December 13, 2011

Seahawks 30, Rams 13

It's easy to forget this, but a year ago, the Seahawks were also 6-7 at this point. Even though the happenstance of being in the historically weak 2010 NFC West kept that team atop the division, that was a bleak time for a Seattle team in transition. They were in the middle of a stretch where they'd lose five out of six games, and had just been blown out by the 49ers. They looked like the worst kind of mixture of fading veterans and youngsters utterly out of their depth- In retrospect it's astounding that they got within 2 wins of the Super Bowl with such marrow-deep flaws.

A year later the record is the same (and the playoff probabilities much lower), but the FEELING about the team has changed immeasurably for the better. They are still flawed, and still making mistakes- but their talent, hunger, and will to win are becoming easier to see with each passing week. The contrast to the forlorn Rams, who have a small handful of promising players but almost NOTHING else to create hope for the future, is striking.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. The Seahawks were supposed to sink under the incompetent rah-rah leadership of Pete Carroll while the Rams started their decade-long reign at the top of the NFC West... as Sam Bradford became an elite quarterback slicing and dicing the hapless secondaries unfortunate enough to face him. Instead, Bradford is banged up and regressing (and has a whiff of Rick Mirer right now), and their coach is probably going to get fired. And the Seahawks? Pete Carroll is right on the verge of decisively proving all the naysayers wrong. Carroll and John Schneider are only in year two of a total rebuild, but they are constructing an intense, physical, mentally tough roster. If the Holmgren Hawks were about precision and execution, the Carroll Hawks are about BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA.

In last night's flawed performance, we still saw a Seahawks team that was able to put away an inferior opponent (something they failed to do just two weeks ago against DC). Marshawn Lynch was more effective as the game dragged on and the St. Louis defense started to get gassed- Big ups again to Tom Cable for coaching up Seattle's spare-parts offensive line. Tarvaris Jackson missed too many open targets, but he still had an efficient game, didn't throw any picks, and made a handful of REALLY impressive throws. No one had a more spectacular night than Doug Baldwin, however... The Stanford kid had a big kickoff return, blocked a punt, downed a punt inside the 5, caught a touchdown, and was Seattle's leading receiver.

Once again the Seattle secondary was a joy to observe, despite a number of flags issued against them (a few of which were at best borderline). Browner, Sherman, Chancellor and Thomas... That is a quartet I want to see snuffing opposing offenses for the next decade or so. They collectively suffocated St. Louis' air attack, and the front seven kept Steven Jackson under 100 yards (as the Hawks of done EVERY time Jackson has played against us- Ever).

The Seahawks have now won 13 out of the last 14 games against the Rams- That's satisfying, but it still hasn't quite made up for the pain of 2004. Perhaps another 10 or 12 in a row will do the trick.

Now we look forward to Chicago and another must-win game. The Bears are still dangerous, even without Cutler and Forte, and even riding a 3-game losing streak... But this is a game I truly believe the Seahawks will win. If they do, it will set up an apocalyptic Christmas Eve showdown with the 49ers at Seahawks Stadium. If the Seahawks are still in the playoff chase that day, it will be one of the most emotionally charged regular-season games we've seen in a while.

There's a lot of other things beyond Seattle's control that need to happen for the Hawks to make the playoffs- But I'd bet a few crates of Skittles that they'll win the last three and get to 9-7. I think we've reached a point where the Twelve Army has plenty of reasons to believe.

What do you think, sirs?

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