PHOENIX – It is frustratingly fitting that this Monday just happens to be Groundhog Day.
Because, as far as the NFC playoffs were concerned this season, we'd already seen what happened to the Seahawks on Sunday night in their 28-24 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.
In the wild-card round, the Detroit Lions had their heart ripped out as Tony Romo threw a touchdown pass with 2½ minutes remaining in the game to give the Dallas Cowboys a 24-20 victory. The next week, in the divisional round, the Cowboys had their heart ripped out as league MVP Aaron Rodgers threw a fourth-quarter TD pass to give the Green Bay Packers a 26-21 victory.
And in the NFC Championship game, well, we all know everything that happened as the Packers had their hearts ripped out in the overtime loss to the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field – a frantic comeback for the ages that was capped by Russell Wilson's TD pass to Jermaine Kearse in overtime.
Sunday night, it was a TD pass that Tom Brady threw with 2:02 remaining and the one that Wilson tried to throw from the 1-yard line that instead was intercepted with 20 seconds to play that ripped out the Seahawks' heart.
And it is that final play that is getting most of the attention.
Could the Seahawks have run a different play, especially with Marshawn Lynch available to pound the ball at the Patriots on that second-down play – and again on third down and even fourth down, if needed and time allowed?
Of course. But as coach Pete Carroll explained, "I made the decision. I said, 'Throw the ball,' and we went with the play that we thought would give us a chance to get in the end zone. We had great matchups for the call that we made, and it didn't work out. They made a better play than we did."
Could Wilson have made a better throw?
Of course. He could have put the pass a bit lower, making it harder for Malcolm Butler, the Patriots' rookie cornerback, to get to the ball at the goal line. But as Wilson said, "When I let it go, I thought it was going to be game over."
It was, but not in the way he expected.
Could Ricardo Lockette have done a better job of using his 6-foot-2, 211-pound body to shield the 5-11 Butler?
Of course. But it was one of those bang-bang plays in the biggest game of the year for a receiver who had caught 11 passes in his full NFL season.
The biggest thank you to the 12s who came all the way to Arizona to root on the Seahawks!
Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda. Former Seahawks coach Chuck Knox used to call those "losers' laments." And even though the Seahawks lost this game, they are hardly losers.
So if you're playing the blame game on this Monday, you shouldn't. One play – even that play – cannot get in the way of the incredible things the Seahawks accomplished not just this season, but for the past three seasons.
Since 2012, the Seahawks have gone 36-12 in the regular season and 6-2 in the postseason.
And it was that previous loss in the postseason – 30-28 to the Falcons in Atlanta in a 2012 divisional game – that helped launch all the success that has followed. And that includes a five-game winning streak in the playoffs that was highlighted by the 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl last February. On Groundhog Day.
The scene in the locker room at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday night was eerily similar to one at the Georgia Dome in 2012. And perhaps the best example was All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas. In Atlanta, he cried in the locker room. Sunday night, it was difficult to tell if there were tears because Thomas had his face buried in his hands for what seemed like an eternity. And this guy is as tough as they come. He epitomizes the term "warrior."
The players left Atlanta that day determined to never feel that way again. But now they do. And if they return for the coming offseason with the same almost-demented determination to get even better than they displayed – no, flaunted – in 2013, we all know what that can lead to.
It was just difficult to look that far after seeing how close they had come on Sunday night.
"There's really nobody to blame but me," Carroll said.
Well, if that's cause, than blame Carroll for leading this franchise to back-to-back Super Bowls, three NFC West titles and four playoff berths in his first five seasons as coach.
And while you're at it, also blame Carroll and general manager John Schneider for compiling the best young talent in the NFL – one that still has such a bright future, despite what happened on that one play Sunday night.
"I thought it was a touchdown, honestly," Wilson said of the quick-slant throw to Lockette. "It looked like it worked. But the guy made an incredible play. That's really what it came down to.
"We were right there. We fought so hard all game. I've watched a lot of Super Bowls. In my opinion, that was one of the better ones. We just didn't win it."