ST. LOUIS – Pete Carroll, the moneybag in his hand, addressed the striped mammoth in the room first.
“No, no,” the Seattle Seahawks coach said Wednesday, when asked if he would give back a controversial victory over the Green Bay Packers in Week 3. “We’re fortunate we got a win under extreme circumstances, and we feel very fortunate that we got that done.”
But the mushroom cloud that rose after a red-faced officiating blunder – what’s the hardest part about moving past that?
“That you drag it,” Carroll continued, speaking to St. Louis media via teleconference. “You drag the conversation and you drag your focus into the next week. … We’ve had a big approach to all of that that we’ve worked on – so that you don’t just try to pull it out when the time comes.”
There’s always a sunrise after the circus. On Monday, Carroll fist-pumped into the night after claiming a 14-12 “victory.” Meanwhile, Packers guard T.J. Lang and others with working eyes pumped Twitter with vitriol.
The Seahawks became the NFL’s Bonnie and Clyde with wide receiver Golden Tate’s phantom touchdown on the final play. The replacement officials on the scene morphed into crooked Keystone Cops.
No apologies for the CenturyLink Field heist? No time.
“No matter win or lose, you always have to move on,” Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. “That’s the game of football. That’s the great thing about this sport – you’ve got another great team coming up right behind it, obviously. You really have to prepare and stay in the moment, stay focused on the now and what you have that’s lying in front of you at that current moment.”
For the Seahawks, the moment brings this task: A quick turnaround before a trip next Sunday to the Edward Jones Dome to face the St. Louis Rams. Coach Jeff Fisher’s team will try to dodge a two-game losing streak for the first time this season. Meanwhile, Seattle will try adding to its 10-sack total by nipping at quarterback Sam Bradford. (He was grounded six times Sunday against the Chicago Bears’ pit-bull front.)
But Wednesday afternoon, the Seahawks’ primetime robbery remained a sizzling topic at Rams Park. Reaction in the locker room ranged from a simmer to a boil.
Lukewarm, from defensive end Robert Quinn: “I caught (the replay) the next morning, and I’ve seen a whole bunch of ruckus going on. I mean, it was a crazy call.”
Hotter, from Bradford: “Everyone saw it. We don’t need to get into that. It’s unfortunate that that could affect not only those two teams, but a lot of other teams toward the end of the year when the playoffs start to come into the picture.”
Scalding, from defensive end Chris Long: “I do think it was utter chaos. It has just been crazy. I hope the real guys come back soon. They’re doing the best they can. It’s not really on the replacement refs. You just hope the NFL is doing everything they can to get the real guys back, because that’s what we’re about, right? Protecting the shield? That’s what I heard at the rookie symposium (in 2008). Right now, what we’re doing is putting a price on the integrity of the game. It’s tough to watch.”
Come Sunday, there will be plenty for the Rams to watch for. Running back Marshawn Lynch gashed St. Louis for a combined 203 yards with two touchdowns in Seattle’s sweep last season. Lynch stands fourth in the NFL with 305 yards and one touchdown, and he tagged the Packers for 98 yards on 25 carries.
For him and others who smiled as the nation screamed, moving on after Monday’s melodrama will be like walking off a roller coaster: They better watch their first step. Life after Tate’s interceptouchdown will be a doozy.
“I definitely thought that it was a simultaneous catch,” Wilson said. “It’s one of those things that it’s a tough call. The refs are doing it the best way they can. … It’s obviously a good thing for us that we won. We fought extremely hard for that game and they did, too. It was just a battle to the very, very end, the very last play.”
And that moment was only the start of coping with everything that follows.