September 25, 2012

Seahawks 14, Packers 12

Let's get this out of the way: If I had been the official examining that final play last night, I probably would have called it an interception. The replacement ref situation has become the biggest on-field crisis in the NFL since the use of replacement players during the 1987 players' strike. The owners need to put aside their scorched-earth Randian ideology and cut a deal with the regular officials IMMEDIATELY to prevent any further damage to the game America is absolutely, utterly obsessed with.

OK- We good on that? Because no Seahawks fan should hesitate to celebrate this win. I'm writing this blog post in a public computer lab wearing my Lynch jersey, intentionally reminding the world that yes, there are Seahawks fans out there, and we are absolutely 100% OK with "winning that way." Hand-wringing and Pearl-clutching because we didn't win "the right way" is for losers like John Kerry and Al Gore, not fans of a rising NFL power built on ferocity and vicious brutality. This defeatist attitude also ignores the fact that many egregiously bad calls by the scab officials were made AGAINST Seattle last night- After halftime, they simply stopped calling holding on Green Bay's offensive line, and a laughably blind P.I. call on Kam Chancellor kept the Pack's go-ahead touchdown drive alive in the 4th quarter.

The focus on officiating going full-on Chernobyl obscures a huge plotline of last night's game: The emergence of a Super-Bowl quality defense in Seattle. The eight first-half sacks jump off the stat sheet, but the Seahawks absolutely DOMINATED the reigning NFL MVP and one of the most powerful offensive attacks of all time. Aaron Rodgers could only lead Green Bay into the end zone once, and that was with a big scabby assist. Twelve points allowed against a team only months removed from averaging 35 ppg is more than impressive- it's a sign that we might just have the best defense in football. The defense was so comprehensively spectacular that it's hard to single out any players for individual plaudits. The moment that will stick with me is the complete smothering of Green Bay's final attempt to run out the clock (which was set up by one of about a dozen superlative Seattle special teams plays)- When we absolutely needed a stop, they got one. The Legion of Boom is starting to get a 2000 Ravens/2002 Bucs vibe going, and that should soil pantaloons all over the league.

The defense and special teams are Championship-ready, but the offense is struggling to achieve mere mediocrity. I love the fighting spirit of players like Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson and Golden Tate, but they're not yet good enough to sufficiently compliment Seattle's other units. I hope that Wilson will improve as the season progresses, but I have a nagging fear that he may ultimately be what holds the 2012 Hawks back from achieving their fullest potential. There might be a point later on this season where Pete Carroll has to make one of the toughest coaching decisions possible: Whether or not to bench an under-performing QB while the team is winning and in position to reach the postseason. I sincerely hope I'm wrong, but my instinct is that Seattle can WIN XLVII with Matt Flynn under center, but not with Russell Wilson.

That's a debate for another, later day though- This team is going to continue stacking up victories. If they can erase Aaron Rodgers, why can't they do it to Sam Bradford? To Cam Newton? To Tom Brady? And so on... Don't apologize or equivocate, Twelves! Show the tenacity of Kam, of Marshawn, of Golden... This is your team, and they are FUCKING AWESOME.

What do you think, sirs?

September 19, 2012

Top 5: Seahawks Beat Packers!

It's difficult for me to lather up a good hatred of the Green Bay Packers- They're a classy organization, they have heaps of (relatively inoffensive) tradition, tons of ties to the Seahawks organization, and they're the only publicly-owned NFL team (Shit- that should make a filthy lib-rul like me LOVE them).  Aaron Rodgers seems like a cool dude, and they've been a very entertaining team to watch over the last few years. Back in 1996, when it looked like the Seahawks might bolt for Los Angeles, I strongly considered the Packers for my new NFL obsession. Unless you root for a rival NFC North team, the Pack is hard to loathe. 

But I'll try anyway... 

For a LONG time, Favre alone gave us all plenty of reason to root against Green Bay. But with Lord Favre riding a tractor in Mississippi now, we have to fall back on history- The fact that Seattle's Super Bowl dreams were dashed TWICE in playoff losses at Lambeau Field. In 2003, it was that heart-breaking OT "We want the ball and we're going to score" Wild Card defeat. In 2007, it was a soul-destroying blowout loss (after we jumped out to a 14-0 early lead). In fact, the Seahawks have only won 5 of the 15 all-time meetings between these teams. Thankfully, that's just enough to justify another Top 5 list! Huzzah! 

How did the Seahawks win a game where Dave Krieg put up a 41.6 QB rating and they turned the ball over 5 times? They ran for 193 yards, including 123 yards and a TD from Curt Warner. Seattle's defense recovered three fumbles and picked off Packers QBs twice, helping the Hawks improve to 6-3. Side note for any Packers fans reading this: Who the fuck was Randy Wright? He was your QB that day, but that sounds like the name of some forgotten 80s R&B singer. 

The Packers used to play a couple games a year down in Milwaukee, and those were usually the dates on the schedule against less "attractive" opponents. Before they stopped the Green Bay/Milwaukee split after the 1994 season, the Seahawks would face the Packers four times in Milwaukee and only once at Lambeau. Evidently the team from South Alaska wasn't worthy of prime dates up in Green Bay. Fuckers. 

Anyway, in 1984 the Seahawks rolled into Alice Cooper's favorite town 5-2 and expecting an easy win over the 1-6 Packers. Lynn Dickey and James Lofton made the Hawks work for this victory, though. Dickey torched Seattle's usually dominant 1984 defense for 364 yards and three TDs, and future Hall-of-Famer Lofton had 5 grabs for 162 yards. After one quarter, Seattle trailed 17-7, and they were well on their way to a surprising defeat (Seattle also committed 17 penalties that cost 128 yards of field position. Damn!). Thankfully Krieg and Largent almost matched Dickey & Lofton- Mudbone racked up 310 passing yards, and Largent hauled in 7 catches for 129 yards and a TD. The defense would also sack Dickey 6 times and pick off three of his passes, helping Seattle get the fuck out of town with a 6-point victory. 

I actually still have the videotape of this one- what I remember is Derrick Fenner just going OFF on the Pack, and thankfully my memory didn't fault me this time. Both teams came in 6-6, so this was effectively an elimination game for the losers. Despite facing a Packers team led by Anthony Dilweg at QB (wait-who?), Seattle was a significant underdog- A dome team wasn't going to win an outdoor December game with temps down in the 20s, right? 

The Hawks had a nice little streak of good luck going at this point- They had won three of their last four games. One was the miraculous "Kreig-to Skansi" win at Arrowhead, and the other two were consecutive 13-10 OT wins over Houston and San Diego. On that chilly Milwaukee day it certainly helped us that Dilweg played down to his awful-sounding name- The dude went 6 for 22 for 69 yards and a pick before he was replaced by Blair Kiel (Man- they really had a dry spell at QB between Dickey and Majkowski, huh?). Kiel was a HUGE improvement, but by then Seattle had built a 20-0 lead primarily on the legs of Fenner, who toted the ball 20 times for 112 yards and a TD. Kiel would throw two 4th-quarter touchdowns to make all us Twelves sweat, but the Hawks hung on to win 20-14. 

It was Monday Night Football, and the return of Mike Holmgren to Lambeau Field as Seattle's Head Coach. I remember pacing back and forth in my pathetic graduate dorm room at Ohio State, sweating and on the verge of puking before this one. Very few outside of the Twelve Army gave us any chance of victory, and it looked like Green Bay would snatch the early lead until Shawn Springs scooped and scored on a blocked field goal attempt. In my Springs jersey I ran out in the hallway braying like an ass, frightening the foreign students on my floor who had no fucking clue what a Seahawk was.  

Favre would answer with a long TD pass to tie the game, but after that it was a Patton Oswalt-worthy "sheet cake of victory" for the Hawks. Cortez Kennedy sacked Favre thrice and Springs snatched two of Seattle's four interceptions. Ricky Watters gashed GB for 125 yards on 31 carries and sent the Pack into a downward spiral that led to 8-8 and Ray Rhodes getting canned after just one year as Head Coach. 

Seattle rode this upset win over the Packers on MNF to a winning season and a playoff appearance. How about a repeat performance next Monday, boys? 

A SNOW GAME IN SEATTLE! This one was a great example of why Seahawks Stadium was a HUGE upgrade over the Kingdome- As loud as the Dome could get, it could never provide us with a memory quite like this one: Shaun Alexander shredding the Green Bay defense inside a snow globe. 

Hasselbeck and Favre cancelled each other out, both chucking three interceptions- But the Pack had no answer for Alexander, who delivered one of the last great performance of his career (we tend to forget the great games he had in our losses to San Diego and Chicago later that season). SA rambled for 201 yards on 40 (!) carries, but Seattle still found itself trailing a 4-6 team at home 21-12 in the 2nd half. Hasselbeck would finish strong with three late TD passes and the Hawks would end an unforgettable night with a 34-24 win. 

What do you think, sirs? 

September 16, 2012

Seahawks 27, Cowboys 7

There was a telling moment captured by the FOX cameras with about four minutes left in Seattle's 27-7 demolition of the Dallas Cowboys- Jason Garrett took out his challenge flag and handed it to one of his minions. He wouldn't need to use it. The Dallas coach had surrendered. The will of the Cowboys was broken.They were left in bloodied submission, limping to the team plane. The Seahawks saw what they wanted from Dallas, and they JUST FUCKING TOOK IT.

Wasn't that one of the most enjoyable days you've EVER spent watching the Seahawks? For most of our franchise's history, when we've had success we've tended to gain it by outsmarting, out-hustling, or outmaneuvering the opposition. Rarely would we see our Hawks physically dominate the enemy, so we got tagged as a "finesse" team. After today, I can assure that as long as Pete Carroll is our Coach, no one will EVER call us as a finesse team again.

After a first half that ended with Seattle leading but looking generally jittery and unsteady, the Hawks came out after the half Born Again Hard- They'd have methodical, punishing touchdown drives of 88 and 90 yards in the 3rd quarter, and a 14-play, 6-and-a-half minute 4th quarter drive to snuff any Dallas hopes of a miraculous comeback. Russell Wilson had way too many of us (myself included) wondering if Matt Flynn might need to step in for our MNF showdown against the Packers next week, but he settled down and ended up delivering an impressive, doubt-squashing, 112.7-rated performance. Marshawn Lynch battered the Cowboys front seven throughout the opening half, and MARAUDED through and over them in the second half, ending up with 122 yards and the death-blow touchdown. Golden Tate had three pivotal catches, but his blind-side 1st-degree-assault block on Sean Lee summed up Seattle's new mission statement: We Will Bury You.

The offense showed impressive signs of growth, and the special teams units put up our first ten points- But it's Seattle's defense that will give opposing coaches full-blown night terrors. Our defenders attack with blinding speed and vicious brutality- Jason Witten will someday end up in the Hall of Fame, but he seemed spooked and battered today after absorbing multiple shots from the Legion of Boom. By the 4th quarter, from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant the Cowboys had the look of a team that just wanted to get the fuck out of town.

In that 4th quarter, the Seahawks faced a 4th-and-1 in Dallas territory. They could have tried a long field goal. They could have tried to pin the Cowboys deep with a punt. None of the above. They went for it. It was a "Fuck You" call by Pete Carroll, as in: "Fuck You. We want that yard. You can't stop us. We're taking it."

We took it. And we're going to keep just taking things from the enemy all season. Yes, we're a very young team, and yes, stumbles and growing pains lie ahead. Yes, the NFC West looks like it's taken a MASSIVE leap forward overall. Yes, the mighty Green Bay Packers are coming to Seahawks Stadium for MNF next week. But now, they have to worry about US. They have to worry about what we want to take from them, and about how the fuck they can possibly stop us.

What do you think, sirs?

September 9, 2012

Cardinals 20, Seahawks 16

Today the Seattle Seahawks provided plenty of ammunition for those who want to conclude that they're embarking on another doomed campaign. Again they came out flat and lost a season opener they were favored to win. Again they allowed an inferior opponent to build a 1st-half advantage that ultimately couldn't be overcome. AGAIN the offensive line couldn't protect the quarterback. AGAIN GAME WINNING PASSES WERE DROPPED. The story is all too familiar. If one was inclined to believe in curses, today's debacle in Glendale provided plenty of evidence.

Here's the thing, though: I don't believe in curses. I DO believe in Russell Wilson.

Wilson's numbers weren't great. If you wanted to compare his opening day stats to Robert Griffin III, Wilson's look dreadful. Every pass wasn't delivered with sniper-level accuracy. A terrible swing pass to Lynch ended up being a lateral and cost Seattle three points. He bailed out of the pocket under pressure too quickly a number of times. Despite all that, today CONVINCED me that he will lead the Seahawks to the playoffs, and that he'll do so this season. Why?

He showed decisiveness, patience, and incredible calm under pressure. Let's cut the shit: If either Doug Baldwin or Braylon Edwards makes a difficult but TOTALLY PLAUSIBLE catch, we're already going apeshit about The Legend of Russell Wilson. With his team needing a touchdown, he whipped them downfield and into position to win. In his VERY FIRST NFL GAME. That's pretty fucking awesome. I saw nothing but upside from Russell Wilson. I saw a quarterback who is capable of consistently delivering excellent quarterback play. We haven't had that since 2007, people. Late-model Hasselbeck couldn't do that, and neither could Tarvaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst.

Could Matt Flynn? Yes, I think so. I think it's WAY too soon to even consider that move, though. Not only would the team have to be losing, they'd have to be losing in such as way that starting Matt Flynn would be likely to make a measurable difference. In addition to that, the window for such a move is VERY narrow. It would have to be made while the Seahawks are still in playoff contention- If Seattle falls out of the playoff race, why not give Wilson a season of experience? If the Seahawks lose next week AND Wilson looks out of his depth, there's some chance Flynn could start against Green Bay in a desperate bid to get to 1-2... but I doubt it. If we're 0-3 and heading into STL for a death match? That's where I think a switch might be made, but only if the defeats are clearly at least in part due to sub-replacement-level QB play.

My friend Hawkblogger said this before the game, and he was absolutely correct: The offense couldn't be counted on to win this game- The defense needed to be dominant. For a long stretch in the 2nd half, they were, but it simply wasn't enough... and it won't be enough for this defense to merely be "good." They have to smother the enemy. They absolutely can't let the likes of Kevin Kolb hop off the bench and drive their teams to go-ahead touchdowns. Even if they have Larry Fitzgerald to throw to, that's completely unacceptable. Much more is expected from them.

Realistically, the Seahawks are in a must-win situation at home vs the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday. Everyone will pick Dallas to win, and everyone will be wrong. Wilson will take another step towards his destiny, and backed by a bloodthirsty crowd a humbled Seattle defense will make Romo be Romo. I refuse to believe these are the Same Old Seahawks- because I believe Russell Wilson is motherfuckin' Neo... And he's fixing to wake everyone up.

What do you think, sirs?

September 4, 2012

Detailed Predictions for the 2012 Seahawks

Yesterday I posted my predictions for the entire NFL, which included #10winsandaplayoffspot for our Seahawks. Here's some of my big (and small) predictions for what should be a very enjoyable season for the Twelve army.

1) The season will end with a 31-28 OT loss at Green Bay in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs, but the Seahawks will show a new power is rising in the NFC by pushing the #1 seed Packers to the brink of defeat. The most memorable moment? A come-from-behind victory at San Francisco in the NFC Wild Card game (more on that below).

2) The Seahawks defense will rank among the NFL's top 5 in terms of yards allowed, points allowed, and takeaways. Earl Thomas will be the team's MVP, and will be selected to the Pro Bowl along with Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner, and Defensive Rookie of the Year Bruce Irvin.

3) Russell Wilson will show us moments of brilliance, but also plenty of rookie mistakes. Thankfully, a dominant ground attack will conceal some of Wilson's vulnerabilities early in the season, and Marshawn Lynch will be named to the Pro Bowl and the All-Pro team after leading the NFL in rushing. Matt Flynn will start two games filling in for an injured Wilson, and lead the Seahawks to victory in both games.

4) Sidney Rice will stay healthy and be Seattle's leading reciever, held back from a spot in the Pro Bowl only because the reality of a rookie starting QB will make the Seahawks rely heavily on running the football.

5) Season by quarters: 1st = 3-1 (wins over AZ, DAL, STL); 2nd = 1-3 (upset win over DET); 3rd 3-1 (wins over MIN, NYJ, MIA); 4th 3-1 (wins over AZ, SF, STL). We'll go 5-1 in the division, 6-2 at home, and 4-4 on the road.

Five Memorable Games (in chronological order)

October 28th: Seahawks 27, Lions 26
The 3-4 Seahawks roll into Ford Field on a 3-game losing streak, and aren't given much of shot at beating the seemingly playoff-bound Lions. However, this is the day things start to "click" for Russell Wilson, who throws for 300+ yards and two touchdowns. Wilson also scores the winning touchdown in the waning seconds, but takes a brutal shot to the ribs in the process- He'll miss two games recovering from the injury.

November 11th: Seahawks 38, Jets 0
Tim Tebow has his worst day as an NFL quarterback- He is sacked 6 times and committs 5 turnovers. Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman both score on interception returns, and Matt Flynn throws for 350 yards and three touchdowns filling in for an injured Russell Wilson. The Seahawks are 6-4 and officially rolling.

December 23rd: Seahawks 24, 49ers 10
After a heart-breaking loss to the Bills in Toronto, the 8-6 Seahawks need to win their last two games to make it into the playoffs. The 10-4 Niners are unprepared for the ferocious onslaught of a wounded, desperate Seattle team. Marshawn Lynch batters the 49ers for 165 yards on 30 carries- twice he's pelted with Skittles by the Twelve Army after reaching the San Francisco end zone. Alex Smith is sacked 5 times and intercepted thrice, and the Niners limp out of town defeated.

December 30th: Seahawks 20, Rams 13
Jeff Fisher and the 5-10 Rams arrive in Seattle determined to keep the Seahawks out of the playoffs, and give the Seahawks a 60-minute fight. Wilson hits Doug Baldwin for the go-ahead touchdown with only 1:45 left in the game, and the NFC 6th Seed is secured when Kam Chancellor intercepts Sam Bradford deep in Seahawks territory with only 15 seconds left to play. The reward? A rematch with an amped-up and butt-hurt Niners squad at Candlestick Park.

January 5th (NFC Wild Card Game): Seahawks 24, Niners 20
It's unanimous everywhere but the Pacific Northwest: The big, bad Niners are going to exact terrible vengance upon the Seattle Seahawks. It looks that way for most of the game- The Niners lead 20-10 going into the 4th quarter. Then a 85-yard, 6 minute drive capped by a Robert Turbin 1-yard plunge gets the Seahawks within three with 7 minutes left. San Francisco responds with a punishing drive of their own that stalls in the Seattle red zone. With just over 2 minutes left, Red Bryant smothers a field goal attempt to extend the Niners' lead, and The Legend of Russell Wilson is truly born.

On a final drive that will echo in Seahawks legend forever, Wilson completes 5 passes for 60 yards, and scampers for an addition 20 yards (including a desperate dive for the first-down marker on 4th and 5 outside of field goal range). Within field goal range, the commentators talk about how Pete Carroll should play for overtime. Nope. Not Big Balls Pete. With only 21 seconds left to play, Wilson fires a Real-Genius-worthy LAZER to Braylon Edwards in the back of the end zone for the 17-yard winning touchdown. No Seahawks fan will forget where they are in that moment, and Pete Carroll will BARELY supress the urge to dance a jig in front of a sullen, defeated Jim Harbaugh.

There you go. What do you think, sirs?

September 3, 2012

DKSB's Mayan-Apocalypse-Defying 2012 NFL Predictions

Just like I did in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, I downloaded my NFL Schedule Grid, filled it out, and predicted the outcome of the upcoming NFL season- My annual preamble to this:

All preseason predictions are, to a greater or lesser degree, bullshit. The beauty of this game is its unpredictability. Anyone who tells you they KNOW who will make the playoffs, who will win the Super Bowl, etc, is trying to sell you something. Folks with deeper, more detailed knowledge of the game might be able to give you slightly more accurate predictions, but at the end of the day it's still at best educated guessing.

I've always had particularly deep contempt for implausible preseason predictions. I'm talking about when some lazy sportswriter predicts the records for all 32 teams and comes up with an impossible aggregate record, or predicts playoff matchups without working through tiebreakers, etc. That's why every year I go through the ENTIRE regular season and predict the winner of EVERY game, so all the pieces fit together. What follows is my own particular flavor of bullshit, which you can dissect in the comments at your leisure.

Here we go- Enjoy! (More details on what I think will happen with the Seahawks will appear in an upcoming post)

49ers 11-5 (3)
Seahawks 10-6  (6)
Cardinals 5-11
Rams 5-11

Packers 13-3 (1)
Lions 10-6
Bears 9-7
Vikings 4-12

Falcons 11-5 (2)
Panthers 10-6 (5)
Saints 9-7
Buccaneers 6-10

Giants 10-6 (4)
Eagles 9-7
Cowboys 8-8
Redskins 6-10

Wild Card Round: Seahawks 24, 49ers 20; Panthers 19, Giants 17
Divisional Playoffs: Packers 31, Seahawks 28 (OT); Falcons 27, Panthers 23
NFC Championship Game: Falcons 28, Packers 27

Broncos 9-7 (4)
Chargers 8-8 (6)
Chiefs 6-10
Raiders 6-10

Ravens 11-5 (2)
Bengals 8-8
Steelers 8-8
Browns 5-11

Texans 11-5 (3)
Colts 6-10
Titans 6-10
Jaguars 4-12

Patriots 13-3 (1)
Bills 9-7 (5)
Jets 5-11
Dolphins 3-13

Wild Card Round: Broncos 35, Bills 17; Texans 45, Chargers 24
Divisional Playoffs: Texans 23, Ravens 20; Patriots 38, Broncos 31
AFC Championship Game: Patriots 30, Texans 20

Patriots 37, Falcons 27
MVP: Tom Brady

NFL MVP: Tom Brady, Patriots
NFL DPOY: Earl Thomas, Seahawks
NFL Coach of the Year: Ron Rivera, Panthers
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Andrew Luck, Colts
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: Bruce Irvin, Seahawks

What do you think, sirs?