The Seahawks’ five-year run of NFC Divisional Round playoff appearances will come full circle Saturday when the team faces the Atlanta Falcons for a spot in the NFC Championship Game.
Four years ago Friday, on January 13th, 2013, the Seahawks lost 30-28 in Atlanta to the Falcons in the Divisional Round.
“I’m looking forward to what we have in the future,” rookie quarterback Russell Wilson said after that loss. “We have a great football team.”
The loss served as an unofficial launching point of the dominant Seahawks that fans around the league have come to expect under coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
Developing the core
Down 27-7 heading into the 4th quarter of the 2013 game against Atlanta, Wilson lead the Seahawks on a comeback and the team took a 28-27 lead on a 2-yard touchdown run from Marshawn Lynch with 31 seconds left in the game.
At that point it appeared the Seahawks were headed to their second NFC Championship in franchise history where they’d face the 49ers for a spot in Super Bowl XLVII.
However, 2016 MVP candidate Matt Ryan shocked the Seahawks when he drove the Falcon’s offense 41 yards in 23 seconds, and Matt Bryant kicked a 49 yard field goal to give the Falcons a 30-28 win.
“When the game was over I was disappointed,” Wilson said after the loss. “But right before I got back to the tunnel … walking off the field … I got so excited for the next opportunity and next year.”
The next year, Wilson, running back Marshawn Lynch, and top-ranked defense in the NFL capped off a 13-win regular season with a 43-8 Super Bowl XLVIII victory over the Denver Broncos -- the first in franchise history.
Rising starts such as cornerback Richard Sherman, linebacker Bobby Wagner and strong safety Kam Chancellor had arrived on the national scene. The Seahawks core that Pete Carroll and John Schneider envisioned when they took over the team in 2010 was coming together.
'Every game, every process’
In 2014 many of the core Seahawks returned and lead the team back to Super Bowl XLIX where they lost 28-24 against the New England Patriots. In doing so, the Seahawks became the first team to appear in back-to-back Super Bowls since the Patriots won back-to-back Super Bowls in the 2003-2004 NFL seasons.
On Saturday, much of the young core from 2012 returns to the Georgia Dome to take on the No. 2 seed Atlanta Falcons as a group of veterans with extensive playoff experience.
Since the 2013 loss to the Falcons, the Seahawks have gone 45-18-1 in the regular season and 7-2 in the playoffs, with three NFC West Division championships and the Super Bowl XLVIII win.
In the team's first 26 years, they went to the playoffs five times. A win on Saturday would put the now experienced Seahawks one game closer to playing in their third Super Bowl in four years.
"We take one day at a time," Wilson said last Saturday. "We’ve always enjoyed every game, every process, every practice, every meeting. I think that’s why we’ve been successful over the past five years”