Here we are at the big game, 49ers and Seahawks on Thursday Night Football. I'm at field-level. I've got my uniform on and I'm ready to go. How did I get here? Oh well, I look over at my coach Pete and he says to me, "You've got this, Kenneth. We got this!"
He hands me something and hits me on the shoulder pads hard, "Now go win this!" I look down. He's handed me a honey-baked ham. Okay, whatever, "I got this" and I run out there to play. Now I'm in the Thunderdome? It's me and Jim Harbaugh, in the Thunderdome, each holding giants hams. Wait, this doesn't make any sense....
Harbaugh retired from ham-eating years ago.
Whatever, I guess he came out of retirement. The Wandering Albatross lets out its call, as is the traditional sounding horn of a ham-eating contest, and we begin to chow down. I take the early lead, swallowing large chunks of sweet, delicious, sugary ham. The grease on my face so thick that you could see my teeth through my cheeks, should I ever slow down to close my mouth.
However, these contests are long and arduous and leave each opponent with plenty of time to make up a deficit. After 20 minutes I look up and I see that Harbaugh the Horrible has caught up to me. Soon after he would take the lead and not relinquish it, my belly too full to take another chunk of the delicious swine. Though after that much time and ham volume, the swine does not taste quite as delicious. Each bite more bitter than the last.
Finally at the end of the match, he is left with none and I am left with some. The contest was closer than I had expected, closer than it might seem to the naked eye, but ultimately I had lost. There was only one thing left to do, and so I did it: I thrust my hambone deep into Harbaugh the Horrible's sternum. I admit, it seems a bit extreme, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time. The crowd doesn't seem to mind, as they were chanting my name after Harbaugh had fallen to the mat.
KEN-NETH! KEN-NETH! KEN-NETH! KEN-NETH!
I looked around at my crowd and thought, "Maybe I am the victor after all." They were all so elated, and I too was happy to have had that support and so I lifted my arms in victory as the cheers got louder.
KEN-NETH! KEN-NETH! KEN-NETH! KEN-NETH!
Kenneth! Kenneth! Kenneth! Kenneth! Wake-up, Kenneth!
I come to on the living room floor to see my roommate shaking me, calling out my name to see if he could get a response.
"What happened?" I asked.
"You fainted and hit your head on the coffee table after the Seahawks lost."
Oh damn it, that's right. The Seahawks lost. A bitter loss to the mortal enemy, to the team you just don't ever want to lose to. Losing to the Cardinals and Rams sucks, but a win over the 49ers could have erased all of that and we would have felt like this was the most successful seven-game start we could have hoped for. While 4-3 with that schedule isn't bad, 5-2 (1-2) would have felt a lot better.
I pick myself up off of the floor, my head pounding from the hit it had received that luckily was bruised but not bleeding, and I do the one thing left to do: Analyze this stupid game and try to find some positives. Certainly in a 13-6 road loss to one of the best teams in the NFL on a Thursday, you will be able to find some positives, though admittedly the negatives are the first thing your mind wanders to.
Sometimes I want to wallow with the fans, and I did do just that last night, but other times I feel like it's my duty to accentuate the silver lining. I'm an optimistic fellow (dating excluded) and I can see the light at the end of this tunnel. Looks pretty bright to me. Let's take a look at some of the good and some of the bad in the Hawks Thursday night loss.
I'm not a fan of the anti-Russell crowd
This isn't about bias, this isn't about "Trust in Pete," this isn't about Matt Flynn, this isn't about competition. This isn't even about dropped passes, not to begin with at least. This is about a half of football. You're probably thinking to yourself, "But it was the WORST half of football he's had as an NFL quarterback."
And my answer to you is, "No. I am talking about his BEST half of football as an NFL quarterback." Because that's why I saw in the first half. Oh, you forgot about the first half? I know that the NFL is a fickle game where "What have you done for me lately" reigns supreme, but did we already forget about the first half? Wilson torched a terrible Patriots defense in the fourth quarter of their Week 6 win. Facing the number one pass defense in the NFL in the first half, he played just about to perfection for most of it.
I'm not going to ignore a perfect pump fake and pass to Robert Turbin that could have resulted in a touchdown. I'm not going to ignore three critical drops from Golden Tate or that he put it in Braylon Edwards kitchen a time or two for no gain.
I can put this loss on Russell Wilson because Russell Wilson probably puts this loss on Russell Wilson. That's the type of accountability that he takes and that's the kind of accountability that I want my quarterback to take. What's the point of learning from failure if you're going to bench it? How is Wilson's loss going to be Matt Flynn's gain? There's no point in going through expected growing pains if you're going to just trash it, especially when this team has come through a gauntlet at 4-3. The schedule sets up a little bit easier starting right now, the anti-Russell crowd is short-sighted in my opinion.
The anti-Russell crowd would hurt the long-term benefit of this franchise. This organization has asked for patience in the last three years and I've given it to them. They've given me the best defense (yep, I still believe it) in the NFL. I am perfectly fine with waiting to see what this team's record is after ten games as they head into the Bye. I believe that Wilson still gives us the best shot at 7-3. If he learns from his success in the first and his failures in the second, if the receivers also hold themselves accountable, this offense will be just fine.
I'm not going to give up on that after Wilson faces a pass defense that hasn't given up over 200 yards since Week 2.
Wake up. This was Wilson's toughest test of the season, it most likely will be his toughest test when the season is over, and he got like a C-. I never got any C's.
Golden Tate accountability
The drops were terrible. They made me question how much Tate deserves to start and how many snaps he should be out there for. That's probably short-sighted. That's probably me overreacting to a few bad plays by a guy that's come up really big for this team at times. The drops were terrible...
But missing a block and not going over to help your teammate after he gets gangtackled from your missed blocked, especially in a game where you've already had critical drops, that left a much more sour taste in my mouth. If he holds himself accountable, I expect Golden to raise his head against Detroit and hopefully come out with a strong effort. Like how we felt about Giacomini, this isn't the end. We're just a little pissed at you right now because we felt not just that you messed up on the field but that you hurt your teams chances of winning a game because of your frustrations.
Tate is a talented player. I hope he gets after it hard over the rest of the season.
I give the run defense a slight pass on this one
All credit goes to the 49ers for winning this game fair and square, so I don't want to sound like I am making excuses, but I really don't know how I am supposed to feel about any Thursday night games. I don't know what we really learn from them and I think they all come with a grain of salt.
Here are the fun facts about the mid-week games:
Week 5 - Rams beat Cardinals
The only game that was as predictable as it looked was when the Giants beat up the Panthers in Week 3. So I am coming away from this game learning some things but at the same time realizing that Thursday games are messed up. They're off-kilter. The 49ers were the better team last night, but I think that the defense knows it can do better and I don't underestimate playing an emotional hard-fought battle against Tom Brady and the Patriots only four days before traveling to San Francisco.
If I go for a run it takes me a minimum of five days to recover. Imagine what these guys are going through with three fewer days to rest and prepare.
Frank Gore is really, really good. He's a player that fell to the third round of the draft coming out of Miami because he was always hurt. He got hurt more than a high school teenager that was listening to Adele on repeat after her latest breakup. He's potentially on the cusp of a Hall of Fame resume. Even though he's playing this year with a career-high in age (29) he's also got a career-high 5.8 yards per carry.
Gore is good. The coaches are good. The blocking is excellent. They know what they're doing. But I won't underestimate a three-day layoff. Neither should the 49ers, also one of the toughest run defenses in the league, that allowed Marshawn Lynch to do some damage too.
Lynch is just the best
Likely there will come a day when we have to start asking ourselves where Marshawn stacks up in the pantheon of Seahawks running backs. It's fair for a person to argue on talent that he's the best we've ever had, but talent doesn't get you into the Ring of Honor. We still have to see where he stacks up when his career is over.
For some reason, and I don't know why it didn't come until last night, but last night was the first time I started to ask myself "Where does he stand?" Because I'm almost certain that on his talent, he's better than Shaun Alexander. He just needs to do it throughout the remainder of his contract to make a career case out of it.
More on Wilson
I find myself needing to go back to this. Damn it.
It's funny that Alex Smith threw the same number of passes and he had five more completions, 18 more yards, a touchdown and a win. Seriously, take away the drops and what does Wilson have? More yards, at least a touchdown, and likely a win. Sure, there are alternate timelines, which throws results entirely out of whack, but use some perspective here.
He was so good in the first half. Then the offense clearly felt that their best chance to win was on the ground, pounding it out, using the clock and hopefully that would open up something downfield later on. The same setup they used against New England. It just didn't work out because the 49ers aren't the Patriots.
Wilson probably puts this loss on himself. I don't.
(Also, I realize that most of you are on my side. Why am I responding to bad comments? I don't know, I guess I like writing with some passion and that fuels the fires.)
That's all I've got for the moment on this game. I was really upset afterwards and I was unable to make a reaction video. I sort of felt like nobody wants to relive it in the moment anyway but I also wanted to hold myself accountable that you can't just make videos when you want to celebrate. It was just really hard to get anything out that I felt good about saying.
I'm really ready to move onto the Lions game. I have a feeling in my gut that this game could be heavy in our favor, because not only do we now have extra rest but that Lions are going to be coming off of a Monday Night game in Chicago. Yeah. And we are pissed.
Despite the 0-3 record in division, remember that it is only a tie-breaker. People seem to start thinking that the only record that matters is your division record. You can go 0-6 in the division and still win the division. It's not bloody likely, but your overall record is what matters. Seattle is 4-3 and I have a very good feeling that we'll have a 5-3 first half. Who would have been against that before the year?
Seems like a dream to me.
I hit "Publish" on my newly-written article and stepped away from the computer to get some coffee. Lumbering into the living room, feeling like I now must "start my day," I was still half-asleep even though I had already done some work. I'll be lucky if I can make a decent pot of coffee at this point, with sleep still in my eyes.
I run the water and snap the power button of the coffee machine to "On" and as it starts to make that garbling noise, I decide I'll get just 15 more minutes of shuteye before I really must begin this Friday. Walking back into my room, I start to notice the strong musk of cured meats in the air.
There's something in my bed....
Terrified, I know I must still take a look and either erase this fear or find out my fate. I rip off the sheets as quick as I can, to rip off the band-aid of suspense- A BLOODY HAMBONE!!!!