September 22, 2014
Seahawks 26, Broncos 20 (OT)
In the seven-and-a-half months since Denver's monumental failure in Super Bowl XLVIII, the Broncos remade their roster and mortgaged their future in a desperate attempt to surpass the young and still quite HANGRY (That's hungry and angry for the uninitiated) World Champion Seahawks.
Even after that Herculean effort, the Broncos still fell short yesterday at Seahawks Stadium, and it was because their much-heralded and overhauled defense could not stop one Russell Carrington Wilson. The national media bobbleheads are agog today with blather of "Moral Victories" for the Broncos, but the brutal truth is that they hit the Emerald Empire with EVERYTHING they had and got nothing for their trouble but a mark in the loss column.
The national media narrative is, of course, that Peyton Manning gave the Legion of Boom a scare. The reality was that for three quarters, Manning looked like an exceedingly average and excruciatingly slow/limp-armed quarterback. He's not, obviously. But Seattle's defense has made him look mortal for 7 quarters going back to MetLife Stadium last Febuary, and it was only a spasm of late Seahawks mistakes (a missed field goal, a safety, and Wilson's worst throw of the season) that gave him the opportunity to salvage a bit of his reputation. In the end, Seattle's defense allowed only 18 points to Denver's fearsome, explosive offense. In the end, that might stand as the Broncos' lowest offensive output this season, and it's far from the "choke job" imagery being flung to the far corners of the internet today.
The Legion didn't just harangue, harass and hamper Manning; They also snuffed out the Broncos' ground game, allowing only 1.8 yards per rushing attempt. Despite Denver's furious late rally, Seattle's defense emphatically proved they are still the best in all of football. After surviving the Rodgers-Rivers-Peyton gauntlet, Seattle now gets a steady diet of middling-to-bad QBs like Cousins, Romo, Davis, and Eli in coming weeks. Cam Newton is the only QB anywhere near "elite" that the LOB will face until their trip to Santa Clara Thanksgiving Night (and Kaepernick's star isn't exactly blazing these days either).
Is it time to make Jon Ryan an honorary member of the Legion of Boom? His punts yesterday were certainly explosive enough to warrant induction. Ryan consistently pinned the Broncos deep in their own end and gave us all something none of us had seen before: A 79-yard kick IN THE AIR on the free kick following Denver's safety early in the 4th. With the lone exception of a missed field goal attempt, Seattle's special teams were flawless after shaky outings against the Packers and Chargers.
What is there left to say about the WolfBadger? Once again, he faced a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback and outplayed him. Once again, given an opportunity to win the game in overtime, he delivered. The conclusion of yesterday's game was eerily similar to our win at Chicago back in 2012: The defense blows a late lead, Seattle wins the overtime coin toss, and Wilson marshals the Hawks down the field by any means necessary. Just like on that afternoon at Soldier Field nearly two years ago, RW3 got it done with his legs as much as his arm, scrambling to convert two key 3rd downs on the winning drive. Now Wilson is 7-0 head-to-head against the "Mt. Rushmore" of Rodgers-Manning-Brees-Brady, and only the most pig-headed Jaworskites among us would deny that DangerRuss is already a Top 5 "elite" QB.
Here's a question to mull: Is Marshawn Lynch the best running back in football? It's hard to argue against him after a day where he gobbled up 128 yards on 29 touches while scoring two touchdowns (including the overtime winner). The conventional wisdom that this is Lynch's last season in Seattle might get overturned by necessity. Lynch is integral to Seattle's offensive attack, and at this point it's hard to imagine Robert Turbin or Christine Michael easily replacing him. PCJS might just have to find the money to keep Beast Mode in College Blue and Wolf Grey for a few more years.
Now the Hawks roll into their (far too early) bye week 2-1 and as healthy as any NFL team could reasonably hope to be, and Twelves should be nothing but grateful and jubilant. As fun as all those ridiculous blowouts are, they're outliers in a league where most of the games are decided by one score or less. There will be moments where we'll need another Kam Chancellor pick or a 2-minute drill to win a playoff game or perhaps even a Super Bowl. It feels almost too good to be true that we finally have a team that we can BELIEVE in during those moments where tension and drama are greatest. In Earl Thomas III, we have our Ronnie Lott. In Russell Wilson, our Joe Montana. In Marshawn Lynch, our Roger Craig (Yes, part of the reason I made those comparisons was to troll Santa Clara fans).
So Denver fans can delude themselves into thinking this was anything but another crushing defeat (whenever they feel like taking a break from whinging about how unfair the OT rules are to Widdle Ol' Peyton), but us Twelves know the truth: They came at the Kings, and they missed. If these teams meet again in Glendale next February, Denver is doomed to complete an EPIC trifecta of failure. And they KNOW it.
What do you think, sirs?