This game, played on crappy field turf in another country, feels like the start of something. Something that feels very different from those years between 2007 and now. Something that might just be special. This game is the test that decides if the Hawks deserve to play in the biggest game of their season on the day before Christmas Eve.
The beginning of this transformation came a few weeks ago in Miami. Stay with me here. The whole premise of the Seahawks was to play nasty, shut down defense, ride Marshawn and don't let the offense get in the way of our D. We really liked our young QB (like more than friends kind of like) and we'd seen that he could put together a clutch drive when needed but mostly Russell's job was... Well to steal a line from Friday Night Lights, "You just need to exist in that 1 second between the snap and when you hand the ball to Boobie."
The Detroit game was an aberration, right? Over the course of a 16 game season, freak games occur. The offense out-performed the defense and they let one get away. If this team was going to make some noise on the back nine of this season our D would figure it out and we'd pound away on offense and mix in a few tricks.
The boys headed back to Seattle and got on track against Minnesota. The defense was in full force, even though Adrian Peterson is a freak. They only let the Vikes throw for 44 yards, impossible to win in today's NFL with passing like that. Then the Jets came in with their mess of a team and the Hawks relied on the same prescription once again and all was right. Here we come Miami!
The first half looked par for the course. The offense sputtered thanks to conservative play calling, poor execution and penalties while the defense looked impenetrable. Then the 2nd half came and Russell said, "I got this." The D responded by saying, "Ok then, well we're gonna take a little nap if that's cool." You know how the game turned out but it opened a door of possibility. A realization (Pete Carrol and staff included) that this team can win by playing pretty good defense and giving Russell the full reigns.
Then Chicago. This was the exact road game we've seen the Hawks lose a hundred times. Early on, every bounce went to Chicago, penalties extended drives for the Bears and lets just say the officiating was suspect at best. Mr. Wilson simply said no. For the first time all season it looked like Seattle came into a match up with the game plan, we are featuring Russell and he's going to win us this game. Which in turn, is exactly what he did. The defense played pretty well (minus a 56 yard completion allowed to Marshall with 19 seconds left which almost led to my TV having a remote permanently lodged in it) but the thought of this D looking like the Century Link D didn't enter our heads.
This game, against a down but still showing signs of life Buffalo team is the last chance for the Seahawks to prove they can win a game on the road that they should win. We saw a killer instinct against Arizona last week which needs to grow. When you're playing an inferior team, hold no punches and show them you're better than they are. This game could start to answer a question that should scare the hell out of the rest of the NFC; What happens if Seattle can play on the road the same way they play at home?
This team has changed. When the defense is at full strength, flying around, playing disciplined football, there's no doubt it's a top notch unit. But things happen over the course of 16 and I need to see what happens when the defense is hurting and could use some help. Can this team actually rely on the offense to carry their hopes of a division title when the secondary is looking as vulnerable as it has in 2 years? One way or another we're gonna have some questions answered come Sunday. And for the first time in a while, I feel like we'll have the right answers.