December 23, 2013

Cardinals 17, Seahawks 10

Four years is a long time. A lot can change. 

In December 2009, I was at a low point in my life. I didn't know how to constructively deal with my gender identity issues, and that tainted damn near everything else in my life. I was anxious, fat, and depressed. Just look at this Wobegon bastard: 

At the same time (and in no way helping my state of mind), my Seahawks were at what felt like the lowest ebb in franchise history. As I wrote back then about the moldered, rancid MoraHawks: 

How bad were the 2009 Seahawks? Not only did no members of the team get selected to the Pro Bowl, but the team's two best players were probably Kicker Olindo Mare and Punter Jon Ryan. No other Seahawks team in franchise history lost in blowout fashion more than the '09ers, who lost seven games by margins of 17 points or more. The 2009 Seahawks had no 1,000 yard rusher, no 1,000 yard receiver, and no defender with more than five sacks or more than three interceptions.  

Not only did this team lose, but they often lost big with little fight and even less pizazz. The expansion Hawks of '76 and the 1980 4-win team had Zorn and Largent to at least create a modicum of offensive excitement, and the '92s boasted Cortez Kennedy's DPOY performance, a memorable MNF win over the hated Broncos, and a 1,000-yard rusher in Chris Warren. Even in 2008 the Seahawks were more competitive, dropping close games to the Patriots, 49ers, Dolphins, Redskins and Cardinals, and beating Brett Favre's Jets in Holmgren's final snowglobe home game.

Even most of Seattle's wins in 2009 were disheartening. Yes, it was a blast killing the Niners' season with a late FG, and it was fun to see the Seahawks flatten Jacksonville 41-0... But falling behind the 2-win Lions 17-0 at Qwest before winning ugly? Ugh. Two more wins over the overmatched, 1-win Rams? Nothing to celebrate, other than a feeling of relief that the Seahawks didn't dishonor themselves with defeats.

Embarassing, non-descript shittiness. That's the legacy of the 2009 Seahawks. 

Tim Ruskell left the cupboard bare with bad drafts and worse free agent signings. Jim Mora piloted this poorly constructed vessel straight into the rocks and immediately blamed it on a placekicker. Four years ago, the Seahawks were the worst team in the NFL. They were old, slow, and overpriced. Collectively, they surrendered in the final month of the season. They lost their last four games by a combined score of 123-37. They were adrift. There was no hope for the future. You could have said the same thing about me back then, too. 

With the support of those close to me, I finally started taking incremental steps toward transition. I had to make numerous unpleasant/harrowing decisions, and then I had to deal with the consequences of those choices. I had to overcome fears that had paralyzed me for nearly my entire life. I had to jump out of the plane and stitch together a parachute on the way down. While frightening challenges still lie in front of me, today I'm happier than I've ever been in my life. Just look at this contented chick: 

When Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over the Seahawks, they made HUNDREDS of roster moves, and many of those brought down howls of protest from the Twelve Army (Remember Josh Wilson?). Not every move they made worked out (Charlie Whitehurst? Tarvaris Jackson? Matt Flynn?), but after four years of tough decisions and meticulous labor, the Seahawks have blossomed. They've gone from the least talented team in the NFL to the absolute deepest. A year into Barack Obama's first term, both the Seahawks and I were despairing and past hope. A year into his second term, both myself and the team face futures that crackle and blind with limitless promise. 

That doesn't mean there won't be setbacks. Last week at work, this little mouth-breathing walking turd got in my face and asked me if I was a man or a woman. That pissed me off, as did yesterday's loss to the Cardinals. 

What an odd game, huh? The typically automatic Steven Hauschka banged a 24-yard field goal attempt off the left upright. Seattle averaged 5.2 yards per carry on the ground, but only had 20 rushing attempts. The Seahawks intercepted Carson Palmer four times, yet found a way to lose. The officials apparently couldn't tell the difference between the ground and Doug Baldwin's arm, failing to overturn an incorrect call of an Arizona interception that snuffed out Seattle's last scoring chance. 

Arizona's winning drive was kept alive by an improbable Palmer scramble/dime and one of the LATEST defensive holding flags I've ever seen. That winning drive was punctuated by a ridiculous touchdown catch by Michael Floyd, who hauled in the ball AFTER it was tipped by Byron Maxwell. 

It's tempting to just jump up and down screaming "Ahh! We sucked!" It's more important to remember that the Cardinals are a solid team, one that would be headed for the playoffs if not for the misfortune of residing in the stacked NFC rather than the thinner AFC. We didn't lose to a collection of random chumps (in fact, the Seahawks three losses this season have been by a combined 15 points to teams who've collectively racked up 30 victories). It's also willful ignorance to wave away questions about yesterday's officiating, which was biased against Seattle in ways both subtle and egregious. A potent maelstrom of a formidable enemy, awful officiating and just plain old bad luck combined to produce a rare home loss for the Seahawks. While concerns about our offensive performance are legitimate, they're no reason to extrapolate from yesterday's disappointment that our quest to hoist that Lombardi Trophy is doomed to fail.

Going into Week 17, the Seahawks are 12-3 and tied for the best record in the NFL. With a win over the 7-8 St. Louis Rams, they'll clinch the NFC West and Home Field Advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs. Walter Thurmond III (who was originally given a chance to play by that infamous Josh Wilson trade) will be back on the field to bolster an already dominant defense. It's a monumentally important game, and as we've seen through this season, the biggest games have tended to bring out the best in these Seahawks. 

As Twelves, maybe we've gotten a bit complacent recently. Hell, maybe the team did too. But EVERYTHING we want to accomplish this season is still well within our reach. As bad as the Twelve Army seems to feel right now, you'll all feel much better in a week, and you won't even remember yesterday's game on February 3rd. 

Four years is a long time. A lot can change. But the biggest and best changes? They're yet to come. 

Would You Like To Know More?

December 16, 2013

Seahawks 23, Giants 0

For pretty obvious personal reasons, I've been thinking about transitions and transformations a lot lately. When an individual or a group fundamentally changes their identity, how do they handle it? How do other people react to that fundamental change? 

Before October 2004, the Boston Red Sox had a very distinct identity. They had a storied history, a venerable ballpark, and a reputation for falling apart JUST SHORT of championship glory. They were "cursed," and the term "Red Sox fan" was almost always preceded with "long-suffering." Nine years and three World Series Championships later, the Red Sox are an empire as evil as the one down in the Bronx in the eyes of most non-aligned fans. Their fans? They've gone from "long-suffering" to "insufferable" to the general public. Their regional NFL neighbors have gone through a similar phenomenon: Twenty years ago the Patriots were one of the most irrelevant franchises in the NFL, and an afterthough in their own city. Now, they're perennial contenders who are roundly detested outside their own fan base. 

The Seahawks have always had a unique identity based upon NOT having a unique identity. Up until very recently, the Seahawks were most notable for their consistent grey mediocrity. One of the most depressing factoids about our team was that Seattle had the most seasons with between 7 and 9 wins in the 16-game-season era. They weren't good (or bad) enough to make much of an impression on the general public, particularly given that they played in a city geographically isolated from the tastemakers on the Eastern Seaboard. The NFL nation was indifferent to the Seahawks, and the team rarely forced them to take notice. 

Seahawks fans? They've rarely been indifferent about this team (The Forgotten Years represented the only era of sustained blackouts, but with an owner actively trying to skip town, withdrawal in disgust was an understandable response for many Twelves), but they've also always tended to expect the worst. The lead would get blown. The star player would blow out his knee. The high-profile draft pick would be a bust. The ball wouldn't bounce our way. The inexplicable call by the officials would go against us. Pessimism, fatalism and cynicism became encoded in the worldview of a wide swath of the Twelve Army. 

I'm fascinated by not just the process of transformation, but by how people's perceptions "lag" behind the actual changes. In my own case, I know that even well-meaning people are going to "slip-up" for a while and use the wrong pronouns when referring to me, even though my appearance has radically changed. Once people form a solid impression of another person, or a group, or an institution, it takes time and a LOT of new information to alter that impression. 

That's why you get media bobbleheads who still think the Seahawks are a bad road team (6-2 this year, with the two losses by a total of eight point to two playoff teams), and/or they are doomed when kickoff happens at 10 a.m. Pacific Time (6-2 in their last eight such match-ups). That's why I still run into Twelves who refuse to accept our new reality: We have been transformed. We are not who we are before. We're not irrelevant. We're cool. We're not underdogs. We're the favorites. Some Twelves still expect it all to come crumbling down. They're lagging, and they might not catch up until Pete Carroll is thrusting a Lombardi Trophy into the New Jersey night on February 2. 

After our 23-0 erasure of the New York Giants yesterday, the Seahawks' dominance can be measured in many ways, but every measure points to the same conclusion: The best team in football hails from South Alaska, and when they're done every team in their path will be a blanket of ash on the ground. They have the best record. The defense leads the league in almost every significant statistical category, as do our special teams. The offense would seem to be the "weak link," but they still are 5th in the NFL in scoring and 2nd in rushing yardage. If the offense had operated at its usual level of efficiency yesterday, the score would have more like 35-0. Seattle offered up a mistake-riddled, penalty-plagued performance and STILL won by more than three touchdowns. Think about that for a second. 

Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas III can both make strong cases for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and the only reason someone from another team might win is if Sherm and ETIII split the votes of writers looking to reward Seattle's defensive dominance. The defense is so talented that backups like Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane looked like Pro Bowlers against the befuddled Eli Manning and his flummoxed and frightened receivers. Given the chance to start, both might develop into actual Pro Bowlers. Malcolm Smith also shined filling in for K.J. Wright, and Seattle's front four traumatized Manning and euthanized New York's ground attack. On special teams, Steven Hauschka is tied for the league lead in field goal percentage, and leads the NFC in scoring. The punt coverage unit is on pace to allow the fewest return yards in NFL history, and Golden Tate is second to only Kansas City's Dexter McCluster in punt return yardage. 

Now Seattle needs to win just one more game to clinch home field advantage through the NFC playoffs. With two home games remaining, it would be a stunning turn of events if they fumbled away the #1 seed. The Seahawks haven't lost home games in consecutive weeks since November of 2008, and it's hard to see how this team could drop both of its remaining contests, even against strong divisional foes like Arizona and St. Louis. All that stands between us and a trip to the Super Bowl is four home games, and we haven't lost at home since Christmas Eve 2011. 

People will adjust to how I've changed. Eventually, (almost) everyone will be calling me "her" and "she." 

People will also have to adjust to how the Seahawks are changing. EVERYONE will have to call them "World Champions," and soon. 

What do you think, sirs? 

December 12, 2013

Top 5: Seahawks Beat Giants!

For two non-divisional rivals separated by 2800 miles, the Seahawks and Giants share a surprisingly rich history, including arguably the most memorable regular season victory in Seattle franchise lore. The next chapter will be written at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey this Sunday, where the Seahawks hope to move one step closer to securing the NFC's top seed against a 5-8 Giants team limping toward the end of another disappointing campaign.

Side note: Does any Coach/QB combo share a stranger legacy than Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning? "Leading The Two Worst Super Bowl Winners Of All Time" is a decidedly odd thing to have on one's resume, but that's what Coughlin and Manning can boast of. Aside from those playoff hot streaks in 2007 and 2011, they're 0-3 in the playoffs. Without those two Super Bowl wins, Coughlin's career looks like Dennis Green's in terms of winning percentage (Coughlin has a lower career winning percentage than Chuck Knox, Mike Holmgren AND Pete Carroll, by the way). Without those rings, Eli's career is most similar to luminaries such as Carson Palmer and Chad Pennington.

Obviously, I'd commit atrocities on a Walter White/Jesse Pinkman level just to experience the Seahawks winning a single Championship, but I think Coughlin and Manning illustrate the fallacy of putting too much weight on Super Bowl wins when judging a the career of a player or coach. Is Eli a better quarterback than his brother Peyton because he has one more Super Bowl ring? No way. Is he better than ringless QBs like Dan Marino, Warren Moon, or Dan Fouts? Fuck no! Is Coughlin a better coach than Bud Grant or Don Coryell? Once again, nope.

Anyway, I expect the Hawks to cruise to a relatively easy victory this Sunday. 27-10 sounds about right, and it will be just the first of two wins in that stadium for the Seahawks this season. Sunday will be the 16th meeting between these teams, and while Seattle has only won six of the first 15 dust-ups with NYG, these five were particularly memorable. Enjoy!

5. September 24, 2006: Seahawks 42, Giants 30
When does a 12-point victory over a formidable playoff  team from the previous season feel almost like a defeat? When you run out to a 42-3 lead, but then allow a handful of garbage-time TDs that spook a fanbase with too-fresh memories of multiple 4th-quarter collapses in 2003-2004. Matt Hasselbeck fired a career-high five touchdown passes, including two to Darrell Jackson, and it was 35-0 before the 1st half ended. The Seahawks were never in any REAL danger of losing this game, but traumatized Twelves were afflicted with flashbacks of 2004 the entire 4th quarter. It was a strikingly unsatisfying victory.

4. October 9, 2011: Seahawks 36 @ Giants 25
The Seahawks rolled into MetLife Stadium as 10-point underdogs to the eventual World Champion Giants, but stunned the football world with a victory so shocking it elicited this reaction at one Las Vegas Sports Book:

"No Joke" indeed. Here's some of what I wrote at the time (and it turned out to be somewhat prophetic): 

They overcame a hostile crowd, a talented NFC East opponent, and multiple key injuries. The winning touchdown drive was led by a much-maligned back-up Quarterback (Charlie Whitehurst) who threw that winning TD to an undrafted free agent (Doug Baldwin).

More than all that, Seattle overcame DECADES of "Same old Seahawks" mental conditioning- How many Seahawks teams have played well on the road in a first half, only to squander multiple opportunities to put a vulnerable foe away, and wilt in a 2nd half? How many times have we seen a miracle play like that Victor Cruz TD catch early in the 4th break the will of previous Seahawks teams? I am sure MILLIONS of Seahawks fans thought at that point: "Well, game over- Guess the football gods just hate us." 

We found out today that when it comes to the "football gods," these Seahawks are Richard Dawkins-level Atheists. They are playing football unbound to expectations, unchained from history. Pete Carroll has torn down the crumbling edifice that was rotting when he arrived, and now we can start to see what he is building in its place: Something beautiful and fearsome- Something designed to endure and excel.

Nothing the Giants threw at the Hawks broke their fighting spirit, and that is the BIGGEST culture shift we've seen since Carroll's arrival. T-Jack gets injured? Whitehurst wobbles, but eventually leads the team to victory. Eli Manning throws for 420 yards? The defense neutralizes that by forcing him into FOUR turnovers. Marshawn Lynch fumbles in the red zone? He bounces back with a TD and 98 yards on only 12 carries. We are seeing this team take developmental LEAPS every week, and it's a delirious joy to behold. 

Your Seahawks aren't just "rebuilding," my fellow Twelves- Right now, TODAY, they are a dangerous team learning how to be lethal. Enjoy this, my friends. Enjoy it.

As a bonus, here's a video taken by a Twelve of Brandon Browner's win-sealing Pick-Six:

The 7-7 Seahawks were facing elimination from the AFC playoff race in the Meadowlands against a limp Giants squad that had only won once since September. Despite the East Coast venue and the 10 am Pacific Time kickoff (uh-oh), New York was so awful that Seattle came into the game as slight favorites. The Seahawks were out-gained by the Giants 440-183 (!), but the defense forced FIVE NYG turnovers (Seattle would be #2 in the NFL in 1983 in turnover differential), including interceptions by Dave Brown and Keith Simpson. Dave Krieg's pair of 1st-half TD passes to Steve Largent and Paul Johns provided enough cushion for Seattle to escape with a win and set up a winner-take-all showdown with New England for the AFC's final Wild Card spot (The Seahawks took all, by the way). 

The 1986 Seahawks are the biggest "what might have been" story in franchise history. They were the only team in the league to beat both Conference Champions that season. They finished the year with a 10-6 record and as the hottest, most dominant team in the AFC... only to miss the playoffs on a tiebreaker. Sigh.

One of those wins over a conference champ came in a classic blood-pisser at the Kingdome. The Giants outgained the Seahawks (again), but Seattle decisively won the turnover battle (again). Four Phil Simms interceptions (and seven Seattle sacks) sunk the Giants that day, and touchdowns from Curt Warner and Gordon Hudson (Yeah, I know- I had to look him up. His TD catch that day from Dave Krieg was the only score of his brief NFL career) were enough to secure a hard-fought victory. The win left both teams at 5-2. The Giants wouldn't lose again on their way to a Super Bowl XXI win. The Seahawks responded with a four-game losing streak that would ultimately keep them out of the playoffs. Shit. Well, we can still imagine what a Pasadena rematch might have looked like, right? 

There are two things people remember about this game: Jay Feeley missed three game-winning kicks (allowing Jeremy Shockey to give us perhaps the best premature celebration of all time) and the Twelve Army forced ELEVEN New York false starts with its incessant roar (WOW!). Here are some other things we should all remember about this game: 

-Joe Jurevicius was a BAWSE. Eight catches, 137 yards, and two touchdowns. Has any player who was only a Seahawk for a single season ever had a bigger impact than JJ had in 2005? TEN touchdowns on only 55 catches, and he was our 2nd leading receiver after Booby Engram. He left us as a free agent for Cleveland in 2006, where his career ended prematurely due to a staph infection. Ewww. Poor bastad. 

-Shaun Alexander capped a 31-carry, 110-yard day with what looked like the game-winning touchdown late in the 4th quarter. The Hawks led 14-13, and faced a 4th and 1 from NYG's four yard-line with only four minutes remaining. The usually conservative Mike Holmgren decided to go for it rather than kick a short field goal, and Alexander rewarded The Big Show by punching it in and giving Seattle an 8-point lead. Since the defense allowed the Giants to promptly march downfield and tie the game, Holmgren's gamble saved the day. 

-Even after three Jay Feeley misses, it felt like the best Seattle could hope for was a rather embarrassing tie, not a victory. After the third installment of Feeley's "Shank Trilogy," the Hawks fell into a 2nd and 21 situation after an intentional grounding call on Matt Hasselbeck. Groan. It looked like we'd hand the ball back to the Giants yet again. 

Then D.J. Hackett made the play that kept the Seahawks on track for Super Bowl XL, beating Gibril Wilson and hauling in a 38-yard bomb from Hass that set Seattle up on the fringe of field goal range. Four consecutive Shaun Alexander carries for 19 yards set up a 36-yard game-winning attempt for Josh Brown, and his kick was true. 

-This game is significant for two reasons. First, if the Seahawks lost that day, they very well may have squandered the NFC's number one seed to the Giants or the Bears. Secondly, it was the coming-out party for a new generation of Twelves. Coach Holmgren gave the game ball to the "12th Man," and their rattling of the Giants' collective psyche proved that it wasn't just the Kingdome that gave the Seahawks a distinct home-field advantage- Twelves are just fucking lunatics (and yeah, it didn't hurt that Seahawks Stadium was designed in part to be the loudest outdoor venue in the NFL, either).

What do you think, sirs? 

December 9, 2013

49ers 19, Seahawks 17

It's the NFC Championship Game. The Seahawks trail by two in the 4th quarter, but a great punt return by Golden Tate sets them up deep in New Orleans territory. A field goal would give Seattle the lead, but a touchdown would force Drew Brees to reach Seattle's end zone in order to win the game. Would our offense put seven on the board?

It's the Super Bowl. The Seahawks are clinging to a one-point lead over Peyton Manning and the Broncos late in the 4th quarter. Would Seattle's top-ranked defense rise to the challenge and secure a World Championship?

Did the Seahawks play well in San Francisco yesterday? Of course. Did the officials give the Niners a substantial boost? Obviously. Was this a far less important game for the Seahawks than it was for the 49ers? Totally. Twelves shouldn't gnash their teeth over this loss, but situations like the ones our boys faced yesterday are going to happen again in the playoffs. Did the Seahawks pass those tests? Sadly, they didn't.

Seattle is still (rightfully) a prohibitive favorite to secure the NFC's number one seed, and then represent the conference in Super Bowl XLVIII. Unfortunately, our march towards hoisting the Lombardi Trophy on February 2nd won't be filled with low-stress 34-7 Seahawk blowouts. There will white-knuckle, nauseous moments where our boys will have make a big play against elite opposition to survive. Yesterday's game doesn't mean they WILL fail when those moments arise, but it does show us that Seattle will have to play at the peak of their abilities to become Champions. Yesterday, even though they played well, it wasn't good enough against a motivated opponent, on the road, and up against less-than-impartial officials.

That sounds EXACTLY like the environment we're likely to face in XLVIII, doesn't it?

Up until that final San Francisco possession, the Seahawks slightly outplayed San Francisco, and it looked like they'd be rewarded with a hard-won 17-16 victory. Then two plays and a fairly inexplicable strategic decision kept San Francisco's slim hopes for another NFC West crown alive. First, after holding Frank Gore to a relatively quiet 60 yards rushing, the Hawks' normally stout defense broke down and allowed him to gallop 51 yards into field goal range. I'm sure I wasn't the only Twelve who immediately had flashbacks to Gore's gashing and slashing of the much weaker Seattle defenses of 2007-2010 vintage.

Even then, if the Hawks defense held on a crucial 3rd-and-7 later in the drive, Russell Wilson would have been left with plenty of time to whip the offense down the field into Steven Hauschka's range. For the only time all day, the defense allowed The Detestable Colin Kaepernick to make a truly important play: On a designed run, The Detestable Colin Kaepernick slithered through our defenders for 8 yards and a first down that allowed them to run out almost all of the time left on the clock before Phil Dawson's go-ahead kick.

The final Seattle breakdown was strategic. After that Kaepernick run, the smart play would have been to concede a touchdown immediately. Seattle would have gotten the ball back down by 5-7 points, and with ample time to answer the SF touchdown. I heard plenty of people on twitter talking about forcing a turnover, or Red Bryant blocking the field goal, or that conceding a touchdown "just wasn't in our DNA." Bullroar. Just think about it: Which of the following probabilities is highest:

A) Forcing a fumble.
B) Blocking a 22-yard field goal attempt.
C) Driving 80 yards in two minutes for a touchdown.

If you picked A or B, you're doing it wrong. In similar situations, Mike Holmgren and Bill Belichick have "wussed out" and conceded scores, and they're aren't exactly coaching dunces. Hopefully we won't be in another situation like that this season, but if we are I hope Pete Carroll handles it differently.

Even though Russell Wilson outplayed Kaepernick, it wasn't his finest hour. He simply missed on a couple of big throws, and his pedestrian 81.6 passer rating should silence all the "Wilson for MVP" talk for the moment (admittedly, I was pushing that angle HARD after his otherworldly performance against the Saints). Golden Tate was Seattle's standout performer against the Niners- He caught 6 passes for 65 yards, and contributed a 38-yard punt return that put the Hawks in position to score a soul-crushing 4th quarter TD. Unfortunately, Seattle's offense fizzled short of the San Francisco goal line.

Thankfully, even after yesterday's frustrating loss, the news is almost all good for the denizens of the VMAC today. The Seahawks simply need to win two of their last three contests (@ NYG, v AZ, v STL) to secure home field advantage through the NFC playoffs. When those playoffs begin, Seattle is likely to have access to the services of Percy Harvin, Walter Thurmond III, and perhaps even Brandon Browner. It will still be a nearly impossible task for an enemy team to venture into Seahawks Stadium and leave victorious.

I expect this Seahawks team to finish with a franchise-best 14-2 regular season record. I expect them to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLVIII. I expect them to be World Champions. But for that to happen, they'll need to pass the same kinds of tests they failed in that Candlestick Point toilet yesterday. They are hungry enough, talented enough, and tough enough to pull it off.

What do you think, sirs?

December 5, 2013

A B.A.L.T.Y. Salute

"I'm better at life than you." - Richard Sherman

"Disarm the settlers
The new drunk drivers
Have hoisted the flag
We are with you in your anger
Proud brothers
Do not fret
The bus will get you there yet" - Guided By Voices, A Salty Salute 

This Sunday's game in San Francisco has turned out to be much more important to the 49ers than the Seahawks. The Niners are still in some danger of missing the playoffs entirely, and they are absolutely desperate to show that the team that lost their last two meetings with Seattle by a aggregate score of 71-16 wasn't the "real" 49ers. Their panic is evident in the helpful email the front office sent out to SF season ticket holders instructing them how to give their team home field advantage (Wait... I thought Niners fans held a deep conviction that crowd noise was unsportsmanlike).

The Seahawks only need to win two out of their last four games to secure the #1 NFC seed and home field advantage through the playoffs. This isn't a game Seattle NEEDS to win. At all. Even if SF drops a 50-0 shutout on us this Sunday, they'd still need to win a game at Seahawks Stadium to reach another Super Bowl, and they've shown NO indication that is a challenge they can handle.

Despite this asymmetrical motivation, the Seahawks will win Sunday, in part because they are simply a more talented team. More importantly, Seattle is the mentally tougher team and they hold a distinct psychological advantage over their Northern California rivals. In a close game in the 4th quarter, who would you rather have as your quarterback? Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick? If you pick a certain bicep self-lover, I'd wager heavily that you're wearing red and gold right now.

A Seattle win this Sunday would clinch the franchise's 6th NFC West Championship since joining the division in 2002. Since realignment, this division has been Seattle's property, with the Niners only winning the division 3 times ('02, '11, '12), the Cardinals winning it twice ('08, '09) and the Rams winning it once ('03). No divisional foe can match Seattle's level of overall success since realignment either, and it certainly appears that the dawn of a new era of Seahawk dominance is imminent.

This is where Niners fans screech about their five Super Bowl trophies, right? Well, they won the last of those titles in January 1995. If that Lombardi Trophy was a person, it would be old enough to vote by now. That glorious history gets more faded and yellowed with each passing year, doesn't it? Look at it this way: If the Hawks win XLVIII and Twelves are still bragging about it and using it to lord over rival fans in January 2033, that would be supremely douchetacular, right? Even President Chelsea Clinton would probably be appalled by such behavior.

As I've said before- The Niners and their drunken acolytes can have the past. We'll take the future AND the present. You should have won that sixth ring last year, because your window has slammed shut until Russell Wilson retires to focus on fighting crime and curing cancer. Just for fun, here's the latest iteration of our Top 10 wins over the 49ers:

10.  September 26, 2004: Seahawks 34, 49ers 0
Ahh, the good old days of just straight-up beating the shit out of awful Niners teams. The Seahawks forced four SF turnovers, Shaun Alexander scored thrice, and San Francisco was shut out for the first time since 1977.

9. December 21, 1997: Seahawks 38, Niners 9
The Niners came in with the NFC's #1 seed locked up, and treated this like a glorified preseason game. Despite that, this was still a rousing win. Warren Moon wrapped up his spectacular 1997 Pro Bowl season with four TD passes, including two to Joey Galloway. 1997 was my first season as a Seahawks season ticket holder, so that game has an added bit of personal significance...

8.  November 20, 2005: Seahawks 27 @ Niners 25
This was one of the shakiest performances of Seattle's 2005 NFC Championship season, but it showed the Hawks' ability to pull out a victory even when they weren't playing their best football. The Seahawks had a 27-12 lead going into the 4th, but they allowed Ken Dorsey (Wait... What?) to rally the 49ers to within a 2-point conversion in the final seconds. But this was 2005, NOT 2003 or 2004- This lead wouldn't get blown. Under pressure Dorsey's pass fell harmlessly to the turf and Seattle's sprint to XL continued unabated.

7. October 12, 2003: @ Seahawks 20, Niners 19
This was a big early-season ESPN Sunday Night test for the 2003 Seahawks. Even though the Hawks came in 3-1 and SF was 2-3, the Niners were defending division champs and just a year earlier T.O. had humiliated Seattle on MNF with his Sharpie stunt. The boys in blue ran out to a 17-0 lead, which evaporated into a 19-17 4th-quarter deficit. The Twelve Army watched anxiously as Josh Brown booted Seattle to a 20-19 lead with five minutes left, which was immediately followed by a Frisco march down the field.

Thankfully Chad Brown forced a Garrison Hearst fumble in the final minutes, and the Seahawks' march towards the 2003 playoffs continued.

6. September 30, 2007: Seahawks 23 @ Niners 3
Remember a few years ago, when the national football press seemed to insist every fall that the glorious revival of the 49ers was jusssssst around the corner? Early in the 2007 season, a trip to Candlestick was supposed to be the changing of the guard. Then this happened:


Yup, I have no problem reveling in the memory of Rocky Bernard smashing Alex Smith's shoulder into meat-flavored goop. I'd love to see Michael Bennett or Cliff Avril do likewise to Colin Kapernick.

5. December 6, 2009: Seahawks 20, Niners 17
The Niners arrived at Seahawks Stadium needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive against the (frankly pathetic) MoraHawks. Though 2009 was an unmitigated clusterfuck, this was a spectacularly satisfying win... As I wrote in this space back then:

Let me say this clearly: Fuck the Niners. Fuck 'em. For all the bluster and chest-beating and media slobbering over them, these Niners haven't accomplished DICK yet. Nothing. Zilch. 2009 will be ANOTHER season that will end with them in their usual place: sitting at home, watching the playoffs. Once again, with feeling: FUCK the Niners.

All week all we heard about was how Coach Bug Eyes and the big, mean 49ers were going to come into Seattle, pistol whip our players, pillage Pioneer Square and generally lay waste to all things Seahawks. Mr. Commercial Star Mike Singletary would motivate his talented minions to subjugate our poor, defenseless Seahawks on their way to reclaiming what the media sees as the SF birthright: the NFC West title.

The Seahawks decided not to play the victim in this perfectly composed narrative. Of course, it helped that Singletary passed up 3 sure points by arrogantly going for it on 4th and goal early in the game. It also helped that the over-rated Frank Gore killed a Niners scoring drive in the 4th by coughing up the ball, and that Michael Crabtree was scared shitless by a charging Lawyer Milloy on what could have been SF's winning TD in the waning minutes.

4. September 12, 2010: Seahawks 31, Niners 6
One year later, the Seahawks would notch an even more satisfying victory over SF in Pete Carroll's first game as Seattle's Head Coach. As I wrote back then:

It was rapturously awesome to see the Seahawks not just beat the 49ers, but physically punish and abuse them. Alex Smith was never going to be the next Montana or Young, but today we saw him just as lost and helpless as he was in 2007. The only difference between today and that game at the Stick three years ago was that Smith's shoulder survived.

When was the last time the Hawks delivered such a cathartic win? Such a statement that not only would Seattle win the day, but that the future belonged to us too? Simultaneously, our hated rivals tumbled back into Limbo, into the dreary knowledge that the glorious Niner restoration STILL isn't happening. In the words of R.E.M., The Future Never Happened.

There's already a lot of Seahawks fans trying to downplay this win. Fuck that. I predicted that the Seahawks would win the NFC West, and now I GUARANTEE they will... You, my friends, will have a home playoff game to watch in January. I will be at Qwest screaming until my soul spills out, and Mike Singletary and his Niners will be at home, watching on television.

And indeed, my prophecies of 2010 came to pass...

3. December 27, 2003: Seahawks 24 @ Niners 17
The Seahawks went to Candlestick Park for a Saturday afternoon game just after Xmas, needing a win and some help the following day to qualify for the postseason for only the 2nd time since 1988. Seattle entered the game at 9-6, but sported a pathetic 1-6 road record coming into the game. Niners coach Dennis Erickson was hoping for a win to finish the season 8-8 (which was a habit he picked up back in Seattle during the 1990s), and to exact vengeance upon his old employers and the coach who replaced him in Seattle.

The Hawks quickly fell behind 14-0, and lamentations of "same old Seahawks" rang out across the land like church bells. Another winning but playoff-free season loomed.. It was '78, '79, '86, and '90 allll over again... but the Seahawks clawed and gouged back into the game, and then something amazing happened late in the 3rd:

Matt Hasselbeck threw a PERFECT pass to Koren Robinson in the back of the end zone... and K-rob (for once) HELD ONTO IT and got both feet in bounds. 21-17 Seahawks. Josh Brown extended the lead to 7, and Shaun Alexander ate up most of the 4th quarter on the ground. The D stopped a last-gasp Niners drive, and Seattle triumphed in a game very few expected them to win.

2. September 15, 2013: Seahawks 29, Niners 3
I can't really top what I wrote about this one three months ago:

Colin Kaepernick, darling of the national press, anointed for greatness by Jaworski, had ANOTHER atrocious evening at Seahawks Stadium, leaving him without excuses to lavish kisses upon his biceps. Frank Gore, who once provided a steady stream of nightmare fuel to faithful Twelves, was rendered irrelevant. Anquan Boldin, who ran through Green Bay defenders last week as if they were dandelions sprouting from the Candlestick Park turf, had one catch for seven yards... in garbage time. Seattle forced five Niner turnovers, and the defending NFC Champs started losing their cool in a manner not seen since the darkest days of Mike Singletary's reign. Against the rest of the NFL, they look like Champions. Against us? They're just a collection of posturing chumps. 

Marshawn Lynch has become the eater of Forty-Niner souls. He BARELY (by 2 yards) missed out on another 100-yard rushing day against SF, but his three TDs (and spectacular trolling of the Niners after TD #2) earned him offensive MVP honors in my book. Richard Sherman deserves special recognition for erasing Boldin, hauling in an interception, and even lowering the boom on a hapless SF wideout with a perfect, explosive tackle late in the game. Walter Thurmond III, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett also stood out, but it took a total team effort to snuff out one of the NFL's elite offensive attacks. 

1. December 23, 2012: Seahawks 42, Niners 13
This game was our announcement to the football world: The Seahawks have arrived, and they are going to lay waste to the NFL. After the Hawks had already run out to a 14-0 lead, Kam Chancellor DESTROYED Vernon Davis with a clean (but unfairly flagged) hit. The Niners were in range for an easy field goal that would cut Seattle's lead to 11, but Red Bryant and Richard Sherman had other plans. Big Red blocked the kick, and Sherm scooped and scored. Seahawks Stadium was delirious and deafening, and the rout was ON.

Russell Wilson threw four TD passes (two to Doug Baldwin), and Marshawn Lynch gashed the Niners vaunted defense for 130 yards and two TDs. Seattle defense ERASED Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore, and 67,000 (or so) Twelves went home happy and hopeful.

I have a feeling that we have two victories left this season that will end up HIGH on the 2014 version of this list, don't you?

What do you think, sirs?

December 3, 2013

Seahawks 34, Saints 7

Seattle sports fans are accustomed to heartbreak and pain. As a sports town Seattle is a more picturesque Cleveland or Buffalo, experiencing more mediocrity and downright torment than ANY fanbase could be expected to endure. They've seen World Championships wrestled away via incompetent officiating. They've seen MULTIPLE ownership groups pilot their franchises into hopeless, non-competitive despair. They've seen a beloved franchise with a storied history bolt for the middle of Red State Nowhere, with a huge assist from the league's commissioner. Seattle fans have plenty of reasons to think that the game is rigged against their teams, and they'd have plenty of excuses to withdraw in disgust... But they don't. If a Seattle team is merely competitive, if they simply give fans some HOPE, they're rewarded with the most rabid support one could possibly imagine.

Seattle fans, your reward for all those decades of perseverance is here. That reward is the 2013 Seattle Seahawks.

I can already hear the cries of "Don't jinx it!" I can feel people recalling other Seattle teams that reached the brink of championships (the 2005 Seahawks... the 1996 Sonics), or those who had great regular seasons only to unexpectedly fail in the playoffs (the 2001 Mariners, the 1994 Sonics). As Mom said once, "Jam a bastard in it, you crap!" These Seahawks are different. There's nothing gimmicky or fluky about them. They are simply BETTER than every other team in the NFL. They are stronger, faster, smarter, and meaner than any team they're going to face this season. They're our '85 Bears... Our '89 Niners... Our '92 Cowboys... Our '03 Patriots.

They're going to win the Super Bowl, and they JUST MIGHT also go down as one of the greatest teams in NFL history. There, I said it. I've said plenty of stuff on this blog that made me look like a boob later on (COUGH... Wilson shouldn't start... COUGH), but I have zero fear of that statement boomeranging on me later. These Hawks are that fucking good.

How good? So good that the defense held future Hall of Famer Drew Brees to 147 irrelevant yards passing, and one of the NFL's most potent offenses to seven meager points. So good that the offense blasted through the Saints' 5th-ranked defense like they were 11 black and gold pinatas. So good that people are going to have to recognize that the rightful NFL MVP is our sub-6-foot, 3rd round quarterback.

No quarterback in the league is playing better than Russell Carrington Wilson right now (Nope, not even Peyton Manning). In a duel with his idol, Wilson didn't just win decisively. This was a Mortal Kombat-style Fatality/Perfect Victory. The only thing Wilson didn't do (he just threw for 310 yards, 3 TDs, had a 139. 6 passer rating, and led the team in rushing) was rip out Brees' spine and smack his corpse around with it. The WolfBadger was in total command, and unlike RGIII/Kaepernick/Luck, he keeps getting better every week. There's NO player in the league I'd trade Wilson for under any circumstances, and if he does indeed lead us to a XLVIII win, he'd have to be anointed as the greatest QB in Seahawks history... after 32 regular season games. That's how amazing DangeRuss is, kids.

Obviously, Wilson is surrounded by talent. Seattle has so much talent that they can be missing multiple key starters and still dominate the 2nd best team in the NFC. If the only info you got was from ESPN, you KNEW the absence of Harvin, Browner and Thurmond was going to doom the Seahawks last night. Twelves knew better, and sure enough Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate and Zach Miller didn't just compensate for that missing talent- They rampaged. They marauded. They KILLED.

Seattle's defense should terrify every offense coordinator and quarterback in the league. Earl Thomas is the Defensive Player of The Year, Richard Sherman is the league's best corner, and the front seven has become a whirling cyclone of fury destroying anything and everything in their way. How can Peyton Manning or Tom Brady look at film from last night and have any reaction other than "fuuuuuuuuuck?"

Oh, what's that? Brady or Manning won't have to play the Seahawks in Seattle, and the home crowd gives the Hawks their mutant powers? Yeah, it's true that us Twelves help make it nearly impossible for visiting teams to leave Seattle victorious. It's also true that home field advantage will give the Seahawks a clear path to New Jersey next February. The awful truth for the rest of the league is that on a neutral field (particularly one where weather might be a factor) Seattle is STILL going to be the better team. The Hawks are 9-1 in prime-time games under Pete Carroll, and there will be no time more prime than XLVIII.

Your Seahawks are the best team in football, and might just be HISTORICALLY great. Revel in this glory, Twelves! Two more wins = the #1 NFC seed. Two more wins means I'll be there at Seahawks Stadium for the NFC Championship Game. I'll be there with y'all to send our boys off to MetLife Stadium and the greatest moment in Seattle sports history.

As PC said once: "Don't it just feel great?"

November 26, 2013


"We're going to the Super Bowl. If any of you want to do this stuff, go ahead. You won't be coming with us." - Richard Sherman, at a recent Seahawks team meeting

The Seahawks have the best record in the NFL, and are now officially the favorites to win Super Bowl XLVIII (according to Las Vegas, at least). They have the league's #2 scoring offense, #2 scoring defense, and legitimate candidates for NFL MVP (Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch) and DPOY (Earl Thomas). In my 30 years as a Seahawks fan, I've never seen us field a more talented team, or one with a better chance of winning a World Championship. 

Then why has the mood among the Twelve Army turned so dour?

Walter Thurmond III evidently couldn't reign in his affinity for the wacky tobaccy, and he's accepted a four-game suspension. Brandon Browner is apparently facing a year-long suspension for a similar violation, which would certainly end his tenure as a Seattle Seahawk. Two main issues arise from these suspensions: A) The on-the-field impact on the Seahawks and B) the public-relations problems the suspensions create for the team. 

On the field, the Seahawks should be able to weather the losses of WTIII and Browner, just as they've survived the loss of MANY key starters for long stretches of this season. Losing Russell Okung didn't torpedo the season, nor did losing Sidney Rice, or Percy Harvin, or Max Unger, or Zach Miller, and on and on and on. Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane, and/or whomever we sign to buttress the secondary will fill in nicely until Thurmond returns in time for the post-season. Frankly, given that we still have Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas III and Kam Chancellor, the Hawks could probably put ME out there as the 4th DB and still field the NFL's best secondary. 

This is also a good time to remind everyone that we don't NEED home field advantage to reach the Super Bowl. Yes, it would make our path to XLVIII much easier, but it's no longer a pre-requisite that Seattle needs the #1 seed to win a Championship. Barring a spectacular implosion, the Seahawks will at least get a first-round bye and a home game in the divisional round. If we are at full-strength by the start of postseason, we'll be able to beat any team in ANY arena (still- go ahead and get HFA anyway, boys... I already have my flight booked for Seattle NFC Championship weekend).

Then there's the matter of "perception." I'm not going to pretend to have any deep insight into why so many Seahawks have drawn suspensions over the past few seasons. I DON'T think it's because we're some evil outlaw franchise, or that Pete Carroll has instituted some nefarious training program involving Adderall, Marijuana, and Skittles. The larger point is that I DON'T CARE what outsiders think about our team. As long as Russell Wilson is holding the Lombardi Trophy on February 2, the rest of the country can grumble and murmur about us being "cheaters" as much as they'd like. 

They'll bitch and moan when we beat the Saints next week. They'll whinge when we whip the Niners again in two weeks. They'll HOWL when we win it all... and it will be sweet music to my ears. 

What do you think, sirs? 

November 18, 2013

Seahawks 41, Vikings 20

10 wins.

Remember when that used to be A HUGE deal for us Seahawks fans? In the franchise's 34 Pre-Carroll seasons, the Hawks only hit the 10-win benchmark five times. That averages out to just about once every seven seasons, making "Seahawks win 10 games" the NFL equivalent of Pon Farr (AKA Spock gets REALLY horny). The Knox Hawks only did it twice, and the Holmgren Hawks only achieved it three times. Neither coach marshaled our boys to consecutive 10-win campaigns, but Pete Carroll just did, and it's getting almost impossible to refute the following claim: Right now, we are watching the best team to ever don Seahawk uniforms.

After two blowout wins, that shaky Ram-Buc fortnight seems like the kind of rough patch that Championship teams sometimes have to just plow through on their way to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy (The 2000 Ravens' stretch of FIVE games without an offensive touchdown was an extreme version of this). Seattle now enjoys a 3.5 game lead in the NFC West, and will have the opportunity to all but clinch the #1 NFC seed against New Orleans in two weeks. At this point it would take a collapse of 1986 Jets proportions to keep Seattle from at least nailing down a first-round bye. ONE YEAR AGO we would have all been elated if our Seahawks finished 10-6. Now 10-6 would probably be seen as the most monumental meltdown in Seattle sports history, and that underlines the rapid ascent of expectations among the Twelve Army. Anything less than a trip to XLVIII would be a massive disappointment to most Twelves... For me, anything less than a VICTORY at MetLife Stadium on February 2 will leave my mind a barren, desolate void.

These Seahawks are the best team in football, and they SHOULD win the Super Bowl. Think about that statement for a second. Can you REALLY disagree with it? Are you scared of the Broncos? The Chiefs? The Patriots? The Colts? The Saints? The Niners (Ha ha ha ha ha)? I'm not, and not one soul at the VMAC is either. Why should the rest of the NFL fear US? Let me count the ways...

-We Have Russell Carrington Wilson
As hot young QBs like RGIII and Kaepernick regress, The WolfBadger just keeps improving. Yesterday his passer rating was 151.4 (!), he fired two touchdown passes, and his rocket arm & improvisational gifts were on full display. He's become an absolute assassin in the Red Zone, and if we end up needing a late score to win a playoff game Wilson's track record couldn't possibly inspire more confidence. He seems primed to join Ben Roethlisberger (barf) as the only other 2nd-year QB to win a Super Bowl- But Wilson is way more likely to also snag the MVP award than puke up an awful performance and get bailed out by the officials (Sorry, couldn't resist).

-Marshawn Lynch Will Bury You
Lynch only ran for 54 yards yesterday, but had multiple carries where he turned what should have been a 3-yard loss into a 3-yard gain. Beast Mode's aggression and perseverance are infectious for his teammates and demoralizing to the enemy. His two touchdowns were richly deserved based on effort alone, as would be his first NFL rushing title (right now he trails LeShaun McCoy by only 84 yards).

-We Have Playmakers
Oh look! Golden Tate just took a bubble screen 60 yards! Wow! Did you see that ridiculous catch by Doug Baldwin?!? Damn! Can anyone stop Zach Miller?

Just in time for the playoffs, the Seahawks put Percy Harvin on the field. It was only going to be for a handful of plays, and we couldn't expect fireworks, right? All Harvin did was make one of the best catches you'll ever see to keep a scoring drive alive and run a kickoff back 58 yards to set up ANOTHER Seattle touchdown. With Harvin on the field, the Seahawks are truly a threat to drop 40 points on anyone they play.

-The Defense Will Destroy Your Season And Perhaps Your Career
After tossing three interceptions (including a WTIII pick-6) and absorbing 3+ quarters of brutal punishment, the Vikings yanked Christian Ponder from the game, which probably brought his tenure as Minnesota's QB to a merciful end. Earlier this season, the Seattle defense spearheaded a comeback from a 20-3 deficit in Houston. The Texans haven't won since, and now their star WR clearly wants to skip town.

The Seahawks defense isn't just dominant- They are the destroyers of worlds (oh, they held Adrian Peterson to 65 yards rushing too, by the way).

-The Twelve Army Has You Surrounded
When the Saints were defending World Champions and the Seahawks were The Worst Team To Ever Make The Playoffs (TM), who won that game? Seattle. Why? Well, yeah... The BeastQuake. But also because the game was played at Seahawks Stadium. The Seahawks only need to win their remaining home games to get home field advantage through the NFC playoffs. Russell Wilson is 13-0 at home. It's hard to see ANY team leaving our arena victorious this season, and by late January I expect RW3 to be 18-0 as a starter at home.

Now Seattle gets an extremely well-timed bye week, and 15 days to prepare for the game that will likely decide HFA in the NFC this season. I have zero doubt the Seahawks will prevail over the Saints, and I think the only way we lose another game this season is if we rest our starters for all or part of the season finale v the Rams on December 29.

10 wins.

That's great. But how about 18?

What do you think, sirs?

November 11, 2013

Seahawks 33, Falcons 10

As it says up there on my masthead, I fancy myself a Seahawks propagandist. What do I mean by this? I mean that I don't put up the pretense of objectivity. I'm a Twelve, not a professional journalist. The purpose of this blog isn't to shine light on harsh truths about the Seattle Seahawks, but to give people some reason to believe. Hell, I remember trying to convince myself (and y'all) that we had a shot at the playoffs when we were 5-7 under Jim Mora in 2009 (We didn't).

For the last two weeks, I've been gripped by a bout of existential angst. Yes, the Seahawks were still winning, but pulling out two games on the final play against teams who had combined for three wins didn't inspire boundless confidence. We've seen this team DOMINATE inferior opponents the last two seasons, but now they were struggling to stop the run and failing to protect our franchise quarterback. I didn't feel despair or hopelessness, but that uneasy feeling I had for my entire life as a Twelve... That queasy sensation that the anvils were bound to fall on us at any moment... That was creeping back into my consciousness. That feeling had ebbed under Pete Carroll recently. He had built a team that was stronger, smarter, faster and tougher than any other squad in franchise history. These guys were different... Right?

This dovetailed in a sickening way with some angsty feels in my personal life. I decided to take the leap and start the process of coming out at work (Totally flummoxed? Go read this and come back). So far my transition has gone more smoothly than I possibly could have imagined, but I'm hitting a terrifying juncture. What if I lose one (or more) of my jobs after I come out out as transgender? I have a nasty tendency to catastrophize things and focus on worst-case scenarios in my personal life, so it's easy for me to envision how losing one or more of my jobs could lead to apocalyptic (at least for me) results. Has my relatively easy transition up to this moment been a mirage? Are THOSE anvils about to drop from the sky?

When the Seahawks took the field at the Georgia Dome, they were blissfully unaware of the personal baggage I was bringing to the game. In short order, they swept away my encroaching doubts. They were emphatically Pete Carroll's Seahawks. They were confident, fearless, and cold-blooded. No, the anvils wouldn't fall upon them. The Hawks WERE the anvils, and for one day the Atlanta Falcons were unfortunate enough to be caught out in that murderous rain.

At their best, the Seahawks conquer the enemy by punishing them physically (with Marshawn Lynch and that fearsome defense), and creating explosive plays (long runs, deep passes, and big defensive/special teams returns). All of Seattle's best qualities were on display in Atlanta. Lynch rambled for 145 yards and a touchdown in his best performance of the year (the NFL rushing title is well within his grasp, by the way). Golden Tate showed off his elusiveness on a lengthy bubble-screen scamper, and made one of the season's best catches for the touchdown that gave Seattle an insurmountable lead. Doug Baldwin continued his season-long Steve Largent impersonation, and Jermaine Kearse nudged his way into "1984 Daryl Turner" territory with his 4th touchdown on only 12 receptions. That fourth TD came on a superlative catch Kearse made after Lynch tossed the ball back across the field to Wilson. It was an explosive trick play that turned the momentum back in Seattle's favor for good.

Atlanta's only touchdown came on a drive aided by 35 highly dubious penalty yards against the Seattle defense. After two shaky outings, the Hawks' D was magnificent on Sunday. Steven Jackson was totally neutralized, and the Seattle front four terrorized Matt Ryan. Walter Thurmond III stepped in for an injured Brandon Browner and the Legion of Boom showed no signs of slippage whatsoever. The fact that Seattle has run to a 9-1 record despite numerous injuries to key starters is a testament to the staggering depth of talent on the current roster.

With San Francisco's loss to Carolina yesterday, Seattle's path to Super Bowl XLVIII became obvious: Winning the four remaining home games on the schedule would clinch the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs. With home field advantage, it's hard to imagine Seattle's season ending anywhere but at MetLife Stadium on February 2nd.

This is the Seahawks team we have been waiting for our whole lives: Confident, unafraid, indomitable, and ready to obliterate any obstacles they face. I want to be more like them. I NEED to be more like them. In a month, I will start living as a woman full time. I'll need to have the same fearlessness and confidence that our Seahawks had when they fell behind 20-3 in Houston and 21-0 vs Tampa (and still won!). If I can do that, I can Win Forever too. And, if I get the storybook ending I've been dreaming about, the Hawks will win it all... and it will feel like they were just waiting for me to be ready... Ready to celebrate one of the best days of my life (of ALL of our lives) as ME.

What do you think, sirs?
posted from Bloggeroid

November 8, 2013

Top 5: Seahawks Beat Falcons!

Seattle has lost their last four games against the Atlanta Falcons (including last season's divisional round heartbreaker), but despite their recent struggles against inferior opponents, I expect the Hawks to grind out their first victory in the Georgia Dome since 2002 this Sunday. I was lucky enough to attend our last two wins over the Falcons, In January 2005 and September 2005. Here's the top 5 Seattle wins over Atlanta (we're 8-6 all-time against them):

5. 11/7/1976 @Seahawks 30, Falcons 13 
I was 14 months old when this game happened, but older and wiser Twelves know why this game makes the list: This was Seattle's first-ever regular season win at the Kingdome. RB Sherman Smith racked up 152 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns as the Hawks celebrated Whacking Day against the bedraggled 2-6 Falcons. Jim Zorn tossed two touchdown passes without adding any INTs- All around a great day for the NFL's newest franchise.

4. 12/15/2002 Seahawks 30, Falcons 24 (OT)
The electrifying playoff-bound Falcons met the lowly Ospreys in a mid-December match-up that NO ONE thought Seattle would win. The Seahawks not only survived The Michael Vick Experience, but they intercepted him twice and largely contained him inside the pocket. Matt Hasselbeck clearly outplayed Atlanta's soon-to-be-felonious-and-incarcerated QB, and Shaun Alexander glided through ATL's defense for 127 yards and two touchdowns, including the stunning game-winner in OT.

3. 9/18/2005 @Seahawks 21, Falcons 18
I was at this game (here's the pics), and I remember it more for the weird experience of being told to sit down at Seahawks game, and for Atlanta's near-comeback from a 21-0 deficit, than anything else. As I wrote at the time:

With a few exceptions, the people surrounding us in Section 336 were old, rich and in a persistent vegetative state. I was doing my usual shtick- I (PG-rated-ly) taunted some Falcons fans as they took their seats, hurled insults at Atlanta players during warm-ups, and spent the balance of the game screaming at the top of my lungs, standing and bellowing whenever Atlanta had the ball (like every red-blooded Seahawks fan should).

What did I get for my trouble? Weird looks and the suburban Brahmin lady tapping me on the back and ORDERING me: "Can you sit down? We can't see!" I resisted the urge to give her the Latrell Sprewell treatment, but I also didn't comply with her bafflingly lame and old-fogey-ish decree

Thankfully this started Seattle's exorcism of the ghosts of myriad blown leads in 2003-2004. It was also the start of a 10-0 home season at Qwest, which helped propel the Hawks to Super Bowl XL.

2. 10/29/1979 Seahawks 31, Falcons 28
The Seahawks created untold legions of new Twelves on Monday Night Football back in 1979, when they relied on a WAVE of trick plays to bring down the Falcons. For any Seahawks fan over the age of 40, this game has probably been BRANDED into their brainpan since it happened. It's worthy of a YouTube clip- Pay particular attention to Howard Cosell falling absolutely in love with Jack Patera, Jim Zorn, and Efren Herrera.

1. 1/2/2005 @Seahawks 28, Falcons 26
Unfortunately, this game is most well-known in Seahawks lore as the "stab-in-the-back" game. Shaun Alexander fell one yard short of winning the NFL rushing title, and publicly blamed Mike Holmgren, who called a QB sneak for a crucial TD rather than feeding the ball to SA. It's a shame, because this one SHOULD BE a very positive memory for Seahawks fans.

After a season of unbelievable heartbreak and frustration (blowing the 17-point 4th quarter lead to the Rams, losing a MNF game against Dallas that literally brought me to tears, etc), the Seahawks could win the NFC West with a victory over Atlanta, who was treating the game like a preseason contest (their playoff seeding was already locked in).

The Seahawks got off to another slow start, falling behind 17-7 in the 2nd quarter. However, they battled and clawed their way into a 28-20 lead (punctuated by Hasselbeck's "back-stabbing" touchdown). Of course, the porous 2004 defense allowed ATL to score a touchdown on THE FINAL PLAY OF THE GAME (Gah!)... So it all came down to the ensuing 2-point conversion, which saw Warrick Dunn get stopped just short of the goal line. Woo! Seahawks win the NFC West! Sadly, this happened the next week:

Would you like to know more?

November 4, 2013

Seahawks 27, Buccaneers 24 (OT)

What do you call a team that allows a winless opponent to take the ball away three times, beat the living shit out of their invaluable franchise quarterback, and rack up 350 yards of offense with rookies starting at QB and RB?


The Seattle Seahawks remind me of Luanne Van Houten lately: They have problems. SCARY problems. In consecutive weeks they've had to expend maximum effort to best a vastly inferior opponent. In consecutive weeks the defense has made random, nondescript halfbacks look like the reincarnation of Chuck Muncie. In consecutive weeks they've allowed Russell Wilson to absorb the kind of punishment that ruined David Carr's career a decade ago. Despite all of that, they sit in sole possession of the #1 seed in the NFC, a game clear of everyone else in the conference, with a path to the Super Bowl that couldn't possibly contain fewer obstacles. How?

It certainly helped that Seattle was up against one of the NFL's most pathetic, dysfunctional squads yesterday. Tampa Bay is a forlorn crew "led" by noted arrogant dipshit bully Greg Schiano, who has inexplicably held onto his job despite utterly destroying a franchise that was consistently competitive before his arrival. Schiano rules through paranoia and fear, and the contrast with Seattle's Pete Carroll couldn't be more stark. Greg The Woodchopper has the Stench of Singletary all over him, and the cocktail of his inept leadership, Tampa's utter lack of hope, and Seattle's clear advantages (better talent, home field, etc) pointed to a blowout Seahawks win.

The first half was like a visit to the mythical land of Rand McNally (People wear hats on their feet! Hamburgers eat people! Double '90s Simpsons reference post!). It was OUR quarterback throwing inexcusable red zone interceptions. It was OUR defense defense getting shredded by a 3rd-round former N.C. State quarterback. It was OUR special teams barfing up turnovers deep in our own territory. We were behind 21-0, and it would take the biggest comeback in franchise history (yes, even bigger than this one) to stay one step ahead of the Niners and Saints.

Thankfully, this team has mounted multiple furious comebacks from huge 2nd-half deficits, just in the last 10 months. When we fell behind by three touchdowns, my first thought wasn't "Oh shit! We're gonna lose!" It was "How the HELL are they gonna MacGyver up a win today? This'll be something new." The defense never quite seemed to solve The Intricate Riddle Of Mike James, but they started making stops. The offense never quite figured out how to protect Russell Wilson, but Marshawn's 1st-half tummyache faded, RW3 still made plays, and Angry Doug Baldwin honored the 1983 Seahawks in attendance by making a handful of key receptions, including his best toe-dragging Largent impression.

Golden Tate? He just gave us his seemingly weekly "No! What the fuck, Golden? Wait... Yes! Yes! Fuck yeah!" moment with an electrifying 71-yard punt return to set up a key 4th quarter field goal. Even Wilson's second mind-meltingly Whitehurstian red zone interception couldn't derail the Seattle comeback train. DangerRuss's 3rd touchdown of the day (2 by air, one by land, this one to DB Fresh) tied the game, and the defense made two final stops (side note: Earl Thomas III was once again the standout performer for Seattle's defense, and is making a strong case for NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors). On the game's final drive, Darren Bevell wisely chose to Feed The Beast, and Lynch responded with runs of 10, 19 and 13 yards to set up Steven Hauschka's game-winning boot. Schiano and his charges shuffled off the field, dejected and defeated, as it should have been from the beginning.

So what next for the Seahawks? It'll be fashionable to predict defeat at the Georgia Dome next week, even though the Hawks will be facing a 2-6 Falcons team in an obvious death spiral. Fashionable, but dead wrong. With memories of last January's soul-shredding playoff defeat in Atlanta still vivid, I expect Seattle to grind out a convincing win next Sunday.

Then it'll be just the vanquished Vikings and a bye week standing between the Hawks and that MNF showdown with the Saints (and then the rematch with the Niners). By that crucial six-day stretch in early December, the Seahawks SHOULD be at full-strength personnel-wise. They should also be 10-1 and confident in the knowledge that they can surmount almost any challenge they face between those white lines. These gut-churning narrow wins are no fun for us fans, but they may prove to be psychologically crucial in Seattle reaching its ultimate goal: Victory in Super Bowl XLVIII.

What do you think, sirs?

October 29, 2013

Seahawks 14, Rams 9

Thirty-four years ago, the Seattle Seahawks turned in the worst offensive performance in NFL history. Despite possessing potent offensive weapons in Steve Largent, Jim Zorn, Sherman Smith and Sam McCullum, a Seattle team that would finish 4th in the NFL in scoring was shut out and held to NEGATIVE SEVEN YARDS of total offense. That day the Rams upset the Seahawks 24-0, and that loss kept the 1979 Seahawks out of the postseason.

Last night in the somnolent Edward Jones Dome, the Seahawks offense gave a performance almost as putrid as the one their forebears delivered in the concrete tomb of the Kingdome well over a quarter-century ago. Seven first downs. Nine punts. Less than 22 minutes of possession. Seven sacks allowed. Only 135 yards of offense, which was the lowest output in a winning effort in the NFL this season (and 3rd lowest in franchise history). It was a pathetic, embarrassing outing that was richly deserving of defeat. In the waning minutes, clinging onto a 5-point lead, the defense allowed St. Louis to march 90 yards to the Seattle 6-yard-line. A crushing loss seemed all but inevitable. The NFC West race would tip back in San Francisco's favor. Seattle's most likely path to XLVIII would devolve from two games at Seahawks Stadium to a nationwide tour of Dallas, San Francisco and New Orleans. I watched silently in a sports bar, utterly alone, nauseous and on the verge of tears. The defense appeared to be at its breaking point, and so was I.

That 1979 Seahawks team sported a defense that was mediocre on its best days. The 2013 Seahawks defense is the best in football, and they emphatically proved it in the shadow of their own goal line last night. Earl Thomas flashed out of NOWHERE to make a touchdown-saving tackle on 2nd down (ETIII turned in an amazing 60-minute individual performance, racking up 10 solo tackles). Heath Farwell stuffed Daryl Richardson in the backfield on 3rd down. Now it came down to one play. 4th and Goal from the 1.

My mind flashed back to 2005. The 7-2 Seahawks had what looked like an easy win lined up over the 2-7 49ers. Not only were they an awful team, but they were rolling out Ken Dorsey at quarterback. That year it was the offense that was dominant for Seattle, and the Hawks ran out to a 27-12 lead. In the 4th quarter, the Seattle offense sputtered and the Niners scored twice. If they could convert a two-point conversion, they'd force overtime. On the 2-point try, Seattle blitzed, and Dorsey's panicked throw fell incomplete. Game over. Seahawks escape. The march to the Super Bowl continued.

Last night, with one play set to be the fulcrum of Seatle's season, and facing a back-up quarterback, the Hawks dialed up a blitz again. Thankfully, the result was the same as it was at Candlestick. A harmless incompletion sealed a Seattle win, and the Hawks maintained their grip on the #1 NFC seed. When Clemens' pass hit the turf, I hesitated for a moment, worried that there might be some random flag. Nope, no yellow on the field. I FREAKED OUT. I jumped, I spun, I screamed. Then I ran out of the bar like I had just robbed the joint.

The defense didn't turn in their best performance last night, but no one can question their toughness, endurance or effectiveness after keeping St. Louis out of the end zone despite being on the field for 38 minutes. The only good things that can be said about the offense are that they avoided turnovers (kudos to Russell Wilson for holding onto the ball despite getting pulverized all night) and that Golden Tate once again proved his ability to be a spectacular, game-changing offensive weapon (and that, with his cartoonish, over-the-top taunting, he has an unparalleled ability to offend the 95% of NFL fans who don't bleed Wolf Grey). The good news is that the offense SHOULD be able to be productive enough to keep our winning streak going against Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Minnesota. By the time we face New Orleans on December 2nd, the offense should have most (if not all) of the personnel projected to be in the starting line-up back in August.

The Seahawks are 7-1. That's the most important bit of information after last night's game. Now let us never speak of it again.

What do you think, sirs?

October 25, 2013

Top 10: Seahawks Beat Rams! (UPDATED)

Monday night's game in St. Louis should be an easy win for the Hawks (making Seattle 13-2 against the Rams since 2005). Not only have the Rams massively underachieved this season, but Sam Bradford is now out for the season, leaving Kellen Clemens under center to futilely attempt to defeat the Legion of Boom. In addition, the game will be played with Game 5 of the World Series going on over at Busch Stadium. The Seahawks have visited St. Louis during Cardinal playoff runs before, and on every previous occasion the Edwards Jones Dome was "filled" with distracted, largely silent "fans." I expect another huge "Twelve Incursion" on MNF, similar to what we saw in Glendale last Thursday night.

Want to know why I still hate the Rams, even though we've OWNED them since 2005? Go read my account of the 2004 season if you're fuzzy on your history in this rivalry....

Back? Awesome! Now let's take a look back at Seattle's 10 most glorious victories over the Rams. Enjoy!

10. 12/22/91 Seahawks 23, Rams 9
This game is notable because A) it was our only win EVER over the Los Angeles Rams and B) it was the final game in the Seattle careers of Chuck Knox, Dave Krieg and Jacob Green. Yup. After the final whistle that day 22 years ago, we entered a decade of torment and desperation. James R. Jones scored two touchdowns for us that day, and the ONLY reason I know that is because I looked it up on Pro Football Reference...

9. 9/13/09 Seahawks 28, Rams 0
The first day of the Jim Mora era, and also its high point. I got to meet John Carlson's parents before the game, and Julius Jones inexplicably ran for 117 yards. Never have the high hopes created by an opening day win been later proven so VERY false. Ugh. At least I took a LOT of pictures that day...

8. 12/30/12 Seahawks 20, Rams 13
My most vivid memory of this game is my Mom's van breaking down between Ellensburg and Snoqualmie Pass. Thankfully, my brother and I left the Tri-Cities so early that my stepdad had enough time to to pick us up and ferry us to the game... See? We made it! 

With a playoff spot already clinched by Seattle, and the Rams trying to finish 2012 with a winning record, this one was a tougher battle than any Twelve anticipated. The Hawks gutted out a 20-13 win capped by a Russell Wilson game-winning touchdown run in the 4th quarter. Marshawn Lynch chipped in 100 yards rushing, Golden Tate snagged three catches for 105 yards, and Richard Sherman sealed the win with a late interception deep in Seattle territory.

7. 11/27/07 Seahawks 24 @ Rams 19
This one makes the list mostly because I was at the game... It was a triple barf-bucket kind of day that left me slumped in exhaustion after Gus Freotte’s fumble on 4th and Goal from the 1-yard line FINALLY sealed a Seattle victory in the waning seconds. The Seahawks showed mental toughness clawing back to win after falling behind 19-7, but otherwise this wasn't a glorious highlight of the 2007 campaign.

The experience of watching a game at St. Louis' Dome was pleasant, but a bit boring. The fans rarely did more than clap politely, and the arena itself had the atmosphere of a comfortable, brand new Costco Warehouse rather than an NFL stadium. The stadium was only about 75% full, and most of those folks left with over 5 minutes left in the game. On the plus side, no one gave my brother, my step-dad, or I any crap the whole day, and more than one person congratulated me on the Seahawks’ win after the final gun.

6. 11/12/06 Seahawks 24, Rams 22
The Rams could have tied Seattle for the division lead at 5-4 with a win in this one, and midway through the 4th things looked bleak. The Seahawks hadn't scored since before halftime, were trailing 16-14 and playing like Night of the Living Dead-type zombies. After Nate Burleson's electrifying 90 yard punt return, the Hawks took the lead and started playing like 28 Days Later-type zombies... Rage Virus! Grrrrr!

I was at Seahawks Stadium that day, and the Twelve Army erupted after Burleson scored. Still, the Rams scored later to retake the lead, and Seneca Wallace had to lead us into position for the winning score... Spoiler alert: Since it was 2006, the game ended with Josh Brown nailing a field goal for a Seahawks win.

5. 9/21/03 Seahawks 24, Rams 23
Early in the 2003 season, Seattle was itching to prove they were a true playoff contender, and the mighty Rams visited what was still OFFICIALLY called Seahawks Stadium. The Hawks were behind 23-10 as the final quarter began, but then sprung to life and stole a dramatic 24-23 win with a Hass-to-KRob TD in the final seconds.

I happened to be hosting an "end of summer" yard sale that day, but I'm pretty sure I scared business off with the various otherworldly shrieks I emitted throughout the afternoon.

4. 11/13/05 Seahawks 31, Rams 16
Shaun Alexander ran wild in the cold November rain and the Rams were rightly fustigated. But for me, just seeing the game involved some serious drama. I snagged a job interview at a school in the "Witness Protection" region of Nebraska, and while I wasn't very psyched about the idea, it beat not having a job. One big problem: they wanted me to fly in on a Sunday. During football season. Fuck.

I wasn't about to turn down the interview, but there was no god damn way I was going to miss a Seahawks game. I made sure that I booked the earliest flight possible on Sunday. I pored over NFL TV coverage maps on The 506. I called the TV station in the town I was headed for to make SURE they would be airing the Seahawks game. I got a couple of my friends to text me updates on my cell phone until I got in front of a TV, and I packed my Hasselbeck jersey.

When we got to the hotel, I told my handlers that I needed to "unwind after that flight." I turned the game on just as the Hawks snuffed a harebrained STL fake FG attempt. I paced around that room for two hours, enduring a late comeback spasm by the Rams and nervously watching the clock. Imagine a dude in a shirt and tie, dress pants, dress shoes, with a Hasselbeck jersey on top of that. My plan was to strip off the jersey and head to dinner as soon as victory was assured, and jusssst in time SA galloped for six to lock down the win.

In a VERY good mood, I might have had one beer too many at dinner that night, and the next day during the interview, I probably blew it when I described my classroom style as "talk show host." In retrospect, I'm ECSTATIC that I didn't get that job.

3. 10/09/05 Seahawks 37 @ Rams 31
After the psyche-crushing 2004 season, breaking the Rams' psychological dominance was the first real order of business the following year. In the Mike Martz's final game as the smuggest, smarmiest coach in NFL history, the Hawks ran out to a 34-21 lead. Up 37-31 late, the Hawks had to punt to Shawn McDonald (who delivered the killing OT stroke in Seattle the previous October). Deliciously, Big Play Babs forced McDonald to fumble, and JP Darche recovered. Martz's coaching career ended, and the Rams' mental edge over the Hawks dulled into a useless butterknife of futility.

2. 10/15/06 Seahawks 30 @ Rams 28
At the time, I was stuck in a very remote corner of Ohio doing a 1-year teaching gig. The nearest outpost of modern civilization, a Target store, was 30 minutes away. This game is my single happiest memory of that year that doesn't involve my son Jack (who was an infant at the time). It was one of the most exciting finishes in Seahawks history; The Hawks fought back from a 21-7 halftime deficit to take a late 27-21 lead. After a Mo Morris fumble deep in STL territory, Torry Holt made a ridiculous TD catch that looked like the death blow. Down by a point, Hasselbeck marched the Hawks into Rams territory. An illegal procedure flag was misinterpreted by Scott Linehan as a foul that included a 10-second, game-ending clock runoff. The jabbering dipstick was wrong, and left slack-jawed after Josh Brown nailed the 54-yard game winner at the final gun.

1. 1/2/11 Seahawks 16, Rams 6
It was fashionable for the national media to crap on this game between a 7-8 and 6-9 teams that would decide the NFC West title. It was damn near conventional wisdom among Seahawks "fans" that the team would be better off losing the game and getting a higher draft pick than going to the playoffs only to get bludgeoned to death by a superior team.

53 players, their coaches and 67,000 screaming Twelves didn't give a FUCK about any of that shit. Charlie Whitehurst etched his name into Seahawks history by leading Seattle to a win over the prematurely anointed Rams- He hit Ruvell Martin for a huge gain on the opening drive, which he closed by connecting with Mike Williams for what would ultimately be the deciding touchdown. As I wrote back then...

CW got a huge assist from Seattle's maligned offensive line and defense- The O-line largely kept Whitehurst clean, and FINALLY generated some push for Lynch, Forsett, and Washington. Defensively, the Hawks crashed The Sam Bradford Coronation Party, spiked the punch, smashed the ice sculptures, and ate all the bacon-wrapped shrimp. Steven Jackson was held to 45 yards rushing, and the only points STL could muster were two field goals by The Traitor Josh Brown.

You could argue that this game by itself was fairly unremarkable- But it WAS the Seahawks first victory in a "win and in" situation since 1988, and it set the stage for this:

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