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?
December 23, 2012
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?
December 17, 2012
One of my fondest childhood memories is the last month of the 1986 Seahawks season. They entered the final stretch of that campaign 5-6, but went supernova in late November/December. Not only did they win their last five games, they won those games by an aggregate score of 147-74. They whipped the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, they stomped the Raiders on Monday Night Football, and they demolished the eventual AFC Champion Broncos on the final day of the regular season. Every Seahawks fan who witnessed that month of football still asks "what if they had gotten into the playoffs?"
I can't stop thinking back to that 1986 team as I watch the 2012 Seahawks grow faster than Genesis-Planet Spock did in Star Trek III- The biggest difference is that 10-6 WILL get these Seahawks a spot in the playoffs. The '86 Hawks never got the chance to see how far their momentum would carry them in the postseason- Barring a stunning, improbable collapse the '12s will open the playoffs with a visit to the NFC East Champs. May the ghost of Pete Rozelle have mercy on their souls, because it doesn't matter if it's Dallas or DC or New York- The Seahawks are coming, and they are going to lay waste to everything in their path.
Of course I'm disappointed that our chances of winning the NFC West evaporated last night at Foxboro, but no Twelves should fret about this team failing to deliver on the road anymore. Yes, they were 3-5 on the road this season, but all five losses were decided in the last 5 minutes, and Seattle actually OUTSCORED their foes on the road this season 130-104. This isn't the same team that lost at Arizona or Detroit or Miami. They've made a qualitative leap, and that's directly attributable to the swift maturation of Russell Wilson.
I'm running out of breathless, fawning praise for Russell Wilson, who ran for three touchdowns yesterday, threw another and generally made the Buffalo defense look gutless and incompetent. The Offensive Rookie of the Year race is indeed a two-QB race, but it's between Wilson and Robert Griffin III. Wilson is clearly having a better season than #1 overall pick Andrew Luck, and I expect the WolfBadger to cleanly separate from RGIII over the season's final two weeks (side note: How awesome would it be if we drew the Pigskins in the Wild Card round? Wilson would take that huge chip from his shoulder and bludgeon DC's defense into submission with it).
Seattle's dominant performances over the past two weeks have paradoxically hurt Marshawn Lynch's statistics- He's run for 241 yards and four TDs in the last two games ON ONLY 21 CARRIES! While that might piss off people who own Beast Mode in fantasy football, it's great for the Seahawks. Lynch should be relatively healthy and fresh for a DEEP Seattle playoff run. Lynch is on pace for a 1576-yard season. If he gets to 1546, he'll own the 3rd best single-season rushing mark in Seahawks history (with only Shaun Alexander's 2004 & 2005 seasons above his 2012 on the leaderboard). Both Wilson and Lynch's sterling performances owe a great debt to Seattle's offensive line, which is growing more punishing and dominant every week.
Has there ever been a great defense as incessantly maligned as the Seahawks defense is by Seattle fans? Missing multiple starters yesterday, they still only allowed 17 points- Mix in Earl Thomas' heroic pick-six and that's a net of only 10 points allowed. The Hawks defense is on pace to finish in the NFL's top three in terms of points and yards allowed, and they should finish the year as the best defense in franchise history (based on points allowed). It looks like Richard Sherman is probably safe from a suspension until after this season ends, and we will get Brandon Browner back for the playoffs. There's every reason to think that Seattle will field a very dangerous postseason defense, y'all.
Since the start of Overtime back in Chicago, the Seahawks have outscored the enemy 114-17. They are peaking, and ready to tussle again with their most hated rivals: The San Francisco 49ers. The NFC West title is no longer realistically at stake (I'm the most optimistic of Twelves, but there is NO FUCKING WAY the Cardinals win at Candlestick Week 17), but this is still an important game for Seattle. Win, and they are in the playoffs. A win would also be a powerful statement that they're ready to make a Super Bowl run, particularly given that this game has been flexed to Sunday Night Football.
Win or lose next week, the Seahawks will (probably) have to go win a playoff game at Candlestick, either in the divisional round or in the NFC Championship Game. In addition, they would still clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Rams on December 30th- So next week's game is important, but not apocalyptically so. Even if Seattle loses, I will still see them as deadly serious NFC contenders. Their likely playoff path? At the 4th-seeded NFC East champions, then at #1 seed Atlanta in the divisional round, then at San Francisco for a trip to XLVII.
The 2005 Steelers, 2007 Giants, and 2010 Packers all won three road playoff games on the way to a Super Bowl victory. I no longer see any reason the 2012 Seahawks can't be the 4th team to pull of that sort of feat.
What do you think, sirs?
December 12, 2012
The Seahawks don't exactly have a rich history with the Buffalo Bills, playing them only 11 times in their first 36 years as a franchise. Weirdly, they've only played in Buffalo three times EVER, and they won't possibly play there again until 2020 (unless they award Buffalo a Super Bowl... Ha!). Sunday's tilt at Skydome (no, I won't call it that other corporate name) will be Seattle's first game ever played in Canada, and their first game wearing their new Wolf Grey alternate uniforms, too. Let's take a look back at five memorable (more or less) Seahawks victories over the Bills...
5. December 4, 1989: Seahawks 17, Bills 16
The Buffalo Bills were coming off a trip to the AFC Championship in 1988, and they came into the Kingdome 8-4 and rolling towards another deep playoff run. Not only were the Seahawks 4-8, they had lost four games in a row by a combined score of 93-51. Vegas had to make Buffalo a 4.5 point favorite (in the dome!) just to get SOME poor saps to put their money on the Hawks.
The achingly average Seahawks defense stiffened that day, holding future Hall-of-Fame QB Jim Kelly to a putrid 10-for-23/144 yard passing performance (including an interception by... Joe Nash?!?). Future Hall-of-Fame tailback Thurman Thomas was held to 77 all-purpose yards as well. The backfield combo of Curt Warner and John L. Williams combined for 215 total yards, and Williams scored the winning TD on a 51-yard pass from Dave Krieg in the final minutes. The loss cost the Bills home field advantage in the divisional playoffs, and possibly another trip to the AFC Championship Game.
4. November 18, 2001: Seahawks 23 @ Bills 20
The Seahawks were 4-4, and the Bills were a pungent 1-7 (reduced to starting Alex Van Pelt at quarterback), but since it was a 10 am road game Seattle was at best a shaky favorite. The Hawks were also primed for an emotional let-down after their dramatic 34-27 SNF win over the Raiders at Husky Stadium the previous week. I remember watching this game at a Damon's Sports Bar here in Columbus, and having to BEG for them to put the game on one tiny TV in the corner. The food was also expensive and shitty, for the record...
Anyway, the Seahawks delivered a predictably flat performance (other than Shaun Alexander's solid 95-yard day rushing), and the defense embarrassed themselves by allowing Van Pelt to rack up 316 yards passing and two touchdowns. Seattle was bailed out by four Buffalo fumbles- The Hawks recovered two of them, and did just enough to escape upstate New York with a 3-point victory.
3. December 8, 1996: Seahawks 26, Bills 18
Hmmm- This should sound familiar. An excellent Buffalo team (this time on the OTHER side of their four straight Super Bowl losses) came into Seattle to face a struggling Seahawks team riding an ugly 3-game losing streak that knocked them out of playoff contention. It was Seattle's last home game of the season, and it would also end up being the last game Rick Mirer would start at QB for the Seahawks.
How did the Seahawks slay the mighty Bills on a day where Mirer had a typically craptacular line of 9-for-23/147 yards? Buffalo barfed up FIVE turnovers and the Seahawks dashed out to an early 16-0 lead. Chris Warren chewed up yards and clock with a stellar 116-yard day on the ground, and Jim Kelly's 324-yard passing explosion was rendered moot. The loss would cost Buffalo the AFC East title, a first round bye, and the chance to lose a fifth straight Super Bowl.
2. October 24, 1999: Seahawks 26, Bills 16
This win kicked off one of the most exciting months in team history- Five straight wins, including defeats of the Broncos, Chiefs, and the Packers (at Lambeau on MNF) that ran our record from 3-2 to 8-2. The 1999 Bills would live forever in infamy for benching Doug Flutie before their Wild Card playoff game at Tennessee (and falling victim to the Music City Miracle), but on that afternoon in the Dome Flutie was still under center for Buffalo.
The Bills turned it over thrice and the Seahawks built a 23-0 lead in the 2nd quarter on the strength of two Kitna-to-Derrick Mayes TDs and three Todd Peterson field goals. Phillip Daniels sacked Flutie twice and Michael Sinclair got him once, while Kerry Joseph and Jay Bellamy both picked him off once. Neither team had any notion of the horrors that laid ahead- For Buffalo, that torturous playoff loss in Nashville. For Seattle, a late-season tailspin that saw them drop from 8-2 Super Bowl contenders to 9-7 zombies backing into the playoffs. Fuck.
1. October 30, 1977: Seahawks 56, Bills 17
Imagine that you're the 1977 Buffalo Bills. You are 1-5 (and your lone win was a 3-0 "triumph" over Atlanta), but thankfully you get to play the expansion Seahawks, who have only won three of their first TWENTY games. This is your chance to feed your aging superstar O.J. Simpson the ball and hopefully start turning your season around. Instead, you look up at halftime, and you're losing. 49-3. Wait- WHAT?
Jim Zorn would complete only 11 passes. That aint bad, right? Unless those 11 completions totaled 296 yards and FOUR OF THEM WERE TOUCHDOWN PASSES! Steve Largent caught 4 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns, and Duke Fergerson almost matched him with 113 receiving yards of his own. This was the first truly great performance in franchise history, and it was a fucking DOOZY. In the 1977 highlight film below, the Bills highlights start at the 12:40 mark. Enjoy!
What do you think, sirs?
December 9, 2012
I've been a Seahawks fan since 1983, and since then I've never missed a game. Over 29 seasons, I've seen Seattle win games in all manner of shocking ways. I saw us run four interceptions back for TDs in a 45-0 erasure of Kansas City in '84, and I witnessed a stunning 42-0 Monday Night domination of the Eagles on the road in 2005. Those massive steamrollings of the enemy paved the way for the two best seasons in franchise history. Both victories announced to the league: "Watch out. You might be next."
Today's 58-0 victory over the Arizona Cardinals was less like a football game, and more like that scene in Drive where Ryan Gosling's character doesn't just disarm a mob gun thug or even merely kill him. He stomps on that fucker's head so many times that it ended up resembling a watermelon from Gallagher's act, and he's left splattered in the blood and brains of his murdered foe. THAT is what the Seahawks did to Arizona today. They have never dominated another team this completely before- in fact, this was among the four or five most lopsided victories in the 90-year history of pro football. This could have been a weird random blip, but it's more likely an ominous warning to the rest of the NFL- These Seahawks are young, talented and FUCKING NASTY. None of their goals for the 2012 season are out of reach, including reaching (or even winning) the Super Bowl.
The defense swallowed the Cardinals, chewed them up for three hours, and barfed up their hair and bones. Bobby Wagner and Richard Sherman had two interceptions apiece, and have strong cases for Defensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively. Walter Thurmond III was impressive in extended duty, and Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin and Jeron Johnson all notched sacks of Cardinals QBs. Nitpickers can point out that Arizona sports one of the NFL's weakest offensive attacks, but any day you shut out an NFL team, hold them to 154 total yards, and force eight turnovers is a day you can feel pretty effing great about your defense.
On offense, Russell Wilson had another solid outing (one cut short by Seattle running out to a 45-0 lead early in the 3rd quarter)- it was only slightly marred by his first interception at home all season. Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin BOTH ran for over 100 yards, stirring up echoes of similar dominance by tandems like Curt Warner/John L. Williams and Shaun Alexander/Maurice Morris. If it wasn't for the otherworldly efforts of Adrian Peterson in Minnesota, Marshawn Lynch would clearly be the best running back in football this season. Anthony McCoy had the best day of his career in terms of receiving yardage, and Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Zach Miller reminded observers that Seattle has deep reserves of offensive playmakers.
Seattle scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams. This was a total team victory for Seattle, and an embarrassing mass surrender by the Arizona Cardinals. Once the Seahawks jumped out to a lead, it was clear the Cardinals just wanted to get out of the cold, the wet, and the noise. The team plane and a ride back to the warm desert beckoned to the Cardinals, and they couldn't wait to get the fuck out of Seahawks Stadium. They should be ashamed of themselves.
The Seahawks are at 8-5 with three games left to play. Every previous 8-5 Seattle squad made the playoffs (1987, 1999, 2003, 2006), and the odds are very high that the Hawks will at least snare a Wild Card spot. 10-6 SHOULD be good enough to secure a spot in the tournament, unless a parlay of unlikely events takes place. After a gritty road win at Chicago and today's annihilation of Arizona, it's time to think bigger. If the Seahawks win their final three games (and the Patriots defeat the Niners next Sunday), they won't just win the NFC West and lock down a home playoff game- They'd also have a great shot at the 2nd NFC seed and a 1st-round playoff bye. With the NFC lacking any obviously dominant teams, the Seahawks could be that team, like the 2010 Packers or 2011 Giants, who peaks at the perfect time and steals a Lombardi Trophy.
Today we saw something we've never seen before- Why can't we see a 3rd-round rookie QB hoisting a Super Bowl MVP trophy in February too?
What do you think, sirs?
December 5, 2012
It becomes clearer with each passing week that my early-season posts demanding Matt Flynn start at QB are going to live forever in online infamy. A dose of humility is good for any writer once in a while, and it's also important to occasionally get a reminder that I'd utterly destroy the team I love if I was ever put in charge of it. How did we get here? How'd I go from complete, unrestrained, pants-shitting panic to asking Santa for my very own Russell Wilson jersey?
The memories already paint a vivid picture: Last-second triumphs over Green Bay, New England and Chicago snared by Russell Wilson's sniper-cannon-arm... A 7-5 record and a team that appears primed for a deep playoff run. All of that would be enough to justify the growing Cult of Dangeruss, but the WolfBadger has done far more in his rookie season than just string together a few memorable finishes. The kid might be having one of the greatest seasons for any quarterback in Seahawks history... Not just the best season for a rookie QB. His baseline for comparison isn't 1976 Jim Zorn or 1993 Rick Mirer. It's 1984 Dave Krieg or 2005 Matt Hasselbeck. Let's take a look at the numbers, shall we?
If you extrapolate Wilson's numbers from 12 games over a 16 game season, you get this stat-line:
268 completions in 423 attempts (63.3%) for 3125 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions (with a rating of 94.5). Plus 398 yards rushing.
How would these numbers stack up against the great single-season QB performances in Seahawks history? "Wilson (x 1.333)" would be
- 4th all time in Passer Rating (behind '05 Hasselbeck at 98.2, '83 Dave Krieg at 95.0 and '88 Krieg at 94.6)
-5th in passing TDs (behind '84 Krieg, '03 Hasselbeck, '85 Krieg and '07 Hasselbeck, tied with '97 Moon)
-4th in completion percentage (behind '91 Krieg, '05 Hasselbeck and '02 Hasselbeck)
It's important to note that these are probably conservative estimates of Wilson's final 2012 statistics. With the Seattle defense weakened by the loss of Brandon Browner (and possibly Richard Sherman as well), Wilson will likely be asked to deliver even greater offensive production over the season's final month. In addition, his performance has been improving sharply over the past month, so it's extremely plausible that he'll end up producing one of the top two or three quarterbacking seasons in franchise history- As a rookie. We've simply never seen anything like this in the 37-year history of Seahawks football, and it's pretty effing awesome.
What about team performance? The only quarterbacks to lead Seattle to 10-win seasons are Dave Krieg (1984, 1986) and Matt Hasselbeck (2003, 2005, 2007). Wilson will join this club with three more wins over the final month of 2012. He's already tied '97 Warren Moon for the 2nd most wins (7) for any first-year full-time starter in team history- More than Zorn in '76 (2), Krieg in '83 (5), Mirer in '93 (6), or Hasselbeck in '01 (5). Jon Kitna had 8 wins in his first year as the full-time starter in 1999, but Wilson should catch and pass him over the next two weeks. Again, we're in uncharted territory with Russell Wilson this season.
If you switch the basis of comparison from Seahawks history to the NFL here in 2012, Wilson still stacks up extremely well- He's 7th in passer rating, 12th in completion percentage, 11th in touchdown passes, and 13th in yards per attempt. Wilson is being blatantly ignored in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race, despite the fact that his performance has been clearly better than Andrew Luck's and comparable or better than Robert Griffin III's. In fact, Wilson deserves serious consideration for a QB slot on the NFC Pro Bowl squad.
Fuck. Can you believe we were watching CHARLIE WHITEHURST run our offense just over a year ago? The arrow is pointing WAY up, Twelves. Huzzah!
What do you think, sirs?
December 2, 2012
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?