NASHVILLE—As the losses mounted for the Seahawks, Pete Carroll never changed his tune when talking about his team.
He believed, even as his team lost four in a row to three of the NFC's top teams, that the Seahawks would bounce back, and he believed in the long run the Seahawks would be better off for a stretch that included losses to the Rams, Cowboys and 49ers twice before they bounced back with a win over the Eagles on Monday night.
And for the second week in a row, the Seahawks celebrated a dramatic comeback victory, this time a 20-17 win over the Titans. Sunday's win puts the Seahawks record at 8-7 and, as things stand now, in the final playoff spot in the NFC with two games left to play. Thanks to Detroit's win over the Minnesota on Sunday, the Seahawks are now in a position to make the playoffs if they win their final two games—a home game against the Steelers next weekend, then a road game in Arizona—regardless of what other playoff contenders do in the next two weeks.
"I think we've come out of those games because we didn't get screwed up from the losses, which we could have," Carroll said. "We could have flipped out and lost our minds. We kept believing that we could get it done. And so the resolve stayed intact, and so that we can utilize all of those difficult experiences and the tough games, and the matchups, and the great personnel that we went against. And we're better because of it. So, we found a way and it was a slow start today. Kind of marred it, but we came in at halftime and we knew that it was our game to go win. And so, we got it done again."
The Seahawks don't always win pretty, and they still have plenty to clean up if they want to finish the season playing their best, but what is true about this team, and has been true of so many Carroll-coached teams over the years, are traits like resilience and belief that allow them to thrive in tense situations.
"I think it made us a better team," nose tackle Jarran Reed said of the team's five-game stretch against playoff-caliber teams. "The stretch that we had, that five-week stretch made us a better team. We had ups and downs, but we never give up. We've got a great team, we've got great guys in the locker room who always believe. Each game, it made us better. We learned, we made some mistakes but we learned from it, we grew from and we've got to keep going."
Safety Quandre Diggs, one of Seattle's two defensive captains, described his team's character by referencing the popular social media meme that shows a chest X-ray with dogs photoshopped into it, the implication being that someone "has that dawg in them."
"You seen that dog meme?" Diggs asked.
The one with the X-ray?
"Yeah, That's what we've got," he said. "We've got a bunch of them. We just grind though. Everything ain't going to be pretty. We know that, but no matter the circumstances, we're going to fight. It's been dope, it's been dope to stack two wins in a row, and hopefully we can continue and finish the strong."
To Diggs, the key to responding to the losing streak was, "Just believing in us. We've got great leadership on the team, and we just believe in us. That's what it's all about. Everybody knew that stretch that we had was going to be a tough stretch, but at the end of the day, the season wasn't over, we still had hopes of making the playoffs, and we just continue to grind it out. We know what we're capable of, we've beaten some pretty good teams this year too, so it's not like we're a bad team. We're a good football team, we lost some close games, and we've got another opportunity to go fight."
For the Seahawks to win a second straight game, they had to go across the country on a short week having played last Monday, then overcome a slow start offensively to come back with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, the first coming on a 96-yard drive, and the second in the game's final minutes after Tennessee answered with a touchdown of its own to retake the lead. Then the defense had to come up with one more stop, one aided by sacks by Boye Mafe and Dre'Mont Jones, two of Seattle's six sacks in the game.
"I feel like there's some resiliency," said Mafe, who had 2.0 sacks to get to a team-leading 9.0 this season. "There are a lot of situations, a lot of things that happened throughout the season. We've had a lot of up and downs. The thing I love about this team is that we don't waver. Every situation that has hit us, there's no one batting an eye, there's no one turning the cheek. Everyone just looks at it and says, 'Alright, how do we get better from it?' The fact that we were able to turn it around and actually take accountability for everything that we did and have that conversation with each other and taking an action to it, is what's amazing about this team."
To make these two wins count, the Seahawks will have to take care of business these next two weeks, but the way the team has come out of the longest losing streak of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era with two gutsy wins, everyone is feeling pretty good about the direction the team is heading in with the regular season coming to a close.
"A sensational finish to get that done under all the circumstances," Carroll said. "There's a lot of them—Monday night, coming off the road, early game, all that kind of stuff people usually talk about had nothing to do with it. I loved the way we finished this game, the focus of our guys throughout the 60 minutes was exactly as we needed… It was an exciting win for us. The belief in this locker room is strong, that we can take on whatever we've got to take on. We'll have our wits together and we'll execute and function no matter how long it takes to get it. That's a powerful, powerful trait."
Check out some of the best action shots from Week 16 at the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 24, 2023. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.