Seahawks loss to Panthers sign of new era in Seattle?


This is going to take some getting used to.

More from Seattle Seahawks News

After decades of epic sports angst in this city, the Pete Carroll-led Seahawks rode in on a grand white horse in 2010 and wiped it all away. We were given a Super Bowl championship, and nearly a second. The young stars were locked up contractually for the long haul and the promise of perennial contention drove us all to buy more jerseys, get Lombardi Trophy tattoos, and talk lots and lots of smack.

But after today’s most recent meltdown against the Carolina Panthers, this Seahawk team is starting to more closely resemble something more like the Mariners circa Bobby Ayala or Fernando Rodney, or the WSU football team of…… well, take your pick.

Oct 18, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) celebrates as he runs off the field to the locker room following a 27-23 victory against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Two months ago it would have been unfathomable to imagine that a mostly-healthy Seahawk team would start the season 2-4. Lose two tough games on the road to start things, against two challenging teams, with your Pro Bowl safety sitting at home on his couch? OK. Drop one that you should have won in Cincinnati to a supremely talented Bengal team? Fine…. those games could all be explained away with the old “a-play-here-or-a-play-there” excuse.

But this…….. this is different.

For the 6th time in the last 7 games (Super Bowl XLIX included) the once-recently-formidable Seattle defense coughed up a two-score fourth quarter lead. This one, at home in front of a record CenturyLink Field crowd, hurt the most. Not just because the Hawks let it get away, but because Cam Newton told us all earlier in the week that he wasn’t intimidated by the thought of playing in front of “the 12’s” and then went out and backed it up.

We will all spend the week (a short one at that, with the 49ers looming on Thursday Night Football in four days) trying to analyze the X’s and O’x of this, but the greater fear may be much more far-reaching, and daunting, than that. We’ve now seen this team lose four games, and nearly a fifth, in the exact same manner. Each loss is followed by tough talk from players and coaches of “getting back to work and fixing our mistakes,” and yet those mistakes are repeated again, and again.

My old classmate and colleague Bill Wixey of Q13 News summed it up in a very frank and uncomfortably accurate Facebook post shortly after the game.

"“The Seahawks once-overwhelming and feared home field advantage has disappeared. This latest 4th quarter collapse cements that fact. This Seahawks defense has allowed opposing QB’s to complete better than 90% of their 4th quarter passes this season. That is a fact. Another fact: the Hawks are a victim of their own success. It was a hungry and rabid team that dominated opponents and ignited the passion in a fan base desperate for something to cheer about.”“I’ve been going to Seahawks games literally since day one, in 1976. Trust me, I know what a loud stadium sounds like. This is not a loud stadium.” Bill Wixey – Q13 Anchor"

Wixey goes on to lay some of the blame on the new demographics of “The Clink,” where passionate, lifelong, blue collar fans have largely been replaced by those who can afford tickets on third party websites charging four times face value.

Oct 18, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks fans react after the Carolina Panthers took a lead in the final seconds of a 27-23 victory at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

I see a lot of truth in his argument. For so long, this city was used to sports failure. With a few rare exceptions, losing has been as much a part of our culture as Starbucks is. When we saw this collection of Seahawks start to develop into a contender, and we realized it was REAL, we were over the top with a desperate passion that filtered down to the field and helped push them to even greater heights.

More specifically from a football standpoint, the Hawks have fed off of this, playing a mostly conservative style of defense on their home field, knowing their opponents would ultimately fold under the pressure and play into their hands with a fumble, a missed blocking assignment or a misplaced pass.

No longer.

The combination of opponents becoming more comfortable playing here, and the loss of 20, or 30, or whatever-it-may-be on the decibel meter, is all the difference you need in the uber-competitive NFL. The margin for error is so narrow, and the league is geared so much towards their bluntly-stated goal of parity, that staying on top is increasingly more difficult.

Which aims the focus more squarely on the football itself; the product on the field. No longer able to count on “the 12’s” to impact the game with their sheer will, the team will have to find ways to PLAY BETTER than their opponents in order to contend for championships. Right now that’s not happening.

Focusing on the more technical aspects of why the Seahawks aren’t winning will be left for more analysis here on our site, and countless others, tomorrow and beyond. Today, we mourn the loss of the Seahawks once-legendary home field advantage. The question of whether it can be recaptured is one that probably won’t be answered soon enough.

Next: Keith's 5 takeaways from loss to Panthers

More from 12th Man Rising