November 28, 2012
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
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
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
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
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?