"Even the smallest person can change the course of the future."
On Sunday, the Seahawks went into the foreign land known as "Canada", which is also known as Three-Quarters-Earth, and defeated the half-man, half-Buffalo Bills with great ease by a score of 50-17. I haven't seen that kind of domination since Samwise Gamgee got into BDSM. No, in actuality I have not seen that kind of beat down since a week ago when the Seahawks beat the Cards 58-0. It's funny how perspective will sort of make you ho-hum about a great victory. A victory that we just do not see that often for the Hawks, even though now it's starting to feel like just another day at the office.
"BFD, we beat the Bills 50-17!" Well, it is a BFD. It's a very BFD.
Let's not overlook how important and rare it is to score 50 points, let alone to do it in consecutive games. Seattle is only the third team in NFL history to accomplish that feat and the first to do it since 1950. The first thing I did this morning was look back at the Hawks 50+ point efforts in history. The first time it happened, I had to double-check I wasn't looking at yesterday's score:
SEA 56, BUF 17 - October 30, 1977
SEA 51, KC 48 (OT) - November 27, 1983
SEA 58, AZ 0 - Recently
SEA 50, BUF 17 - Yesterday, y'all
And that is it. Half of the 50-point games in franchise history have happened in the last eight days. The last time it happened before that, it took overtime. Two-thirds of the regular-season Bi-Centennials happened against the Buffalo Bills! The Seahawks scored 50 points in the 90's fewer times than Reality Bites was released into theaters, which I'm assuming was once and also very time-relevant.
Seattle is on a run of outscoring their opponents 108-17 in the last two weeks and 121-20 if you want to cheat and grab the final regulation drive against the Bears when all of a sudden Russell "Frodo" Wilson stormed to Mount Doom on the road. 108 points in two games? The 1992 Seattle Seahawks scored 140 points.... during the whole season. (To be fair, Gelbaugh/Stouffer/McGwire make Kolb/Skelton/Lindley look like Tony/Toni/Toné (highly-successful) but this is still something that Seahawks fans had to live through. Not anymore. One Russ to rule them all.)
"I'm just thrilled that he's been able to continue to grow," Carroll said.
Wilson dropped in the draft because of his height, and now he's listed as 6'5". In much the same way that Frodo won Middle Earth Rookie of the Year, an upset for any hobbit, Wilson is outplaying his height and chalking up records along the way. Like rushing for three touchdowns in a half, and all of them coming from outside of ten yards. I don't know how significant it really is to count up QB rushing touchdowns, but I can tell you that not many quarterbacks are all that agile enough to run for scores of 14, 25, and 13 yards in a half. I do know that it's a threat Wilson has that no other Seahawks quarterback has quite had, after he became the franchise record-holder for rushing yards by a QB in a season, and the first to score thrice in a single game.
Or that while he was doing that, he also threw for 205 yards on 23 passes, the fourth time in five games that Wilson has averaged at least 8 yards per attempt. (Didn't want to cheat, but Wilson had 7.92 Y/A against the Bears.) Though it seems unlikely that Wilson will accumulate the five touchdown passes necessary to tie Peyton Manning's rookie record, has anything that has happened lately been likely? And does it matter? No, of course not. What matters is that right now Seattle is scoring like Pauly Shore at MTV Spring Break circa 1995 and that the quarterback, for one of the few times in franchise history, is the dude leading the way.
And that the defense is catching all the breaks right now as the playoffs approach. Seattle's turnover ratio over their last six games is 17:4. On top of that, while sometimes it feels like the points are a product of defensive scores and short fields, the Hawks have still rolled up 472.66 yards of total offense per game over the last three. Their season-high before the Bears game was 385 against the Minnesota Vikings. Though it was only a couple of months ago, I can't remember what it felt like to be disappointed and frustrated with this offense. It's basically the exact same players and yet, the Seahawks did a few things the past two weeks that the St. Louis Rams of 1999 never did. That the Patriots never did. That the Saints never did. That Peyton Manning never did.
Pound-for-pound, this is not the best offense in the NFL, but it is a long, arduous, man-friend-filled, dudesweat-heavy, unexpected journey from the offense that scored over 16 points only once in their first five games. And pound-for-pound, Wilson is basically light as a feather... and I'm stiff as a board.
Here are a few more notes about the game, the Seahawks, and where this journey is headed:
49ers say "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!"
I admit that prior to Sunday night football I had pre-written in my head an opening fragment of today's article with a story about how I could not find my pants and then realized that they had exploded into a million tiny little pieces after the Patriots had beat the 49ers and setup the biggest game in recent memory. I know that a lot of people had the wind taken out of their sails a little bit after New England went down 31-3 and then blew it on special teams and defense after shockingly tying the game with plenty of time left in the fourth quarter.
We desperately wanted next Sunday night to be a game for the division lead. We didn't get it. However, that does not mean that this is not one of the most important games, if not the most important, of Pete Carroll's Seattle career. There is plenty on the line folks:
- A win guarantees a playoff spot. A loss sets up a potential critical game against the St. Louis Rams, and funk that. I do not want to go into Week 17 with any doubt.
- A win keeps the division hopes alive. You might not think that the Cardinals have any chance of beating the 49ers, but I never buy that argument fully. Yes, Arizona is one of the worst teams in the NFL, but I don't completely discount circumstance like some other more hard-coded analytical minds. If the 49ers lose in Week 16, how will that effect them going into Week 17 and knowing that they need a win? What does Arizona have to lose at this point? Divisional games never make any sense. The Cards just dropped 38 on the Lions. Magnets, how do they work?
I wouldn't lay on Arizona to even cover the spread in that game, which will likely be very large, but I would not say that the outcome is a foregone conclusion either. Like Ellie Goulding, anything could happen.
- Arguably these are the two best teams in the NFL. If the Seahawks beat the 49ers, the argument could be over for a week at least. Pete Carroll has not beaten Jim Harbaugh and has not beaten the 49ers since his first ever game in Seattle. Drop that monkey.
- While Carroll has sealed his first winning season with the franchise, we have not won 10 games since 2007. In fact, there are only five 10-win seasons in franchise history. Winning on Sunday in front of a national audience that just saw San Francisco beat the Patriots with relative ease, two teams that they highly respect, would be fun and neat and cool.
- It's the 49ers and Seahawks on Sunday night football. I don't really have to convince anyone how major that is, right?
No, we are not playing for the division lead, but we are playing for a lot. Nobody should be wearing pants.
Rice: You have my hands. Lynch: And my legs. Okung: And my thick-ass trunk.
Wilson can not do it on his own, this offense is a fellowship, and that ship was one fine fellow on Sunday. Seattle went on ten journeys, or "drives" against the Bills and a phenomenal eight of those ended in points. The Seahawks scored on each of their first five drives, four touchdowns, each drive going at least 58 yards. Then they ran a rather uninspiring final first half drive that netted 0 yards and took off only :29 seconds, leading to a Bills field goal.
In the second half, they gained "only" 15 yards on their first two drives, but that resulted in ten points because turnovers started those drives in the Buffalo red zone. They capped that off with an 88-yard drive that took off nine minutes and seventeen seconds, though this was also the drive that caught some hell for a fake punt.
"Running up the score" implies that you are trying to add as many points as possible as a slap in the face to the opposing team. That is not what Carroll was trying to do, I don't believe. I think that it was all about a moment where they could try out a fake punt in the playbook and keep his defense off of the field. Let's not forget that the Bills actually won the time of possession. However, Carroll commented that he regretted the decision in the post-game conference. He doesn't have to regret it for my sake. Honey Badger Pete Carroll don't give a shit.
Short-Handed at the Shire
Let's not forget that Seattle started the 172nd pick of the 2012 draft at cornerback on the road and won 50-17. Jeremy Lane was not exactly forced into covering Julio Jones, but winning is winning and Stevie Johnson got at least some of his yards on perhaps the best catch of the year.
Stevie, how did they do in coverage?
Q: What were the issues offensively?
A: I don’t know, I’ve got to just say maybe pressure. I feel like they play a lot of man, and we had opportunities to make plays, but when it was there, we made some of them but it just wasn’t enough with how they were putting up points.
Of course, Johnson had 8 catches for 115 yards, Scott Chandler had 5 for 58. Buffalo doesn't have many other healthy weapons right now. But you replaced a 2011 Pro Bowl corner with a rookie that has seen almost no action on defense and did not break down.
What helps is having a rookie middle linebacker that grabs 12 tackles. An elite cover corner. An elite safety that had a career-highlight unlike any other. A defensive end that has 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble, now at a career-high 11.5 sacks on the season. (I appreciate Chris Clemons so much more after seeing the quick rise and fall of Jason Babin.) A second-year outside linebacker that snapped up his first career interception.
This team will not fail because of the loss of one player, because they have great players all over the defense. Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Chris Clemons, K.J. Wright, Brandon Mebane, and Kam Chancellor would make up a great defense on their own. The fact that I did not even mention Bruce Irvin, Jason Jones, or Alan Branch says it all. I really hope that Sherman does not get suspended this year, but this team won't be unprepared if it happens.
The Shire is loaded.
Hobbits Thrive on the Road
Concern after the loss to the Miami Dolphins and dropping to 6-5 was that Seattle still had two more road games left. For many fans that was a near-guarantee of no better than 9-7 to end the year. It is factually incorrect to say that the Seahawks could not win on the road, because they did before and they could again, but it was warranted that struggles away from home were real. Those concerns are less scary now. I would not say that we should feel as comfortable on the road as Samwise is when he's taking a nap on Frodo's chest, listening to him breathe all night long just to make sure that he is still alive... but more comfortable after winning in Chicago and Toronto.
People will call it "not a real road game" and it is true that the crowd was described as "mostly Seahawks-friendly" by the second half, but there are at least two things you need to consider when traveling: Playing in a hostile environment is one, but the actual travel is two. If it's going to be ignored now, after traveling to the east coast, then why are we always bitching about traveling the most miles every season? You can't bitch about it and then call it "no big deal" just because it was not a hostile environment.
The Seahawks got on a plane, they put on their Beats by Dre headphones and listened to Sade, made a drink order, slipped a flight attendant their number, lost their luggage, got to the hotel, ordered more room service than they could eat, made a heartbreaking speech and said "My family likes me" to Steve Martin, got a call from that flight attendant, exchanged American money for Canadian money, exclaimed "Bullshit!" when finding out how much the price of the dollar has fallen, and then beat the Bills 50-17.
You won't take that joy away from me. We bitched about playing on the road, and now we've seen the Seahawks put up 925 yards of offense in Chicago and Toronto, coming away with wins in both. If Seattle makes the playoffs and has to go on the road throughout, I'm not nearly as concerned as most people. They have proven that at the very best they will crush you and at the very worst, keep it close until the very end.
So don't "trip!"
The 30-Minute Denouement
For those that do not know, a "denouement" is: The final outcome of the main dramatic complication in a literary work. Think of it as the moment when Riggs and Murtaugh are discussing how old they are for this shit after killing the bad guy. Those last couple minutes of a movie.
Or in the case of Return of the King, the last hour or so.
(True Story: I might not have ever laughed as hard in a movie theater as I did while watching that movie and being flabbergasted at how many times the film kept going just as I thought it was about to end. Like, ten times funnier than How To Be A Player.)
This is my denouement and I will keep it short and sweet. You've been through enough already.
No matter what happens in the next two games and beyond, the Seahawks have had a ridiculously successful season. Not many people expected us to be here right now. Even as optimistic as I am, believing that we would be in the wild card hunt with at least 9 wins, I did not expect them to be this good this soon. Be proud of the team, no matter how it ends.
Seattle has scored their most points (350) since 2005. They could have their fifth 400-point season in franchise history. This comes in the same year that Seattle has allowed the second fewest points in the NFL (219) which is one point more than the 49ers have allowed. The Seahawks fewest points allowed in a season (besides the strike-shortened 1982) is 261 in 1991. The point differential of +131 is the third best in franchise history right now, behind the +181 of 2005 and the +136 of 1984. The best that the Hawks have ever finished in scoring defense is 5th, and they're 2nd right now. The best they've ever finished in total defense is 6th, and right now they're 3rd. Their highest "Simple Rating Score" per Pro Football Ref is 9.1, which was in 2005. This year they are at 10.9.
Saying "this team was better than that team" in different eras is really, not very worthwhile, but we're seeing one of the best iterations of the Seattle Seahawks in franchise history right now. This season. Today. I would have never guessed that would be the case right now, but here we are.
Whether we get the ring that rules them all or not, I rather like this unexpected journey.