JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Pete Carroll stepped off the charter flight, onto a bus and then behind a podium at the hotel his team will call home for the next week. And the Seahawks’ coach did it all with barely enough time to catch his breath, let alone collect his thoughts.
Yes, the Seahawks are at the Super Bowl, but Carroll made it clear that just getting to the site of the biggest game in the ever-widening world of sports will not suffice.
“That is an issue that you deal with, that they feel like we got here and that’s all we needed to get done. Or just the sense of relief that you’ve arrived here,” Carroll said Sunday night while standing on a stage in a banquet room at the team hotel.
“We’ve never talked like, ‘All we want to do is get here.’ We’ve never talked about just getting to the Super Bowl. It’s never been our conversation. We never even talked about the Super Bowl, to tell you the truth. We just talked about playing really well week in and week out. I think there’s a mentality that goes along with that that should keep us on track. I’m counting it.”
It’s a mentality that is fortified by the leaders on this team, especially those who joined Carroll during the media session – the All-Pro tandem of cornerback
“At the beginning of the season, obviously one of our goals was to win the NFC West,” Baldwin said. “And the ultimate goal was not to get to the Super Bowl; it was to win the Super Bowl. It will be one thing to experience and enjoy this experience being here at the Super Bowl. But it will be an awful experience if we walk away not winning. So that’s our goal, is to come out of here with a victory and enjoy the moment doing that.”
Offered Thomas, “Most people when their work is almost finished, they kind of spoil it because they kind of feel it in their grasp and they kind of ease up. But we understand we can’t ease up. We’re staying all the way through. We’re not going to let anything get in our way as far as off-the-field distractions.
“And we’re very confident in our preparation. I think that’s what really separates us from everybody else is the way we prepare.”
And it’s the way they’ve prepared all season, because it’s the only way they’ve known in four seasons under Carroll.
“Coach Carroll has been getting us ready to play and to be in this position over the years,” Unger said. “He wants to create an atmosphere and a tradition of winning, and being in this position. So when we get to positions like this it’s just another football game and we don’t have to play out of our shoes and make a bunch of stuff up.”
The proof of all this talk, of course, will be in the Seahawks’ actions next Sunday when they meet the AFC Champion Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium. And no one knows that better than Carroll.
“We won’t find out until we play. We never do,” Carroll said. “That will be the deciding factor. If we can stay balanced and stay even as we go through it, I think we will. I don’t think there’s any reason to think otherwise.”
Once the game finally arrives, it will feature the Seahawks’ No. 1-ranked defense against the highest-scoring offense in the history of the National Football League.
“It’s historically as hard as it gets,” Carroll said, punctuating the assessment with a slight chuckle. “It can’t get any tougher. They’ve done everything, broke every major record in the throwing game and points, everything. Peyton (Manning) has been extraordinary. So we’re up against it. It’s an extraordinary challenge.
“But they have to play us, too.”