An exclusive behind the scenes look into the Seahawks loss to the Minnesota Vikings
Class was in session on Saturday night in Minnesota.
And despite the final score, the Seahawks passed with high marks.
For the Seahawks’ third preseason game — and first on the road — Coach Pete Carroll wanted his team to learn how to play well and play together on the road. Mission accomplished on Saturday; the Seahawks are well on their way to becoming road scholars.
“Understand this — we went on the road, and it wasn’t a big deal,” Carroll told his players in the locker room following the 24-13 loss to the Vikings on Saturday night at the Metrodome. “We don’t have to be affected by the environment. If nothing else, that’s what I wanted us to learn tonight.”
The lecture truly started Friday night during the Seahawks’ team meeting in a ballroom of a downtown Minneapolis hotel. Carroll gushed about how much he loves taking his team on the road because it “gives us a unique chance to grow together and get close.”
Away games also ultimately prove a team’s mettle and worth, too.
“To be a championship football team, you have to dominate at home, and we have a place to do just that at Qwest,” Carroll told his players during Friday night’s team meeting. “But to be a great team, you’ve also got to be able to excel on the road too. You’ve got to be road warriors.”
So not only was Saturday night’s preseason contest another chance for the Seahawks to play football in a real, live game setting, it was also being built up as an introduction to playing away from home — and an opportunity to take their preparation for the 2010 season to a new level.
“This is a huge opportunity for us to put it all together and be a force on the road,” the head coach said during that eve-of-game meeting. “No matter where we go, we must play like we’re capable of playing. This is a huge lesson for us to learn; this is a huge chip for us to get.”
Carroll downplayed the disadvantages of playing on the road — namely, the noise factor — en route to calling for his players to step up to the task at hand for this particular preseason game.
“We’re going to dominate at home, now let’s get it right on the road,” Carroll said. “Let’s take on this challenge.”
And that’s exactly what the Seahawks did. Undaunted by a packed Metrodome for Brett Favre’s first home game of 2010, the Seahawks traded punches for a 10-10 halftime score and then took a 13-10 lead in the third quarter before both sides’ starters were removed. Two fourth-quarter Viking touchdowns notwithstanding, the Seahawks played stout and showed that they were up to Carroll’s road challenge.
“We came out playing very good football against a very good team,” Carroll said in his postgame locker room speech. “We matched them up nose-to-nose.”
Indeed, though they’re also left wondering what could’ve been. In the first 32 minutes of the game, Seattle recorded three takeaways, including safety Earl Thomas’s 86-yard interception return for a touchdown, and the defense had a noteworthy goal-line stand on fourth down as well. But the offense did next to nothing with those gifts from its counterparts, scoring just one field goal off of those takeaways.
“The offense has got to capitalize when the defense sets them up like that,” Carroll told his players after the game. “We’ve got to respond. The defense is taking the football away. For the most part, the offense is taking care of it. That’s what we need to do. But we’ve got to take it to the next level now.”
So even though the final score didn’t project the same positive vibes Carroll was giving off following Saturday’s loss, the road game at Minnesota was a win in many regards as the Seahawks continue to build toward and move closer to the start of the 2010 season.
“I like where we’re going,” Carroll said in a quieted locker room following the game. “We wanted to win, but lots of good stuff happened. Keep bringing it all together, keep charging forward.
“We’re going places. There’s no doubt in my mind about that, and I hope there’s no doubt in your mind too.”