From the Sidelines: Seahawks vs. Saints

Regardless of the odds or the stats or whatever other information you could throw their way, the Seahawks simply knew they could do it. They knew from the moment they beat the Rams, from the start of warmups, from each and every big-time play during Saturday’s win.

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Belief is a beautiful thing.

It can lead a team back from an early 10-point deficit, rally a Qwest Field crowd of 66,336 to absolute hysteria and drive a club to an epic 41-36 victory over the defending Super Bowl champions.

And now, believe it or not, the Seahawks are bound for the second round of the playoffs.

“The truth is, the guys in this locker room absolutely believed it could happen, and look what you did,” Coach Pete Carroll said to his team following Saturday’s unforgettable win. “You knew it was going to happen.”

But where did this belief come from? Perhaps from a season stocked with character-building adversity, perhaps from a resolve birthed from a fall full of ups and downs, perhaps from a hard-fought division-clinching 16-6 victory over the Rams the week before. But no matter what, the belief was there on Saturday and all week leading up to the game.

“I don’t know why, but it’s real,” Carroll said postgame. “It is so powerful when you know. We know it in our hearts.”

All week, the Seahawks exuded a type of quiet confidence and humble strength, and Saturday was simply an opportunity to put that on display. Practices couldn’t have run smoother and the energy couldn’t have been better. On the final play of Friday’s practice, the Seahawk offense even ran a “victory formation” play, when the quarterback takes a knee to end the game. It was all part of a week of preparation that fed perfectly into a surreal game on Saturday afternoon.

“We just had a week of championship preparation,” Carroll told his players during the team meeting on Friday night. “Somebody’s going to take this five more weeks, and it feels to me like we’re just getting started.”

The players not only bought into the belief — they fueled it with an even more spirited form of faith. The talk all week and all day on Saturday was all about that knowledge that they could and would win.

“Nobody believes in you but you and the people in this room,” safety Lawyer Milloy told his teammates in the locker room before the game. “If you want to be champions, we have a chance to do it on that field.”

The Seahawks listened to the veteran safety. They bounced back from an early 10-point deficit on two occasions in the first half to climb to a 24-20 lead at halftime. The players soared into the locker room at the break oozing confidence born from the belief they had all lived out during the week and during the previous game.

On the field in the third quarter, with the Seahawks holding a 34-20 lead and victory getting closer, safety Jordan Babineaux paced the sideline encouraging his teammates, “Let’s finish these guys!”

Regardless of the odds or the stats or whatever other information you could throw their way, the Seahawks simply knew they could do it. They knew from the moment they beat the Rams, from the start of warmups, from each and every big-time play during Saturday’s win.

“We know we’re going to win,” Carroll said during his final speech to the team on Friday evening. “You know exactly what it’s going to be like tomorrow.”

That might’ve been wishful thinking or trademark optimism, but Carroll wasn’t alone in thinking that. After the Seahawks put in a first-class week of preparation for the game, the head coach painted such a vibrant picture of victory in that Friday night speech that others couldn’t help but marvel at the power of believing it would come true. In that address, Carroll, striding in front of his players in a small hotel meeting room and illuminated by nothing more than the dimmed light of a projector, talked about getting turnovers, scoring touchdowns and surprising the high-flying Saints with a performance that would “feel so good.”

He even told the players about the next week’s schedule — a day off on Sunday, meetings on Monday, practice starting on Wednesday and, depending on the next opponent, a plane flight on Thursday or Friday. Visualization obviously played a major role in the captivating formation of belief, which was born from a trust in the process.

“The most important thing we have now is trust — trust in your coaches, in your teammates, in you,” Carroll told the team on Friday night. “Do your thing tomorrow.”

And that they did. Whether they were down, up or in “beast mode,” the Seahawks played to their potential on Saturday. But with that taste of sweet victory, they don’t want to stop now.

“This is great, but we’re not done yet,” Hasselbeck said, his teammates agreeing by their exuberance that filled the room.

And now, the Seahawks fly into Chicago to take on the Bears in the divisional round of the playoffs with a solidified, positive belief in themselves.

“This was not that far out of the realm,” Carroll said to end his speech. “No one thinks it can happen except for the people in this room.”

The Seahawks broke into an impromptu rendition of a chant they’ve used throughout the season — “We all we got! We all we need!” — but this time, understandably, it carried a little more zest.

Then the players came together for one final “Seahawks!” chant, but not before injured cornerback Roy Lewis led them through a quick mantra they have been using in special teams meetings all season.

“We!” Lewis bellows out.

“Believe!” the players reply back in unison.

Believe they do, and because of it, they’re marching on in the playoffs.