Thanks for the write-ups you've done all season long on these post game thoughts (in this case we should definitely say Post Mortem thoughts). If you don't mind me chiming in, I'll comment on a few things and then I've got a few random thoughts of my own ...
1) Well, the Magic Carpet Ride is finally over ... and to be honest, I do have a lot of the same feelings right now as I did back in 1995 when the Mariners went down to the Indians in the ALCS. Like a lot of you, my emotions are pretty raw right now. When the comeback was happening, there was a piece of me that honestly believed that the Seahawks were going to get it done. Unfortunately, when I realized that there 31 seconds left my heart sank, as in my heart of hearts I knew that it just wasn't going to be today.
2) Completely agreed Kip -- Russell Wilson was awesome today. Eerily, I don't know why, but I'm drawing parallels in my mind right now to Wisconsin's Rose Bowl 35-28 Loss to Oregon. Hmm. That said, I completely agree that this is the beginning of a new era in Seahawks football ... and that that future is very bright. When it's all said and done for Wilson, I fully believe he will have guided the Seahawks to and won at least 1 Super Bowl (if not a few).
3) Regarding the game today, it just goes to show you that you CANNOT allow yourself to get down by THAT many points AND turn the ball over on the road. Just cannot do that and expect to win at home. Home field advantage is everything. If this game had been played at Century Link ... I fully believe we would be heading to Candlestick next week.
4) Have to agree with you that Sweezy's inexperience was a factor in this game. I know that Pete Carroll and Tom Cable say that he is the most athletic lineman they have and that they like his makeup ... but didn't we hear those same kinds of comments about James Carpenter? You just cannot have that kind of inexperience out there in a playoff game.
5) A big reason that we lost this football game was Seattle's inability to get Marshawn Lynch and the running game going. If you can't get that going ... and don't keep Matt Ryan and those receivers off the field ... you're going to lose. We lost the Time of Possession Battle in this one -- a big No No on the road.
6) Chris Clemons's absence loomed very large in this game. Without the ability to get consistent pressure with just the Front 4, that meant we had to blitz more. Against a team like this that has so many weapons, that's the death knell. Also, it was quite shocking to see a back like Michael Turner (who has really beat no one this year) to have the kind of game he had. To me, that is also directly related to Clemons being out. I have to agree with your point completely that Bruce Irvin (to me) seems like more of a situational pass rusher -- that's his upside. Now that's fine, but you've got to resign yourself to the fact that that's what he is ... and plan accordingly. Irvin just isn't all that good against the run ... and man, did it showin this game.
7) Like you guys, the whole Time Out thing sticks in my craw (which I know it shouldn't ... but it did) since their kicker MISSED IT the first time. UGH! If we only hadn't called TO ... he'd have shanked it and the game would be over. Irrational thought for sure of mine ... but it's just one of a dozen or more "what if's" in this game.
Flipping the page and breaking out the shopping list for the offseason, the needs on this team (from what I can see) are:
1) Defensive End/Line (Pass Rusher/Run Stuffer Combo ideally)
2) A young LB to succeed Leroy Hill (sorry man, but it's time) -- can we clone Aldon Smith or Novorro Bowman?
3) Another CB to help compete with Jeremy Lane for the Nickel spot and a guy who could start if need be.
4) Another WR with speed who can really stretch the field and put pressure on defenses.
5) Offensive Line depth (maybe some more of those later round nuggets with starting potential).
To me, the first 2 things are priorities 1A and 1B. Absolutely, positively have GOT to find a way to improve the pass rush and improve against the run. If that means in doing so that Red Bryant moves in to more of a rotational role than he's been in -- I'm fine with that. We saw the benefit of what you can do if you can generate pressure with just the Front 4 in the last Rams game. I'm looking for absolute stud DE and/or LB's who can really "tilt the room" in this upcoming draft. On the flip side, that Front 4 of the Rams really highlighted to me the real need to improve the Offensive Line. The Rams aren't going anywhere, as they have the youngest corps in the game and under Jeff Fisher are only going to get better.
If we beef things up a bit this offseason (which I know John Schneider is going to do) ... the prospects look bright for next season, given that Russell Wilson and the offense will have an entire training camp together from Day 1 (instead of having to do this 3 QB rotation and figure out who's going to win the job). If we don't blow winable games by playing stupid ... there's no reason that this team can't be 12-4 ... or 13-3 next season and get Home Field Advantage in the playoffs. If I had to bet the farm, I'd bank on that happening next season. Now we got to sit back and watch the Falcons get smoked by the 49ers next week. Can't wait for the offseason and for the roster tweaking to begin.