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Seahawks exit looking back, but also ahead
Even on Exit Monday it was still “Tell the Truth Monday.”
The Seahawks went their varied ways after cleaning out their lockers at Virginia Mason Athletic Center the day after a heartbreaking 30-28 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in their NFC divisional playoff game. But not before a final group meeting with coach Pete Carroll, and a final dose – at least for this season – of the truth.
“We have to suck it up and face the truth that they came back and got it done,” Carroll told reporters a few hours later.
The Falcons getting it done in the final 30 seconds at the Georgia Dome means this season of unexpected success for the Seahawks is done. After overcoming a 20-0 halftime deficit to take a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds to play, the Seahawks couldn’t make a play to prevent Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan from passing his team into field-goal range for Matt Bryant’s 49-yard game winner.
Talk about lugging woulda', coulda', shoulda' baggage into the offseason.
As the players were packing up their belongings, exchanging jerseys and getting teammates autographs, All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas was asked about Carroll’s message in that final team meeting of the 2012 season.
“It was basically ‘Tell the Truth Monday,’ like we always do,” he said. “Everybody felt the momentum shift in that game. We definitely did a great job of basically getting back into that game. I think we deserved to win. But it wasn’t meant for us.”
And the truth there is that Russell Wilson is poised to take this team beyond even all of that following a rookie season where he exceeded the most lofty expectations.
“Our future is as bright as our quarterback’s future,” defensive end Red Bryant said. “And that means it’s pretty bright. He did a tremendous job. As a rookie, to come in and be able to demand that kind of respect from older men like myself and (nose tackle Brandon) Mebane and Clem (defensive end Chris Clemons), it speaks volumes for the future of the Seahawks.
“They did a great job when they got him.”
In the third round of last year’s NFL Draft. With the 75th overall. As the sixth quarterback taken. Of all those rookie quarterbacks, Wilson was the last one standing in the playoffs – and he did everything in his power to make sure Sunday’s game was not the Seahawks’ last stand.
In that second-half comeback – no, storm-back – Wilson passed for two touchdowns, ran for a third and then made the plays that allowed Marshawn Lynch to score what should have been the game-winning TD with 31 seconds to play.
“Everybody in this building and everybody that follows us has realized what kind of player Russell is,” Carroll said. “And he’s just getting started, just getting started. We could talk about Russell forever because there’s so much to talk about.
“But it’s not just his way of going about it; it’s his ability to play on game day. He’s got so many characteristics that are so positive. But put him out on the field on game day and he’s a baller. He’s a real football player that nothing fazes him and he can function in any setting.
“That was just a remarkable demonstration in the second half, to be so clean, so sharp. It was just great stuff.”
Wilson met with the media wearing a sweatshirt with the message “No Time 2 Sleep.” If that doesn’t describe his work ethic and approach to the game, nothing does. He is tireless in his preparation and attention to detail. In fact, his Q&A press conference had to be pushed back because he was reviewing video of Sunday’s game.
One of the stories he shared was especially enlightening. It involved running back Robert Turbin, a fellow rookie and Wilson’s road roommate, and a conversation they had on the flight back from Atlanta on Sunday night.
“Robert sits next to me on the plane, and he was like, ‘Man, that was an unbelievable game you played,’ ” Wilson said. “And the thing for me, and as I told him, ‘Robert, I wait for those moments. I love having the ball in my hands with two minutes to go when we’re down and we’ve got to get a touchdown. That’s where I thrive. That’s where I want to have the ball in my hands to win the game.’
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win. That’s all I care about. Now it’s on to the next thing, the next chapter.”
And the Seahawks’ next chapter will involve Wilson as the starting QB from Day One, as opposed to this season when he didn’t arrive until May, wasn’t named the starter until the week of the final preseason game and wasn’t given the keys to the entire offense until midseason – which coincided with the team winning seven of its final eight regular-season games and then the wild-card playoff game against the Washington Redskins.
“There’s nobody in this building that doesn’t think this is going to be an extraordinary offseason for this club,” Carroll said. “Knowing that all kids who made the team last year and played a lot, they get to comeback. There’s such a big jump that happens between Year One and Year Two. If we can just hope that Russell can have an average jump, he’s going to be in great shape.
“It’s going to be really important for him, because he’ll gain so much out of it. We envision his ability to command the entire offense and be able to do things at the line of scrimmage that we didn’t ask him to do this year. Because he’ll work his way through that and he’ll figure it out. There will be nothing to hold him back.”
And that’s nothing but the truth.