RENTON – Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren looked like a spent man Monday afternoon.
He had a cold – presumably from standing in freezing, snowy weather for more than three hours Sunday – that gave his voice a nasal intonation.
He had been up late with his family, reliving the experience of his last game at Qwest Field and the accompanying celebrations. And he has been through one of the most trying seasons of his career.
Thankfully, it’s all over and he can rest now.
Wait a second. It’s not? He still has a week left?
Indeed, though Sunday’s emotional 13-3 victory over Brett Favre and the New York Jets seemed like the conclusion of both this season and his Seattle coaching career, the Seahawks have to prepare for one last game at the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in a meaningless affair for both teams.
Holmgren will be teary-eyed and emotional one last time.
The Jets game “was a closure with a different group. It was a closure with our fans at Qwest,” Holmgren said. “I have not had closure with my players yet, you know? We’ll play the game Sunday, and then … Monday will be my meeting, like always, the day after our season ends.
“I suspect Monday will be a pretty emotional day for me.”
Though many Seahawks players said they won Sunday’s game for Holmgren, who took a lap around the stadium afterward to wave to and thank the fans, Holmgren said he did not reference his own situation once last week.
He won’t this week, either.
“My approach to last week’s game was the same approach I used the week before and the week before that: We’re not in the playoffs, but how we finish the season is very, very important for the organization, for them as individuals and so on,” he said.
“I’ll repeat that again. We’re going to go down and play the team that beat us in the division, that won the division. We have to approach it a certain way. I’m not going to come in with some gimmick.”
If nothing else, the trip to Glendale, Ariz., this week may make Holmgren reflective about missed opportunities. The Cardinals have lost their past two games by a combined score of 82-21 and they have dropped four of their past five. If they lose to Seattle on Sunday, they will win the NFC West with an 8-8 record.
Granted, the Cardinals clinched the division Dec. 7 and have had little to play for – much as it was for Seattle last season. Still, had the Seahawks been able to pull out victories in close losses to Philadelphia, Washington and particularly in the first Arizona game, this game might have been far more important.
“It’s easy to think that way, but the fact of the matter is … give Arizona credit,” Holmgren said. “They’ve done something they haven’t done in a long, long time there. Less with what’s going on in Arizona, my regret is … opportunity lost. You think about what maybe we could’ve done this season. But the fact is, we didn’t. The season is the season.”
No snowball problems
Though hundreds of fans threw snowballs at the end of Sunday’s victory as Holmgren lapped the stadium, some hitting referees, security personnel and opposing players, Holmgren played down the actions by the home crowd.
“First of all, the people at our stadium don’t see snow that much, so it had to be a tremendous novelty,” Holmgren said. “So I know if my grandkids were up there, and there was a snowball sitting right there – and they’re good kids, they’re not mean kids – it’d be pretty hard for them not to throw it. No one got hurt, which is a good thing, and the best thing we can do probably, is (work on) our preparation in getting the snow out of the stadium if it should ever happen again.”
Injured players rebound
Holmgren said quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who has missed the past three games with a sore back, “has a chance” to play against the Cardinals. However, Holmgren later said that it did not seem realistic for Hasselbeck to play in the season finale. If he does sit again, it will be his ninth missed game this season.
Holmgren said linebackers Leroy Hill (shoulder) and D.D. Lewis (shin) also could play, as well as safety Jordan Babineaux, who was held out of the Jets game with a concussion.
Holmgren changed the players’ schedule in deference to Christmas. He will have them practice today – their usual day off – and give them Christmas off.