Pete Carroll doesn’t believe in moral victories.
In that respect, Sunday’s heart-wrenching 30-28 loss to Atlanta doesn’t fall into any category with a “victory” label on it.
But the Seahawks coach does believe in taking positives from every game, no matter the final score.
In that regard, the narrow defeat on Sunday at CenturyLink Field was brimming with encouraging signs and heartening progress for the Seahawks.
“I feel like we found it today,” Carroll said during his postgame locker room speech. “So proud of you guys.”
It took a halftime deficit of 24-7 before the Seahawks finally got rolling, breaking out a 21-point outburst in the second half to close the gap and set themselves up for a game-winning field goal. The post-halftime spurt portended great promise for the team for the remaining 12 games this season, and it also fulfilled Carroll’s pregame wish from Saturday night’s team meeting — “let’s let what we do scream who we are,” he told the players.
By the time the third quarter came around and the Seahawks offense was humming, the team that was comatose in the first half had found new life — life that will give birth to a season-altering change in energy, attitude and confidence.
“It took so much courage, so much guts to have a bad first half but come back and find our spirit,” Carroll told the players after the game. “You guys changed it.”
The second half saw the offense score 21 points — and come within two plays of scoring 31, as
“We have what it takes to get going,” Carroll said. “We can be a really good football team.”
The switch flipped during halftime, when coaches remained staunchly confident despite a largely disappointing opening half.
“You know that’s not good enough,” the coach said to his players at halftime. “Let’s get it started. But we’ve got to know that it’s not going to happen in one quarter. One play at a time, we can do this.”
And that they did, all the way to the point of nearly winning on a field goal. The final score was not what they had hoped for, but the upshot provided the Seahawks with an emotional and confidence boost that should carry them into the season’s second quarter and beyond.
“Last week was a nice win but this was even more impressive,” Carroll said, even in the wake of defeat.
There are losses that make going back to work on Monday very unappealing. But then there are outcomes like Sunday’s that fuel the fire to press on.
And that’s what the Seahawks will do. Even though in a hole at 1-3, they’re now buoyed by an inspiring never-say-die effort on Sunday that will assuredly have long-term effects for this team through the remainder of 2011.
“Let’s take the next step with it,” Carroll said. “We’ve got to take off from here.”