"Okay, they probably won't blow this."
I'm just glad I wasn't alone on this one. When Doug Baldwin caught the first of his two touchdowns to give the Seahawks a 35-6 lead over the 49ers with 3:22 left in the third quarter last Sunday night, I had exactly the same thought. Exactly.
The quote/thought comes from Matt Ufford of Fumblr (the self-titled ‘fake blogging platform that examines the NFL through invented memes') via SBNation, a post that featured on Field Gulls this week. Ufford's a self confessed Seahawks fan and some, or perhaps most, of you are familiar with his work, especially because of his allegiance to this team we're unable to get enough of. I am not (somewhat ashamedly), or at least wasn't until now.
Reading Ufford's defense of the antics of Pete Carroll (from where the quote/thought originates), I found myself wondering where his pessimism stems from. It's far from unnatural to feel this when following the Seahawks, but where was the specific point in time from which there was no return? You see, suffering this same level of pessimism, I'm able to pinpoint exactly when and why I managed to reach out and grasp the maddening mindset of "Okay, they probably won't blow this."
Ufford correctly claims that ‘three decades of Seahawks fandom has taught me that hope can only lead to disappointment.' I can't quite match three decades, but I'm not far behind as 2013 will be my twenty ninth year of fandom. The nadir? November 23, 2003.
November 23, 2003 was when Seattle waltzed into Baltimore in Week 12 with a 7-3 record and let leads of 27-10, 34-17 (both in the third quarter) and 41-24 (fourth) slip as Anthony Wright (ahem), in just his seventh NFL start, led the Ravens to a 44-41 win in OT; the Seahawks held that 41-24 lead with under seven minutes to play. Matt Hasselbeck threw 5 TDs that day (0 INTs), for what it's worth.
Since watching in horror at how events unfolded in those final minutes (I don't count overtime as we were never going to win in the extra period), no lead now feels safe, ever. Not until it's both mathematically and physically impossible for the opposing team to beat us. I truly hate this feeling, but have resigned myself to the fact that I'll never shake it.
OK, look, yes, that's not entirely true. The 2005 season saw the noggin free itself slightly from the shackles, but of course after events at Ford Field in February 2006, it had to be both mathematically and physically impossible for the opposing team and now the officials to beat us. Inconceivably insurmountable, but you can't suddenly pack it in after so much emotional investment.
Then came the 2012 season, or at least the latter half, the Dolphins aside. Boy, what would you do to see us fly down to Miami now?
I've watched the total destruction of the 49ers twice more over the course of this week. Not the condensed version that's available. Leave off. No, I've needed the full bodied, draw-it-out-as-long-as-you-can version. The reason being, apart from the obvious elation I derive, is that I watched the original live transmission under unique (for me) circumstances. I had company where I live and lots of it for a game of that magnitude.
Lots of it comprises just my girlfriend's parents, but they were sleeping in the lounge come kickoff, 1:20 a.m. GMT. My beloved 42 inch plasma was barred from beaming this to me, a ridiculous arrangement, but one I had no say in. I either missed the game (not gonna happen) or watched it on the iPad in bed with headphones so as not to wake my wife-to-be next to me. Never before have I had to curb my enthusiasm like then and I know for certain that I was the sole Seahawks fan the globe over who sat in silence as Richard Sherman returned David Akers' blocked field goal 90 yards to give us a three touchdown advantage. I'm surprised I didn't burst.
I can name on two hands my sporting life highlights and Sunday night is one of them. I could watch it again and again and again and never tire of it. It's a strange thing, and I wonder whether anybody else experiences the same feeling, but seeing the scoreboard live as the destruction of the apparent best team in the NFL (just a week prior) takes place, you can become blase to being so far ahead of a highly talented rival. It's only when seeing the final score the next day in black and white that you kinda "wow" to yourself at what you saw the day before.
No matter what happens against the Rams or during the playoffs, beating the 49ers 42-13 is special. Yes, yes, I know I'm preaching to the converted, but what's even more special is that we led 42-6 inside the final two minutes. Against the 49ers. Who won in New England seven days previously. In New England. In December. In December.
As magical as it's been watching the Seahawks over the last four games, purely from my pessimistic viewpoint, *I actually don't think we'll win the Super Bowl this season. I realise that may be anathema on these pages, but I'd like to think I'm owed that opinion. I hope I'm wrong, I really hope I'm wrong, but just to get to New Orleans will take something special. I appreciate that we already are something special, but I can't escape November 23, 2003. However, starting on a level footing with everybody else in 2013, there's little reason to think we can't achieve home field advantage by this weekend next year. Despite November 23, 2003.
*Should we win this week and San Fran and Green Bay lose, then OK, I'll believe we can win the Super Bowl.
Almost a thousand words in and I've not even touched on what this column aspires to be (apologies, Danny). It's because this week I've had my head turned towards playoff scenarios and Sherman's appeal and Kenneth Arthur's musings on Field Gulls. This Sunday is all about preserving the bubble of form in which we're currently ensconced, not letting anything regress, maintaining this relentless momentum before next weekend when we should be on the road in either Washington or Dallas.
It's probably time to look at the spread. It's obvious to see why St. Louis is available +11 this week, but what I doubt is widely known is the Rams' form on the road ATS. They're 6-1 away from the Edward Jones Dome and sit on the verge of the best record on the road ATS in the NFL. Cincinnati and Washington have finished 6-2 in that category so the least our visitors can do is end up tied for first. That alone makes them dangerous this week from a betting viewpoint, despite the fact that Seattle's 7-0 ATS at home and will be heavily backed with the expectation of another blowout.
I'm seriously not expecting the Seahawks to lose as they still have too much to play for while the Rams have very little to next to nothing, bar professional pride and the best divisional record in the NFC West. A majority of St. Louis fans may even willingly accept a defeat to push their initial first round pick next April to as close to 14 as possible, just like they'll be Dallas Cowboys fans come Sunday night.
Those of you wishing to back Seattle can find them -10.5 and considering they've outscored their last three opponents 150-30 (oh yeah, you already knew that), you've every reason to think you're buying money.
Something that does look guaranteed is Russell Wilson improving on his rushing total this season. He can expect plenty of pressure as the Rams boast an effective pass rush, tied as they are for third in the league in sacks with 46, so it figures he'll be pressured into using his feet, but this is hardly a weakness, nor is his ability to throw on the run so maybe you are buying money. This is without mentioning Marshawn Lynch, the best defense in franchise history, Sherman being available for this week and the playoffs (a very balanced Sherman as he'll have chips on both shoulders) and the 12th Man. Hell, you know what, you are buying money.
Despite November 23, 2003.
Please gamble responsibly.
In addition to contributing here, Rob runs his own blog, Rob's NFL Yard and contributes at The NFL Injury Report, so make sure you head over to those sites and check out more of his work. Follow @RobDaviesNFL on Twitter | Follow @FieldGulls on Twitter | Like Field Gulls on Facebook