The atmosphere is electric. The speed of the game jumps. And the pressure? It’s intense. But that’s expected, really, when you get into the dance.
I played on wild-card weekend four times during my journeyman NFL career. We won a couple. And we lost a couple too. The common thread? Everything is magnified when you play in an elimination game.
You can’t stop the run game in the playoffs? Get beat on special teams? Or give up the deep ball in the second half? Man, it’s time to clock out and hand in the gear.
“We’ve got a young group now, and these guys are going to grow up with us, and we’re really excited about that,” he says. “It’s not about spending money; it’s about getting guys in the right spots and doing what you can do.”
“We’ve got a young group now, and these guys are going to grow up with us, and we’re really excited about that.”
Carroll can come off as unduly optimistic. A carnival barker. But he wins just about as often as any coach ever has. More often than not, he pushes the right buttons.
That “just be you” talk to Fant at halftime against the Cardinals?
It sank in and became part of a mantra. Fant returned to the field with a different mindset. He wasn’t perfect in the second half, but he neutralized Jones. The Seahawks scored 28 points and came close to pulling off a stunning comeback.
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The following week, during the regular-season finale against the 49ers, Fant performed nearly as well: no penalties, no major errors, an aggressive, mostly clean game. He often found himself matched against DeForest Buckner, San Francisco’s imposing rookie first-round draft pick. Buckner came away with one solo tackle and no sacks.
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“Whatever it takes, whatever it takes,” Fant keeps telling himself. “Just be you.”