The coincidence of Pete Carroll’s 68th birthday made for an easy storyline. What may prove a more noteworthy narrative in 2019 is whether a successful Seahawks season was born Sunday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, where the young guys learned how a championship mindset works.
On the road, with the East Coast’s early start, in a place where the Seahawks hadn’t won in 20 years (the last visit in 2011, they were shut out), against an always rowdy sellout crowd for the home opener and a great quarterback leading a Steelers team exceedingly salty after losing its opener 33-3, the Seahawks won.
Despite 10 penalties, two lost fumbles and two episodes with QB Russell Wilson that had Seahawks fans clutching their chests anticipating a group coronary event, four-point underdog Seattle prevailed, 28-26 (box).
That margin was one point more than the triumph over Cincinnati last week, but it still adds up to a 2-0 start. Last time that happened, the Seahawks ended up in the Super Bowl.
Not saying it’s predictive. Just sayin’ for a lineup speckled with kids, it’s an an early lesson in title-grade resilience.
“I feel a lot better than last year, I’ll tell you,” said an ebullient Carroll about the 0-2 start in 2018. “It’s great to be 2-0. Especially on the road in a place like this, and a quarterback like that.”
But that quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, last man standing from the Steelers’ Super Bowl XL win over the Seahawks, couldn’t finish the game, leaving at halftime because of a sore elbow. His backup, second-year man Mason Rudolph, did OK for a kid, but was no match for the effortlessly resolute Wilson.
Wilson survived four first-half sacks, a protective slide at the end of a run that tore up a chunk of turf and looked momentarily as if might have done same to his knee, and a helmet-to-helmet hit that somehow went uncalled.
No penalty called on this play. Hey @NFLOfficiating can #Seahawks fans get an explanation here? I mean, other than “It’s the Steelers.” pic.twitter.com/YLcazdwao7
— Roberto Shenanigans (@Rob_Shenanigans) September 15, 2019
Despite the mayhem, he completed 29 of 35 passes for 300 yards, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 131, as well as six runs for 22 yards, several of which were mission-critical in the late going.
Regarding the Wilson slide, Carroll joined the 12s in feeling a throat constriction.
“He almost got wrecked on the turf,” he said. “I don’t know what the heck that was. Very fortunate right there.”
Wilson, whose bent left knee acted like a shovel under the sod, was puzzled too.
“The turf came up — it was kinda crazy,” he said. “I’m a good slider too. Stole a lot of bases in baseball. It was, not scary, but a little strange.
“I’m straight. I’m fine.”
The absence of health consequences helped elevate the mood. The win was the 100th of the birthday boy’s NFL career, which was celebrated in the locker room with a team-wide water dousing of Carroll and the presentation of the game ball from Wilson.
Answering a question about age, a soaked Carroll grinned.
“I don’t need games like this to keep my youthful exuberance,” he said. “But I’ll tell you, I love games like this.
It was fun being in the locker room with the guys, but they had more fun than I did. It was good.”
Carroll made two key coaching decisions that were pivotal in ratcheting up his celebration.
Ahead 21-13 with less than nine minutes left, the Seahawks had a second-and-20 at their own 27 when Wilson threw incomplete to double-covered WR Tyler Lockett in the deep middle. There was obvious contact, but officials deemed it inconsequential.
Carroll, who earlier challenged an interference call unsuccessfully and lost a timeout, challenged again. Somewhat surprisingly, replay officials overturned the field crew. The reversal was huge — 38 yards — to the Steelers 35. Two plays later, Wilson hoisted a perfect 28-yard parabola to rookie WR DK Metcalf at the goal line for what proved to be the game-winning TD.
“It was a legitimate opportunity,” Carroll said. The other one, I forced a little in the first half. You can see how it made a difference.”
On the final possession, which came after the Steelers closed to 28-26 following a TD after recovering a Seattle fumble, the Seahawks needed to run out the clock.
After Wilson’s 15-yard scramble reached the Pittsburgh 33, a yard short of the first down, the Seahawks had a big decision to make at 4th and 1 with two minutes left: Punt and hope to create a long field, risk missing a field goal, or going for it.
“It was an interesting situation there,” Carroll said, “but we wanted to go for it. It was a matter of how we’re going to do it.”
They chose a blast by RB Chris Carson, whose previous two fumbles set up the Steelers for touchdown drives of 22 and three yards. This time he went behind C Justin Britt and LG Mike Iupati for two yards, ball secured. Thereafter, it was victory formation.
“There was nobody I was going to but Chris right there,” Carroll said. “Fantastic job by the guys up front to knock them off the rock and get the first down.”
Carroll forgave Carson for the second fumble that Pittsburgh returned to the three.
“He got hit (by a blitz) on the exchange” from Wilson,” he said. “That’s not his fumble. But he did get one knocked away. We got to get to business right there, and get that out.”
The post-game party was enhanced by Carroll’s twin milestones.
“It was awesome to see coach Carroll on his 68th birthday; he looks like he’s 38 and runs around like he’s 28,” Wilson said. “How he brings it every day, his competitive nature, his consistency, I have a lot of respect for who he is as a person and coach, and what he’s meant to the city.
“A hundred wins is special.”
Carroll was rightfully proud of his ability to flourish in such a ruthless profession.
“Pretty good,” he said. “I didn’t know what it was going to be like when we came here. We got a lot more wins to get this year, but it’s a proud statement to make. I’m thrilled about it, the staying power.”
If the young guys keep picking up on the message — people may get old, but winning never does — Carroll might stick around for another hundred.
MONEY. 💰@pennyhendrixx hauls in the TD! #GoHawks x #SEAvsPIT pic.twitter.com/LDDFL0M0pq
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) September 15, 2019
Refs missing that atrocious helmet-to-hemet
hit oughtta get fined.
Seems to be a bounty on SB-winning QBs lately (Brees, Big Ben). No wonder Luck got out.
Are parents crazy to let their wee kids in?
Not crazy. Unwise.
Too many hits, too, perhaps…
Well, that was a point in my column, yes?
Indeed it was.
It was also, for edification purposes, yet another indictment of poor officiating, by The Guardian.
Couldn’t agree more. I wonder what would happen if the Saints General Manager sent a letter to the NFL stating that they would never participate in any game where this officiating crew was present.
That would be considered a revolt.
Which is exactly what is needed!
Fantastic Win. Congratulations to Coach Carroll. The Seahawks looked so much better this week than last. I actually saw some impressive play by our offensive line. The penalties in the first half reminded me of the notorious SB. It that shall not be named. We had to battle thru some baloney in this game too. It was saved by the reversal on the pass interference call at the end of the game.
Now small town, thin-skinned peeve but NBC SNF pregame showed a clip of our game which I figured they would because we played the “steelers.” Yes but it was a highlight of Steeler clips and very little of the winning team. They left it with Dungy implying that the pass interference call was incorrect. Overall impression left to the viewer was that the Steelers were kind of robbed. They’re always ready to push the small markets under the bus.
Dungy right now doubling down on the “poor Steelers” were robbed on that call. No mention of the helmet hit to Wilson. Of course if that had been Ben’s fat head it would be a different story…..
You’re right. You are thin-skinned.
SUPER. You enjoy your 4 followers. Bye bye.
Oh, come on. You’re tougher than that.
Hope they enjoy the pablum over at the Times.
Maybe buy some point perspective and a sense of humor? You need both to hang out successfully on this website.
It’s been years since anyone called Seattle market small, especially compared to Pittsburgh.
I do think the PI reversal was debatable. Yes there was contact, but I don’t think Lockett was hindered.
Happy birthday Pete! t The Hawks always get better as the season progresses. Great point about leading by example. The Hawks could be a fearsome team by the end of this season.
I’m wondering about the quality of the opponents. Cincy was blasted by SF today.
“Any given Sunday” Art. And a win on the road, especially on the east coast, is huge.
No doubt. But each game a mistake away from a loss.
Me too but Pitt is a storied franchise that I still expect to make noise this year.
As you have seen, NFL teams can fall off abruptly.
Russell being the 5th fastest to reach the 200 TD milestone wasn’t bad either.
He’s also the first in NFL history to 200 pass TDs and 15 rushing TDs in his first 8 seasons.
Congratulations to Coach Carroll, a first ballot HOF coach. Also to Russell, who continues to justify his amazingly large contracts. And to the Hawks at large, continuing to persevere and triumph. The only downside…oh, please, Kevin…don’t bring this up…I havta, actually…is that they appear to be the third best team in their division. There will be four opportunities to prove me wrong. Win three out of four and you may be off to the races.
Rams and Niners have been impressive, more so than the Seahawks. But it may be that Seahawks upside is higher because the young guys will be much better in Dec.
I saw the Seahawks’ season collapse before my eyes when Russell caught his foot and leg sliding.
I wonder if hospital cardiology wards track such things.
49ers 41-17 over the Bengals in Cincinnati, who we beat at home by 1. Looks like the 49ers will be a real handful this year!
I might get skewered for saying this, but I’ll risk it. I’m referring to the “15-yard scramble” by Wilson you mentioned, Art. He got within 1-yard of a first down. Fortunately Chris Carson (I think) made the first down on the next play. But it appeared that Wilson could have easily progressed one yard further and still slide to protect himself. I can’t help wonder if coaches teach QBs to take note where the first down marker is in situations like this. I realize things happen at lightning speed and . . . Had Carson not made the first down, it would have been a bummer.
Noticed that. Is Wilson over concerned about p–sing of Carrol for taking oversized risks? He usually slides a little bit too soon.
See above answer.
I’m always surprised when the Seahawks have to rediscover the short passing game time after time after they once again run into O-line protection/run-blocking problems. Wilson got the ball out in near-record time and was razor sharp on his short passing game thus compensating for the sieve that passes for an O-line.
Why is this so hard for them to remember???
Carroll has always understood it (see the second half of 2015) but players never execute 100 percent and defenses can also change to disrupt. The best coaches adjust during games. Carroll is among the best.
people may get old, but winning never does This line has definitely made my day, maybe my week.
Patriots 33-3 over the Steelers, at Pittsburgh, WITH Roethlisburger
49ers 41-17 over the Bengals.
Seahawks 28-26 and 21-20.
I submit the Hawks have MUCH improvement to make or they will finish 3rd in the division, behind the Rams and 49ers.
They can start with effective play calling from the START of the game, not hoping RW can save them in the 4th quarter. These wasted 1st and 2nd quarters have to stop – does Schott even know who they are playing each week? It doesn’t seem like it. Then we hear about what a tough and improved defense Cincinnati has, then the 49ers make that same defense look like a high school team. And we almost paid for a parade down Main Street for (who?) Mason Rudolph, who came within a whisker of beating us, fergawdsake!
So PULEEEZE – The Hawks are either not playing well or simply are not very good.
Hey Coolguy. . try to think of this year being a lot like 2012. . that year we lost in week 1 to Arizona 20 – 16. . later that year in week 15 we beat Arizona 58 – 0. . and Buffalo 50 – 17 the very next week. . and that was with Darrell Bevel doing the play calling!. . so enjoy the ride. This team has a chance to be very very good. Wait for it. . .
The Seahawks don’t start slow deliberately. But they avoid riskier plays early to avoid falling behind and to learn how defenses play them. They are hardly wasting and 2Q. Part of the game plan is to run similar plays to get a D to overcommit early, then run a counter late from the same formation.
If you listen to Carroll, he always says much improvement is needed, particularly with kids in some key positions. You are way too impatient for a 16-game season.