SEATTLE -- Clearly, the Seattle Seahawks have some sort of deal with the devil. Either that, voodoo magic or some sort of reverse logic that makes this team honestly believe it will win no matter how poorly it plays or how far it gets behind.
They did it again Sunday, winning a game when they got slapped around early and made enough mistakes to guarantee defeat for almost any other team at any level.
Even a 21-0 deficit to the winless Bucs wasn’t insurmountable. No team in Seattle franchise history ever had come back from a 21-point deficit. The most was a 20-0 deficit at Denver in 1995 when the Seahawks won 31-27.
“What a day,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “This really is a tremendous statement about our guys hanging together and believing.”
The Seahawks are now 8-1, but they have lived on the edge all season, winning games they easily could have lost. This one wasn’t on the edge. It was in a barrel at Niagara Falls. It’s almost as if this team can’t play its best until it produces its worst.
“We don’t try to do that,” said receiver Jermaine Kearse, who fumbled a kickoff but also had a touchdown catch. “We would prefer to win easy.”
Well, it’s certainly more dramatic this way. The Seahawks are a little like the guy who jumps out of a plane and, just for fun, doesn’t pull the parachute until the last possible moment. It’s scary, but it sure is exciting.
Seattle has won 12 consecutive games at CenturyLink, a place where quarterback Russell Wilson never has lost. He did enough things wrong to lose this one, throwing two interceptions in Tampa Bay territory, including one when Seattle had first-and-goal at the Tampa Bay 3 while trailing 24-17 in the fourth quarter.
“But Russell has one thing all quarterbacks need,” Seattle fullback Michael Robinson said. “A short memory.”
Seattle tied the game on its next possession when Wilson rolled out and threw a short pass to Doug Baldwin for a 10-yard touchdown.
“He never lets a mistake get him down,” Baldwin said of Wilson. “And this is the most resilient team I’ve ever been a part of.”
Carroll has learned never to doubt his second-year quarterback.
“I wouldn’t want anybody else out there,” Carroll said. “I really trust him. He did exactly what we needed him to do. He’s just a tremendous football player and a great leader. I have yet to see Russell get frustrated.”
It was a frustrating ending for the Bucs, who fall to 0-8.
“To come here against the No. 1 team in the NFC and be up 21-0 [and then lose], well, it's really tough to swallow,” Tampa Bay rookie quarterback Mike Glennon said.
After stopping the Bucs on their first overtime possession, Seattle won it with a 27-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka. But the turning point of the game was a 71-yard punt return by Golden Tate late in the third quarter when Seattle trailed 24-14.
“That really hurt us,” Tampa Bay cornerback Darrelle Revis said. “You could feel the momentum shift. When you have a team down like that, you have to choke them out, because great teams can come back, and they are a great team.”
Are they? Maybe, but it’s as unconventionally great as you’ll ever see. The Seahawks' defense gave up 205 yards rushing Sunday. It was the second consecutive game they allowed at least 200 yards rushing, but they won both of them.
Tampa Bay didn’t have a turnover and Seattle had three. The Bucs had the ball for six more minutes than the Seahawks. But Seattle is a team that defies logic. Three touchdowns behind and they don’t even flinch.
"That’s the difference in this team now compared to teams here in the past," Robinson said. "There’s no panic on the sidelines. Guys just stand there and say, 'OK. We’re going to make this happen.'"
The closer they get to disaster, the more they play with reckless abandon. Take Marshawn Lynch, for example. He rushed for 125 yards on 21 carries, but 44 of those yards came on six carries in the overtime series that set up the winning field goal. Lynch left the game in the first half; it was reported he tweaked a knee injury, but Carroll said that was incorrect. “He got a little sick to his stomach,” Carroll said.
So did the Bucs trying to stop him at the end.
Carroll was asked if he ever before coached a team that came back from 21 points down.
“I can’t remember,” He said. "But I know we’ve been down 21 points before.”
A comeback like this one is not something you forget.