October 24, 2016

Seahawks 6, Cardinals 6 (OT)

How do you choose to feel? I've been thinking about that a lot lately. In a lot of situations, it doesn't seem like that's something one can control. I certainly can't most of the time. But when you can muster the focus, choosing how to feel can make a big difference in how you see the world around you. 

I've been thinking about the election. As a long-standing member of the Democratic Party and as someone who believes Barack Obama is the best President of my lifetime (and if you are LGBTQ, he obviously is more or less our FDR), I wanted someone like Joe Biden to Elizabeth Warren to take office in January and consolidate/expand upon the progress we've made over the last eight years. Hillary Clinton wouldn't have been my first (or second) choice, but compared to the Tangerine Mussolini she is running against, she's the VASTLY more palatable alternative.

Imagine the election as a choice between two options for dinner. Hillary Clinton is Chipotle. It's not the BEST option one can imagine, but it's alright. Trump is the other choice, which is a plate of steaming dog shit topped with shards of broken glass. Like most people, I think a fairly "meh" burrito is an easy choice over mouth-shredding animal feces. Inexplicably, I know far too many people whose reaction to this choice seems to be "WHAT??? I can't have lobster??? Well I hope all you fuckers like razor-sharp glass encrusted with turd nuggets, because you deserve it!" 

Some people can't help letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. 

I also think about my life as a trans woman. Do I sometimes think that my life might have been better if I had transitioned, say, back in high school rather than in my late 30s? Not really. All those experiences made me who I am today. But it would be really easy to let myself get eaten up by regret and "what ifs." It takes WORK to stay positive and focused on the present and the possible. It takes effort to not react to getting misgendered and disrespected by filling up a mental compartment of bitterness and recrimination. When you live in a society that treats you with mockery and hostility, you can get poisoned by it. 

What I'm going to say next will sound downright silly, crazy and frivolous to anyone who isn't a rabid 12... But rooting for this team has made me a better person- Specifically, seeing what this team has evolved into under Pete Carroll has made me think harder about how I want to approach my life. 

At the VMAC this week, they'll focus on what the team needs to correct- As they should. They'll do their best to fix the offensive line issues that have been exposed when that unit has gone up against fierce front fours like those from Miami, Los Angeles and Arizona. Stephen Hauschka will work his ass off to get his season back on track. Russell Wilson and Thomas Rawls will keep diligently rehabbing to get back to 100% and get back on the field, respectively. In Renton this week, they'll focus on the team's shortcomings to get ready for their upcoming trip to New Orleans and for the rest of this season. 

I don't want to dwell on any of that. I want to talk about two things: A defense that, without hyperbole, delivered one of the best performances of all time - And a collective refusal to relent, to give up as much as millimeter without a vicious fight, when the temptation to roll over and get 'em next time must have been irresistible.  

The next time someone misgenders me, I'm going to think about Kelcie McCray - He was on the field for 108(!) plays last night. Most importantly, in overtime, exhausted, lungs burning, he ran down J.J. Nelson and prevented him from scoring the game-winning TD for the Cardinals. He didn't give up, and neither should I. 

The next time I don't feel like hitting the gym, I'll think about what that defense did when they were on the field for 90 PLAYS and over 46 of the game's 75 minutes. They only allowed 4.9 yards per play. They only allowed 6 points. If they can do that, I can drive to Planet Fitness and pump my legs on the Hamster Wheel for an hour. 

When I don't feel like giving people rides to the polls between now and November 8th, I'm going to think about Bobby Wagner's 13 tackles and his blocked field goal. I'm going to think about Cliff Avril's 2.5 sacks and six hits on Carson Palmer, I'm going to think about that epic goal line stand in overtime, where Earl Thomas and then Bobby Wagner stopped David Johnson INCHES from the winning TD on successive plays before Bwagz spooked Catanzaro into clanging a 24-yard kick off the upright. The Seattle defense has shown us over and over again that every fucking inch of that turf is precious- And I'm going to do my best to make sure Ohio avoids the taint of Trump in the history books. 

The next time I don't feel like I have anything interesting to blog about, I'm going to think about how the Seahawks CONSTANTLY are showing us things that no one has ever seen before. The first tie in franchise history. 75 minutes of indomitable willpower. The 4th game out of six thus far this season where the outcome wasn't decided until the final moments. The Seattle Seahawks are boundlessly frustrating but also relentlessly compelling. 

Last night will be a game we remember forever. It somehow morphed from a shitshow into some weird master class on Seattle grit. Also, the tie perhaps mortally wounded Arizona's hopes of winning the NFC West. 4-1-1 > 3-3-1, obviously. Which is great, because fuck Bruce Arians. That mother fucker can bite shit and pound sand. He's approaching Jim Harbaugh levels of hate in my book with his fake-ass football hipster crap. 

When we look back in January 2017, that OT goal line stand could end up delivering the Hawks the division title, a first round bye, or even home field in the NFC playoffs. This might seem bizarre for me to say this after last night - but I'm more convinced than ever that these Seahawks are going to win the Super Bowl.

We won't have to wonder how to feel in Houston on February 5, Twelves. 

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October 2, 2016

Seahawks 27, Jets 17

Ryan Fitzpatrick was having nice afternoon. 

He was coming off a 6-interception disaster at Arrowhead, but through 3 quarters against one of the league's toughest defenses he not only had been effective, but he was doing something not even the most elite quarterbacks could do - He was picking on Richard Sherman. 

Fitzpatrick had challenged Sherman, and had completed four passes to Brandon Marshall, including a gorgeous touchdown strike late in the first half. Was Sherman just having a bad day? Was Brandon Marshall just playing out of his mind? Was Fitzpatrick having a career day? Was Sherm... GASP... Slipping?

Early in the 4th quarter, the Seahawks were holding onto a 17-10 lead, but it felt tenuous. It felt like the game was trending towards New York. In three-plus decades as a 12, I hadn't seen a road victory over the Jets since I was eight years old. I had seen crushing defeats in '85, in '87 (a humiliating loss on MNF), in '98 (I don't need to explain that one), in '99 (when a win would have clinched the AFC West - We had root for Oakland in order to back in... Barf) and in '04 (one of the low points in the most frustrating division-winning season anyone could imagine). 

The Jets had the ball near midfield. Marshall blatantly pushed off Sherman, but the pass interference flag flew against Seattle, not New York. It was just one of many questionable calls against the Seahawks by a shaky officiating crew. Even the FOX broadcast team was stunned. If at that point, the Hawks lost their grip on the game, it would have fit a painful but familiar narrative. Not a great road team. Hard for them to win those 10 am pacific east coast games. And so on. 

Maybe for a moment, after he was gifted an ill-gotten PI flag, Ryan Fitzpatrick thought that he could do no wrong. Maybe he thought that he could keep picking on Richard Sherman. 

But he forgot that he was just a guy. He forgot that the most notable Jets quarterback since Joe Namath has been Flash Gordon. He forgot that he was up against the best corner in the game. He once again threw it in Marshall's direction- Only to have it snared out of the New Jersey sky by Richard Sherman. 

In my Columbus apartment, I went WWE-interview-level apeshit - Pumping my first and shouting "Fuck yeah!" at least a dozen times. It was instantly one of my favorite moments in Sherman's Canton-bound career, and the Hawks immediately capitalized and took complete control of the game.

Why did they do that? Because OUR quarterback is ANYTHING but "just a guy." Russell Carrington Wilson is incessantly maligned. He is consistently underrated. Pundits and bobbleheads find nothing more enjoyable than informing the world that he is "good but not elite." The WolfBadger was playing with a high ankle sprain and a strained MCL. Those injuries would send most players to the inactive list, at least for a few weeks... But RW3 was playing. Surely though, he was in trouble. He wouldn't be able to run away from that fearsome New York pass rush. Good, but not elite. 

309 yards and three touchdowns later, the conventional wisdom was shredded. Yes, Wilson could slay you with his arm alone. Give him weapons like Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin and it didn't matter that he was short or anchored to the pocket. He would just bleed you all day long, because Angry Doug aint gonna drop the ball and Graham is like The Incredible Hulk with tackified gloves. We are witnessing something glorious - The Leveling Up of Russell Wilson. After a performance like the one he delivered at MetLife Stadium today, no fair-minded observer can deny that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the game. 

Of course he didn't do it alone - Graham had another 100-yard day, and Christine "The Awakening" Michael had 90 yards and a TD on 23 touches. The defense absolutely strangled New York in the second half - The Jets' only score after halftime was on a bizarre fumble recovery after a Seattle strip-sack. Sherman got a second interception later in the 4th quarter, and Earl Thomas got another pick of his own, too. 

The Seahawks go into their bye week tied for first in the NFC West with the surprising Los Angeles Rams (and with a 2-game lead over the Cardinals and Niners). They'll come back in two weeks spry, rested, and healthy - and ready to lay waste to the rest of the NFL. This is the best defense in football, and now they are starting to rack up the takeaways. A healthy Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham will terrorize opposing defenses, and Seattle will make a run at securing home field advantage in the NFC playoffs. 

Enjoy the bye week, 12s, Kick back and watch some Red Zone Channel next Sunday, root against the Rams, etc. When our boys come back on October 16, it'll be the start of a 4-month march to Houston. It will be wonderful, and violent, and glorious. 

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