I watched the game again this morning. Partly because I was slightly intoxicated by the fourth quarter, and partly because what-a-great-flippin-game to watch again. Before the game had started, my roommate, who is not much of an NFL fan but is getting on the bandwagon, said: "I hope we just run a damn clinic on 'em." After explaining how unlikely it was for Seattle to beat San Francisco in any semblance of the way they beat the Cardinals and Bills, we ran a damn clinic on 'em.
Explaining the 58-0 win over Arizona was nothing more than saying, "What a fun anomaly!" Teams, even the great ones, don't get many fluke games where absolutely everything goes right for them in sixty minutes. And then they beat the Bills 50-17, which just seemed to setup a crash back down so hard that Will Smith would have had to be there to say, "Welcome to Earth." Despite outscoring two teams by a combined score of 108-17, the Cards and Bills are not very good. The 49ers, by many estimations, were the best team in the NFL. My score prediction was something like 23-21 Seahawks, and the edge was based on CenturyLink.
Oh how I underestimated that edge.
In a vacuum, it seems as though Alex Smith might have been the better choice to start for the 49ers, and by that I also mean that Seattle's home stadium is a vacuum: It's gonna suck when you're in there. But at least Smith's experience could have come in handy, and Colin Kaepernick did not look prepared for a Sunday night, pre-Christmas eve, nationally-televised, playoff-implicated, division game in Seattle. The crowd was loud as hell and they're not going to take it anymore. It also doesn't help when you make mistakes based on crowd noise early, as Kaepernick had to use two timeouts and still had two delay of game penalties in the first half. You just set us off, you just affirmed that the noise is messing with you, crank it up to 12.
Perhaps that is why the 49ers started their first drive with three straight passes (0-for-3) in an effort to let Kaepernick feel like this was not going to be all that bad. "Complete that first deep bomb and the crowd will quiet down immediately." Except that the strategy may have backfired, forcing a punt that led to great field position and a touchdown two plays later. The crowd wasn't going to shutup after that.
For one night, Seattle announced itself to the NFL fans, a reminder of the kind of noise that can be generated under the right circumstances, and people are going to walk away with new impressions of players like Richard Sherman, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Doug Baldwin, Russell Wilson, and Red Bryant. In many of those instances, they aren't even new impressions as much as they are first impressions. Those players just made a great first impression. "Sorry America, are we still talking about the Packers game now?"
Without question, this would be the hardest place to play in the playoffs and it would be damn nice to do that. The possibility is there, but we should probably just plan for a game in Washington or Dallas. Okay, no problem, if the Seahawks keep playing like this then the last road game will be in New Orleans anyway.
My only hesitation in calling Seattle the best team in the NFL right now, is that the Denver Broncos have a great quarterback and a great defense and have won ten in a row. But did we ever think that I would be writing this season that the Seahawks might be the best team in the NFL?
All those hours spent after last season on being a team without a quarterback. And then debating Matt Flynn or Russell Wilson. Is Bruce Irvin really a good choice in the first round? Did Wilson actually just win this job? This team is still at least a year away after that loss to Arizona. This team can't win on the road and probably won't make the playoffs after a loss in Miami. That was almost exactly one damn month ago and now the Seahawks might just be the best team in the NFL, and that's all that matters. How do we stack up now, not how does our 2012 season stack up as a whole. Who gives a shit if we lost to the Cardinals and Lions and Rams? I mean, sure, I'd love to be leading the division right now, but it is also very important that Seattle is clearly playing like the best team in the division, in the NFC, and maybe in the NFL. Power Rankings might have the Hawks behind a team like the Atlanta Falcons, a solid team and a team that's 7-0 at home, but that's partly based on a 13-2 record. "Power Rankers" will have a hard time justifying 10-5 over 13-2, but this isn't the AP Poll. This isn't the BCS. You're supposed to be telling me who is the best team right now, not who was better in Week 1. Which is why you shouldn't read Power Rankings (my friend asked me where we were in the ESPN ranking and I begrudgingly obliged, and oh how angry it made me to be reminded of how stupid they are) but also that at the end of the day the only thing that matters is the Super Bowl, and the Seahawks have one of the best shots in the NFL of winning it all because they are playing that damn good right now.
It's gotten to the point where even Thomas Beekers has nice things to say. I can only imagine that makes Seattle the best team in history.
Funny you should say that, Ken! Football Outsiders has Seattle at number one in DVOA and Weighted DVOA now, the fifth best Overall DVOA through 15 games since 1991, and the second best Weighted DVOA through 15 games since 1991!
"Holy shit, are you serious Kenneth?!"
Yeah man, I really mean it. Also, keep your chin up, your personal life will also improve, I'm sure of it. Lookin' good.
"Thanks. Merry Christmas."
Merry Christmas to you too, Ken. Come out to the coast, we'll get together, have a few laughs.
"Is that from Die Hard?"
Ya got me!
But seriously, Seattle is playing like one of the best teams of the last 20 years. One of the best! Way better than almost any team that has won a Super Bowl since 1991. Yet, what really matters, the only thing that matters, is winning that Super Bowl. The Seahawks still have a long road ahead of them, questions to be answered like playoff seeding and positioning, Sherman's appeal, and unknown quantities such as potential injuries, just like the 49ers are finding out. We have one regular season game left and at least one playoff game left. Santy Claws has given us an early Christmas present, but I hope he comes back next month and into February. We'll leave the milk and cookies out. It'll probably go really bad though. The milk that is.
Here are a few more notes to brighten your day. I know how much the holidays suck. None of us have families, right?
Kissing under the Russelltoe
If you don't come away from that game impressed with Russell Wilson, America, then you are clearly never going to be impressed with anything. You're that really annoying guy or girl that isn't actually listening to a word I'm saying, you're just outlining your response to my story in your head, prepping for a one-upper. Stop being a one-upper, our quarterback is damn good. Go Hawks.
It defies reasoning, but Wilson is playing with the elite right now. Over his last 10 games, he has 20 TD passes, 4 interceptions and three rushing touchdowns. A friend texted me during the game that "His elusiveness is reminiscent of my ex-girlfriend's whenever I brought up sex." I replied that "Yeah, unlike the people tied up in my basement, he is good at escaping."
Wilson does run out of the pocket at times, the very thing we were ready to scold him for preseason. However, when he escapes the pocket, he is an excellent scrambler and decision-maker. He is hard to get a hold of and when he does not see an open man, he throws it away or he gets as many yards as he can. There's a trigger in Wilson's brain that is not in the brains of say, Philip Rivers or Mark Sanchez. (I guess you might just call it the on-switch for the entire brain, but I digress.) Wilson's interceptions, at this point, have been more like "Chalk it up to the game" than bad throws or bad decisions. His tipped pass to Robert Turbin was a little high, but absolutely should have been caught.
A few weeks ago we bandied about Peyton Manning's touchdown record as a possibility, but realized that playing some tough defenses like Chicago and San Francisco could put a halt to that "nonsense." Except that he threw for six touchdowns in those two games and it seems like a certainty that he will get the two he needs to become the most prolific touchdown-throwing rookie in NFL history. Russell fuckin' Wilson. How about that? Wilson, who had 5 touchdowns in his first five games, is on the cusp. I'd bet money that Pete Carroll is not unaware of this and that he will be throwing in the red zone before he will be running it, at least until Wilson gets there.
Wilson's true bug-a-boo this year was poor play against the NFC West. Now his hallmark will be phenomenal play against the NFC West to end the year, as long as this trend continues against the Rams in Week 17. Let's hope that it does.
Hyperbole, hyperbole, hyperbole. Go Hawks.
Are you coming home after the holidays?
Seattle might not play in Seattle for the playoffs, and that is a damn shame. (Hey, we made the playoffs!!) If you cared not to read that article from Football Outsiders before, let me take away a few more bits of info:
- Seattle, by DVOA, is the #2 offense and #1 defense in the NFL at home. They are 10th in those categories on the road. Ten isn't bad, but it's not 1 and 2. I mean, literally, those are clearly different numbers. But 10 has a 1 in it, so there.
- The Seahawks also have the best homefield advantage in the NFL by many standards over the last ten years:
"You may remember an article that Bill Barnwell wrote in Football Outsiders Almanac 2011 which looked at point differential at home compared to on the road between 2002 and 2010. Seattle outscored its opponents by an average of 11.7 more points at home during those years. The other three NFC West teams were between 9.3 and 9.5, and the only other team above 8.5 was Baltimore at 9.2."
The Hawks are not likely to get a home game, but it's far from impossible. They should beat the Rams at home because of all of the things I just said. That would put them at 11-5. The 49ers only have to play the Cardinals, but there is hope. Justin Smith is going to be out. Mario Manningham is lost. Vernon Davis may very well be out. Kaepernick, and the rest of the team, have to bounce back from Week 16. The Cards still have one of the top pass defenses in the NFL. Arizona has nothing to play for but also nothing to lose, and they've pulled off weird Week 17 wins before. You should pick the 49ers to win, but it's possible they won't. Of course, it's possible.
Then, the Packers have to travel to Minnesota. The Vikings have won three straight games. If they win, they're going to the playoffs. When they last met, Minnesota held a 14-10 halftime lead and Adrian Peterson ran for 210 yards. If the Packers lose, they will be 11-5 and lose the tiebreaker to Seattle, if it so happens that the Seahawks win and the 49ers lose.
Seattle might not only win the division, they might get a first round bye. Now, the usefulness of a bye is up for debate, but the 2 seed and two possible home games is undeniably favorable. It probably won't happen, much like the Hawks probably were not going to the playoffs after the loss to Miami. If Probablies and Possibilities are like candies and nuts, then every day would be Ernte Dank Fest.
Sometimes you just know things are going to go your way.
And O Holy Rice, fall on your knees and hear the Angel voices:
There were some phenomenal catches by Seahawks in this game. Don't forget that the Sidney Rice catch on the sideline wasn't just a heady play by Sidney (getting a knee down and tell me that Rice isn't tough because watching a player come down on his knee makes me cringe) but Wilson had a free defender running at him and seemed to freelob it out of bounds but nope. Catch by Rice.
All of the touchdowns were rather impressive as well. Which brings me to...
Positive affirmation - something something Christmas
I don't have headlines for all of 'em.
One thing that I remember about 2005 that I have never really been able to quantify, because you can't, is that I always felt like things were going to turn out in our favor. During that long winning streak, every time Matt Hasselbeck threw a pass I felt like it would be caught. Every time Shaun Alexander took a handoff, I felt like he was going to the house. It obviously did not always turn out that way, but it felt like it did. For the second time in my Seahawks fandom, it feels that way again.
On the field goal block, my friend had said: "How about we block this kick?" And sure enough, Big Red got it and not only that, Sherman finished it off. I noted a couple weeks ago that if Bryant just blocks one kick in a big game, he can't possibly be overpaid or without value this season. Instead of 14-3, it was 21-0, thanks in large part to large Red. A ten-point swing!
But things are happening as you want them to happen. Our wishes just keep coming true, and how odd that feeling is. Imagine if every time you wanted a raise, you got one. Every time you went on a date, you found the love of your life, and also became a polygamist obviously. Every time you read an article from me, you liked it. Those things are highly unlikely, you'll be disappointed a lot in life, but the Seahawks haven't played frustrating football in any of their last 13 quarters plus overtime in Chicago. Since the end of the Bears game, this team has been perfect. Everything is going as you want it to go.
I don't know that the Seahawks will make the Super Bowl again, but I am starting to feel that way.
- Richard Sherman is now tied for the league-lead in pass deflections with 23. He tweeted that it was a pre-season goal for him and there he is now. Imagine how nice it would be if we all reached our high-bar goals. I wouldn't be so fat. Sherman also has three forced fumbles and seven interceptions. J.J. Watt is the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, he should have your vote, but Sherman is in the top three for me. If my positive affirmations are correct, he will also win his appeal this week. Stay positive!
- We have won the last three games 150-30 without Brandon Browner.
- Aldon Smith did not get a sack.
- Bobby Wagner has 129 tackles, 3 interceptions, 2 sacks, and a partridge in a pear tree.
- The Seahawks are one week away from having the top-ranked scoring defense for the first time in franchise history. They have allowed 21 fewer points than the Bears, and 28 fewer than the 49ers. Seattle is 4th in total defense, which would be their best mark in franchise history. They are +160 points, 2nd in the NFL, which would tie as their best ranking in franchise history with the 2005ers. That team outscored opponents by 181 points. The Hawks were +40 before the Cardinals game...
- Jon Ryan punted once, during the first drive of the second half. I hope Jon Ryan doesn't retire from boredom.
- That was Doug Baldwin's first 2 touchdown game.
- The Seahawks have an unlikely shot at leading the NFC in scoring, 31 points behind the Saints right now. That's not going to happen, but it's Week 17 and Seattle has a shot at it. Seattle. The Seattle Seahawks. The 2012 Seattle Seahawks. Scoring. Offense. We all died in the ahawkalypse.
- I'm using that word now for stuff. Hashtag ahawkalypse.
- Kam Chancellor hits hard. The rules should just say, "You can't hit the shit out of people anymore" because Chancellor delivered what I figured would be a textbook legal way to knock the dick out of a person. If you can't hit people with your shoulder into the chest in an effort to pop the ball out, I don't know what you can do. The THTFL would not be fun to watch.
- (Two Hand Touch Football League)
- 6-year-old kids think that Russell Wilson is "ohhh so cooool!" Fact.
It's funny how when I tell you it's a six-year-old, that sentence doesn't read as sarcasm. At least that's not how I meant it. If I wrote that and said it was an adult, you would think it was sarcasm. Nope, unabashed youth.
- I'm so done with this article. Stop, Kenny, that's enough.
- Richard Sherman is just trolling Jim Harbaugh and the league at this point. He wants you to know that he's here but he also wants you to disrespect him. Sherman is the voice of a team that feels that exact sentiment. You overlooked Wilson. You traded Marshawn Lynch for very little. You didn't draft Doug Baldwin. You made Browner go to the CFL. You let Chancellor and Sherman fall to the fifth round. You said Golden Tate was a bust. You aren't going to put Wright or Wagner into the Pro Bowl. (I don't know that they deserve it, but I know that they are under better consideration than the nation would have ever thought because they don't know who those guys were. At least they didn't until last night.)
This team has a problem. That problem is that you underestimate them. You disrespect them. That's okay to do to a team that isn't that talented but the Seahawks are actually really talented and they have a chip on their shoulder. That chip has come in the form of three ungodly wins in a row, unlike any stretch of runs we've seen in our lifetime.
We're here. We're going to the playoffs. Nobody in the NFC likes that news. Now, how does the team act with a target on their back and the nation watching? We'll find out.
PS - Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays, Field Gulls! As always, I love ya. Thanks for helping make this such a great year for me and everyone else in the community. It's nice when the team is good and even better when they're great. I will be far away from home for Christmas, which is normal for me, but I've got the FG family here always. Thanks. I hope you have a great day off. (If you don't have a day off, that sucks. Sorry about that. Did you know that the Seahawks made the playoffs?)