This about sums it up:
Lots of uncomfortable shifty eyes going on in here.— Hey guys it's Jimmy (@BestGuyAround) October 6, 2013
*uncomfortable shifty eyes*— Hey guys it's Jimmy (@BestGuyAround) October 6, 2013
Traveling to a Seahawks road game is worse than gambling. My wager comes in the form of airfare, a night at the Omni hotel, a $362 ticket, and a few actually-kind-of-okay meals. The best possible return that can come of this wager is leaving Indianapolis with a win. Winning the bet just means that I was sort of right about my favorite team probably being better than this other team, thanks for your money Jimmy. Losing the bet means that I was still probably right about my team being better but I don't get to feel good about it, thanks for your money Jimmy. Fun!
I made the decision to fly out to Indy a day early after getting a bit spooked by the weather report. Leaving NYC at 9am for a 1pm start doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room, so I booked myself a hotel room and got my #BusinessTrip started on Saturday afternoon instead. I checked in and decided to go for a quick wander around downtown Indy. I'll say this: I understand why it seems like 5 Super Bowls have been played here in the last 6 years. There are lots of nice hotels, the stadium is unbelievably convenient to walk to from downtown, and there's juuust enough local flavor to set it apart from the likes of Charlotte and Tampa and Jacksonville. It doesn't have culture, exactly, but it does have something resembling culture that journalists and tourists can feel good about. Also, there is nothing else going on here. You can throw a party at Lucas Oil and trust that it will be the talk of the town.
I managed to run into a little row of food trucks and grabbed some pretty great tacos. I forget the name of the truck. Should have taken a picture. My brief tour of
Pawnee Indianapolis over with, I walked back to my hotel with tacos in tow and settled in to my room just in time to watch the UW-Stanford game. That sucked, and I was up until like 3am watching it. Fun!
*OUR HERO SLEEPS*
Rise and shine, gameday. Wake up feeling like cr*p. I scoot down to the Starbucks in the lobby of the Omni and grab a sausage and egg thing and a huge americano to try and jumpstart my mood and energy. Sorta works. I wander around downtown again, draped in college blue and action green, trying to find any kind of Seahawks pregame scene. I spot a tailgate near the stadium and wave, get a volley of "Go hawks" in return. Not "Go Hawks!" but "Go hawks", like how Russell Wilson says it. So good. Other than that, it's all Manning/Luck jerseys all day so I just go and get in line for the stadium.
I get to my seat around noon Eastern time and settle in to watch warmups. The wide receivers are, honestly, kind of dicking around and throwing passes to each other. I liked it because I wanted us to play loose and easy on this day. Richard Sherman went through his pick-six visualization routine. He mirrors an invisible receiver, explodes out of the break to jump the route, hauls in a pass from one of the coaches and sprints full speed 70 yards through the back of the endzone. He does this 6-7 times, every time I've seen him warming up. The Colts fans next to me mention that Wilson was putting on a clinic earlier, "the kid looks really really sharp". Super nice people. I dig into Twitter while waiting for the game to start, and the next thing I know it's starting lineups and kickoff and The Thing I Am Here To Do has begun.
Okay, now this is the part where I totally abandon the above style of writing in favor of quick hits that are in somewhat chronological order but might not be. Weaving observations from the game into cohesive paragraphs is a skill that eludes me for the time being. Trust me, I'm doing this for your benefit more than anything.
- Hawks defer and star the game on defense and I am instantly sure we're going to win our 10th consecutive regular season game.
- So fun to see Irvin get involved in run support right away, wrestling Richardson to the ground like he's the only grown man on the football field
- I don't think we were doing anything special on these early drives, though. Luck was just missing. In his defense, it was 10am Pacific time. Wait.
- 3-and-out sucks the oxygen out of the building and a lackluster punt has the crowd groaning even more.
- Marshawn Lynch is playing the best ball of his life right now. His blocking is still in feast-or-famine mode but he finally looks just as comfortable at the second level as he does getting through the first. He sails through the hole on first down and runs to space rather than men, and it's gorgeous.
- Wilson misses Baldwin BADLY on 1st down. The pass sails over his head and the Seahawks are fortunate that the Colts' safety was playing too deep to make a play on it.
- Sweezy whiffs badly and Lynch gets blown up out of a read-option look for a big loss
- Lynch gets great blocking on 3rd down and gets the yardage back, leaving a manageable field goal try for Hauschka. First blood yadda yadda yadda
- Colts go 3 and out again. Richardson goes nowhere, Luck one-hops a pass in the direction of the Colts' bunch formation look on second down (Clemons had a nice hurry on this one), Luck sails one incomplete on third down. This is awesome, right? LOB! Pass rush! Creative blitzing! Damn it.
- Tate has a nice punt return, then Lynch takes the ball a full fifth of the field again on 1st down. HOW DID WE LOSE THIS GAME?
- Wilson has a few decisive scrambles out of shotgun looks that almost appear to be dialed up. Tackles overpursue and Wilson sneaks up the pocket and out to the side. Then he finds Tate, who beats Toler and then drags him into the endzone, as if Toler were nothing more than a troublesome scarf.
- Yeah, Indy fans are nervous as hell at this point. Overheard the guy in front of me say something like "okay, well at least this is happening against the best team in football." DAMN IT
- Luck finds a few quick hits for short gains, then Reggie Wayne has a bad drop on 3rd down and the Colts punt. Kearse blocks it. I thought it was a safety live, but now that I can see a proper replay I think it's pretty clearly a touchdown.
- Still, the way we have moved the ball against this team, we should have been able to take the two points for the safety and march right back down and get another 7. Tate returns the safety punt to the 43, Wilson keeps on the read-option twice. Both times the Colts blow it up. I remember being impressed by both plays. Baldwin can't pick up the 1st on the quick slant and the drive stalls. Funny feelings start to bubble up in the tummy.
- A nauseating 73 yard bomb that travels 50+ yards in the air. A nice route combo took Sherman out of the play immediately, and ET looked kind of lost. Earl misses the tackled on a nasty "hesi" by Hilton, and the Hawks don't even have a chance to lure Luck into the killbox. Distressing.
- Wilson misses Baldwin high up the deep right side of the field. Lazy mechanics by Wilson on this play stood out to me.
- Wilson runs again out of shotgun for 20 or so. The Colts looked, at times, like Green Bay trying to defend Kaepernick. They could defend one thing or the other, but not both.
- One quarter down and I'm off to the bathroom. Sweet bathrooms. It really is a nice stadium.
- I hear the blocked kick happen but don't see it. I'm digging around on Twitter trying to figure out what happened for a while. The next time I look up, Lynch has another 10 yard carry and then Tate gets robbed on OPI. Willson, Wilson, and Lynch keep the sticks moving and then Jermaine Kearse comes down with a great redline catch for a score. This was an impressive drive.
- Luck then picks on Browner all the way down the field for a field goal in the 4 minute drill. Somehow the Colts are within 2 after being dominated in the first two quarters.The reason, I supposed, is that the Colts are good. Dug themselves out of a hole, responded to our plays with big plays of their own. Hawks can't replicate their end of half magic from the Jacksonville game and the half ends with an ugly Wilson fumble that fortunately did not turn into any points for Indy.
- I've never smoked a cigarette in my life and I'm doing for one all through halftime. Things never really get better from this point.
- Hawks get the ball to start the half and Lynch runs for another 18-20 yards on first down. Lynch had 76 yards on first down carries. Sheeeeesh.
- This drive shows promise. 10 plays, including a big 1st down completion to Baldwin for 27 yards and another nifty shotgun scramble by Wilson. It fizzles out in the red zone when Wilson overthrows Baldwin in the end zone and Sidney Rice jumps too early instead of running underneath the pass. Dude. Just keep running. That pass was a dime. Hauschka makes another FG and I feel horrible.
- Clemons gets lucky and avoids an illegal blow to the head penalty en route to a strip sack. The stadium milked this replay to whip the crowd into a frenzy.
- Despite the amazing field position, this drive shall too end with a field goal. It gets off to a bad start with a moronic "12th man on the field" penalty. In my defense, I genuinely thought Wilson could use a quick shoulder rub and pep talk. Won't happen again!
- Tate can't come down with a redline pass that he usually reels in, mistimes the jump. Wilson has back-to-back amazing scrambles after the interior line gives up pressure immediately. Both plays should have ended in bad sacks and Wilson turned them into 5-6 yard gains. Unfortunately, we needed 15 for the first down and settle for another 3. Feeling HORRIBLE.
- Luck comes out and carves us up. Everyone gets picked on. ET, Browner, Sherman, Wright, all give up 9-10 yard gain upon gain. The defense backs off and Richardson starts to make a little hay. I hated this drive. KJ Wright gets hurt and the crowd boos him, thinking it's a stall tactic. If it is, it didn't work because Luck hits Hilton in the back left corner of the endzone for a TD. Browner looked to be in decent position, though not tight enough to attempt a forceout. Great pass, great score.
- Wilson was such a gamer, man. He came roaring back with a nice completion to Willson (great individual effort on a few plays in replacing Zach Miller) and a monster touch pass to Doug Baldwin on 3rd down for almost 30 yards. The drive stalls on a Robert Mathis sack, a quick pass to Tate that really needed a broken tackle to succeed, and the positively tragic pass to Lynch in the flat where he just couldn't get his head around in time. In the stadium this play felt MASSIVE. Indy fans breathed a huge sigh of relief. I wanted to roll my hat into a conical shank and stab the little kid to my right. Healthy!
- Another field goal. 4th quarter.
REMINDER. WE ARE STILL AHEAD BY FIVE POINTS AT THIS TIME. HOW DID WE LOSE THIS GAME?
- The Colts mount a 7-hour drive. Seriously. I went and saw Gravity in the time it took for this possession to play out. The Colts faced 3rd and 5 early, but a Richard Sherman penalty kept things going. To my eye, it looked like the kind of mutual contact that occurs regularly on this route. Hilton then goes to work, torching KJ and Sherman for chunk plays. The Seahawks blow timeout #2. A bad spot on 3rd down forces an Indy challenge and the drive continues. Luck finds Reggie Wayne on that bunch formation bubble-screen-that-wasn't, fooling every Seahawk on the field and probably Russell and Ashton Wilson's dogs too. Colts punch it in. The Seahawks blow their third and final timeout and still can't stop the 2 pt conversion. Luck extends the play long enough for the coverage to break down, wait, no, I mean long enough for Reggie Wayne to get away with the most egregious pushoff I've seen this side of our meeting with Green bay. Still, make the play, guys.
- Lynch takes his only carry of the 4th quarter for two yards. Golden Tate can't break a tackle and settles for a 6 yard gain. Wilson can't get to the edge on 3rd down and we punt.
- The Colts let Trent Richardson chew up 5 minutes of clock and Vinatieri knocks a 50-yarder to force the Seahawks to go for the endzone on their final possession. The place gets loud, loud, loud.
- Wilson takes the shotgun scramble 22 yards and gets out of bounds. It has been there ALL day. Whatever the Colts were doing, they completely abandoned their integrity there and Wilson punished them for it. Heart-wrenching to see the drive start this way now that we know how it ends. Howell makes a nice play on a short pass to Willson that ultimately was probably better off going incomplete. Wilson's deep out to Rice is knocked away. Tate can't hang on near the sideline. Wilson looks like he's going to make magic on 4th down, moving away from pressure and throws up what is ultimately a total prayer to Sidney Rice, picked off. I don't think Rice had any chance to make a play on this one, but it sounds like some of you guys weren't happy with his effort.
- We're on the other side of the v-formation. Cue Chopin's Funeral March.
- Tough games for Rice and Tate. The former looks hurt and slow, the latter just didn't come down with several catches that he routinely makes.
- I think I've finally had it with McQuistan.
- The blown timeouts are still pissing me off. If Wilson has even 2 timeouts to work with on that final drive, it changes everything. He can scramble a few more times to move the sticks and tire out the defense. He can target the entirety of the field. I really, really hate that we mismanaged that aspect of the game.
I walked out of there feeling really, really bad. I took a cab directly to the airport, where I ended up waiting for almost six hours due to severe weather delays. By the time I boarded my plane, though, I felt better. As I've been harping on all week, this game is almost completely inconsequential in terms of our playoff and home-field advantage hopes. We had some bad breaks, we were again on the road at 10am against a sure playoff team and still hung in there. We went 2-for-14 on 3rd down and lost by less than a touchdown. Wilson looked terrific. And we're on schedule to walk into Atlanta with an 8-1 record. Which reminds me, I wonder how much Hawks-Falcons tickets are going for...