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Commentary: The Seahawks aced the pop quiz in Carolina, but failed final exams in Dallas

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 05: Michael Gallup #13 of the Dallas Cowboys comes down with the touchdown reception against Shaquill Griffin #26 of the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter during the Wild Card Round at AT&T Stadium on January 05, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

This message is for anyone who aced a practice test but failed to pass the real thing – anyone who got a 1300 on the PSAT but then couldn’t break 1000 when it counted the most.

That’s what the Seahawks did yesterday. And let me explain.

In November, the Hawks had their practice test: The game in Carolina. And they passed that test with flying colors. When their dominant run game was clearly getting stuffed for the first time in eight weeks, the Seahawks shifted gears, turning to Russell Wilson to air it out. It resulted in 20 second-half points – and Seattle won the game.

Afterwards, the headlines read: How win over Panthers showed the Seahawks have truly become a balanced offense. Pete Carroll even said about the running game, “Sometimes, it isn’t going to work and you’ve got to be able to go the other way.”

It was a lesson learned on that “practice test” in Carolina that somehow – someway – didn’t translate well in yesterday’s “final exam.”

For as much success the Seahawks had running the football this season, it was no surprise that Dallas had the fifth-ranked rushing defense in the league. And the Hawks hadn’t faced a Top-5 rush defense since Week 2 against the Bears! So sure, they might have been optimistic about establishing that run game in Dallas, but based on their struggles against Carolina – the 12th-best rushing defense – you’d think they’d have been more open or willing to revert to a Plan B.

In essence, you live by the sword, die by the sword. But if you know your opponent might break out a Bazooka, there’s nothing wrong with packing a little extra artillery too!

Just listen to what Russell Wilson said earlier today: “When you reflect back on (the game), we were throwing it pretty well, and I think we could’ve kept doing that some more. But also you want to stay true to running the ball too. This game was kind of similar to the Carolina game, I felt like a little bit. They did a pretty good job of stopping us on the run – in that game we had to throw the ball and make some plays. And I think his game was kind of similar in that sense. If we could’ve (thrown the ball) maybe a little earlier.”

Now, we’re not giving anyone a free pass, and I understand that everyone is culpable in a loss – that there were missed assignments on defense and special teams – that they gave up 380 yards to the Cowboys and that Dak Prescott’s 3rd and 14 conversion prevented the Hawks from getting one last chance. It’s a play that will continue to haunt a lot of us in our sleep.

And it goes without saying that none of this takes away from the incredible season they had – the unexpected success, the exceeding of expectations, the renewal of an energy and spirit inside that locker room that bodes well for future success.

I’ve been the biggest champion of this team in terms of what they’ve accomplished – it’s truly remarkable.

But it also comes with the belief that what we saw yesterday didn’t rise to their true potential this season, and it began with exploring alternatives on offense to get the job done. It’s what they did six weeks ago in Carolina – but in Dallas, it just wasn’t there.

Every season is a journey with a number of lessons learned along the way. And I’d argue that the Seahawks had the answers to their biggest exam this season – and they simply didn’t pass that test.

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