Road warriors: Seahawks hoping away success continues in the postseason

SEATTLE — A few inches means the difference of about 2,400 miles for the Seattle Seahawks.

That’s how short they were of the end zone on their final play Sunday night and how far they’ll have to travel this week as a result.

Had Jacob Hollister crossed the goal line on his fourth-down catch instead of getting stopped just shy of it, the Seahawks would have beaten the San Francisco 49ers and claimed the NFC West title. That would have meant the conference’s No. 3 seed and a home game against the Minnesota Vikings this weekend. But the Seahawks’ 26-21 loss to San Francisco means they enter the playoffs as the No. 5 seed and will make a return trip to Philadelphia to play the Eagles (4:40 p.m. ET Sunday) as a wild-card team.

The Seahawks won at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 12 for one of their seven road victories this season, the most in franchise history. Those accomplishments seemed to counterbalance the disappointment of their last-second loss.

“We’ve been road warriors all year,” coach Pete Carroll said. “Our guys have handled it well. Why? I know why we’ve done well on the road. Why we didn’t win more at home, we’ll talk about that in the offseason. But we’re not worried about going on the road, that’s for sure.”

To be sure, the Seahawks would have preferred to spend wild-card weekend at home. They’ve won 10 straight playoff games at CenturyLink Field — including six under Carroll — since a wild-card loss to the St. Louis Rams in January 2005. But they haven’t had the same home-field advantage in the regular season that they once enjoyed and, for whatever reason, were a better team on the road this season (see chart). Their four home wins tied their fewest in 10 seasons under Carroll.

While talking about the Seahawks’ success on the road this season, Carroll has made more than one mention of how they’ve settled into their travel routine. For games on the West Coast or in Arizona or Denver, they’ll usually leave the day before. For any games in Central or Eastern time zones, it’s two days before so players will have longer to adjust to the time change. They went 5-0 this year in 10 a.m. PT kickoffs, which have historically been difficult for West Coast teams traveling east.

If there were such thing as a good year to have to reach the Super Bowl the hard way — with three straight road wins — is this it?

“Yeah, it’s going to have to be,” linebacker K.J. Wright said. “This is what we’re up against. We’re going on the road. Gotta do it three times. It’s been done before. Plenty of teams have done it.”

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