By Mike Salk
It would be tempting to discount the Seahawks' win over the Eagles.
Sure, you could argue, the Eagles were playing without their top quarterback, top receiver, and a starting cornerback. They are a dead team walking after a short week and a long trip. They are playing for nothing, and quite possibly they are trying to get their coach fired.
You could make those arguments and not be wrong, but you'd be missing the point.
The Seahawks won because they played hard on Thursday night. It sounds like such a simple statement, but it isn't. In fact, they haven't had a single game in two years where you could accuse them of playing anything but hard. They haven't always played well, but they have never quit.
And the Eagles showed us all just how easy it is to quit. Need proof? Go back and watch both of Marshawn Lynch's touchdown runs. I don't know whether it was more telling that nearly every single Eagle touched him on the first one or that none of them touched him on the second!
Both plays were unacceptable and lend credibility to folks anxious to fire coach Andy Reid.
But that's a problem for the perpetually angry Philly fans to address. Here in Seattle, we can still watch games this weekend and hope for Chicago, Detroit and New York to all lose. That would put the Seahawks just two games off the pace with four left to play. It won't be an easy road, but with winnable games against the Rams and Cardinals plus a pivotal road matchup in Chicago, it isn't impossible just yet.
You may believe that or not. It's up to you.
But the good news is, the Seahawks players believe it.
Why else would they play so hard just five days after seemingly blowing their season in a terrible 10-minute stretch against the Redskins?
After the game, Pete Carroll said that the this team always plays hard and that they have plenty left to accomplish this season.
"Maybe some teams quit this time of year," he said. "But we're still trying to do something. We're still trying to get something accomplished this year. There's a lot of cool stuff out there still."
One player told me after the game that they play hard because they genuinely like each other and don't want to let each other down. Quite frankly, I don't care what they use to motivate themselves. Love, hate, revenge, or even the pride and glory of playing in front of a national audience (see Lynch, Marshawn). It all works as long as it leads to supreme effort.
With their fifth win, the Seahawks have moved out of the top of the draft and could find themselves picking later than even the top half of the first round. And while that thought may depress one half of my personality -- the part that is desperate for the next franchise quarterback -- the other half hopes they can be “that team” that no one wants to play in the second half of the season.
“That team” tends to build on its success the following year, much like this season's Lions. They played hard down the stretch last year even after they were eliminated and it sure seemed to give them the confidence they needed for a hot start this season.
Can the Seahawks be the team to make that leap next year? We won't know for a while, but we can be sure that they'll play hard to get there.