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SIDELINES: Playoff loss was an emotional roller coaster for this Seattle Seahawk fan
Professional sports are the greatest and worst, all rolled into one.
For a diehard fan, when your team is rolling, there is nothing better. Oppositely, when things turn sour, it truly feels like the world is ending.
There is also that rare time where those two emotional roller coasters intersect and take that diehard fan on the ride of his or her life. It happened early Sunday afternoon when my beloved Seattle Seahawks were bounced from the NFL Playoffs in excruciating fashion by the Atlanta Falcons.
It was an emotional roller coaster that played out in just a 31-second time frame inside the Georgia Dome — down, up and way, way down again.
I am born and raised in the Puget Sound area and have been a fan of the Seahawks since I can remember watching a TV. So, as a lifelong Seattle sports fan, I have just come to expect the worst to happen at critical moments.
No matter how hard you fight to keep that idea out of your head, it always creeps in. That just comes with the territory being a fan of the Seahawks, Mariners and the old, and hopefully new, SuperSonics.
But, I honestly thought the Seattle curse had finally rolled off the Seahawks' back when Marshawn Lynch scored from 2-yards out to cap a 20-point, second-half comeback against the top-seeded Falcons.
The Lynch touchdown gave the Seahawks a 28-27 lead with just 31 seconds on the clock. We had a party at our house to watch the game and when Lynch crossed the goal line, everybody was yelling, hugging and even an impromptu make-out session between a pair of longtime fans, grossing out all the kids in attendance.
It was euphoria. It was awesome. It was unbelievable. It was too good to be true.
And, in the end, it actually was too good to be true. As everybody knows, the Falcons drove right down the field and kicked a 49-yard field goal (after one practice attempt) to win the game.
Just when I thought my pessimistic Seattle sports outlook had been turned on its head, back it came.
There is nothing quite like the special bond that forms between a region and a sports team. It happened late in the season with the 'Hawks and you could feel the buzz. Jerseys, T-shirts, sweatshirts and blue and green flags were everywhere. The excitement was palpable and its the beginning of what seems like a long love affair between the Seahawks and the region.
It happened in 1995 with the Mariners with Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez and Randy Johnson. But that special relationship ended way too prematurely. Griffey and Johnson were traded and several other terrible decisions by the front office led to what we see at Safeco Field today.
But this Seahawk team does seem a lot different from the 2005 squad that lost in the Super Bowl to the Steelers. That group was highlighted by guys like Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander and an old offensive line, anchored by Walter Jones. All those guys were in the back ends of their careers.
This year's edition has an extremely young core group of players, who should all be back for numerous seasons. In short, the loss to Atlanta didn't seem to be Seattle's last shot at a Super Bowl title.
It's obvious, the franchise is in great hands with Russell Wilson at the helm. In the quarterback-driven NFL, Seattle has a stud play caller who is going to be around the Seahawks' facility for a long, long time.
I'm assuming Seattle is going to take any draft pick they can get for backup QB Matt Flynn in the offseason and give Wilson a big-time bump in salary more deserving of a starting quarterback in the NFL.
It was also awesome to see Wilson's attitude after the devastating loss. I know how I felt and I'm just a normal dude who live in Twin Lakes. I can't only imagine how the Seahawk players coped with the loss.
But Wilson was the rock that you dream about having in a leadership position on a football team. The dude is truly unflappable. Just look at his comments after Sunday's loss.
"It was a great battle," Wilson said. "Obviously, it's unfortunate that we lost the game. We have a lot to look forward to. Now the preseason basically starts — the offseason, I guess you could say. It really starts now. That's what we talked about in our team meeting and that's what I've been talking about in terms of the guys in the locker room."
Just minutes after the Seahawks were bounced from the playoffs on a last-second field goal, Wilson was already thinking about next season. You can't teach that.
"He's just getting started," fullback Michael Robinson said about Wilson. "That's the thing, man. He can will you to a victory. That's what you want in your leader. That's what you want in your quarterback. He can only get better, and I look forward to seeing it."
I also look forward to seeing what happens next with Wilson and the Seahawks. You can't beat the emotional roller coaster sports can take you on.