It was even bigger then expected
A few days ago I wrote the following in a post here –
"This game will test the team mentality more then its overall talent. We proved we can win the games we have to win so far. Can we win some of the games we don’t have to win?
Losing such a tough game away with all the missing parts will not be a big blow. Winning it in spite of it all will be a HUGE STATEMENT. This could be the Chicago game of last year. A game that we may get back to and say – That is the game that made it a 14-2 or 15-1 or 16-0 year. The one that made us THE TEAM this year."
Little did I know what was about to unfold on Sunday.
A lot will be said about the problems of the decimated Oline. About the the past 4 road games were we had to mount a comeback on each one and never led at half time. About the defense looking shell-shocked during the first half etc. etc. etc.
All true but so irrelevant to describe the event.
We had every reason to just let go after that first half. Blame it on the road or on the start time or on the injuries…it happens. Even great teams lose games and this one had all the markings of a "could lose game".
And yet, we didn't.
Looking at the bloody face of J.J. Watt and the look on his face told all you needed to know about what's happening on the field. It was a battle. The stats will tell you we lost the football game but we sure as hell won that battle.
A lot will be said on that epic 14 play drive that got us back into it but the play that changed the game happened on the drive before. On a 2nd down RW took off to the right side. He had a few yards to make the 1st down. He found 3 defensive players facing him close to the 1st down marker. He did instinctively what he was train to do. He got as far as could and took a legs first slide before getting hit. He was one yards short of the 1st down. On the next play Lynch was stopped for no gain and we had to punt, AGAIN. Watching Russel as he made his way to the sideline was the first time I caught a hint of emotions in his posture. He was angry at himself for not making it. With the kind of physical abuse everybody was taking in this slugfest he knew that the leader of this team in this game can not slide to protect himself and lead those guys by example.
It was his last leg first slide of the game. When the offense got the ball back he was running with it again with purpose and determination. He didn't give up an inch. He was banging head first fighting for every scrape he could get. He ran for 54 yards on that 98 yards drive and when he physically banged his way to a first and goal on a 4th and 2 we had our leader back. He was no longer the QB scrambling for his life – he was the fearless leader of a battered group of man and making them believe again.
It may not have been the "smartest" play for a QB amidst the carnage all around him but it was what a leader should do.
When the dust settled down late in overtime a statement was made.
We will not go quietly into the night, on any field, at any time, against any team. It's that special extra that some valued veterans have and now we have it as a team. Denver may win easy but can they wind hard? We know we can. We won this battle and we will not stop till we win this war.
This is indeed going to be that epic season of a very very special team.
I LOVE MY HAWKS.