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?


Laird of Madrona said...

This brought tears to my eyes, Johnnie.

Just one question:

I live and work in San Francisco. Should I wear my Russell Wilson jersey on Friday, before the game, or on Monday, after we've won? Would Monday be rubbing it in too much?

DKSB said...

Do both, why not? /Zoidberg

spuddybuddy said...

Great post! +1 for Guided By Voices reference.

it's all in D Hans said...

Tough divisional battle between two teams with no love lost between them. Three plays defined the game: the blocked punt by SF, the interception in the end zone by Seattle, and the 51 yard run by Gore to set up the winning field goal at the end. Seattle held SF to 4 field goals and one touchdown. We scored 2 touchdowns and one field goal. Simply ran out of time at the end. The rematch in Seattle in the post-season will be one to circle on your calendar... if, of course, SF can win out the season and get in to the big dance. Go Hawks!!!