Man, I have no words. I do not even know if I enjoyed this win, not during the win at least. I enjoyed portions of the game. I enjoyed the outcome. I still can not exactly piece together how it happened.
Maybe that's just how it feels when special teams and turnovers win the game.
There wasn't a defining drive, or a big catch, except maybe Earl Thomas's last second interception. Justin Forsett fit a couple nice runs, between battling blockers in the backfield, and Matt Hasselbeck found open receivers, but the Seahawks best pass play ended in an excruciating fumble by Deion Branch. That fumble, much of the game felt like that fumble. Except, in the metaphorical version, Branch tracks down the ball and falls on it for the touchdown.
I'm all spun around and worked over and not yet happy even though I know the Seahawks have won, should win next week, should command the division with a 3-1 record entering the bye, should take the NFC West, should host a playoff game-
Let me regroup.
For three years, Seattle settled for special teams coach Bruce Dehaven. Dehaven continued unchallenged because of a solid reputation, despite mostly poor results. Coverage teams played poorly. The Seahawks were unprepared for trick plays. The kick and punt return units were more or less ignored, with lots of good enough players allowed to stick around, while free alternatives were never pursued.
In a lowkey move this off-season, Pete Carroll hired Brian Schneider. Schneider's only been around a little while, helped "coach" Shane Lechler to a pair of Pro Bowl bids, which is impossible to interpret from the outside. Is Lechler gifted with a golden leg? Is Lechler gifted with a terrible offense giving him space to boom punts as long as possible? Is the Pro Bowl a worthy distinction fraught with head-scratching errors?
No, Schneider didn't have much of a reputation.
What he has is the Seahawks special teams playing like God-damned men possessed. Attacking, fiery, flying around and shedding blocks and controlling lanes and making blocks and, today, winning the game.
Leon Washington is a quality return man, great even, but he doesn't block for himself. Dude had blocks. His presence, alone, is a victory for Schneider and John Schneider. It's about doing every little thing possible to win, and if anything at all today was half-assed, taken for granted or ignored, the Seahawks don' win.
This was winning the hard scrabble way. The effort above talent way. The way a team that's been down and out for a damn long time wins. It counts as shiny and pristine and virginal and awesome in a biblical sense as any other.
Clemons will always be hot and cold, and he seemed torrid in the first half and a lot colder down the stretch. And, yes, he was facing a backup. But ends are opportunistic creatures by nature, prone to big showings and disappearances. When you have a good matchup, and you have the talent at end to take advantage of that matchup, if only for a few snaps here and there, that's how you win a game. Clemons showed up not just as a pass rusher but with a couple stops in the run game. Maybe we don't get this level of play every week, but as long as Clemons can cash in when the matchup's favorable, that'll do. That's more than enough from a throw in.
Rapacious. You know this one. Thomas has insane ball skills. Just insane. No need to pile words on top of it. Thomas can spot a ball in flight and coordinate his break angle and hand placement better than you or I can tie our shoes.
I also thought David Hawthorne had a very nice game, forcing a fumble, tipping a Thomas interception, and executing an inside blitz that reminds us that he's a former Horned Frog.
This was discord ending in harmony, as nerve-wracking as it was exciting, and I am still far from recovered, but a win. The Seahawks won. The Seahawks won.