s about us,” Carroll told the players before the game in the locker room that was dripping with emotion, anticipating, excitement. “It’s about the guys in this room.”
By the time the team returned to that locker room after two quarters, the 49ers were up 16-0 thanks to a lackluster overall performance by the offense and an ill-timed fumble by Tarvaris Jackson. Fortunately, though, the defense held three of four 49er red-zone drives to field goals in the first half.
“The defense gave us a chance,” Carroll said during halftime. “But we made it easy on them.
“We can come back, but it’s going to take a little bit of time. Don’t give them anything and let’s go get this win.”
Perhaps with those words, belief and confidence were sparked among the Seahawks. The offense methodically came back in the second half to close to within two points with less than four minutes remaining in the game.
“We’re going to win this game,” linebacker Matt McCoy exclaimed on the sideline in the fourth quarter, articulating the belief that everyone else on the bench was feeling.
A team that was virtually hopeless in the first half had come alive, and that momentum will assuredly carry on.
But again, miscues cost the Seahawks, this time on special teams as a penalty negated a 70-yard punt return by Leon Washington and the 49ers scored two return touchdowns in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to clinch the victory.
And come time for Carroll’s postgame speech, the late-game turnaround was what he emphasized, because that positive momentum is what can be bottled up and carried on through the coming week and into the next game, on Sunday in Pittsburgh.
“This is a really important moment for us,” Carroll said in the locker room after the loss. “It came back in our control in the second half. It didn’t look like we could but we did. We did what we needed to do to get us back in it. You guys made the plays to give us a chance.”
The defeat wasn’t a total loss for the Seahawks. They showed they can finish strong, keep fighting through adversity and battle back. And they also showed that it’s awfully difficult to win when making so many mistakes.
“When we make those kinds of huge errors, it makes it so hard to win,” the coach said. “We’ve got to clean it up.”
The players took to the lesson very quickly, and the power in knowing their faults should bode well for the future of the 2011 Seahawks.
“We know what’s wrong — let’s fix it,” wideout Mike Williams shouted out to his teammates following Carroll’s speech.
Carroll returned to the weekend-long theme to close out his address — that the players and coaches have the power and ability to reverse the outcome next week, because they were responsible for the gaffes that led to so many San Francisco points.
“What’s important now is how we deal with this next step,” Carroll said, shifting the focus and mood to a promising future. “Offense, defense, special teams — it’s us. We control this.
“Let’s stay together, stay tight and let’s get right.”