The Seahawks’ mission to repeat as Super Bowl champions ended on Sunday, not with a bang, but rather, a confounding whimper. It put an end to a 365-day quest to do something that hadn’t been done in a decade, and reminded us all why it’s so hard to go back-to-back.
But it wasn’t for lack of effort.
For Seattle, the mission started on February 2, 2014, before their 43-8 throttling of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII was even finished. When they went up 36-0 in the third quarter, the Seahawks served notice that they weren’t merely a fluke, that with an impregnable defense, an unflappable quarterback and an unstoppable running back – all very much in their respective primes – they could be sowing the seeds of a dynasty. But to make it happen, they couldn’t think of yesterday or tomorrow. They had to take it one day at a time.
Just after decking Denver, the Seahawks were the early favorites to win the next championship at 7-to-1. On Day 2 of their reign, before the last piece of confetti had even been vacuumed off the MetLife Stadium turf, Pete Carroll was already setting his sights on the road to Super Bowl XLIX:
“We really have an eye of what’s coming. We won’t dwell on what just happened, and we’ll take it in stride,” he said. “We won’t miss the fun part of it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t set our sights on where we want to go. We are in a very fortunate situation.”
Added Earl Thomas: “We’re going to stay here for a long, long time.”
To do that, they would have to take care of their own, and save for a receiver who found out that Seattle didn’t value the price of Golden as much as he did, the Seahawks showed their commitment to the core players that made them so successful.
On Day 11, Michael Bennett, who had signed on for just one year and quickly became Seattle’s most devastating force on the defensive line, told reporters, “This is not Costco” when asked if he would accept a hometown discount to remain with the team. On Day 37, the Seahawks bought Bennett in bulk, to the tune of $28.5 million. (But rumor has it, he did take a discount to stay in Seattle.)
Others were less fortunate.
On Day 23, they had to release Red Bryant, one of the few players who had survived Carroll and John Schneider’s purge of the roster they acquired in 2010, and 16 days later, Chris Clemons also found himself on the free agent market. Bryant and Clemons provided a veteran presence to the Seahawks, but the team thought the most valuable thing they could provide in 2014 was cap space.
That cap space that was not used to re-sign Golden Tate, who took a five-year deal with the Detroit Lions on Day 39, but the money saved was not wasted. On Day 44, they re-signed kicker Steven Hauschka, the same player who would boot the most important onside kick in franchise history on Day 351. On Day 87, Earl Thomas got $40 million of Paul Allen’s money, and on Day 95 Richard Sherman got $57.5 million of it, the most ever given to a cornerback. They didn’t strike many notable deals in free agency, but they did find five-time All-Pro defensive tackle Kevin Williams on Day 131.
On Day 96, they played it cool at the NFL Draft, trading down with the Minnesota Vikings, but they still found wide receiver Paul Richardson in the second round, who was starting to make a name for himself before tearing his ACL on Day 343, and Justin Britt, who has been starting at right tackle every day since.
Meanwhile, three months after the biggest win of his pro career, Carroll was talking about how a team can maintain the level of success that got them there in the first place. It’s all about the offseason:
“We set a direction on having the greatest offseason of our lives, individually,” Carroll said. “That doesn’t mean you can’t go out and have fun and live the life. You can work out and still be on The Tonight Show. The most important thing that will happen is if we can recapture the work ethic that made us what we are. Nothing else really matters.”