December 27, 2012
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?