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?


neurocell said...

I was at the Challenger Way Hooter's in Sacramento. Half the games were tuned into the World Series (Congrats on the win.), while the rest had the Hawks.

Off to one side is a small room with a pool table and four small tables. I decided to sit in there because the TV's volume was loud enough that I could actually hear the game. A couple guys came in and played pool in the fourth quarter, but for the most part it was just me.

My TV, and another one were four seconds ahead of all the other ones. Both were hard to see, so people started to realize a good, or bad, play was about to happen by what they heard from me. By Tate's TD, a couple of guys had moved to get a better view of the other TV. So the three of us let everyone know when that pass fell incomplete.

It was great. It was draining. Marshawn Lynch lost at least 40 yards due to penalties. There was no pocket (Admitted, I thought that the Rams would cage Russell Wilson, but not to the level that they did. Ugh.), and no escape lanes out of the pocket. 139 yards of offense. You could smell the rancid odor dripping from the screen. But two things happened: Even though the defense would allow first downs, they stopped the Rams when it was absolutely imperative that they did. And the Seahawks won.

Four out of five games on the road. Three of those games at least two hours ahead. The two furthest away were seven days apart. Two preseason Super Bowl contenders. One popular dark horse contender. Three defenses that were top 10. Two stadiums that the Seahawks hadn't won in. The other two Russell Wilson hadn't won in, including his worst performance as a pro. The Seahawks historically being bad after a layoff of greater than eight days. The offense doing everything to stop itself. The defense looking lost. And all of that added up to a win last night. This team didn't quit. This team found a way to win three of four. This team is different. Even though exhaustion was running rampant through the defense, the found a way to keep a team out of the end zone for four plays from inside the three yard line.

This team didn't play up to its ability last night, but the Seahawks didn't beat themselves. They pulled out a win when others would have folded. They found a way to win. This game has been, and will be, mocked by pundits, bloggers, and idiots incomparable, but what they lack is the vision to see a good team transitioning to a great team. Steel isn't tempered in easy wins. It's tempered in fire. Last night's crucible burned off any remnants from this team that will allow failure to creep into their psyche. Nothing brings individuals closer than the realization that not only are they a part of a team, but part of something that connects and reinforces each part into one cohesive driving force.

Last night the Seattle Seahawks didn't display a beat down of an irresistible force, but they did display the mentality of a true juggernaut.

That is what I thought about as I left the bar.

Go Hawks.

By the way, 1979 was 34 years ago.

DKSB said...

Ugh. Thanks for catching that. So embarrassing. Fixed. Great comment, man :)

neurocell said...

Congrats. Good job BoSox.

Sammy said...

I was texting my brothers during the game, profanely lamenting the putrid, almost unwatchability of the game. We all agreed that while the team really didn't "deserve" the win, great teams win the games they don't necessarily deserve, and they pull wins out of their asses sometimes. Plus, the goal line stand was incredible.

But the stupid effing 15-yard penalties have to stop. You can't just give your opponent half the football field by being stupid. And honestly, there were two other incidents that the refs could have called that would have added another 30 yards in penalties. Running into the punt returner who had called for a fair catch was one, and there was a late hit on that goal line stand that wasn't called.