There was a calm in the visitor's locker room at the Edward Jones Dome Sunday afternoon as the Seahawks digested a season-opening loss against the St. Louis Rams. If you were looking for panic, for dramatic overreactions, this wasn't the place to find it.
Yes, the Seahawks lost to the Rams 34-31 in overtime, and yes they go back on the road in Week 2 to face the Green Bay Packers, but based on experience, players know one early-season result, good or bad, won't define their season.
"No," Russell Okung said with a dismissive chuckle when asked if the sky was falling. "We've got a long season, a lot of work. We're looking forward to it."
The common refrain repeated after the game was that the Rams simply out-executed the Seahawks and won a few more battles. The Seahawks did a lot well, from scoring on a punt return to winning the turnover battle 3-1 to scoring 18 unanswered points at one point in the second half, but the Rams managed to make a few more plays, generate a little more pressure on the quarterback, and they held on for a hard-fought victory.
"They played hard," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "You can't knock them. Tip your hat to them, they played a hard game, so you've got to give them their just (dues). We've got to correct the mistakes and come back next week."
Added quarterback Russell Wilson, who was sacked six times, "They're arguably one of the better teams we're going to play all year, in our opinion at least, so it's one of those things where you keep battling, you keep facing the challenges. We just came up short."
Part of the reason the Seahawks could keep their calm after an opening-loss is that they believe in their ability to be resilient, both in the context of a single game—last season's NFC championship game, for example—and when things get tough at any point of a particular season, such as when the Seahawks fell to 6-4 with a loss at Kansas City last year.
"Staying together, staying focused on what we can control," receiver Doug Baldwin said when asked how the Seahawks will respond. "There's a lot of things in this game we did good, there's some things we did not so good, so we'll look at the tape, get better at it, move forward, and do what this team has always done. We're so resilient in the fact that, it doesn't matter what adversity we go through, we're going to overcome it, so I have no doubt we're going to overcome it, we've just got to maintain the path we're on."
The Seahawks' ability to remain composed after a loss should not, however, be confused for them being content with the result. They know they gave up too many sacks and produced only one offensive touchdown, they know they had coverage errors that resulted in eight completions of 20 or more yards, they know they didn't tackle as well as they usually do, and they know they had major breakdowns on special teams. All of those things added up to a loss in a game the Seahawks felt they should have won thanks to their advantage in the turnover battle and their big plays on defense and special teams.
"It's a frustrating game for us in that regard," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "Hopefully we'll toughen up and be hardened by it and just be better for it, and get ready for an amazing matchup going to Green Bay. We have a terrific game up coming up with a great opponent. This is what the NFL is all about, this is what the league offers, difficult challenges week after week after week. We've got to get ready to get going."
And when it comes to the things that went wrong in St. Louis, the Seahawks see fixable errors, not fatal flaws.
"You've got to learn from the losses and look at the mistakes," defensive end Michael Bennett said. "You've got to look back, and this is growth, every game is growth when you've got young players in there. That's all we're looking for is to keep improving, and we can improve as long as we stay together. Whenever you lose, people are going to be saying this and that… But we still were in the game, and regardless of the situation, we still had more opportunities to win the game, we just didn't. Those things happen in the NFL, but you've got to be strong and keep going out there."
The Seahawks believe their offensive line will get better, they believe they can fix the errors that led to big plays in the passing game for St. Louis, and they definitely don't plan on making a habit of allowing 75-yard punt returns. The Seahawks lost their season-opener in Arizona in 2012, then lost at St. Louis in Week 4 to fall to 2-2, and they finished with an 11-5 record and narrowly missed playing the NFC championship game. They lost their first road game last season, playing arguably their worst game of the year in San Diego, and then a Week 7 loss in St. Louis left them with a 3-3 record, yet they finished as the No. 1 seed in the NFC and went to a second straight Super Bowl.
Dating back to 2011 when the Seahawks lost three in a row in the middle of the season, the Seahawks are 12-3 coming off a loss and have only lost consecutive games on three occasions. And the middle of the 2011 is not an arbitrary cutoff point—the Seahawks' Week 9 loss in Dallas, which represents the last time they lost three in a row, is the game in which they made a conscious effort to be more committed to the running game, and it is a game players and coaches have since cited as a turning point for the franchise.
"We have a pretty set discipline about getting back to work the next week," Carroll said. "We already kicked it into action (Monday), whether it's a big win or a big loss, we have to respond. We do that by going back to the routine that we have and focusing really hard on getting a great day on Wednesday and start the week off."
It wasn't always pretty for the Seahawks in Sunday's loss to the Rams, but it was also a result that players were able to keep in its proper context.
"We had little mistakes that cost us, but it's the first game, we're not going to panic," said linebacker Bobby Wagner. "I feel like we're going to get everything right."