The time for basking is long over. It was fun, nay amazing, while it lasted, and we deserved it. Boy, did we deserve it. Rarely can consecutive weeks feel so different to a fan base. Or maybe it's just this particular fan base.
The morning of Monday, January 20, began seven days of blissful (bordering on euphoric) reflection. San Francisco is a mightily powerful, athletically dynamic football team, whose collective human force came within a whisker of obliterating Seahawk dreams, at least for another season.
The morning of Monday, January 27, began seven days of maddening uncertainty. As I begin writing this on said Monday, the game is a comfortable six days away. These are nerves I can easily handle. Friday won't be good, Saturday promises to be unbearable. Sunday...oh, Sunday, you...you...oh, just you.
So immersed was I (we, my apologies) in the NFC Championship Game, that I failed to recognise all that I was actually witnessing. The very next day, I remember catching myself being surprised at reading how this was a ‘classic'. Was it? Well, of course it bloody well was. There's a lot to be said for being the neutral observer. Every day during the week after the game, I watched either the whole thing once again or small parts of it, the beauty being that, with each passing viewing, the more it became obvious just how fortunate folks were with little or no interest in the outcome.
The 42-13 shellacking dished out to San Francisco last season had become THAT game against the 49ers. Not any more it ain't.
So, how do we feel at the NFC representative being the designated road team in this, an even numbered Super Bowl? I'm made up and purely because I love, love, love (ahem, sorry) Seattle's white jersey/blue pants combination. The most aesthetically pleasing of all the Seahawks' looks has previous in this stadium to the tune of 23-0 and is something I intend to cling to. Yep, you better believe it. Look, it's a start.
Uniform stats...generally, little is known of these around the NFL, but the Pittsburgh Steelers elected to wear their white ‘road' jerseys against Seattle in Super Bowl XL, having reached Detroit not having worn their traditional black in each of their three preceding playoff encounters; they had no choice, if truth be told, as theirs was a road playoff run. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, I suppose.
Denver, just like Pittsburgh, had the choice of jersey colour for Sunday and they took the no-brainer route. Orange it is.
Those of you, who, like me, are looking for any positive portent possible, can look upon this and allow ourselves to breathe a little easier. I'll explain why, but must warn you that there's more of this shallow, unmitigated rubbish to come.
The Broncos have worn orange jerseys in three Super Bowls and not only did they lose each one, but they lost each one while scoring just ten points each time. The losses were 27-10 to Dallas in Super Bowl XII, 42-10 to Washington in Super Bowl XXII and 55-10 to San Francisco in Super Bowl XXIV. I can't apologise for the use of Roman numerals here. It's the way the NFL wants it to be, it's the way it is and, as unpopular as it can be, I embrace it.
That's an odd little statistic and you may already have noticed, in the build up since the NFC Championship Game, something even stranger, linked to the above. Denver wears orange as the designated home team in Super Bowl XII. If you double the Super Bowl, you're at XXIV where Denver wears orange as the designated home team. If you double that Super Bowl, you're at XLVIII...where...Denver...wears...orange...as...the...designated...home...team.
How has that ever been allowed to happen? And how can it possibly have no meaning whatsoever?
Super Bowl XXII is probably feeling a little unloved right now, but, yes, you've guessed it, even that one can't escape the clutches of numerology, or at least my perceived notion of such a thing. To best show this for what it is, I'm going to briefly dispense with the Roman numerals (tut tut).
This year's Super Bowl takes place on 2/2. The Broncos wore orange in Super Bowl 22 and lost to a quarterback whose surname began with the letter ‘W'. Doug Williams is the gentleman in question and the opposing quarterback that day was a first ballot Hall of Famer. Sounds familiar, huh?
Where else can all of this go? Probably anywhere, but while we're still very high on anything uniform related right now, eight of the last nine Super Bowls have been won by the team wearing their white ‘road' jersey. Taking that a little further, 11 of the last 15 Super Bowls have been won by the team wearing their white ‘road' jersey. Ultimately, that does count for nothing; only in my head, it matters a little too much.
Is it me or is there a non-existent fuss over (whisper it) Percy Harvin? No, I'm not complaining. Naturally, Richard Sherman has generated the most column inches (Marshawn's pushing him now) and plenty of them have been created through him not saying anything at all (er...Marshawn again). His (Sherman's) mere presence at the Super Bowl...excuse me, I should know better...his pure release of pent up tension after a quite brutal competition has lent itself to a plethora of talking heads giving us the low down on his character. These paragons of virtue, each and every one of them, are far more intelligent and educated than Sherm to ever behave in such a way, especially on the football field. Public enemy number one he may be (well, he is), but if anybody out there believes in some semblance of life balance, then Derrick Coleman's story, and in turn the inspiration we now know him to be, means the football Gods will turn a favourable eye Seattle's way at least once during the most important sixty minutes of football I ever will have watched.
Why does this seem to be ever so more important than Super Bowl XL? Is it purely because of the here and now? Surely, we felt the same way eight years ago...right? No, this does feel different. Undoubtedly. It's because we've seen this team grow. We've seen this team not only grow, but grow together and grow up together. Pete Carroll and John Schneider (the latter in particular) have made the Draft, to even the most casual Seahawks fan, a can't-miss weekend. Fifth, sixth and seven round picks no longer exist as roster fodder. They can now compete for starting spots on a championship calibre football team. Every player Seattle picks needs to be pored over...OK, despite Kris Durham and Chris Harper.
So, to Percy. It's all gone quiet over there, as we might say over here. The hyperbole surrounds Peyton Manning against the finest secondary in Seahawks history...that's glib on my part, but you know the point I'm making. That's the easy analysis to find. A deeper dig is required to unearth how Seattle's offense can unlock Denver.
Can you believe we're going to see Harvin as healthy as he's been for a year and a half and it just happens to coincide with the Seahawks taking their place in the Super Bowl? I still found myself this week saying aloud that we're going to the Super Bowl. We're going to the freaking Super Bowl. I lay awake in the early hours of Wednesday morning, speaking the words in my head. It looks ridiculous writing this and I almost daren't admit it to anybody outside of these pages.
It has been written here before and more than once, but the Broncos have very little tape of Harvin in a Seahawks uniform and the rolls of the stuff they have on him from his days as a Viking amounts to no tape at all. Should he prove explosive during the first half, any adjustments Denver make can only be done on the fly. The elongated half time wouldn't half help, I suppose, but I know I'm getting ahead of myself here. Look, I can't help it. I am trying to be level headed.
I've gone way too far into this without even considering the spread. However, methinks you'll have more of an idea this week than most. Call it a hunch, if you will.
Not that it happened on all sportsbooks, but Seattle did open as a two point favourite. By the same token, some books pegged this as a PK (pick ‘em) game. After a day or two of early Bronco money during the first week, the line settled down and the Seahawks are now generally available +2.5 points. It's a very attractive bet the closer the temperature gets to 32 degrees, but...it doesn't look like it's going to be anywhere near that come kickoff. I'm reading figures of 40 to 42 degrees and am willing it to come down, simply because of that one simple stat going against Manning.
In plain ol' black and white, Manning's 0-4 in the playoffs when the temperature's below 40 degrees. He can win in the cold, of course he can. It's that it's just about his worst habit when it comes to 'one and done' football. Sure, he's already won in the biggest game of them all, but he's also lost in the biggest game of them all, and that was against a New Orleans defense ranking nowhere near the opportunistic, bruising, athletic defense that awaits on Sunday. In the cold. Below 40...hopefully.
I could take a historical look at Super Bowl spreads, but would much prefer to focus on each team's record on the road this season, seeing as, you know, this is a joint road game. Yes, why the devil would I want to place any faith in Super Bowl fact? Orange jersey uniform stats are far more pertinent and are all that really matter.
Denver being a road favourite won't bring any added pressure to them as they were favoured in every road game this season. They're not in the Super Bowl for nothing, I suppose. However, they certainly didn't have it all their own way as they finished the regular (road) season 5-3 ATS. The closest line you'll find to the one on Sunday is when they were favoured by 1 point in New England, in what turned out to be a ridiculous game of the ages (and one I'll delight in watching during the offseason), one they ended up losing by three points. As for Seattle...
...only once were they a road ‘dog...in San Francisco...the line was 2.5 points...they scraped it...just. Right, hang on, this is miniscule, and too infinitesimal to hold any real water, but that doesn't matter this weekend, of all weekends. In the two respective spreads throughout the regular season that resemble the line the closest this Sunday, the Seahawks were 1-0 ATS, the Broncos 0-1 ATS. Blimey, that suddenly looks really big; the stuff dreams are made of.
What could possibly go wrong?
Terrance Knighton's receiving a lot of love right now. The hitherto unheralded Bronco defensive tackle promises to have a healthy say in how Marshawn performs, should the scribes be proved correct.
Knighton should be, and probably will be, pleasantly surprised at the attention, but his story is part of what makes sport, and not just football, so compelling. All he's known, before fleeing Jacksonville for Denver, is how it is to lose in the NFL. However, as resurgent as Knighton might be, he's never faced a back as intimidating as Lynch in a game of this magnitude, a runner so adept at shedding tacklers, a Beast (if you will) so punishing.
Despite trailing for the majority of the NFC Championship Game, Seattle never once abandoned its offensive philosophy, continually utilising and trusting in its ground game before a big run finally, almost inevitably, broke. This Seahawks offense is practically defined through the exertions of Lynch and the fact that he became the first player this season to rush for at least 100 yards on the 49ers was no accident.
Should the Broncos win, Manning would have cemented his place as probably the greatest quarterback of all time. Fair enough, but Denver will have needed to shut down Seattle's ground game before any orange and blue confetti is given free rein to rain. Like all football games (yes, all of them), this will be won in the trenches and Knighton's true contribution won't be fully appreciated until the week after all of this is over. Should they win. As much as I'm a sucker for a good story, I wish Knighton no further luck this season.
I began writing this on Monday and I've just surfaced at 07:30 GMT on Saturday to add the finishing touches to it, barely able to sleep. Heaven knows how much sleep I'll get tonight, but it won't matter as everybody's old friend adrenaline will help tomorrow. This particular Super Bowl transcends sleep and I've already booked Monday off work anyway. The fact that the game will finish around 03:30 GMT Monday here in the UK saw to that. Honestly, you don't know how lucky you are being able to watch your football at a civilised hour.
So, there I was, contemplating getting up when more hokum/bunkum (delete where applicable) came speeding towards me. This whole orange jersey malarkey has coincided with Denver playing in Super Bowls where multiples of twelve are hard to ignore. Hmmm, twelve. Except Super Bowl XXXVI. Bugger. Hang on...
The Patriots toppled the Rams (as two touchdown underdogs, for the record) that day in New Orleans, where a young Tom Brady fittingly wore...twelve. His opposite number? Kurt Warner. Only that looks a little like Curt Warner. It definitely sounds a lot like Curt Warner. Now, I've tried fitting 28 into anything I could find, but came up empty handed. Never mind...Kurt/Curt, Curt/Kurt...I'm happy with that.
Super Bowl XLVIII...4+8=...oh, my...OH, MY...
I'm driving myself crazy with all of this and need the weekend to be over with.
I want to say that should the Seahawks lose, that it's not the end of the world. It will be. For a short time. Seattle boasts a young team, a talented, core group of players, the large majority of whom aren't going anywhere soon. We could just as easily be back here next year, regardless of the outcome on Sunday. We could just as easily be back here any year in the next two, three, four or five years; winning it all in Santa Clara in 2016 would be the real dream.
San Francisco soon recovered after losing in the Super Bowl last season and we all know how close they came to going back this year. They have every reason to believe they can go close again next year. One of us or them simply has to get past the other one.
I envisage struggling to enjoy a single second of Sunday's game and will probably spend most of it on my feet. I wish each and every one of you the best of Sundays, the greatest Sunday you've ever experienced.
It's been an outright pleasure being able to contribute to Field Gulls for a second season and I want to sincerely thank all of you who've had the inclination to care enough about what I think.
For the final time this season...please gamble responsibly.
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