SEATTLE—Seahawks coach Pete Carroll ripped off his headset and took off running down the sideline at a speed that shouldn't be possible at 68 years old. Shaquill Griffin, who had dived towards Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein in an attempt to block the field goal attempt, stayed on the ground and began to cry. All around him, the cornerback's teammates ran around on the field in every direction celebrating a wild Thursday night victory.
"When he missed the field goal, I just lost it," Griffin explained. "I actually started crying. I had nothing left. I was just lying there, and they thought something was wrong with me. Before the game, they say whatever you do, just leave it all out there. You shouldn't leave nothing left. I felt like we did that. It was amazing."
The Seahawks beat the Rams 30-29 on Thursday night after that field goal attempt barely missed to the right, and for all the ups and downs in the game, and considering the opponent—the defending NFC champion and two-time defending NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams, a team that had won three straight against Seattle—this was a particularly special win for the Seahawks.
"That's huge," said center Justin Britt. "That's one of the best teams in the league… We're a hell of a team, and we've got all the right people—offense, defense special teams, and our coaches are on their (stuff). Every week we're getting better, and we've just got to keep that mentality of going to work, having a purpose, not thinking that this stuff just happens, and that's up to us leaders. It just feels good to get a divisional win, especially at home, primetime, it was just another championship opportunity, and we excelled."
Said linebacker K.J. Wright, "It feels so good, man. We haven't beaten those guys for a while, and for us to win in that fashion—because it always comes down to the wire when we play them—but now we were on the other end getting a win. Everyone in this locker room is just so happy. And this is just the beginning, we're going to see them again."
But it wasn't just that the Seahawks beat a very good team that made Thursday such a memorable night, it was how they won in a back-and-forth game with so many momentum swings and big plays.
The Seahawks were down 6-0 early after turning the ball over on their first possession and punting on their second, but by late in the second quarter it looked like they had taken control of the game after a pair of Russell Wilson touchdown passes and some quick stops by the defense. But then Seattle missed a field goal, the Rams drove for a quick touchdown before the half, then scored again to open the second half, and suddenly they were up again by a six-point margin. From there the teams traded scores and big plays, the lead changed hands four times in the second half, Tedric Thompson made an impossible interception, Wilson kept making ridiculous throws, Chris Carson gave half of Seattle a shock with a juggling touchdown catch, then somehow, some way, one of the best kickers in the NFL barely missed the potential game-winner.
"That's up there with the NFC Championship games," Wright said when asked where this one ranked among the memorable and emotional games he has played in his nine-year career. "Primetime, everybody's watching, somebody's got to win it, so that's up there as one of the greatest games I've been a part of."
For Carroll, the crazy win and the emotion that followed were just another reflection of the special makeup he has seen in this team dating back to offseason workouts.
"This is such a good team to be coaching," he said. "I'm telling you, it's a fantastic bunch. And the leadership continues to keep these guys in check and keeps guiding them. And the younger players listen and they care what the guys think about what they're doing, and they're able to change and guide us through this. So I'm really proud of the mix. I've been telling you this for a long time; it's been really obvious that this is a tremendous chemistry for us, and we're just learning how to put it all together. And I know I'll stop saying that pretty soon here because it will be too far into the season, but I feel like we're still growing together. We need these experiences. We need big challenges like this and come through and hang forever and you make things happen. It makes you so much stronger and mentally and in a connected way, and it gives us a chance to keep getting better and continue to find ways to do positive good things. So it's a blast. It couldn't be more fun. I'm thrilled to be coaching them."
The extra emotion felt after the game was also a carryover from what took place before the game when Paul G. Allen was inducted into the Seahawks Ring of Honor. Then prior to kickoff, Seahawks Chair Jody Allen honored her late brother by raising the 12 Flag. Both Wilson and Carroll joked after the game that Allen might have had a helping hand in pushing that field goal attempt to the right.
"For a guy who spent the latter part of his life creating magic around the world—and we had a chance to make a tribute for Paul Allen today—he might have given a little (blowing sound) on that last kick right there, I don't know," said Carroll.
"It was a big night really for Paul and Jody. It was great to see Jody pulling the flag up. And as you guys get to know her, you'll find she's a great fan. She loves this team and the area in the same fashion that Paul did. And so it was a big night for the family. And I'm so happy we were able to get a good win and have fun with it and all that."
Wilson called the win an emotional one, "because tonight was to tribute Paul Allen. I think about what he meant to this world and what he meant to just me personally and my family. He gave me an opportunity to play here. I always say to you guys, I'm one of 32 men in the world who get to do what I get to do. And I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful for that. And I was telling the guys in the locker room, because I had the game ball and I wanted to give it to (Seahawks Vice Chair) Bert (Kolde), who is one of Paul Allen's best friends and co-workers and everything else—I called Bert up and I was just telling the guys who didn't know Paul, Paul was a person who believed big. I was telling the guys you got to think big, you got to believe big. That's what we've been saying. He was exactly that, Paul Allen. He was a person who created Microsoft. He was a person who made a difference in the world, cared about the world, cared about others, cared about animals, people, loved music.
"He was a person of love, a person who cared about others, and it was just emotional. I was telling the guys I think at the end of the game he blew a little wind on that to the right, just bounced right. That was cool tonight."