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?