Seahawks get a do-over in Atlanta, where heartbreak gave birth to greatness

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Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks waves the 12th Man flag after the Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers in the 2015 NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field on January 18, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

By Q13 FOX News anchor Bill Wixey

SEATTLE — It’s sort of fitting that the Seahawks would travel to Atlanta for next Saturday’s divisional playoff game, because, after all, that’s where this crazy ride really began for the Hawks.

Seattle entered that 2013 divisional playoff game as underdogs, just as they will next Saturday. The Hawks overcame a 20-point deficit and managed to take the lead with a minute to play. The raucous GeorgiaDome crowd was stunned into silence. But there was too much time left. Matt Ryan connected on three passes, setting Matt Bryant up for the game-winning field goal.

This was Russell Wilson’s second playoff game. The Hawks were young and hungry, the most dangerous team in football, and they felt they really had a chance to win it all. And they would win it all a year later. The Hawks learned some valuable lessons from this experience.

I was in the Seahawks locker room after this game and I will never forget it. Believe me, the players haven’t forgotten it either. It was as emotional an experience as any I’ve encountered over 25 years as a sports reporter.  The Seahawks were wiping away tears as they boarded the bus, devastated that they let this one slip away.

Pete Carroll was tearful as well in the postgame press conference. He gushed at the amazing resilience of his team and his young quarterback.

Russell Wilson then came to the podium, beaming. He said, “I am so excited about what’s ahead for this team. I can’t wait to get back to work.”

I asked Russell about how he managed to stay so calm and poised with so much on the line, and his response was classic.

“When the game is on the line, I want the ball in my hands,” he said. “I don’t get nervous. I get excited. I know what I have to do and I know I can do it. I’m not afraid of greatness.”

In many ways, this game was the turning point for the franchise. The core group of Seahawks stars has since gone on to win three NFC West titles, two conference titles, and a Super Bowl championship. Those unprecedented heights were spawned from the lessons learned in this heartbreaking loss.

So here they go. Back to Atlanta. Underdogs once again.