December 27, 2012

#3roadwinsandXLVII


Just over one month ago, the 2012 Seahawks were left for dead by the national media establishment and a substantial portion of the Twelve Army. They were 6-5, they just lost in overtime to an inferior Miami team, and multiple sources were reporting that cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman were facing 4-game suspensions for P.E.D. use. The familiar narrative about that mediocre, doomed team from South Alaska was playing out as expected.

Since then, Seattle is 4-0. They've won those four games by an aggregate score of 173-47, and for three of those games they've been without Browner (who dropped his appeal and has been serving that 4-game ban).  The defense has evolved into the NFL's best, but the chatter from the media bobbleheads was incessant: The hammer was going to fall on Richard Sherman; He'd lose his appeal and Seattle's playoff hopes would be snuffed out. For example, after his key interception against San Francisco last Sunday, Bonnie Bernstein tweeted "Get those picks in now, Richard Sherman." The die was cast, right?

Once again, these Seahawks have confounded expectations, and enraged the establishment in the process. Richard Sherman successfully appealed his suspension, and will now be available for the rest of the 2012 campaign. Browner will return for the playoffs, so Seattle will hit the tournament with their league-best defense at peak strength. My expectations have been radically re-calibrated from #10winsandaplayoffspot to #3roadwinsandXLVII. At this point I'll be deeply disappointed if the Seahawks don't at least reach the Super Bowl. That doesn't even sound insane anymore, does it? That's how much this team has grown in the last month.

I'll be at the game against St. Louis this Sunday, and like every other Twelve there I'll have one eye on the scores from San Francisco and Minneapolis, hoping that everything breaks the right way to give Seattle a bye and at least one home playoff game. If what's actually happening down on the field is competitive in the 4th quarter, I'll be gobsmacked- I expect a double-digit Seahawks win, at the least. Even if the Hawks have to hit the road in the playoffs I will still go in EXPECTING them to beat every NFC foe they visit.

This is when the "they haven't won a road playoff game in 29 years" chorus chimes in. Well, that 1984 team didn't have Marshawn Lynch. The '87 team didn't have Richard Sherman. The '88 team didn't have Earl Thomas. The '03 team didn't have Kam Chancellor. The '06 team didn't have Sidney Rice, the '07s didn't have Golden Tate, and the '10s didn't have Russell Wilson. This might be the most supremely talented roster in franchise history, and their 3-5 road record masks the fact that they've outscored their opponents 130-104 away from Seahawks Stadium. The nattering nabobs who will say "Seattle can't win road playoff games" are the same ones who said "a 5'10" QB can't thrive in the NFL" and "there's no way Sherman's appeal will succeed." They are behind the curve. They didn't get the memo. They're the ones who get left behind, scratching their heads and furrowing their brows. We are the vanguard. We know the awesome wrath that the Seattle Seahawks are about to unleash upon the rest of professional football- and we will choke on the ashes of our enemies.

I've found myself reflecting on the ridiculous amount of joy this team has already given me this season. The last-second victory on MNF over Green Bay... a goal line stand in Charlotte... a dramatic upset over the mighty Patriots... an overtime triumph in Chicago... a three-game stretch of dominance unseen in the NFL since the days of leather helmets. It's almost impossible to imagine, but what's about to go down might just make all of those memories feel like mere footnotes.

We've just seen the best regular season month of Seahawks football EVER. The encore? The best post-season in Seattle sports history. Just watch.

What do you think, sirs?

December 23, 2012

Seahawks 42, Niners 13


I spent all week downplaying the importance of this game, focused on two facts: It wasn't a "must-win" for the Seahawks, and our chances of winning the NFC West were minimal even with a victory over the 49ers. Once again, the Seahawks revealed just how little I know about professional football. On the sport's biggest stage, they treated the Kings of the Power Rankings like asphalt treated Evel Knievel's bones & organs. With the nation watching, they played their best game of the season, against their strongest opponent and most hated foe. After three delirious, joyful hours it became clear: The Seahawks don't need to be in Seattle to win playoff games. Whether the games are played at FedEx Field, or the Georgia Dome, or Lambeau Field or the Moon, or inside an active volcano, these Hawks can win. They can win FOUR games on the road this postseason, y'all (including the last one down in New Orleans).

Sure, this game won't mean jack if we end up losing at San Francisco in the playoffs- but will the Niners even make it that far in the tournament? After the physical beating/domination they just absorbed on national television San Francisco will be hard-pressed to even win a home game in the Wild Card round. They SHOULD beat Arizona at home next week, but beating, say, Minnesota the week after? Will their minds (and bodies) sufficiently mend by then?

The Seahawks are headed for the playoffs for the 12th time in franchise history, and only in 2005 did they enter the postseason with a better chance to reach the Super Bowl. By pretty much any statistical metric you could cite Seattle boasts the NFL's best defense, and over the last month the offense has grown to match (or arguably exceed) their execution. Tonight the defense fractured a San Francisco offense that dropped 41 points in Foxboro one week ago, forcing two turnovers and keeping the Niners out of the end zone until garbage time.

Kam Chancellor's brutal, legal and unfairly flagged hit on Vernon Davis in the second quarter didn't just knock the Pro Bowl tight end out of the game, it also appeared to break the will of the 49ers. Just a few plays later, Red Bryant's blocked kick was scooped/scored by Richard Sherman and the competitive phase of the game was emphatically ended. Colin Kaepernick was left looking like a rookie QB- Well, a regular, shaky rookie QB... Not a rookie QB like, say... Russell Wilson?

Wilson delivered another performance that somehow topped what he did the week before: 4 TD passes (out of only 15 completions), and an ever-growing ability to frustrate and embarrass enemy defenders with his nimble feet and shoulder-mounted flame thrower/right arm. Whether he wins OROY or not, he's going to be one of the most dangerous QBs in this upcoming postseason. RGIII can have that trophy- I'm sure DangeRuss would rather have the playoff win over Griffin's squad in the Wild Card round. Doug Baldwin made multiple ridiculous catches (and seems to have recaptured his 2011 form), and Marshawn Lynch notched ANOTHER 100-yard rushing performance. Seattle's offense looks primed to fold, spindle and mutilate the opposition over the next six weeks.

If the Seahawks win next week, they'll be the first 11-5 squad in team history, and they'd close out the 3rd best regular season Seattle has ever seen, behind only 2005 (13-3) and 1984 (12-4). Even if they go one-and-done in the playoffs, 2012 will go down as an unreservedly successful campaign. The foundations of great offensive and defensive units are laid, and Seattle has found a quarterback that can lead them to championship contention for the next decade... but there's no reason for these Seahawks to wait in their turn. They can break the rules- They can be the first team with a rookie quarterback to win the Super Bowl.

After what we saw tonight, it's hard to imagine what these Seahawks CANNOT accomplish.

What do you think, sirs?

December 17, 2012

FEAR THE OSPREY


One of my fondest childhood memories is the last month of the 1986 Seahawks season. They entered the final stretch of that campaign 5-6, but went supernova in late November/December. Not only did they win their last five games, they won those games by an aggregate score of 147-74. They whipped the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, they stomped the Raiders on Monday Night Football, and they demolished the eventual AFC Champion Broncos on the final day of the regular season. Every Seahawks fan who witnessed that month of football still asks "what if they had gotten into the playoffs?"

I can't stop thinking back to that 1986 team as I watch the 2012 Seahawks grow faster than Genesis-Planet Spock did in Star Trek III- The biggest difference is that 10-6 WILL get these Seahawks a spot in the playoffs. The '86 Hawks never got the chance to see how far their momentum would carry them in the postseason- Barring a stunning, improbable collapse the '12s will open the playoffs with a visit to the NFC East Champs. May the ghost of Pete Rozelle have mercy on their souls, because it doesn't matter if it's Dallas or DC or New York- The Seahawks are coming, and they are going to lay waste to everything in their path.

Of course I'm disappointed that our chances of winning the NFC West evaporated last night at Foxboro, but no Twelves should fret about this team failing to deliver on the road anymore. Yes, they were 3-5 on the road this season, but all five losses were decided in the last 5 minutes, and Seattle actually OUTSCORED their foes on the road this season 130-104. This isn't the same team that lost at Arizona or Detroit or Miami. They've made a qualitative leap, and that's directly attributable to the swift maturation of Russell Wilson.

I'm running out of breathless, fawning praise for Russell Wilson, who ran for three touchdowns yesterday, threw another and generally made the Buffalo defense look gutless and incompetent. The Offensive Rookie of the Year race is indeed a two-QB race, but it's between Wilson and Robert Griffin III. Wilson is clearly having a better season than #1 overall pick Andrew Luck, and I expect the WolfBadger to cleanly separate from RGIII over the season's final two weeks (side note: How awesome would it be if we drew the Pigskins in the Wild Card round? Wilson would take that huge chip from his shoulder and bludgeon DC's defense into submission with it).

Seattle's dominant performances over the past two weeks have paradoxically hurt Marshawn Lynch's statistics- He's run for 241 yards and four TDs in the last two games ON ONLY 21 CARRIES! While that might piss off people who own Beast Mode in fantasy football, it's great for the Seahawks. Lynch should be relatively healthy and fresh for a DEEP Seattle playoff run. Lynch is on pace for a 1576-yard season. If he gets to 1546, he'll own the 3rd best single-season rushing mark in Seahawks history (with only Shaun Alexander's 2004 & 2005 seasons above his 2012 on the leaderboard).  Both Wilson and Lynch's sterling performances owe a great debt to Seattle's offensive line, which is growing more punishing and dominant every week.

Has there ever been a great defense as incessantly maligned as the Seahawks defense is by Seattle fans? Missing multiple starters yesterday, they still only allowed 17 points- Mix in Earl Thomas' heroic pick-six and that's a net of only 10 points allowed. The Hawks defense is on pace to finish in the NFL's top three in terms of points and yards allowed, and they should finish the year as the best defense in franchise history (based on points allowed). It looks like Richard Sherman is probably safe from a suspension until after this season ends, and we will get Brandon Browner back for the playoffs. There's every reason to think that Seattle will field a very dangerous postseason defense, y'all.

Since the start of Overtime back in Chicago, the Seahawks have outscored the enemy 114-17. They are peaking, and ready to tussle again with their most hated rivals: The San Francisco 49ers. The NFC West title is no longer realistically at stake (I'm the most optimistic of Twelves, but there is NO FUCKING WAY the Cardinals win at Candlestick Week 17), but this is still an important game for Seattle. Win, and they are in the playoffs. A win would also be a powerful statement that they're ready to make a Super Bowl run, particularly given that this game has been flexed to Sunday Night Football.

But....

Win or lose next week, the Seahawks will (probably) have to go win a playoff game at Candlestick, either in the divisional round or in the NFC Championship Game. In addition, they would still clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Rams on December 30th- So next week's game is important, but not apocalyptically so. Even if Seattle loses, I will still see them as deadly serious NFC contenders. Their likely playoff path? At the 4th-seeded NFC East champions, then at #1 seed Atlanta in the divisional round, then at San Francisco for a trip to XLVII. 

The 2005 Steelers, 2007 Giants, and 2010 Packers all won three road playoff games on the way to a Super Bowl victory. I no longer see any reason the 2012 Seahawks can't be the 4th team to pull of that sort of feat.

What do you think, sirs?


December 12, 2012

Top 5: Seahawks Beat Bills!


The Seahawks don't exactly have a rich history with the Buffalo Bills, playing them only 11 times in their first 36 years as a franchise. Weirdly, they've only played in Buffalo three times EVER, and they won't possibly play there again until 2020 (unless they award Buffalo a Super Bowl... Ha!). Sunday's tilt at Skydome (no, I won't call it that other corporate name) will be Seattle's first game ever played in Canada, and their first game wearing their new Wolf Grey alternate uniforms, too. Let's take a look back at five memorable (more or less) Seahawks victories over the Bills...

5. December 4, 1989: Seahawks 17, Bills 16 
The Buffalo Bills were coming off a trip to the AFC Championship in 1988, and they came into the Kingdome 8-4 and rolling towards another deep playoff run. Not only were the Seahawks 4-8, they had lost four games in a row by a combined score of 93-51. Vegas had to make Buffalo a 4.5 point favorite (in the dome!) just to get SOME poor saps to put their money on the Hawks.

The achingly average Seahawks defense stiffened that day, holding future Hall-of-Fame QB Jim Kelly to a putrid 10-for-23/144 yard passing performance (including an interception by... Joe Nash?!?). Future Hall-of-Fame tailback Thurman Thomas was held to 77 all-purpose yards as well. The backfield combo of Curt Warner and John L. Williams combined for 215 total yards, and Williams scored the winning TD on a 51-yard pass from Dave Krieg in the final minutes. The loss cost the Bills home field advantage in the divisional playoffs, and possibly another trip to the AFC Championship Game.

4. November 18, 2001: Seahawks 23 @ Bills 20
The Seahawks were 4-4, and the Bills were a pungent 1-7 (reduced to starting Alex Van Pelt at quarterback), but since it was a 10 am road game Seattle was at best a shaky favorite. The Hawks were also primed for an emotional let-down after their dramatic 34-27 SNF win over the Raiders at Husky Stadium the previous week. I remember watching this game at a Damon's Sports Bar here in Columbus, and having to BEG for them to put the game on one tiny TV in the corner. The food was also expensive and shitty, for the record...

Anyway, the Seahawks delivered a predictably flat performance (other than Shaun Alexander's solid 95-yard day rushing), and the defense embarrassed themselves by allowing Van Pelt to rack up 316 yards passing and two touchdowns. Seattle was bailed out by four Buffalo fumbles- The Hawks recovered two of them, and did just enough to escape upstate New York with a 3-point victory.

3. December 8, 1996: Seahawks 26, Bills 18
Hmmm- This should sound familiar. An excellent Buffalo team (this time on the OTHER side of their four straight Super Bowl losses) came into Seattle to face a struggling Seahawks team riding an ugly 3-game losing streak that knocked them out of playoff contention. It was Seattle's last home game of the season, and it would also end up being the last game Rick Mirer would start at QB for the Seahawks.

How did the Seahawks slay the mighty Bills on a day where Mirer had a typically craptacular line of 9-for-23/147 yards? Buffalo barfed up FIVE turnovers and the Seahawks dashed out to an early 16-0 lead. Chris Warren chewed up yards and clock with a stellar 116-yard day on the ground, and Jim Kelly's 324-yard passing explosion was rendered moot. The loss would cost Buffalo the AFC East title, a first round bye, and the chance to lose a fifth straight Super Bowl.

2. October 24, 1999: Seahawks 26, Bills 16
This win kicked off one of the most exciting months in team history- Five straight wins, including defeats of the Broncos, Chiefs, and the Packers (at Lambeau on MNF) that ran our record from 3-2 to 8-2. The 1999 Bills would live forever in infamy for benching Doug Flutie before their Wild Card playoff game at Tennessee (and falling victim to the Music City Miracle), but on that afternoon in the Dome Flutie was still under center for Buffalo.

The Bills turned it over thrice and the Seahawks built a 23-0 lead in the 2nd quarter on the strength of two Kitna-to-Derrick Mayes TDs and three Todd Peterson field goals. Phillip Daniels sacked Flutie twice and Michael Sinclair got him once, while Kerry Joseph and Jay Bellamy both picked him off once. Neither team had any notion of the horrors that laid ahead- For Buffalo, that torturous playoff loss in Nashville. For Seattle, a late-season tailspin that saw them drop from 8-2 Super Bowl contenders to 9-7 zombies backing into the playoffs. Fuck.

1. October 30, 1977: Seahawks 56, Bills 17
Imagine that you're the 1977 Buffalo Bills. You are 1-5 (and your lone win was a 3-0 "triumph" over Atlanta), but thankfully you get to play the expansion Seahawks, who have only won three of their first TWENTY games. This is your chance to feed your aging superstar O.J. Simpson the ball and hopefully start turning your season around. Instead, you look up at halftime, and you're losing. 49-3. Wait- WHAT?

Jim Zorn would complete only 11 passes. That aint bad, right? Unless those 11 completions totaled 296 yards and FOUR OF THEM WERE TOUCHDOWN PASSES! Steve Largent caught 4 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns, and Duke Fergerson almost matched him with 113 receiving yards of his own. This was the first truly great performance in franchise history, and it was a fucking DOOZY. In the 1977 highlight film below, the Bills highlights start at the 12:40 mark. Enjoy!

What do you think, sirs?

December 9, 2012

Seahawks 58, Cardinals 0


I've been a Seahawks fan since 1983, and since then I've never missed a game. Over 29 seasons, I've seen Seattle win games in all manner of shocking ways. I saw us run four interceptions back for TDs in a 45-0 erasure of Kansas City in '84, and I witnessed a stunning 42-0 Monday Night domination of the Eagles on the road in 2005. Those massive steamrollings of the enemy paved the way for the two best seasons in franchise history. Both victories announced to the league: "Watch out. You might be next."

Today's 58-0 victory over the Arizona Cardinals was less like a football game, and more like that scene in Drive where Ryan Gosling's character doesn't just disarm a mob gun thug or even merely kill him. He stomps   on that fucker's head so many times that it ended up resembling a watermelon from Gallagher's act, and he's left splattered in the blood and brains of his murdered foe. THAT is what the Seahawks did to Arizona today. They have never dominated another team this completely before- in fact, this was among the four or five most lopsided victories in the 90-year history of pro football. This could have been a weird random blip, but it's more likely an ominous warning to the rest of the NFL- These Seahawks are young, talented and FUCKING NASTY. None of their goals for the 2012 season are out of reach, including reaching (or even winning) the Super Bowl.

The defense swallowed the Cardinals, chewed them up for three hours, and barfed up their hair and bones. Bobby Wagner and Richard Sherman had two interceptions apiece, and have strong cases for Defensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively. Walter Thurmond III was impressive in extended duty, and Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin and Jeron Johnson all notched sacks of Cardinals QBs. Nitpickers can point out that Arizona sports one of the NFL's weakest offensive attacks, but any day you shut out an NFL team, hold them to 154 total yards, and force eight turnovers is a day you can feel pretty effing great about your defense.

On offense, Russell Wilson had another solid outing (one cut short by Seattle running out to a 45-0 lead early in the 3rd quarter)- it was only slightly marred by his first interception at home all season. Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin BOTH ran for over 100 yards, stirring up echoes of similar dominance by tandems like Curt Warner/John L. Williams and Shaun Alexander/Maurice Morris. If it wasn't for the otherworldly efforts of Adrian Peterson in Minnesota, Marshawn Lynch would clearly be the best running back in football this season. Anthony McCoy had the best day of his career in terms of receiving yardage, and Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Zach Miller reminded observers that Seattle has deep reserves of offensive playmakers.

Seattle scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams. This was a total team victory for Seattle, and an embarrassing mass surrender by the Arizona Cardinals. Once the Seahawks jumped out to a lead, it was clear the Cardinals just wanted to get out of the cold, the wet, and the noise. The team plane and a ride back to the warm desert beckoned to the Cardinals, and they couldn't wait to get the fuck out of Seahawks Stadium. They should be ashamed of themselves.

The Seahawks are at 8-5 with three games left to play. Every previous 8-5 Seattle squad made the playoffs (1987, 1999, 2003, 2006), and the odds are very high that the Hawks will at least snare a Wild Card spot. 10-6 SHOULD be good enough to secure a spot in the tournament, unless a parlay of unlikely events takes place. After a gritty road win at Chicago and today's annihilation of Arizona, it's time to think bigger. If the Seahawks win their final three games (and the Patriots defeat the Niners next Sunday), they won't just win the NFC West and lock down a home playoff game- They'd also have a great shot at the 2nd NFC seed and a 1st-round playoff bye. With the NFC lacking any obviously dominant teams, the Seahawks could be that team, like the 2010 Packers or 2011 Giants, who peaks at the perfect time and steals a Lombardi Trophy.

Today we saw something we've never seen before- Why can't we see a 3rd-round rookie QB hoisting a Super Bowl MVP trophy in February too?

What do you think, sirs?

December 5, 2012

The Legend of Russell Wilson (12 Games In)


It becomes clearer with each passing week that my early-season posts demanding Matt Flynn start at QB are going to live forever in online infamy. A dose of humility is good for any writer once in a while, and it's also important to occasionally get a reminder that I'd utterly destroy the team I love if I was ever put in charge of it. How did we get here? How'd I go from complete, unrestrained, pants-shitting panic to asking Santa for my very own Russell Wilson jersey?

The memories already paint a vivid picture: Last-second triumphs over Green Bay, New England and Chicago snared by Russell Wilson's sniper-cannon-arm... A 7-5 record and a team that appears primed for a deep playoff run. All of that would be enough to justify the growing Cult of Dangeruss, but the WolfBadger has done far more in his rookie season than just string together a few memorable finishes. The kid might be having one of the greatest seasons for any quarterback in Seahawks history... Not just the best season for a rookie QB. His baseline for comparison isn't 1976 Jim Zorn or 1993 Rick Mirer. It's 1984 Dave Krieg or 2005 Matt Hasselbeck. Let's take a look at the numbers, shall we?

If you extrapolate Wilson's numbers from 12 games over a 16 game season, you get this stat-line:

268 completions in 423 attempts (63.3%) for 3125 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions (with a rating of 94.5). Plus 398 yards rushing. 

How would these numbers stack up against the great single-season QB performances in Seahawks history? "Wilson (x 1.333)" would be

- 4th all time in Passer Rating (behind '05 Hasselbeck at 98.2, '83 Dave Krieg at 95.0 and '88 Krieg at 94.6)
-5th in passing TDs (behind '84 Krieg, '03 Hasselbeck, '85 Krieg and '07 Hasselbeck, tied with '97 Moon)
-4th in completion percentage (behind '91 Krieg, '05 Hasselbeck and '02 Hasselbeck)

It's important to note that these are probably conservative estimates of Wilson's final 2012 statistics. With the Seattle defense weakened by the loss of Brandon Browner (and possibly Richard Sherman as well), Wilson will likely be asked to deliver even greater offensive production over the season's final month. In addition, his performance has been improving sharply over the past month, so it's extremely plausible that he'll end up producing one of the top two or three quarterbacking seasons in franchise history- As a rookie. We've simply never seen anything like this in the 37-year history of Seahawks football, and it's pretty effing awesome.

What about team performance? The only quarterbacks to lead Seattle to 10-win seasons are Dave Krieg (1984, 1986) and Matt Hasselbeck (2003, 2005, 2007). Wilson will join this club with three more wins over the final month of 2012. He's already tied '97 Warren Moon for the 2nd most wins (7) for any first-year full-time starter in team history- More than Zorn in '76 (2), Krieg in '83 (5), Mirer in '93 (6), or Hasselbeck in '01 (5). Jon Kitna had 8 wins in his first year as the full-time starter in 1999, but Wilson should catch and pass him over the next two weeks. Again, we're in uncharted territory with Russell Wilson this season.

If you switch the basis of comparison from Seahawks history to the NFL here in 2012, Wilson still stacks up extremely well- He's 7th in passer rating, 12th in completion percentage, 11th in touchdown passes, and 13th in yards per attempt. Wilson is being blatantly ignored in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race, despite the fact that his performance has been clearly better than Andrew Luck's and comparable or better than Robert Griffin III's. In fact, Wilson deserves serious consideration for a QB slot on the NFC Pro Bowl squad.

Fuck. Can you believe we were watching CHARLIE WHITEHURST run our offense just over a year ago? The arrow is pointing WAY up, Twelves. Huzzah!

What do you think, sirs?

December 2, 2012

Seahawks 23, Bears 17 (OT)


It really didn't seem like a fair fight. One one side, you had the mighty Chicago Bears (with all of the weighty history they haul around like suits of armor), an officiating crew hell-bent on tipping the scales against Seattle, and the shortcomings that seemed written into Seahawk DNA: They can't overcome adversity on the road. They can't win 10 a.m. games. The lucky bounces never go their way. Same Old Seahawks. 

On the other side? One dude. One 5'11" rookie. The only thing that stood between the Chicago Bears and victory was Russell Wilson. Sure, Wilson had built up a nice resume for a 3rd rounder seeing his first NFL action this season- But he wasn't going to lead the Seahawks on a 97-yard game-winning drive. Not against the Elite Bears Defense, right? I was listening to Hawk Blogger's excellent audio broadcast of the game, and as that final drive started he sounded beaten. I'm an optimist by nature, but in my own mind it was hard to argue against his bleak assessment of our predicament. Wilson started picking up chunks of real estate with his arm and his legs, and suddenly Seattle was across midfield. Wilson made a spectacular throw on the run to Sidney Rice, and Golden Tate topped that with a stupendous effort to score the winning touchdown with only 20 seconds left to play. Twelves loosed a million celebratory tweets- We were going to pull it off. 

Effervescent joy turned into black, curdled despair in an instant. Jay Cutler chucked it deep to an inexplicably open Brandon Marshall (who DOMINATED Seattle DBs all afternoon) and Chicago was in field goal range. Our old nemesis Robbie Gould banged home the tying field goal... Overtime. The most painful Seahawks loss since Super Bowl XL loomed. I started dreading the aftermath, and plotted my strategy for avoiding media coverage of this devastating collapse. Every Seahawks fan alive KNEW that if Chicago got the ball back, we would lose. We no longer trusted our defense to secure victory- Our only chance was to win the coin toss and drive all the way into Bears territory and score ANOTHER touchdown.  I was a wreck. I was sitting in front of my computer, shaking and frazzled... and with no real expectation of victory. 

Eighty MORE yards (and the Bears defense) stood between the Seahawks and a narrative-shifting, season-altering victory. Russell Wilson's temperament is thankfully much more stable than mine, and he led the Hawks on a triumphant 12-play, 7-and-a-half minute march. Wilson personally chewed up 28 of those yards on the ground, and only threw two passes over the entire drive. One was a perfect dart to Doug Baldwin to convert a 3rd-and-10, and the other was the game-winning touchdown pass to Sidney Rice, who got over the goal line before getting absolutely DESTROYED by a Bears defender. 

Two drives. 177 yards. Two game-winning touchdowns. That's what Russell Wilson delivered on Seattle's last two possessions. On a day that seemed to fit all the cliches of failure in Seahawks lore, Wilson decided to punch up the script and write a more interesting ending. Instead of leaving me calculating playoff scenarios and plotting out who needed to win or lose for Seattle to sneak into the tournament, Wilson has allowed me to think about seeding and... GASP! ...possibly still winning the NFC West. At 7-5, the Seahawks probably only need two more wins to get a Wild Card, but they have a real chance at winning the West if they can sweep their final four games. 

Wilson didn't win this game single-handedly, of course. Golden Tate, Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Zach Miller all made pivotal catches (as did Braylon Edwards, only to have his acrobatic TD overturned by the perfidious Mike Carey). Marshawn Lynch was punishing, as usual- If anything, he was underutilized today. The offensive line was viciously effective, slashing open holes for Lynch and giving Wilson ample time to throw (and run). 

What about the defense? The positive spin is that they only allowed 17 points. That's about all I've got in terms of positive spin, unfortunately. Once again, they had terrible trouble getting off the field on 3rd downs, and allowing Chicago to tie the game at the end of regulation could have destroyed the season without Wilson's OT heroics. If Browner and Sherman are ultimately suspended, it's irrational to expect anything other than a significant decline in defensive performance. 

Not long ago, that last sentence would have send me into something like a panic attack. Today, I feel like Russell Wilson can win a shootout or two and get us to the playoffs, where we'll have our DBs back and we'll be primed to inflict serious damage on the enemy. 

With Russell Wilson, all things are possible. It's a glorious day to be a Seahawks fan.

What do you think, sirs?

November 28, 2012

Top 5: Seahawks Beat Bears (UPDATED AGAIN)!


Between the regular season and the playoffs, the Seahawks have played the Chicago Bears seven times since October 2006. Seattle was a disappointing 3-4 in those seven games, and three of those losses were among the most agonizing in recent franchise history. In the 2006 Divisional Playoffs, the underdog Hawks pushed the heavily favored Bears to OT (in the last great game of Shaun Alexander's career) only to crap away the opening Sudden-Death possession and lose on a Robbie Gould FG. I'm among the legions of Twelves who will go to the grave convinced that Seattle would have made a repeat trip to the Super Bowl if they just could have scored on that initial OT drive. Ugh.

In September 2009, we didn't yet know that Jim Mora was going to complete the total destruction of our team, but one of the first harbingers of doom was his ugly post-game rant against Kicker Olindo Mare following a 25-19 home loss to the Bears. This was also the only time we ever wore those bright green alternate jerseys (which, yeah- I actually liked). In the 2010 Divisional Playoffs, the Hawks got absolutely dick-punched by the Bears, but scored a bunch of meaningless points in the 4th to make the final score a somewhat respectable 35-24 (Fun fact: that 11-point margin of defeat was the smallest of the season for the 8-10 Seahawks. Man, that season was WEIRD).

Going into Sunday's game at Soldier Field (which is important for Seattle, but not a must-win... More on that in a different post), Seattle has won 9 of 15 all-time meetings with Chicago. Here's the five most glorious Seattle victories over the Monsters of the Midway:

5. 9/19/99 Seahawks 14 @ Bears 13
Ladies and gents, this was the one and only highlight of the brief Glenn Foley era in Seahawks lore. In fact, it was Foley's only start at QB for the Seahawks. At least he made the most of it, throwing for 283 yards, 2 4th quarter TDs and no picks. This was a pretty typical 10-am-start sleepwalking performance for Seattle until the final quarter, when the Seahawks sprung up off the mat and erased a 13-0 Chicago advantage. In the final minutes, Foley hit Fabian Bownes (who?) for the game-winning 49-yard score.

On a personal note, this game went down on my first weekend after moving out to Columbus for grad school, and the Seahawks win took the edge off the spectacular loneliness and isolation I was feeling at the time. More about the 1999 season here...

4. 11/18/07 Seahawks 30, Bears 23
The Twelve Army was still smarting from that OT divisional playoff loss at Soldier Field 10 months earlier, and demanded a small measure of satisfaction in the rematch at Seahawks Stadium. Chicago jumped out to a worrisome 10-0 lead early, but Matt Hasselbeck came through with an all-time great performance: 30/44 for 337 yards, 2 TDs and 0 picks (isn't Beck's 2007 season incredible in retrospect, given that Seattle absolutely couldn't do a damn thing on the ground?). D.J. Hackett flashed his (ultimately untapped) potential with a 9-catch, 136-yard day, and the defense sealed the win by forcing a Rex Grossman fumble late in the 4th quarter.

Side note: this was also the game where Josh Brown LIT UP Devin Hester on a kickoff return... ahhh, memories.

3. 12/18/11 Seahawks 38 @ Bears 14 
Despite missing important starters like Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, the Bears were still 3.5 point favorites over the Seahawks. No one should ever get too high and mighty about dominating Caleb Hanie and Josh McCown, but the Seattle defense DID rack up four sacks and four interceptions that day, including the momentum-shifting 3rd Quarter pick-six from Red Bryant. Big Red snatched Hanie's errant toss out of the air and rumbled 20 yards for the score that put Seattle ahead for good in one of the highlights of the 2011 Seattle campaign.

2. 10/17/10 Seahawks 23 @ Bears 20
The 2-2 Seahawks were supposed to get mangled by the big, scary 4-1 Bears, but Seattle shocked every Non-Twelve alive and delivered the first big road win of the Pete Carroll era. Marshawn Lynch scored a TD in his first Seahawks action after being traded by Buffalo, and the Hawks hung on for the victory after getting TERRORIZED by a late Devin Hester punt return TD. As I wrote in this space at the time:

Usually it's Seattle's QB who takes a 3-hour beating when the Hawks hit the road. Not today... It was amazing to watch the Seahawks defense beat Jay Cutler to a dazed, fuzzy pulp with six sacks, a safety, and a fuck-load of hits/hurries.

Usually it's an opposing WR that runs wild all over Seattle for 10 catches and 135 yards. Not today... Mike Williams fucking TOOK the #1 WR job today with a "comeback player of the year" sort of performance.

It went on and on... Russell Okung took a big step towards me buying his jersey with a complete ERASURE of Julius Peppers. The young guys in our secondary got beat a handful of times, but overall they played great, buttressed by the veteran leadership of Lawyer Milloy and future Ring-of-Honoree Marcus Trufant. Jon Ryan pinned the Bears inside the 20 what, like 17 times? It sure felt that way.

Beast Mode/Young Nastman are going to spearhead a great ground attack, hopefully well into the middle of the decade. It was heartening to see Lynch turn negative plays into something positive, if not at least neutral, more than once. 


(It's bracing to go back and read my old posts. Remember when we thought Mike Williams was going to become an All-Pro WR? Remember when I used to call Justin Forsett "Young Nastyman?" And I did seriously want an Okung jersey back then- Do they even make those now?) 

1. 12/20/87 Seahawks 34, Bears 21
The Seahawks came to Chicago needing a win to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Considering that they faced a trip to Arrowhead the next week, Seattle's post-season hopes seemed dim. Not only was it a 10 am kickoff with the wind chill in the 20s, it was also the final regular season home game for the great Walter Payton. To the vast bulk of the football public, the Seahawks might as well have been wearing unis that said "Opponent" like Homer Simpson wore before he fought Drederick Tatum.

The Seahawks responded by delivering their best performance of that 1987 season. Walter Payton was held to 79 yards rushing; the Seattle defense, led by Brian Bosworth (who wasn't bad at all in '87), Eugene Robinson, and the Nash/Bryant/Green wall, forced 5 turnovers. Dave Krieg was basically flawless, Curt Warner scored twice, and John L. Williams delivered one of the greatest TDs in team history (1:45 mark of following clip).



I expect the Seahawks do go forth and do likewise this Sunday in similar circumsatnces. 

What do you think, sirs?  

November 25, 2012

I CONCEDE NOTHING


The Seahawks have played six road games in 2012, and every one of them has been decided in the last five minutes of the 4th quarter. Unfortunately, Seattle has lost FIVE of those six games. Today's defeat in Miami had the hallmarks of familiar Seahawks tragedies: TWO blown 4th quarter leads to an inferior opponent, aided by incredibly questionable officiating. It felt like New York in 1998 or Baltimore in 2003, didn't it? It was the sort of loss that stimulates the "Same Old Seahawks" lobe within the brains of a million Twelves. We saw our excellent defense fail comprehensively in the 4th quarter, and we saw our Pro Bowl running back get held to only 46 yards on 19 carries. That pain was compounded by a cruel post-game twist: Starting CBs Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman are facing 4-game P.E.D. suspensions (pending appeals).

A consensus emerged quickly in the wake of this dark afternoon: The 2012 Seahawks are good and fucked, and their playoff hopes are deader than a barrel of fish entrails. One part of that is the widespread "we lost today, thus we're a bunch of sucky sucks who will never win again" attitude among modern sports fans- many with memories that barely extend past the last tweet they banged out. That can be dismissed easily. The reaction to the looming CB suspensions is more understandable: Browner and Sherman are BALLERS, and it would be irrational to think the defense won't see a significant drop-off if they're gone for four games. But it's important to understand a simple truth: Just because the defense might not be dominant doesn't mean they can't be decent. The Seahawks can win games with a diminished defense if the offense and special teams can make up the difference.

The shining beacon of hope for Seattle is the continuing progression of Russell Wilson, who threw two touchdowns, completed 77% of his passes (including 16 in a row at one point), and put up a passer rating of 125.9. He also committed zero turnovers, and to paraphrase Fight Club, made me think "That's the last QB I'm gonna need. Whatever else happens, I've got that QB problem handled." Golden Tate made ANOTHER play destined to be a viral hit on YouTube, and the special teams had an excellent day, spearheaded by Jon Ryan's booming punts and Leon Washington's spectacular touchdown on a late kickoff return. Responsibility for this loss falls almost entirely upon our usually trustworthy defense, who allowed Ryan Tannehill to pull off a passable Dan Marino impression on Miami's final three possessions. Were they aided by an absolutely embarrassing "roughing" penalty on Earl Thomas that wiped out a game-clinching Bobby Wagner interception? Totally. Does anyone really give a fuck about that? Not really. So yeah, I get it. Defensive collapse today + possible loss of two of our best defenders = PANIC!

I'm not buying into that, though. I'm not ready to assume that Thurmond and Trufant are going to get torched for a month when/if Browner and Sherman are out. I'm not ready assume we're going to lose to a Chicago team we've beaten EACH of the last two years in their house (and has once again been SLAMMED by injuries). I'm NOT EVEN CLOSE to assuming that we're going to give up the last NFC playoff spot (which we're still holding on to) without a bloody struggle.

I'm amused/enraged (again) by Twelves starting the chorus of "Wahhhh! I don't want to sneak in the playoffs at 9-7." First of all, didn't all y'all do that shit two years ago about getting in at 7-9? Then the BEASTQUAKE happened? Secondly, didn't the Giants go 9-7 last season and win the effing Super Bowl? Don't be nit-picky about getting in the playoffs. JUST GET IN. 10-6 WILL get us in, and 9-7 might (particularly with Tampa playing at Denver and Minnesota visiting a pissed-off Packers team next Sunday). Even if the Seahawks lose at Chicago (which I'm not conceding), they could easily STILL be holding the NFC #6 seed at this point next week.

Once again, I find myself in the lonely glass-half-full minority. Anyone else in the Twelve Army still hopeful, or am I just totally off my nut again?

November 21, 2012

Top... 4? Seahawks Beat Dolphins!


Quick! Who have the Seahawks faced the most times in the playoffs? It aint the Packers, or the Bears, or DC, or even the Raiders. It's the Miami Dolphins, who we beat in 1983, and lost to in the 1984 and 1999 playoffs. We've played Miami 13 times overall, but sadly only won four times. Sunday's game will be Seattle's 10th trek out to South Florida since 1977 (and hopefully our 3rd win down there). The playoff losses in '84 and '99 are among my most painful memories as a Twelve- In 1984, Dan Marino shredded the best defense the Seahawks ever fielded, and in 1999 Marino (that magnificent bastard, again) shuttered the Kingdome and punctuated Seattle's bleak descent from 8-2 to a home Wild Card loss.

Enough wallowing in negativity and pain, though! Here's the four stories of Seattle victory over Miami's aquatic mammals...

4. Seahawks 24, Dolphins 20 (10/4/87) 
Remember how Packers fans (and the national media) wailed back in September about how unjust it would be if Seattle made the playoffs over Green Bay based on a win earned in part thanks to replacement officials? Back in 1987, Dolphins fans were the ones out for blood. They missed the playoffs because of a loss in Seattle- in a game played with scab players who crossed the NFLPA's picket lines. Sea-scab QB Bruce Mathison threw for 326 yards and 2 TDs, and led the Faux-Hawks on a late game-winning touchdown drive. I grudgingly thank these scab players for putting our real players in position to make the playoffs.. I guess?

3. Seahawks 22 @ Dolphins 15 (10/6/96) 
This was a battle of wits between ex-Miami Hurricanes coaches Dennis Erickson and Jimmy Johnson, decided by the quarterbacking talents of John Friesz and Craig Erickson! Feel the excitement! Thankfully for Seattle, Friesz bested Erickson, throwing two long TD passes to Joey Galloway, and the 80-yard game-winning bomb to Brian Blades in the 4th quarter. Blades was a standout WR at "The U," so his moment of triumph carried extra personal significance. Not only was his dagger-touchdown in front of friends and family in Miami, it was against a Dolphins team led by his college coach (Johnson). Speaking of JJ, he kinda went 2-point conversion wacky that day- inexplicably going for 2 TWICE in the 2nd and 3rd quarters and failing on both attempts. I know 2-point conversions in the NFL were only two years old back in 1996, but that's still crappy strategy.

2. Seahawks 24, Dolphins 17 (11/21/04)
I've written before at length about the unique torture that was the 2004 Seahawks season. This game was '04 in miniature: A victory damn-near ruined by a neck-deep pile of "yeah, but..."

The Hawks were 5-4 and still staggering around dazed after the epic 4th quarter collapse against St. Louis six weeks earlier- They NEEDED a win to maintain their NFC West lead/playoff hopes. With Matt Hasselbeck injured, it was up to Trent Dilfer to lead Seattle to victory. The good news was that Miami was coming into the game 1-8, and with a brand new interim leader coaching his first game. Easy win.. easy win.

Miami came out energized, and Seattle looked bored and lethargic. A 17-7 halftime lead looked pretty safe against the A.J. Feeley- led Dolphins offense, but the '04 defense specialized in blowing leads like some weird collective football version of Bobby Ayala. The Fins not only tied the game, but they were driving for what would be the game-winning field goal in the game's final minutes. I was already in a state of deep, profound despair- We were going to get knocked out of the playoff race by losing AT HOME to the worst team in the NFL. I stared at the TV, dead-eyed, just waiting for the hammer to fall. Then Feeley threw the ball DIRECTLY AT Michael Boulware (who thankfully didn't drop the damn thing), and I was jolted to life so quickly I almost thought I heard someone yell "CLEAR!"

Boulware scored, and Seattle escaped. I was joyful for a short period, then just relieved, then eventually fairly downcast anyway. That was the 2004 Seahawks, y'all. Here's the highlights from NFL.com.

1. Seahawks 27 @ Dolphins 20 (12/31/83)
A whole generation of kids became Twelves for life on New Year's Eve 1983. I was eight, and just two weeks earlier I went to my first game at the Kingdome- The Seahawks won and made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. They won their first playoff game against the rival Broncos on Xmas Eve, but anyone with sufficient football acumen KNEW that was as high as the '83 Seahawks would fly. Now they had to schlep to Miami and face the defending AFC Champions, led by rookie phenom Dan Marino. The Seahawks got a collective pat on the head and a "nice season, kid" from the football world. They'd all get to see that epic Dolphins/Raiders AFC title game cage match everyone was dreaming about, right?

Weird shit starting going down, though- Dave Krieg was outplaying Marino. The unheralded Seattle defense outplayed the famous "Killer B's." Chuck Knox was out-coaching Don Fucking Shula... and Miami had no answer for Curt Warner, who racked up 113 yards and two TDs on the ground. Fuck... Why should you read my description when you can watch the highlights NARRATED BY JOHN FACENDA??? Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!

November 11, 2012

Seahawks 28, Jets 7


The Seahawks weren't playing against another NFL team today- They were up against a living cautionary tale. In recent years the New York Jets have made every move the Seahawks desperately tried to avoid. Blow a high first round pick on a shaky quarterback? Check. Let your defense age into mediocrity? Check. Sign a bunch of big-name free agents and become more fixated on winning media attention than football games? SUPER Check. The Jets are a comprehensively terrible team, and if the Seahawks had lost to them at home it would have set off a wave of justifiable panic amongst Soldiers of Twelve.

There was a time (not very long ago) that the Seahawks would have shat away a game like this. They would have dicked around, let the Jets stay close, and then found a way to lose. I'm sure there were legions of Twelves who thought this way when it was still 14-7 through the 3rd quarter. Why haven't we put these jokers away? One big play and this game is tied! Aaaarrrrgghhhh! Not me. Sure, there was a point where it looked like this might be a particularly ugly win- But I NEVER thought we could possibly lose this one. Why?

The Legion of Boom was NEVER going to let Mark Sanchez put up the points New York needed in order to win. The Jets defense was NEVER going to bottle up Marshawn Lynch for the entire game. Knowing that, it followed that Russell Wilson was going to get opportunities to make plays downfield. Yeah, it was disconcerting to see NYJ's pass rush get after Wilson in the 1st half, but once Lynch got going I KNEW RW3 was going to deliver the deathblow. Today's performance by the Seahawks wasn't artistic- it was a blowout win at home over a god-awful, forlorn Dead Team Walking. For now, that's plenty good enough.

The Jets, like their coach, are a bunch of blustery fake tough guys, and today they ran into a squad stocked with guys who LIVE to inflict punishment and pain. At one point, it looked like Kam Chancellor might snap a Jets receiver in two with a vicious, legal hit. Bruce Irvin was at times unblockable, and Richard Sherman expertly baited Mark Sanchez into throwing a  mind-numbingly stupid red zone interception. Sanchez looked absolutely out of his depth, and nothing Tim Tebow did was worthy of any serious discussion. The man is a sideshow, and he was out-quarterbacked by Golden Tate today. Perhaps he should shut his big fat yap from now on, yes?

It's a cliche now, but it doesn't make it any less true: Russell Wilson is the quarterback Tebow WISHES he could be. NO NFL QB has been better at home this season, and he's the first rookie QB since the merger in 1970 to win his first five home starts. Yeah, NYJ's lone TD can be blamed on him holding the ball too long, but two Seahawks TDs came on PERFECT Wilson throws. His 4th quarter dime to Sidney Rice for six was a throw Tim Tebow couldn't even make in fucking Madden, let alone real life. Once again, Wilson gave Seahawks fans reason to believe the QB situation is settled for the next decade or so.

It's becoming reasonable to wonder if Marshawn Lynch will someday surpass Shaun Alexander as the greatest running back in Seahawks' history. His style of play isn't just effective- It's legitimately inspiring. He's on track for one of the greatest individual rushing seasons in franchise lore, and I believe only injury can derail him from eventually being remembered as the best back to ever play in Seattle. The other big offensive story is Golden Tate- Is it finally "clicking" for him? All season, he has displayed a knack for big, game-changing plays. My biggest criticism is that his celebratory dance moves are... odd.

Seattle now gets a their (very late) bye week before schlepping to Miami in 2 weeks. That's the next challenge: Go 3300 miles for a 10 am game and beat a decent team in their building. A loss wouldn't be devastating, but a win would give Seattle some margin of error in December and silence some of the team's remaining doubters.

The Hawks are right were I thought they'd be at this point back in August: 6-4, and set up nicely for a playoff run. Four of their last six games are against teams with losing records; 10-6 and the tournament are there for the taking. Heal up and finish strong, Seahawks.

What do you think, sirs?

November 6, 2012

Seahawks 30, Vikings 20


Would you like to see all my pictures from Sunday's game? Here you go.

It wasn't that long ago that I was a ranting, raving, spittle-spraying Matt Flynn disciple (you can look it up). Just a few weeks ago I was in a panic- My reasoning was that since the Seahawks clearly had an elite defense and running game, we were potentially blowing a chance at a Super Bowl run by "wasting time" developing a rookie QB. Matt Flynn would at least avoid the big mistakes! He could be like Trent Dilfer on the 2000 Ravens or Brad Johnson on the 2002 Bucs! Russell Wilson will cost us wins while he's learning on the job! Attica! ATTICA!!!!

I was missing something very obvious all along- That there would be weeks when that defense might not keep the enemy out of the end zone for 60 entire minutes. There would be days where we'd need our quarterback to meet the defense halfway and make the plays to lift Seattle to victory. COULD Matt Flynn do that? Maybe. But only nine weeks into his career, we KNOW that Russell Wilson can. We also know that he's nowhere near the limit of his abilities yet. This is amazing. This is miraculous. It has made me look like a jittery, flaky basket case, but it should make every Twelve alive RADIANT with hope for the future.

On a day where the defense succumbed to a Hall-of-Fame quality running back (while admittedly mitigating the damage by ERASING Christian Ponder and the Minnesota air attack), Russell Wilson threw three TDs, didn't commit a turnover, kept drives alive with his legs, and generally looked like the embryonic version of a All-Pro quarterback. After years of vainly searching for The Quarterback of The Future, PCJS have found that savior- The Neo that will free all our asses from the Lombardi-less Matrix we inhabit. Is there another young QB you'd rather have (other than Luck or RG3)? For a MINIMAL investment, Seattle has found the answer for the problem that has vexed this franchise since Matt Hasselbeck's decline began in 2008. The future of this team hasn't looked this bright since 2003, and that fact leaves me absolutely GIDDY.

Enough talk about the distant future, though. After Sunday's win over a solid Vikings squad, the Hawks slid into the final NFC playoff slot. With 4 of their final 7 at home, the Seahawks are well-positioned to reach 10-6 and make it into the tournament. They own tiebreakers over Minnesota and Green Bay now, and have easier remaining schedules than fellow Wild Card hopefuls Detroit and Tampa Bay. Despite allowing a huge amount of yards to Adrian Peterson, Seattle's defense is still one of the best in the NFL- And now the offense is starting to bear a much greater share of the burden, averaging 27 ppg over the last two weeks. Against sub-par squads like NYJ, Arizona, Buffalo and St. Louis, Seattle might dominate. Against the likes of Miami, Chicago, and SF there's no reason to think they can't win. It's hard to imagine a finish worse than 9-7, and increasingly easy to picture a run that gets us to 11-5 or.. gasp! 12-4.

Who stood out on Sunday besides Wilson? Marshawn Lynch kept plowing towards a spot in the Pro Bowl, and still has a decent shot at the NFL rushing title. Purple Jesus got the headlines, but Beast Mode powered Seattle to another win. Golden Tate still hasn't achieved the consistency we need to see from him, but he had another nice game- His effort to score on his 2nd touchdown reminded me why he's one of my favorites. The Legion of Boom made Christian Ponder appear utterly helpless, with an significant assist from our front four. This was a game the Hawks should have won, and needed to win- They bounced back from an early Vikings TD and won the day from that point forward.

On a personal note, it was great to be back in Seahawks Stadium, adding my voice to the multitudes of Twelves screaming for Minnesota's destruction. I was able to go to the game with my little brother James (who just started studying/playing football at PLU), and I ran into a couple of other old friends as well. I'm hoping/planning to be back for one of the last two home games this December, and my gut tells me that a win over STL on 12/30 is going to get us back into the playoffs.

What do you think, sirs?

October 28, 2012

Lions 28, Seahawks 24


Before today's game, I was standing by the Seahawks' tunnel with a bunch of other Twelves. This teenage Hawks fan was standing next to me, and he yelled at Pete Carroll as the Coach ran past us. At the last instant, Coach Carroll chucked the ball around his back toward the kid Chris Paul-style. Unlike a pass from Chris Paul, PC's toss missed the mark- sailing just over us and into the arms of a Lions fan (a little fucker who wouldn't give the damn thing up to us Twelves). 

As Sterling Archer once said, "Hooray for metaphors!" This was SO close to being the win that propelled the Seahawks towards the playoffs. Instead, that process has to start next week. 

I'm not nearly as upset about this loss as I probably should be, and it's not because I'm mellowing or getting old/lame. Obviously, there's plenty of evidence you could use from today's loss to buttress an "Ahh! Let's all freak out" argument: Pete Carroll's inexplicable challenge underlined his still-not-exactly-excellent in-game decision-making. The defense melted like a Notebook fan in the presence of Ryan Gosling- After showing such consistent dominance over the first seven games, their collapse today was deeply unsettling. Their inability to stop the opposition on 3rd down is more than a mere annoyance at this point. Finally, Russell Wilson threw another interception that led to what ultimately were the decisive points for the enemy. 

Despite all of this, I see a clear path to #10winsandaplayoffspot for the Seahawks. I don't think one sub-par performance means that the defense is no longer elite. More importantly, I think we saw tangible growth from Russell Wilson today. That pick aside, he looked like an actual factual GOOD NFL quarterback, leading the Seahawks on two drives that ended in red-zone TD passes. If it wasn't for the defensive near-surrender on Detroit's final possession, Wilson would have led Seattle on a drive for the come-from-behind winning touchdown (that included a clutch 4th and 2 conversion). He's shown me more than enough to convince me that he's our QB of the future and the present- The man who can lead us into the playoffs NOW. 

We've got a quarterback- and from here on out, we have a MUCH more favorable schedule. Five of our last eight games are at home, including the next two games and three of the last four. Given the zaniness we've already seen at Seahawks Stadium this fall, I like our chances in EVERY home game left on the 2012 slate. Next week's game is an absolute must-win for the Hawks- Not only would it bring one of the Wild-Card leaders back into a tie with us, it would also give us tiebreakers over Green Bay AND Minnesota (the two non-NFCW teams ahead of us in the Wild Card race). With this week's results, the Seahawks are only one game of out the NFC's final playoff spot, and it's starting to look like 10-6 will be good enough to make "the tournament." Before Labor Day, I predicted that the Seahawks would be 4-4 at this point, and that they'd make a big leap in the 2nd half to make it to 10 wins, get in the playoffs, and upset the fucking Niners in the Wild Card round. Even after today's aggravating, demoralizing loss, I still completely believe that's what the future holds. 

Up until that crushing conclusion, I had a grand time at the game today. I ran into a loyal reader and his brother outside Ford Field (Scott and... Mike?); They had incredibly nice things to say about this blog, and I am deeply grateful for their support, and the support of everyone who has been reading my blatherings in this space since 2008. My Twitter buddy Evan (pictured above) met me at the game, and there were more Twelves scattered through the crowd than I had anticipated. We rejoiced at Zach Miller's go-ahead TD and sat there dazed after the defense gave the lead away- but we were there, and our numbers are growing. As this team starts stringing wins together, you'll see more and more Twelves in stadiums from coast to coast. 

I'll be there at Seahawks Stadium next week, and I'll scream myself mute to get us a win. What do you think, sirs? Was anyone else at today's game? Anyone have tales to tell? 

October 24, 2012

Going Behind Enemy Lines (Again)


I always get a bit squirmy when I hear Twelves get pissed off about fans of opposing teams taking up seats at Seahawks Stadium. It's not that I LIKE it when enemy fans infest our stadium- Shit, I'll boo them when they start making a racket like anyone else would- It's just that as someone who has been to plenty of Seahawks road games, I want to avoid being a giant fucking hypocrite. I view it as something akin to diplomatic immunity: Yeah, it sucks that foreign diplomats rack up huge parking fines when they are over here, but we don't want our diplomats overseas getting fucked with- Hooray for reciprocity!

On Sunday, I'll attend my 10th Seahawks road game (and my 2nd at Ford Field in Detroit), and I gotta admit it: I LOVE being the "bad guy." I love being part of a tiny, outnumbered group of hard-core partisans- I'm a contrarian fucker at heart, so rooting for my teams in hostile territory really suites me well. The flip side of this is that I also love rooting for my Red Sox at Safeco, and I plan to catch a Columbus Crew game at Royal Brougham Park the first chance I get... But that's a discussion for another time.

I have a routine I tend to adhere to at these games, and a fairly simple set of rules. I like to get there when the gates open so I can get down to the Seahawks tunnel and see the players and coaches up close. This is what I wrote about that experience at Cleveland a year ago:

The Awesome stuff? I got to weasel my way down to the Seahawks tunnel, and the Hawks seemed way more interested in coming over and talking to us fans in Cleveland than they seem to be back at home games. I don't blame them- I want them focused and ready for battle... but it really seemed to excite them to see so many Seahawks fans come out to support them. I got to shake hands with and monosyllabic-ally talk at Sidney Rice and Pete Carroll, but the COOLEST moment was when Earl Thomas noticed I was wearing his jersey. His eyes lit up, he ran over and gave me an ENTHUSIASTIC handshake (almost to the point of hurting me). I was just overwhelmed by the experience. Seriously, if you are a Seahawks fan, find a way to get down to the tunnel during warm-ups... It can be mind-blowing. 

I also have my own personal rules of contact as a road fan:


-No drinking.
-No booing or jeering the other team, just cheering for the Seahawks.
-Don't start shit with opposing fans, but if you have to defend yourself, outsmart them.

I actually stumbled upon a great self-defense strategy at the Cleveland game last year: Sitting in the Family/No alcohol section. Compared to my previous experiences at Cleveland Browns Stadium, I was relatively unmolested sitting in that area last year. As long as I didn't curse around the kids, it was like being surrounded by little human shields- One dude a section over even yelled "If you weren't in the family section, I'd kick your ass." I yelled back "Thank you for validating my decision to sit here!" I'm doing the same thing Sunday up in Detroit. I guess this strategy wouldn't work if you really LOVE getting blitzed at games and letting off long strings of public profanities... But I doubt that many readers of this blog are part of that demographic.

Like I said, this will be my 2nd game in Detroit. Back in 2006 I saw the Hawks win 9-6 (yawn) on a Josh Brown FG as time expired. The environment was fairly sedate for a couple of reasons: First, Ford Field is a deeply odd NFL venue that doesn't give its tenants a big home field advantage. You know how the stands at Seahawks Stadium are RIGHT ON TOP OF the field? Not in Detroit, dude. The field feels miles away from the stands in Ford Field. Second, the Lions were fucking abysmal back then- The stadium was far from full, and the fans that did show up seemed more interested in getting hammered than the action down on the field.

I expect a similar dynamic Sunday, but for different reasons. The Lions' disappointing start won't help, but the bigger factor will be distraction- The Tigers will be playing in Game 4 of the World Series across the street just hours after the Seahawks/Lions game. From experience, we know Rams fans in STL have been particularly distracted/quiet/absent during Cardinals' playoff runs (to the Seahawks' benefit). Hopefully we'll see the same situation on Sunday in Detroit.

What about everyone else? What are your experiences at Seahawks road games? In my experience (going to games at CLE, IND, CIN, NO, DET, STL) Cleveland was by far the WORST place to watch the Seahawks, and St. Louis was the best (in terms of not getting harassed/made to feel like I was in actual physical danger). Anyone else going to the game Sunday? If so, hunt me down- I'll be in a new-school blue Nike Marshawn Lynch jersey (no beard though), and I'll probably be down by the Seahawks tunnel during all the pre-game stuff.

Hope to see you there!

October 19, 2012

Niners 13, Seahawks 6


I hate losing to the 49ers. It makes me sick to my ass (as Mom once said). Jim Harbaugh is The King of All Douchenozzles, and he's built a team of punk-ass nimrods in his craven image. There's no NFL team I hate more than San Francisco (including Pittsburgh, so you know my hatred for SF is steadfast and true). I hate their players, their coaches, their fans, and that rotting, stinking husk of a stadium they all infest.

So why can't I get all that worked up over this loss?

As much as we all hate to admit it, San Francisco is one of the top 2 or 3 teams in the NFL. They routinely blow inferior opposition off the field. They don't just beat their foes- Often, they embarrass them. The Seahawks are no longer inferior opposition. They won't go to Candlestick and get blown out by 3 touchdowns anymore. In fact, for most of last night's game they outplayed the Niners- If just a couple of passes are completed instead of dropped, Seattle is sitting in first place in the NFC West today.

There aren't moral victories in the NFL, but losses can still indicate the growth and maturation of a franchise. In less than three years under Pete Carroll, we've evolved from a squad that dropped most of its games via double-digit obliteration to one that wins more often against the NFL's elite teams than it loses. Did Frank Gore trample all over our defense in the 2nd half? Yeah. But our defense also held the Niners to 13 points- Even on an off night, and against a great team, they did their job. On most nights, if your defense only gives up 13 points, your team is going to win the game.

There's been a sadly predictable knee-jerk reaction to Russell Wilson's (statistically) poor performance last night: FLYNNNNNNN! I think that I've built up substantial credentials as a Pro-Flynn Twelve (or at least as a Wilson skeptic), but I think any talk of a QB change at this point is absolute lunacy. We saw a glimpse of the quarterback Russell Wilson could become against the Patriots, and even last night he was largely sharp (especially in the first half). I don't see how Flynn starts a game in 2012 short of Wilson getting injured, and that is absolutely the right path for Pete Carroll to take.

Wilson has room to grow as a quarterback, but his receivers didn't do him any favors last night. Golden Tate in particular had an awful game- Hopefully last night's spasm of dropsies was an isolated incident, not the start of some horrifying flashback to 2004. There were bright spots- The offensive line did a great job in terms of both blowing open running lanes and protecting Wilson. Marshawn Lynch once again proved that he is the toughest (and perhaps the best) running back in the NFL, racking up over 100 yards against the best rushing defense he'll face all season.

Now Seattle sits at 4-3. Realistically, they have a better shot at making the playoffs as a Wild Card than by winning the NFC West. This fact makes our upcoming games against Detroit and Minnesota doubly crucial in terms of playoff tie-breakers. The Seahawks SHOULD be able to beat the flaky Lions on the road after a 10-day rest, and with all due respect to the Vikings, I don't think ANY enemy squad is beating us at Seahawks Stadium this season.

Back in August, many Twelves were bemoaning our borderline-sadistic early schedule. 2-5 was a common prediction for where Seattle would stand after seven games. I said we'd be 4-3 (obviously winning an entirely different combination of games), and here we are at 4-3. The remaining schedule is festooned with winnable games, so I'm still completely comfortable with my other big August predictions: 10-6, a Wild Card berth, and an upset win over the 49ers at Candlestick in the Wild Card round. Does anyone doubt that this team will be significantly better in January than it is now? Given the recent history of 10-6 or 9-7 teams winning the Super Bowl (3 of the last 5 Champions), these Seahawks would have a decent shot at XLVII if they can just "get in the tournament."

Next time we face those dog-faced cretins from down the coast, the results will be different. Hopefully, we'll get the chance to beat them TWICE this winter.

What do you think, sirs?

October 14, 2012

Seahawks 24, Patriots 23


I had to watch today's game in a sports bar. I HATE watching Seahawks games at sports bars. The food and the drinks are too expensive, and I lack control over my environment- I have to deal with fans of opposing teams (who spout absolute drunken gibberish most of the time), and I can't express myself freely. I was watching the Seahawks/Patriots game at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Bowling Green, Ohio, and one table over was a young woman in an Aaron Curry Seahawks jersey (Eww). I was tempted to say something to her, but her boyfriend was a boorish, douchetacular New England fan- He taunted her mercilessly throughout the game and she silently endured it.

As the afternoon went on, he crowed and brayed about the mighty Patriots- The New England victory was preordained in his mind, and for 3 and a half quarters, it looked like he would be right. Tom Brady used a scalpel to cut through the vaunted Seattle defense, and the Hawks served up a long string of physical and mental mistakes. I spent most of the game silently fuming, with my loudest expressions being cries of "God DAMN it!" after Seattle mistakes. I didn't abandon hope, but I also mentally prepared myself for a loss- I started writing a very different version of this blog post in my head.

But it was only 23-10. Despite the dropped interceptions, the fumbles, the mangled punt attempt, the roughing calls, and the lack of a rushing attack, it was only 23-10. Then Russell Wilson hit on a deep ball to Golden Tate... Then on 4th and Goal he threw a perfect pass to Braylon Edwards (who made a spectacular catch). I let out a yelp and a few fist pumps. The Patri-douche reminded me that it was futile. TWICE the defense stopped Tom Brady (one of the top 5 QBs to ever play the game) and gave the ball back to Seattle's offense. First, a flaccid 3-and-out. The Pats then seemed largely content to let their defense win the game. Russell Wilson wasn't going to beat them, right? King Jackass of Greater Massachusetts reminded me of that at maximum volume.

Play-action. Half-roll-out. Perfect rainbow dropped right into Sidney Rice's mitts. Touchdown.

I snapped. All inhibitions were sloughed off in an instant. The Social Contract was shredded. I was 8 years old. It was 1983. I was watching the Seahawks beat the Patriots in the Kingdome to clinch their first playoff spot ever. I screamed at the top of my lungs. I jumped and spun around like Oprah had just given me a new car. It was pure, uncut delirium- The joy that only comes from an unexpected victory. Diamond Joe Assmunch yelled "Too much time!" In my heart, I knew he was right. Over a minute on the clock, and Brady just needed a field goal. We all knew how this one was supposed to end.

Then Tom Brady found out the same thing Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton already learned via bitter experience this season: When the Seattle Seahawks absolutely, positively need to stop you, they don't check your resume first. They will simply brutalize you and your teammates and let you sort through the wreckage. As we stopped the Patriots on 4th down, Mr. Douche England BOLTED for the exit. He wanted NO part of my celebration. It was only then that it hit me...

This is what 2005 felt like. This is how I felt after Babs picked off Bledsoe and Josh Brown banged home the kick to beat Dallas. This is how I felt after Jay Feeley missed all those field goals. This is how I felt when Matt Hasselbeck beat Shawn Springs to the pylon... or when Lofa picked off Delhomme. That team was built to outsmart and outwork the enemy, and that got us all the way to the Super Bowl. This team? This team is built beat the fucking shit out of you.

Even as New England built a lead, they were getting beaten to a bloody pulp. Finally, in the game's waning moments, it paid the greatest of dividends. Terrific Tom Brady seemed jittery in the face of Seattle's relentless pass rush. Their superstar WRs and TEs racked up some nice fantasy numbers, but couldn't make the plays that would have put the game out of Russell Wilson's reach.

Russell Wilson? All that kid did today was outplay Tom Brady. I am rapturously happy to be wrong about him. I am overjoyed that everything I've written about him now looks laughably obtuse, like those articles from the 1930s telling pregnant women they should smoke in order to relax. He's already a valuable asset only 6 games into his career, able to win games with his arm and his legs when given the chance, and the limit to his potential isn't even visible yet. Go ahead, Twelves. Embrace this. Go buy a Wilson jersey, dagnabit!

Pete Carroll deserves special recognition today. He stuck with his rookie QB when legions of us were HOWLING for Matt Flynn, and now it's paying off earlier than anyone could have imagined. On this day, up against the team that cast him aside 13 years ago, he outcoached Bill Belichick (whose bold, aggressive style probably cost his team three potentially decisive points at the end of the 1st Half). He inherited one of the worst rosters in pro football, a team led into the wilderness by a blowhard who blathered about "dirtbags," and has remade it into a legion of Cassius Clays: Young, brash, and brutal.

It's time to stop thinking about "next year." 2012 can be 2005, but even bigger, badder, and bloodier. The roof has been torn off, and it's no longer delusional to think the Seahawks could have a rematch with New England in XLVII.

Hell, maybe the Patriots won't even make it to New Orleans for Round 2...

What do you think, sirs?

October 10, 2012

Top 5: Seahawks Beat (or almost beat) Patriots!


This Sunday the New England Patriots visit Seattle for only the 3rd time in 22 years. I've been to Boston twice in the last 12 years, and that was as an impoverished graduate student (side note: before realignment in 2002, the NFL's scheduling formula was a byzantine clusterfuck- We played the Pats twice in the REGULAR SEASON in 1993.. How the fuck did that happen?). When Ken Behring packed up the team in the Spring of 1996 and tried to hold mini-camp in Southern California, I decided I would become a Patriots fan if it all went nuclear and the Seahawks skipped town. I was already a Red Sox fan, and Drew Bledsoe was my favorite non-Seahawks player- That plan went poof when the Patriots reached Super Bowl XXXI that season... I wasn't going to be anyone's bandwagon fan, yo.

Thankfully, Mr. Allen swooped in to save the day and it never came to that- But I think it's important to remember that until about a decade ago New England was an absolutely forlorn franchise.They went from an absolute afterthought on the NFL landscape to a multiple-championship-winning juggernaut- It just took the right owner, coach and quarterback. They're where we want to be, and there's NOTHING that says we can't get there. So here goes- Our top 4 victories (and one near-victory) over the New England Patriots.

5.  12/7/08 Patriots 24 @ Seahawks 21
The 2008 Seahawks were an awful team, but they didn't lay down and die like their 2009 Mora-"led" successors. Facing a Patriots team fighting for the playoffs (and in the middle of an 8-game winning streak), Seattle held leads of 14-3 and 21-13. Seneca Wallace had the best game of his career, throwing for three touchdowns with zero interceptions. Marcus Trufant shut down a still-All-Pro Randy Moss, but it wasn't enough. Matt Cassel led New England to the winning score late in the 4th, and Holmgren's farewell tour/death march continued unabated- But at least we put a scare into the Bostonians.

4. 9/19/93 Seahawks 17 @ Patriots 14
3.10/24/93 Seahawks 10, Patriots 9
Like I said above, I have no idea why we played a non-divisional foe twice in the 1993 regular season. Was that a common practice then? Did I just blank on this? 1993 was also one of those weird-ass seasons where everyone had TWO bye weeks- maybe that had something to do with it? In any case, the NFL saw fit to have the two worst teams from 1992 grapple twice the following season- They must have REALLY wanted to see Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer go at it, huh?

Both these games are particularly vivid for me personally. The September match-up at Foxboro happened on the day I moved into my dorm at Western. My new roommate was fairly aghast to see that the first thing I did was hook up the TV and yell at it for three hours. Then again, he once made everyone who shared the Fairhaven Stack 8, Floor 3 bathroom come look at a particularly gigantic deuce he dropped... So he wasn't exactly a great exemplar of social grace himself. Chris Warren pulverized the Patriots defense for 174 yards on 36 carries and helped the Hawks build a 17-0 lead... Which the defense tried to crap away, of course. Bledsoe led two 4th-quarter TD drives for the Pats, but Seattle held on to win 17-14.

A month later, I attended the rematch with a girl- she was my "best friend," but I was madly in love with her... As I wrote in this space before:

Being an 18-year-old dipshit, I had some weird ways of trying to woo her, like taking her to a Seahawks game. Kurt Cobain was still alive (in fact, Nirvana had released the amazing In Utero just a month before... it would become the soundtrack of my freshman year), as were the Seahawks chances of a competitive season.

Drew Bledsoe's homecoming wasn't to be... With #11 out with an injury, Scott Zolak faced the Seahawks. But even with that advantage, the Hawks trailed 9-3 late in a very boring game. I was in a near-panic that she wasn't having a good time, and this whole thing was a very bad idea.

Suddenly, Rick Mirer was doing his best Joe Montana impression. He drove us down the field, and with only seconds to play, threw the winning touchdown pass. The crowd went batshit crazy... even my lady friend got into it, and I got a nice prolonged, semi-passionate hug out of it. At that moment, the future was ablaze with possibilities, both for the Seahawks and my personal life. The Hawks were 4-3, and Rick Mirer was going to lead Seattle to football glory.

That 4-3 start turned into a 6-10 lead turd of a season. That game was the high point of Mirer's career... It was all downhill after that. A couple of months later, my best friend started dating someone. I told her I was in love with her. Crash. Burn. Despair. 


Yay?

2. 9/21/86 Seahawks 38 @ Patriots 31 
The Seahawks visited the defending AFC Champs, but the defense evidently decided to chill out at the hotel rather than face the Pats. Tony Eason torched the Hawks for 414 yards passing and three TDs, and New England held a seemingly secure 10-point lead with less than three minutes left to play. A Norm Johnson FG cut the lead to 7, and after a three-and-out Patrick Hunter blocked a punt that Paul Moyer scooped up in the end zone for the tying touchdown. After another Patriots three-and-out, Dave Krieg hit Ray Butler on a 67-yard rainbow for the winning margin. Krieg would only complete 9 out of his 20 pass attempts, but two were long TDs to Butler (54 & 67 yards). Take that, Tony Eason! There were 38 points scored in the 4th quarter, and this was also the first time I blurted out a curse word during a Seahawks game in front of my parents (I was 11).

1. 12/18/83 Seahawks 24, Patriots 6
The 8-7 Seahawks found themselves needing a home win against the 8-7 Patriots to clinch the franchise's first-ever playoff berth. My Dad took me to that game (my 1st ever, at age 8), and EVERYTHING about it was awe-inspiring; from the first moment I saw the Kingdome driving in from I-90, to the dizzying cavernous grandeur of the Dome's interior. Of course, as I grew older I began to consider King County Stadium more or less a shithole, but on that day, it was the Louvre to me.

I screamed for what seemed like 4 hours straight, starting with a shrieking series of boos aimed at the Patriots as they took the field for warm-ups. We were in the 300 level, and there was no way they could possibly have heard me, but I still roared until my voice was gone. What an annoying little shit, huh?

The game itself was perfect: The deafening roar of the 12th Man, a Largent touchdown, and an easy blowout victory. Famously, the Seahawks came out of the locker room after the game to mingle with the remaining Soldiers of Twelve left in the Dome. If I wasn't already hooked for life, this game sealed the deal.

What do you think, sirs? 

October 8, 2012

Seahawks 16, Panthers 12


Somewhere there's a J.J. Abrams-esque alternate universe where the Seahawks defense couldn't keep the Carolina Panthers out of the end zone in the 4th quarter yesterday. Seattle lost 17-16 and that version of the Twelve Army is tearing itself apart- half demanding fealty to Russell Wilson, half demanding that Matt Flynn start against New England in a desperate effort to save a season spinning out of control. The national media bobbleheads fawn over Cam Newton's ability to "get it done" in the 4th quarter and keep the Panthers' season alive. Pete Carroll is on the "hot seat," and his entire rebuilding project in Seattle falls under withering criticism- "Well, you know they're a bad call from a replacement ref away from being 1-4. Pete Carroll is finding out the NFL isn't the Pac-10!" Today, those goateed alt-Twelves are living in a World of Shit.

Here in our reality, Carolina's season absorbed a death blow yesterday. Here in our reality, The Best Defense in The NFL WILLED the Seahawks to victory, highlighted by a goal-line stand that will become folklore- A tale spoken of as part of the Legend of 2012. With their season on the line in a very tangible sense, The Best Defense in The NFL stopped football's best red zone offense on FOUR tries inside the 5-yard-line. Before that, a superlative individual play by Brandon Browner set up Seattle's lone offensive touchdown. After that, rookie stud Bruce Irvin sealed the victory with a strip-sack of Newton (who was VASTLY outplayed by Russell Wilson). All day the Seattle defense pummeled the Panthers. Make no mistake- Many Carolina offensive players woke up pissing blood this morning. Future Hall-of-Famer Steve Smith tussled with Richard Sherman all day and lost- his pint-sized bravado was no match for a supremely talented NERD.

Through the first five games, this is the best defense the Seattle Seahawks have ever put on the field. Right now they are #1 in total defense, #3 in rushing defense, #5 in passing defense, #5 in sacks, and #3 in scoring defense in the NFL. If they keep this up, they'll eclipse the vaunted 1984 Seahawks defense. The ONLY category where we could stand to see marked improvement is in terms of takeaways- but yesterday the Seattle D did notch two key game-changing takeaways. I've said it before, but this is a Championship Defense- possibly on the level of the 2000 Ravens or 2002 Buccaneers. The big question is: Can Russell Wilson play Trent Dilfer/Brad Johnson and lead us on a deep playoff run?

Obviously, I'm a Wilson skeptic- One atrocious mistake led to a Carolina pick-6 and nearly cost us the game- but he showed real progress yesterday, and it's impossible to rationally argue that he should be benched in favor of Matt Flynn at this point. He radically improved his performance on 3rd down, and flashed the skill set that made Pete Carroll and millions of Twelves swoon back in August. Could he take a step backwards and force Matt Flynn onto the field at some later point this season? Sure- But I think there's a greater chance that he will continue to improve, and be ready to help us win playoff games by January. I'm VERY happy to have almost everything I wrote last week immediately look hysterical and stupid. Good job, kid- Keep it up.

Other random notes? Marshawn Lynch didn't have a monster game in terms of stats, but he ground out yards when we needed them against a defense STACKED up to stop him. Golden Tate is a villain everywhere outside Seattle, but his toughness is quickly making him a fan favorite among Twelves- For the 2nd time in three weeks, he scored the winning TD for the Hawks. Special Teams got back on track, and the decision to take the intentional safety in the waning minutes was a bold, savvy decision by Pete Carroll.

The New Fucking England Goddamn Patriots are coming to Seahawks Stadium next week- It's an incredible challenge for these young Hawks, but one I think they are up to. We've reached a point where we don't just have to worry about Tom Brady- Dude has to worry about us, too. We'll give Belichick and his minions all they can handle. These are great times to be a Seahawks fan- Rejoice, Twelves!

What do you think, sirs?