The Seahawks’ season ended in disappointment Sunday in a 30-28 loss to the Falcons, one step short of the NFC Championship game. But rookie QB Russell Wilson emerged encouraged about the future.
As Russell Wilson was making his way to the tunnel at the Georgia Dome on Sunday, wading through the sea of frustration and disappointment swirling around him, the Seahawks’ rookie quarterback wasn’t thinking so much about what might have been as what is to come.
Yes, the Seahawks had rallied to take a 28-27 lead over the Atlanta Falcons with 31 seconds left in their divisional playoff game. Yes, they had just as quickly lost that lead as the Falcons’ Matt Bryant kicked a 49-yard field goal with eight seconds to play, giving the Falcons a 30-28 victory and a berth in next Sunday’s NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers.
But Wilson already was thinking about the offseason, and next season, and just how good this young team can be.
“When the game was over, I was very disappointed,” Wilson said. “But right before I got back to the tunnel, I got so excited for the next opportunity next year. I’m looking forward to what we have in the future. We have a great football team.”
But for now, disappointment ruled the day – on a day when the Seahawks fell behind 20-0 in the first half and then rode their rookie QB to a 28-point second half.
Wilson passed for a career-high 385 yards while completing 24 of 36 passes. He threw for two touchdowns, ran for a third and got the Seahawks in position for what appeared to be the game-winner – Marshawn Lynch’s 2-yard TD run so late in the fourth quarter.
“We made some great plays coming back,” Wilson said. “That resiliency we showed was unbelievable. But that’s what we’re all about.”
While the Seahawks were flaunting their resiliency, it was the Falcons who found a way to prevail in the end. Matt Ryan passed for three touchdowns in winning his first postseason game, after losing in his first three tries. He also passed the Falcons into position for Bryant’s game-winner.
“It was real exciting for the whole comeback, and then really a letdown,” tight end Zach Miller said. “It was fun for a while and then really disappointing.”
Rather than bask in the what-could-have-been of this game, the offense couldn’t overcome the what-wasn’t. The Seahawks had the ball at the Falcons 11- and 6-yard line in the first half, but came away with frustration rather than points.
“It’s a pretty tough one to get over,” All-Pro center Max Unger said. “It’s going to be a long offseason thinking about this one. We put ourselves in that hole on offense, definitely. That was kind of our downfall. This is totally on the offense.”
It didn’t sit too well with the defense either, as the All-Pro duo of cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas declined comment, as did linebacker K.J. Wright.
But once the disappointment of how this game ultimately ended subsides – if that’s possible – there was a lot to like about the way the Seahawks did not give up.
Despite damaging the plantar fasciitis in his foot in the first quarter, Miller returned to catch eight passes for 142 yards and one of Wilson’s TD passes. Golden Tate had six catches for 103 yards and Wilson’s other TD.
Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and Thomas intercepted Ryan passes, while Wagner and Wright each had eight tackles.
“There are going to be so many people that are going to ask, ‘What defined the game in terms of plays?’ ” Wilson said. “I think what defined the game was our attitude. The way we played. Our resilience. Our focus to play the game at a high level for the rest of the game.
“Anybody watching this game who knows football knows that was an unbelievable comeback.”
One that has Wilson eager to comeback as quickly as possible and start building for next season.