October 29, 2013
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
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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October 18, 2013
I HATE Thursday Night games. I DETEST them. They are a blatant money grab by the NFL, the quality of play is never at the level of games played on Sundays and Mondays, the quick turnaround from the previous Sunday increases the chances of serious injuries, and the games are on a network that is still inconvenient for millions of viewers. On top of all of that, I'm a creature of routines and habits, so the Seahawks playing on Thursday night totally fucks up the rhythm of my week. Given all of that, all I wanted last night was for the Hawks to escape victorious and unscathed. Despite the deceptively close score through 2.5 quarters, Seattle not only won but physically dominated the Arizona Cardinals, running to the first 6-1 start in franchise history in what amounted to Seahawks Stadium South.
Something that annoyed me a bit in the post-game analysis of this one was the relative lack of discussion over Russell Wilson's trio of fumbles. Yes, the WolfBadger had a great game otherwise, throwing three TD passes and racking up another gaudy passer rating in the 120s. Yes, he made one of the most incredible throws I've ever seen, chucking a perfect pass to Sidney Rice ON A DEAD SPRINT for Seattle's first TD. Yes, he converted a key 3rd down in the 2nd half on a ridiculous heave to Zach Miller while being sacked. Yes, the offensive line is kind of a hot mess right now.
But still... those fumbles SINGLEHANDEDLY kept Arizona in the game. Dangeruss is a spectacular talent, but he must get better at feeling the enemy pass rush as it closes in and making sure the ball is secure. We got away with this last night against an inferior Cardinals team, but teams like the 49ers, Saints and Broncos are far more likely to make Wilson pay dearly for those kind of mistakes. Overall, it was another sloppy performance from the Seahawks. In addition to the two turnovers, Seattle also committed 10 penalties. One has to assume that "cleaning that up" will be an area of emphasis for Pete Carroll from here on out this season.
Every Twelve should be beaming with blissful optimism today, though. The defense choked out yet another enemy offense, holding Arizona to a laughable 30 yards rushing and ERASING the great Larry Fitzgerald, who meekly hauled in two receptions for 17 yards. EIGHT Seattle defenders combined for seven sacks of Carson Palmer, who threw two interceptions, complied most of his yardage in garbage time, and made me feel pretty stupid for ever writing this article. Golden Tate had another sterling performance that will increase his asking price in the offseason, and Marshawn Lynch not only churned out 91 yards and a touchdown, he also TRUCKED The Despicable Darnell Dockett. Thanks, Beast Mode!
The most stunning development at Glendale last night didn't unfold on the playing field, though. What appeared to be tens of thousands of Twelves occupied University of Phoenix Stadium, filling the air with "SEA! HAWKS!" chants, cheering every positive Seattle play loudly, and nearly drowning out the NFL Network post-game interview with Russell Wilson. It was a surreal and wonderful scene, and it demonstrated a fundamental truth: The Seahawks aren't just a great team. They're fucking COOL. I've even started to see more people in Hawks gear all the way out here in Columbus lately. Yup. We're attracting "bandwagon" fans, and that's nothing to fret about. You know who doesn't have bandwagon fans? Nondescript, irrelevant teams. Your Seahawks are NEITHER of those things anymore.
Side note: The scene in Glendale last night made me wonder what Mariners fans, who CONSTANTLY whinge about Red Sox Nation buying thousands of tickets at Safeco Field every year (including me), thought about Seattle fans doing likewise down in Arizona. Yeah, I'm a snarky bitch, aint I?
Your Seahawks are 6-1. They have a 10-day break before an imminently winnable MNF game at St. Louis. Percy Harvin will be on the field soon, and Seattle's upcoming schedule includes Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Minnesota. It's extremely plausible that the Hawks will be 10-1 heading into their titanic MNF battle with New Orleans on December 2.
As we say around here: Don't it just feel great? :)
October 14, 2013
You can see all the pictures from my weekend in Seattle HERE...
Yup. That's me. On the field. Before the Seahawks v Titans game. It was one of the best experiences I've ever had as a sports fan, and I'll talk about it in a second. First, I should probably tell you how it happened.
I've had a relationship with the Miltary Sea Hawkers group for a while now. Among other things, the group helps get Seahawks tickets in the hands of servicemen and women who are Twelves. No matter how you feel about the American military-industrial complex, I think it's pretty awesome that Military Sea Hawkers gets those brave, hard-working men and women in the arena to cheer on our Seahawks. Last year I donated some of my tickets to them, and I've formed a friendship with Brandan Schulze (who helps make the connections between service members and ticket donors). Last week I appeared on the Sea Hawkers Podcast with him, and he graciously offered to get my brother and I down on the field before the Titans game.
Brandan, Traci Williams, and the rest of the folks at Military Sea Hawkers work TIRELESSLY to give service members who are Seahawks fans info about our team, access to the games on television, and tickets donated by generous season ticket holders. If you'd like to help fund their cause, you can donate by visiting their facebook page and clicking on the "Donate" app. I'm indebted to them, and I hope y'all consider helping them (and their worthwhile cause).
Once we got on the field, the succession of mind-blowing moments was nearly overwhelming. The first one was sort of surreal: The Jack In The Box mascot (a guy in a suit with his trademark headpiece) walked right past my brother and I in the North East tunnel. For some reason, I was really disappointed that I didn't get a picture with this random guy working as a fast food mascot (maybe it's just because I love their egg rolls and I can't get them in Ohio). We ended up behind the south end zone, about five feet from the edge of the playing field. Golden Tate came up to us and said hello and shook our hands, and after I got over my giddy shock, I was just glad I didn't say anything stupid to him. One thing I noticed? Even Tate was much bigger than I imagined he'd be up close. Guys like Max Unger are MAMMOTH human beings, and you only really understand that when you're 10 feet away from them.
So many other little moments stick in my mind... I yelled encouragement at Marshawn Lynch, and he heard me and pointed my direction. Paul Allen walked by, about 3 feet away from me. I yelled "Thank you, Mr. Allen!" once I figured out who he was, but I don't think he heard me. We met a few of the game officials, and the American Idol guy after he sang the National Anthem. We were on the Titans' sidelines during the Anthem, about 5 feet behind Chris Johnson... and on and on and on.
The funny thing? As amazing as that experience was, it would have been at least somewhat spoiled if the Seahawks had lost the game. Thankfully for my sanity, the Hawks pulled out an UGLY 20-13 victory, in a game that wasn't quite as competitive as the final score indicates.
Tennessee's weird, fluky TD on a botched FG attempt as the 1st half ended masked a brutal truth for the Titans: They couldn't get ANYTHING going against Seattle's defense. Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked three times and intercepted by Earl Thomas III and Richard Sherman. The ambulatory husk formerly known as CJ2K was held to 33 yards rushing and the Titans as a team could only muster 66 yards on the ground. The defense looks like its recovered nicely from a rough outing against Andrew Luck (which is frankly sort of forgivable).
Seattle's offense is still "sputtering," in a relative sense. The Seahawks have averaged 26.2 points per game (7th in the NFL) and are 2nd in rushing yards and 10th in total yards, but it still feels like something is wrong with our offensive attack. As usual, the stars were Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. Wilson had another solid, productive outing, passing for 253 yards and rushing for 61 more. Lynch just had his usual 150+ yard day and two touchdowns. Yes, here come the Skittles. Yawn. The good news? When the offensive line returns to full strength and guys like Zach Miller and Percy Harvin get back on the field, this could still be a Top-5 offense in December and January.
The Hawks now stand at an impressive 5-1 (a start they haven't had since 2003), and with New Orleans' loss in Foxboro last night Seattle is in firm control of the race for the NFC's top seed. As always, there are nits to be picked, but our team is still on a trajectory for a game in the Met Life Snowglobe next February.
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OK- Here's an additional, more personal bit about my first visit to Seahawks Stadium in "girl mode." So, if you don't care about that, here's your cue to exit... If you do, here we go....
What a transcendent weekend! I presented as a woman all weekend, and had a universally positive experience. I got to see over a dozen of my old college friends, and they were, without exception, totally supportive and happy to see me (and very pleased that I'm happier than I've ever been). When we were all together, it was like we just picked up where we left off at the end of the 20th Century. While I was out and about in girl mode this weekend, no one gave me any trouble (which was great when I was out shopping for new Seahawks stuff, trying things on, etc), and I never got hassled when I used the ladies' room (even at the game, this wasn't an issue).
My parents were also completely awesome this weekend (and big thanks to them for paying to fly me out), and I got to watch my brother James kick some ass in a PLU win on Saturday. James went to the game with me yesterday, and I ended up meeting up with my friend Karissa (who is udubgal on Twitter) and my college girlfriend Alisa (who I haven't seen in something like 15 years). Everyone was overjoyed to see me, which increased my comfort level enormously.
In the back of my mind, I kept waiting for something negative to happen. I thought it was going to go down after the game Sunday night. My brother and I stopped at Jack In The Box in Tacoma, and when we got there, I needed to use the bathroom. Unfortunately, this was one of those joints where you have to ask for the key to the restroom. I had awful visions in my head of the employee bellowing "Don't you mean the MEN'S room??!?" Total humiliation. I gathered up my courage and asked anyway. She gave me the key without skipping a beat, and then, when my food was ready, she said "here you go, MA'AM."
Of all the great things that happened this weekend, that was near the top. Overall, the whole weekend couldn't have possibly been a more positive experience for me.. and yesterday was just the first of MANY games I'll be attending as Johnnie for the rest of my life. Thanks to ALL of you for your readership and your support!
What do you think, sirs?
October 7, 2013
October 6, 2013
Let me get this out of the way: Nothing that happened at Lucas Oil Stadium today shook the conviction that I've held in my heart since we dropped that divisional playoff game at the Georgia Dome last January: The Seattle Seahawks are going to win Super Bowl XLVIII.
Today's loss didn't reveal a blueprint for defeating the Seahawks. It didn't show that Seattle is "a different team away from home" or some other such bullshit. It revealed a simple truth: To beat an elite team on the road, the Seahawks won't always be able to prevail with less than peak performance. We're five weeks into the season. The Seahawks are 4-1 and solidly in control of the NFC West race... and we haven't seen this team at full strength. We haven't yet seen them at their best. I STILL think that when this team gives its best effort, there's not a team in the NFL that can beat them.
The Indianapolis Colts are an excellent team, and Andrew Luck will be competing with Russell Wilson for magazine covers and Lombardi Trophies for the next decade. When you combine the quality of the opposition with playing in a hostile environment and AWFUL officiating (that cost Seattle at least 10 net points over the course of the game), it's almost shocking that the Seahawks had the ball and a chance to win in the game's final minutes.
Ron Winter's crew was abysmal today. Most of their terrible decisions harmed the Seahawks, but they also missed what should have been a penalty on Chris Clemons for whacking Luck in his neckbearded melon. On a blocked punt in the first quarter, Winter's minions decided that a Jeron Johnson touchdown was actually a safety, costing Seattle five precious points. Beyond that, multiple dubious pass interference calls against the Seahawks kept Indianapolis scoring drives alive. The rank incompetence of today's officiating crew should incense anyone not looking at things through blue-and-white tinted goggles.
Despite the poor officiating, this was still a game in which Seattle had every opportunity to prevail. The Hawks bested Indianapolis in most of the major statistical categories, but their inability to translate offensive production into second half touchdowns was their ultimate downfall. Russell Wilson, while electrifying and dangerous, didn't play to the best of his abilities. That isn't intended as a condemnation- His improvisational skills (and 102 rushing yards) kept Seattle's offense moving, but he's SO close to being a damn-near-unstoppable force. If he connected on a couple of throws where he was BARELY off target, the Hawks might still be undefeated. Isn't it scary (and exciting) that Wilson has room to improve? Andrew Luck certainly still has room to improve as well, but he's already a formidable foe. With the offense sputtering in the 4th quarter, Luck took full advantage of a worn-out Seattle defense to take the lead and then extend it to six points.
There's two bits of great news that Seahawks fans can focus on: First, Seattle will be getting numerous starters back from various injuries over the next month or so, and Percy Harvin will be on the field well before the playoffs begin. Secondly, the Seahawks have a relatively soft upcoming schedule. After hosting the 3-2 Titans next Sunday, Seattle doesn't play a team with a winning record again until their post-bye showdown with the Saints on SNF December 2nd. 14-2/13-3 feels like about where this team will end up after the regular season concludes on December 29th.
One loss to a playoff contender on the road doesn't equal "Same Old Seahawks." The team will shake off this loss quickly, and the Twelve army should go forth and do likewise.
On a personal note, I watched the game today at a sports bar in "girl mode" for the first time, and had a very positive experience. My waitress even noticed my bright green Seahawks socks and told me they were "cute." I fly out to Seattle on Thursday, and I'll be at the Titans game next Sunday with my brother James. I'll be screaming my head off for three hours as usual. I'll just look like the pic in the upper right corner of this blog. Finally, I'll be in one of my favorite places on Earth as ME. I couldn't possibly be more excited.
What do you think, sirs?