The Seattle Seahawks were on their knees, bloodied and dazed. They were down 14-0, facing their largest deficit of the 2012 season (and a deficit bigger than any the franchise had ever overcome in a playoff game). They were facing a red-hot DC team in front of 84,000 screaming, desperate fans on 100 yards of painted dirt. It was a moment where the 2nd-youngest team in the NFL could have thought "Oh, it's just not our night. We'll give this another shot next season."
For 29 years before tonight, all Seahawks playoff teams eventually succumbed in EVERY game they played on the road. An amazing season, one that had seen dramatic wins over Champions like the Patriots and the Packers, and a 3-game stretch of dominance never before seen in the modern NFL, was on the verge of final, irreversible defeat. As Al Pacino said in that big speech in Any Given Sunday, they were in hell. They could stay there, and get the shit kicked out of them- or they could fight their way back into the light. They could climb outta hell, one inch at a time.
The defense, which had looked utterly lost and confused on DC's first two possessions, took full advantage of Mike Shanahan's foolhardy decision to leave the obviously hobbled Robert Griffin III in the game. They didn't allow the Pigskins anywhere near scoring territory for the last three quarters of the contest, and gave Seattle's offense a chance to win the game. They held the NFL's 2nd-leading rusher (Alfred Morris) to 80 yards while also absolutely neutralizing DC's receiving corps. Earl Thomas made an All-Pro play to snag an underthrown Griffin toss, and it was clear that a RGIII at less than 100% was no match for a ferocious Seattle defense.
While RGIII's injury certainly gives his fans an excuse for DC's offensive failures, they can't explain away the stellar performances of Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch- The twin MVPs of Seattle's first road playoff win since The Right Stuff was playing in American theaters. Their demeanors perfectly compliment each other: Lynch plays the game with blazing, blinding anger- His intensity is as frightening as it is inspiring. Wilson does not lack passion, but his cool exterior and unshakable poise projects a boundless confidence- Even as a rookie, he shrugged off a two-touchdown deficit in a road playoff game like a minor inconvenience. While everything seemed to be collapsing around him, he broadcast to the world "Don't worry. I've got this."
Lynch had one of the plays of the season when he scooped up a Wilson fumble and rambled 18 yards with it. Instead of falling behind 21-3, the Seahawks continued marching towards their first touchdown of the evening. Later, Lynch would fumble on the precipice of another touchdown- but it barely knocked the Seahawks off their stride. BeastMode would put the Seahawks ahead for good midway through the 4th with a violent, stirring 27-yard touchdown romp- one where Russell Wilson served as one of Marshawn's lead blockers. Wilson's numbers weren't eye-popping, but he made big plays with his legs and numerous perfect throws. Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, and Golden Tate all made key plays, but Zach Miller had his best game as a Seahawk- All four of his catches were essential to Seattle's eventual victory. Every week, Russell Wilson redefines the boundaries of what is plausible to expect from a 3rd-round rookie QB. He's now the only member of the rookie QB class of 2012 left standing in these playoffs, and that's not a coincidence. He's one of the best quarterbacks in the game... 17 games into his career! It's no longer laughable to think a rookie QB could lead a team to a Super Bowl win.
The Washington Pigskins were not a Championship opponent, but they drew out a Championship performance from the Seattle Seahawks. As a team, the Hawks showed mental and physical toughness that few of their franchise ancestors ever did. It seems blasphemous to type, but Matt Hasselbeck couldn't win a road playoff game- Russell Wilson already has. Those great Seahawks teams of the late 80s crumbled on the road in Houston and Cincinnati- The young, hungry 2012 Hawks already KNOW they can win on the road, which should leave the Atlanta Falcons trembling in mortal terror.
I have to mention the atrocious playing surface at FedEx Field tonight. The field wasn't grass. It was dirt painted green. How can an NFL team with a billionaire owner allow his team to take the field under such conditions? The playing surface almost certainly led to the knee injuries suffered by Griffin AND Chris Clemons. Not only should Dan Snyder be disciplined and fined by the NFL- The league should also either mandate a Field Turf surface be installed in every stadium, or they should take control of the maintenance of the playing surfaces used during NFL games. Tonight was a debacle that SHOULD be a shameful embarrassment to Dan Snyder and Roger Goodell.
The Seahawks play on, though. There's no limits for them anymore. There's no reason they can't win three more games, regardless of who the opposition is, and hoist the Lombardi Trophy just about one month from now. That's who your team is now. They aren't underdogs. They're heroes. They're the fucking Avengers. Aint it GRAND?
What do you think, sirs?