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?