Winning on the road is all about guts. That catch-all phrase for mental fortitude, heart, resilience, and just outright toughness.
Any time you walk onto another team’s battlefield for a fight, you are the underdog. When that team happens to be the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, you are going into the house of the big dog in the NFL. If you don’t have iron guts they’ll hit you so hard you won’t get up.
That is exactly what happened to the Seattle Seahawks.
On their opening drive the New York Giants punched the Seattle Seahawks and they never recovered. The entire game the Seahawks' offense and defense were reeling like a punch-drunk fighter that didn’t know where his opponent was standing in the ring.
Seahawk tacklers bounced off New York Giants running backs, whether it was the monstrous Brendan Jacobs or the fast Ahmad Bradshaw.
Seattle's defensive backs were out-run and out-muscled by veteran wide receiver Amani Toomer as well as inexperienced wide receiver Domenick Hixon, who was playing for the suspended Plaxico Burress.
I’m sure Burress felt good knowing by the end of the first quarter that his teammates had Seattle beat so he could go do whatever he does when he is missing practices and team meetings.
Even the return of wide receivers Bobby Engram and Deion Branch could not help the stagnant offense mount any kind of attack against the New York Giants' fearsome defense, led by defensive end Justin Tuck.
Tuck was a disruptive monster all day, driving into the backfield and creating openings for his fellow defensive lineman to hurry Matt Hasselbeck.
Branch suffered a heel injury in the second quarter, which didn’t help an already spiraling offense crawl out of the whole they were in. Suffice it to say that the Seahawks' offense had no answer for the Giants' defense, but they did well compared to the Seahawks' defense.
They not only had no answer for the Giants' offense, but they didn’t even look like they were in the same league.
The Seahawks' offense didn’t get the ball much given the fact that the Giants' offense held the ball for 36 minutes because an inept and out-muscled defense couldn’t get a stop. The Giants were able to score on their first six possessions.
This brings the Seahawks back to the classic chicken and egg argument.
If the defense gets more stops and gives the offense more opportunities, will the offense perform better? If the offense sustains drives and gives the defense more time to make in-game adjustments, will the defense perform better?
The answer to that question is that we may never know until at least one of the units starts performing well on a consistent basis.
The Seahawks haven’t had consistently good performances from their offense since 2005. Career and season-ending injuries and free agent losses have turned a once dominant offense into an inconsistent, patchwork offense that doesn’t know whether it will be able to pass or run the ball from week to week.
Even an extraordinary head coach like Mike Holmgren, considered one of the league's premier offensive play callers, can’t create an effective game plan if he doesn’t know what part of his offense will be working from one week to the next. For a man that prides himself on building teams that excel at offensive execution, this situation with the offense has to be disheartening and frustrating.
Even with this loss and the dismal start to Mike Holmgren’s last season, the Seahawks will do the only thing they can do—pick themselves up off the ground, clean up the wounds as best they can, and try again.
It’s a long season and there are 12 more games to be played. As much as the loss to the Giants hurts both their record and pride, it is no great shame to lose to a team the caliber of New York on their home field.
New York took a similar beating from the Dallas Cowboys to open the 2007 season before they turned it around. They turned it around by gutting it out.
That’s all you can do in a brutal 16-game NFL season. With the Green Bay Packers coming to town—another desperate team hanging onto playoff hopes—Seattle will need to bring more intensity next Sunday to match the desperation of the Packers.
The Seahawks can still win the division, so hope shouldn't be lost.
Seattle is only a game and a half out of first place with two games to play against the division leading Arizona Cardinals. If the Seahawks manage to turn their season around, they are going to have to catch their breath, swallow their hurt pride, get back to the game table, and find a way to come out next week and get a win.
That means they are going to have to toughen up where it counts—with guts.
Because football is all about guts. No guts, no glory.