Pete Carroll didn't spend much time celebrating his inclusion in the recently unveiled Seahawks is focused on getting back to a Super Bowl, a place he and his team hasn't been since the end of the 2014 season.. Instead, the 68-year-old head coach of the
Carroll is one of just six active head coaches that has led his team to a Super Bowl victory. In 2013, his fourth year in Seattle, his Seahawks pummeled Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Carroll also belongs to a much smaller group of coaches, the ones who lost the Super Bowl a year after winning it, a list that includes Tom Landry, Joe Gibbs, Mike Holmgren, and Bill Belichick, whose Patriots dethroned his Seahawks after coming up with a game-saving interception one yard from the end zone to preserve their 28-24 victory.
"It was such an emotional way to lose for everybody, and we had to rebuild everybody's brain, "Carroll said of the loss. "We just bludgeoned our way through that. I tried to just make sure that I was unwavering. So, that was the challenge: To allow for the grieving and all of that, and then see what the issues were, and then put it back together. Yeah, that was hard. It was a hard challenge. It was really hard on some players. And some of us will never get over it."
Instead of joining Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, Jimmy Johnson, Mike Shanahan, and Belichick as a back-to-back Super Bowl champion head coach, Carroll spent his 2015 offseason trying to keep Seattle from joining the list of Super Bowl runner-ups that failed to even qualify for the playoffs the following season. And after a 2-4 start, the 2015 Seahawks rebounded to finish with a 10-6 record. They managed to defeat the Vikings in Minnesota in the wild-card round before coming up short against the eventual NFC champion Panthers in the second round.
Despite injuries, roster turnovers and other personnel changes, Carroll has continued to keep the Seahawks near the top of the NFL food chain. Since their loss to New England in Super Bowl XLIX, the Seahawks have compiled a 53-33-1 overall record that includes four playoff berths.
Last season, Seattle went 11-5 during the regular season, the team's best record since their 2014 title defense. And despite a slew of injuries along with the league-issued suspension of receiver Josh Gordon, the Seahawks, led by Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson (who enjoyed arguably his finest season in Seattle), defeated the Eagles in Philadelphia in the wild-card round before falling to a considerably deeper Packers squad in the second round.
"We just did what we always do -- just keep competing, you know," Carroll said of Seattle's ability to avoid a Super Bowl hangover. "When people saw it as a rebuild, or this or that, whatever they thought it was gonna be -- that's you guys talking, not us. We just did what we knew how to do: keep battling and not give in to anything and not make any projections like, 'Let's do something for the next two years or three years.' We went for it again, and that's really the only way that we'll ever do it. And so, I was never surprised."
While no NFL coach has been able to consistently produce the type of success that Belichick has enjoyed in New England, Carroll's ability to keep Seattle competitive is on par with what Mike Tomlin has been able to do in Pittsburgh. Tomlin, the NFL's second-longest tenured head coach behind Belichick, has never had a losing record as he approaches his 14th season with the Steelers. But like Tomlin, Carroll has been unable to get back to the Big Game after losing the Super Bowl, something that continues to motivate him as he begins his 11th season in Seattle.
And while the pain of Super Bowl XLIX may never fully subside, Carroll said that he has found a positive from that experience, one that may help him get Seattle back to another Big Game in the not too distant future.
"I would say this to you: Knowing the pain of that and the discomfort of that helps me, in a sense," Carroll said. "It always has. It's like, I've got a few things that have happened in the past that make me what I am and make me do what I do and hold the edge and fight to be what I'm capable of being, and that was one of those moments.
"It's a challenge. That's what it does: it challenges your approach and your philosophy and your guts and all that. And that's good -- it's a good thing. It's what makes you stronger. And I don't ever want to lose and learn; let the other guys learn the hard way. But when you've got that situation, it's how you deal with it."