SEATTLE - Don't believe the idea that everyone on the Seahawks knew they would come back, had faith they would win and never allowed the thought of defeat to cross their mind. Because on the sideline late in Sunday's NFC Championship Game, at least one of the players was talking out loud about how much of a drag it was going to be to lose.
And then that player made a key play to prevent it.
Kickers usually come into focus in overtime games because of critical field goals, but Steven Hauschka found his shining moment on an onside kick. He was behind a critical play, topspinning the ball toward Packers tight end Brandon Bostick, who bobbled it before Seattle's Chris Matthews recovered it. That gave the ball back to the Seahawks, who drove for the go-ahead points late in the fourth quarter before winning the game, 28-22, in overtime.
"The Green Bay player, I thought he was going to pull it down," said Hauschka, clearly Seattle's most pessimistic player. "But there's a ton of spin on that ball. I'm sure it seemed like an eternity for him. It's not an easy play for that guy."
Still, Bostick had the ball in his hands. Had he secured it with 2:09 left and the Packers ahead 19-14, chances are they would have weathered the comeback attempt. "I felt the ball in my hands, and it just slipped away," Bostick said. "I feel like I let everyone down."
It wasn't the only big special- teams play. The Seahawks scored their first points of the game on a fake field goal when holder Jon Ryan rolled to his left and lofted a 19-yard touchdown pass to wide-open Garry Gilliam, a backup tackle.
"I want to try to get in the end zone myself," Ryan said of the run-pass option. "I've never been there before. I was hoping to run it in, but it didn't happen that way, so I was happy to pass it."
"I saw the guy that would have been covering me shoot down," Gilliam said, "so I knew the ball had to be coming to me. I just had to catch it and score."
Even with those points in the third quarter, which cut the Packers' lead to 16-7, Hauschka thought his team's run was coming to an end. "I saw fans leaving and I thought the game was done," he said. "We talked about what a waste it was to have a season end like this. We literally did think it was done. But you can't ever count us out, I guess."
On a team with a Super Bowl winner at quarterback in Russell Wilson and one of the most feared rushers in the game in Marshawn Lynch, on a squad whose defense goes by the nickname "Legion of Boom," it was the special teams that came up with arguably the most important plays to get them back to the Super Bowl.
"You never want your offense to struggle, but when they do, you have to come up big," Ryan said. "Whether you are the punter or the special-teams unit, we had a couple of big plays there to help them out."
All that's missing for the crew is a catchy nickname.
"It's hard with a huge group," Hauschka said.
But what does he know?