October 20, 2014
Rams 28, Seahawks 26
I thought we were done with this. I really did. I thought we were done with sleepwalking through the first halves of 10 am road games. I thought we were over inexplicable lapses in discipline. I thought our leader getting thoroughly out-coached was receding in the rearview mirror. I thought that Seattle getting brazenly robbed by the officials was a thing of the past. Holy shit, was I wrong.
If we hadn't won the Super Bowl eight months ago, yesterday would go down as one of the most painful, embarrassing defeats in Seahawks history. Back-to-back losses to Dallas and St. Louis have born the horrible marks of 2004: Defensive breakdowns, heartbreaking late collapses, and the officiating crew blatantly putting their thumbs on the scale in favor of our foes. No, we didn't lose SOLELY because of the referees, but to ignore their impact upon the outcome would be spectacularly myopic. Ticky-tack calls against us, coupled with multiple no-calls against St. Louis, would be bad enough, but the failure to even REVIEW a clear fumble recovery by Seattle in the dying moments of the game was a travesty of Leavyian proportions.
Of course, it never should have gotten to that point. Seattle statistically dominated the game, but ended up in a desperate position in the final seconds because of the worst special teams performance I've witnessed in 30+ years of Twelving. The Hawks gave up a big kickoff return that set up St. Louis' first TD, and were BADLY fooled twice: Once on an elaborate punt return ruse for another Rams score, and late in the game on a fake punt that all but sealed the win for STL. In both cases, Seattle broke down in ways that should embarrass a high school team, let alone the defending Super Bowl Champions. The only good news here? At least theoretically, these problems are correctable. Hell, last week special teams kept us competitive despite being outplayed by Dallas.
The bigger worries are on defense. Barely eight months after the most dominant defensive performance of all time, the Legion of Boom's explosive yield has plunged from "Thermonuclear" to "Cap gun." The sacks and takeaways that tilted the field in our favor last season have all but vanished. The dominant pass rush that terrorized Peyton Manning in XLVIII couldn't spook Austin Fucking Davis yesterday, and ultimately our depleted linebacker corps and secondary couldn't make a play to give our offense the opportunity to steal a win (Oh, wait! They did. But the special teams allowed a fake-punt conversion and the officials fucked us out of a clear fumble recovery). As key players like Bobby Wagner and Jeremy Lane return from injury the defense should improve, but if there's an easy solution to our pass rushing woes, it's not immediately obvious to me.
We're 3-3 and in 3rd place, laughably below preseason expectations. So why am I feeling relatively optimistic today? Here's a few reasons:
-Russell Carrington Wilson. Our franchise QB damn near won this game single-handedly, only to be betrayed by breakdowns by other units (shades of Detroit, Miami and Atlanta in 2012, huh?). Yesterday Wilson was the first QB to EVER pass for 300 yards and run for 100 in an NFL game. His 52-yard run on 3rd-and-long to set up a 4th-quarter TD will be forever known as the "Fuck it!" run. This team would benefit from the WolfBadger making similarly bold decisions from now on. For all of the other short-term issues we are having right now, we are set at quarterback, and VERY few teams can say that.
-Angry Doug Baldwin. Is anyone going to directly benefit from tossing Percy Harvin overboard more than Doug Baldwin? 89 snagged 7 catches for 123 yards and a TD, and his (non-teammate-punching) passion is something this this team desperately needs right now. Sidebar: I'm still stunned by the Harvin trade. Stunned at how badly PCJS miscalculated. Stunned at how much drama was going on behind the scenes last season. Stunned by how much of a selfish, volatile prick Harvin turned out to be. I respect PCJS for admitting their mistake and moving on, but this whole affair is a ugly stain on their reputations.
-They fought. They didn't surrender when they fell behind 21-3, and they kept scratching and clawing until they final play. They are still talented, and they still care about each other and about winning. Not every fan base is fortunate to have a team like that. In addition, they KNOW they can succeed at the highest level. A MONTH AGO they beat the now-looking-unstoppable-again Broncos. This is not an enfeebled team, just a dazed, staggering contender.
-The schedule. A road trip to Charlotte will be difficult, but in 2012 and 2013 the Hawks got it done away from home against the Panthers. After that come two home games (against the non-exactly impressive Raiders and Giants) and a trip to Kansas City. That's all prologue to a critical 5-day stretch where we face Arizona at home and travel to Santa Clara on Thanksgiving Night. FIVE of Seattle's last six games are in the NFC West. If the Hawks are still in striking distance going into that home game against the Cardinals, they should be healthier and adjusted to Life After Percy. They will also still have a great chance to win the division... But it has to start with a win in Charlotte on Sunday.
Yesterday echoed 2004, but this season's results don't have to be the same. RW3 has gone into Charlotte twice and escaped victorious. Why can't he complete the trilogy this Sunday?
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