Having been a fan of the Seattle Seahawks long enough to remember Jack Patera walking the sidelines of the Kingdome, and whether as part of the AFC West or NFC West, the Seahawks have always been a team that leans heavily on playing at home. The road–well, that is a different story entirely. I looked back at some statistics (going back to 1976) but to be honest, our record on the road is entirely too depressing to list, year by painful year. There have been some exceptions and there is no doubt that there have been some huge road wins. But even the 2005 season (our best ever) each of the regular season losses (Jacksonville, Washington, and Green Bay) occurred on the road. Some will argue that the Green Bay game should not fully count as we were resting players for the coming playoffs, but even if you throw that game out, you are still left with two games lost, both on the road.
Put simply, Seattle is not a road team. Remembering back to the days when the Seahawks belonged to the AFC West, the hope was always that we’d split the tough games with our conference rivals and then hope to win a few non-conference games along the way. Despite our hopes there were many years of .500 or near .500 football. In fact, records of 8-8, 7-9, or 9-7 have been recorded in 18 of our 35 seasons. That’s .500 or one game off of .500 football. I did not review each of those seasons to determine how the records played out as it relates to home/away games, but I doubt anyone would be surprised by the breakdown.
In 2010 only 2 of our 7 wins came on the road. Our road losses saw us outscored 196-75. That is not to take away from our win at Chicago and at Arizona. Both games (as it turned out) were must-wins. Neither is it my goal to depress people, though I’m not sure I have not somewhat depressed myself to some extent.
My point is that we while we have the best fans in the entire NFL, and while we cause earthquakes when Beast Mode is blasting through an opposing defensive line, we cannot live on home wins alone. I have heard a great deal this week about how great it will be to be back home. That “The Link” will be a welcome break from what has been a tough start to the 2011 season. I completely agree. I cannot wait to turn on the game Sunday and watch a game played out in our backyard; our fans, our city. We need a win this week and being at home will no doubt create the atmosphere needed for a big win.
But atmosphere alone does not win games. Our players win games. Hard work, dedication, details, and belief in the team, all of those things contribute to winning games. Sometimes the atmosphere is great and everything “seems” to go our way. Other times, the environment is hostile. And those games are tough. Those games don’t always fall our way. Losing a few games is not the end of a season. But just playing well at home is the very definition of being mediocre. When I hear our fans talk about getting back to Seattle, I worry that we have created an illusion that begins to dictate a story that ends with us being 8-8. We should want better. When we play games on the road (as was the case with Pittsburgh last week) I heard a lot of fans talk about it being a tough one, but that we’d be “home” soon. That feels casual, and starts to feel like the only games that matter are the ones we play in Seattle. Those are often the fun ones (when we kick the hell out of the defending Super Bowl champions) but they are half of the story. We should want to be respected no matter where we play, no matter when the game starts, and regardless of conditions. We need to start winning when we are away. No truly great team I can think of has ever wanted anything less.
Winning forever begins with winning; wherever we play!