Rather than getting swept away by the building hype for Sunday night’s nationally televised home opener against the 49ers, the Seahawks’ players are following their coach’s it’s-the-biggest-game-because-it’s-the-next-game lead.In Seahawks’ Nation, Sunday night’s nationally televised home opener against the San Francisco 49ers is as big as a football game can be.
No, it’s even bigger than that.
It’s the defending NFC Champions returning to CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks spanked the 49ers 42-13 last December.
It’s two of the teams that had been talked about all offseason as being two of the best teams in the NFL.
It’s the team San Francisco-born Pete Carroll used to coach for against the team he now coaches – on his 62nd birthday, no less.
It’s All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman and leading receiver Doug Baldwin facing their former coach at Stanford – Jim Harbaugh.
It’s a chance for each team to emerge with at least a share of first place in the NFC West, the division the 49ers have won the past two seasons after the Seahawks captured the title in 2010.
It’s national TV, so the whole league and entire football world will be watching.
It is, in a word, huge. It is, in two words, hugely huge.
Just don’t try selling this hysteria to Carroll and his players.
“It’s a championship opportunity for us,” Carroll said on Wednesday.
Wait a minute, is Carroll also being washed away by the tsunami of hype that has been building for the game?
“As it was last week,” he quickly added, referring to the slightly less-hyped season opener against the Panthers in Carolina. “It’s no different. These games will all weigh in at the end. We have a real strict mentality about that. It’s the biggest game in the world to us, and next week will be the same.”
As much as that sounds like coach-speak the week of a big game against a big division rival, it’s the way Carroll does things – and wants his players to do them. Never look ahead. Never overlook an opponent. Never put so much into one game that it can impede achieving season-long goals.
It’s one week at a time, one game at a time, one play at a time, one practice at a time. It’s also a formula that allowed the Seahawks to win seven of their final eight regular-season games last season, then post the franchise’s first road playoff victory since 1983 and also win last week’s season opener against the Panthers.
“That’s just the way we look at it,” Carroll said. “I don’t expect everybody to understand that, or comply with that. That’s just the way we do it.”
Carroll has been preaching to a like-minded crowd of one when it comes to Russell Wilson. But even the Seahawks’ second-year quarterback admitted that his coach’s devotion to this one-game-at-a-time/no-game-is-bigger-than-this-week’s-game attitude has only put more bit into his dogma.
“It’s meshed a lot, and it’s also heightened it,” Wilson said. “We both talk about it a lot. I’ve always talked about it in college; I’ve always talked about it when I was growing up. My dad and my mom always talked about that – just living one day at a time, just trying to do the best you can.”