It wasn't the alarm clock that woke you up today. No, you got up long before that demon-box started screeching. I guess it was the rain that awoke you, technically speaking, but the truth is you didn't really sleep that well; flattened hopes make for a terrible mattress.
The transition from Winter to Spring is promising, from Spring to Summer is elating, Summer to Fall: sublime. The shift from Fall to Winter, however, is the pits and today's shade of grey is a ubiquitous reminder that the lazy days are behind you and that stretch of going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark are fast approaching. You were supposed to do laundry last night but you kept drinking after your friends went home, channel-flipping until you slipped into an uneasy slumber and now you're forced to go to work with no underwear and your least smelly pair of recently worn socks. Why even shower? Who's gonna notice today?
Where did it go wrong?
This was supposed to be the year that things went right, the year where it all comes together. The defense, already good, was poised to become dominant. We already knew the secondary could ball, but KJ Wright and Bobby Wagner add youth and versatility to the linebacker corps and the Bruce Irvin / Chris Clemons combo was gonna provide the pass rush that was missing from last year's puzzle.
The offense wasn't exactly primed to explode, but they were certainly supposed to be better than this... this wreckage we've seen over the last month. Coming into the season, the line was looking better than it has in a long time. Okung was healthy, Unger's been a revelation, and the whole group finally seemed to grasp Tom Cable's zone-blocking scheme. Sidney Rice is still insanely athletic, Doug Baldwin is one of the true steals of the last couple of years, and it looked like something had really clicked for Golden Tate. Even a revived Braylon Edwards showed that this receiving group had depth. And that's to say nothing of an up-to-speed Zach Miller. Besides, Marshawn Lynch showed all of us that he could be an elite NFL back and Robert Turbin is an ever-developing threat. And the our quarterback. At long last, we had a quarterback!
I mean, remember how dazzling Russell Wilson was in the preseason? Remember the way we talked about him? Like we had just bought Steve Young at a Charlie Frye price. I know he's a rookie and that rookies make mistakes, but six interceptions in his first three games? Only completing 50% of his passes? Tucking the ball and running whenever a defender got near the pocket? It's like he just isn't ready for the NFL game at full speed yet. It doesn't help that the receivers aren't getting open, and either Lynch's recently spasming back or his newly fattened wallet had him looking hesitant through the holes and going down on first contact a lot more than we'd seen before.
The Seattle Seahawks are 0-4. How the hell did we get here?
Week 1 in Arizona -- the excitement you felt for that game seems so distant now. It had started off well, remember? First drive of the game, that 13-play masterpiece? Oh man, they looked so good, just an extension of the ball-control execution we saw all August long. Sure, Baldwin dropped that ball in the endzone on third down, but that's not gonna happen often and Hauschka's field goal put us up to start the season. Then Kam Chancellor pulverized Michael Floyd on that crossing pattern and Clemons planted John Skelton on third down, leading to a punt and great field position. It was early, but the trend had been set for this one, or so we thought. This was the vision that Carroll and Co. had been building over the last three years.
But then came Wilson's first real mistake. A back-footed underthrow on a simple out route made for easy pickings and led to the Cardinals' first three points. After that, I don't know, Wilson seemed a little hesitant. The downfield shot didn't even seem to be an option and the Cards started stacking against the run, making life tough for Lynch.
Larry Fitzgerald caught that touchdown near the end of the half, despite good coverage from Brandon Browner, and the home fans were treated to a 10-3 halftime lead. The second half saw very little offensive potency, although that's more a credit to the ferocity of the defenses than anything. The first three Seahawks drives in the third quarter resulted in a total of one first down and we all started to worry. Fortuantely for us, Beanie Wells fumbled on his own 22 and Brandon Mebane flopped on it. Then Wilson hit Miller on a corner route for the tying score, thanks to the replacement refs missing an illegal pick route by Tate to spring Miller free.
The score stayed static at 10 apiece until the 'Hawks, who amassed a measly total of 104 second-half yards, had to punt again with 42 seconds left. Looking back, it probably should have felt like an inevitability, given how everything's gone since. But you didn't see it coming. You should've felt your throat get tight when you saw how far past his coverage Jon Ryan's punt went, but you certainly felt it when Patrick Peterson slalomed past the first three Seahawks to reach him. Ryan took a good angle and was able to save the touchdown, but with the Seahawks out of timeouts and the Cardinals with the ball on Seattle's nine-yard line, there was only one possible outcome. You didn't even need to watch it, but you did anyway. One kneel down to center the ball, Ken Whisenhunt using his last timeout, and Jay Feely (with those damn gloves he wears) knocking the chippie through the uprights as time expired. The final score was 13-10, Arizona and the disappointment was so real.
Then came the Dallas game. We felt good about this one. The 12th Man was maniacal, the pregame buzz was insane, and when the 'Hawks sprinted out of that tunnel in their new blue tops and wolf grey pants we lost our collective mind. The evening up of our record was just a mere 60 minutes of game time away.
But Tony Romo was surgical that game. The 'Hawks did well against the run, holding DeMarco Murray, to 46 yards on 19 carries, but Romo wouldn't miss. He connected on 11 of his first 13 passes, mostly underneath stuff to Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, and the result was touchdowns on each of the first two drives.
The good news was that the offense looked much better in this one than they did in AZ. Wilson was sharp, the line hit their blocks, and Robert Turbin's 60-yard TD on that little swing pass turned Century Link Field on its damn head. Despite the early 14-point deficit, Seattle punched back, even tying the game up at 20 after Earl Thomas' interception on Romo's lone mistake set up a one-yard Lynch plunge. The momentum had switched back to the good guys, we all felt it. But for the entire fourth quarter, the 'Hawks D just couldn't get off the field. Third-down conversion after third down-conversion after third-down conversion. Seven-for-eight in the fourth quarter on third-down. It was like watching your own disembowelment. Seattle managed a field goal, but two long TD drives by the Cowboys and the third one -- a slow, six-minute, fifty-five-second suffocation of the clock that ended in with Romo kneeling three times, the last play of the game the lone exception to Dallas' otherwise perfect mark on third downs in the final period. The Seahawks trundled back into their own lockerroom with a 34-23 loss, lubricating the national media for the annual THE COWBOYS ARE BACK!!!!!!! frenzy in which the Seattle was a mere afterthought.
Then Green Bay came to town for Monday Night Football. The CLink was raging, but after being dismembered by the Cowboys, we all felt uneasy about the prospect of stopping Aaron Rodgers. The 'Hawks actually did pretty well against him the first half, keeping him to a manageable 9-17, 133 yards and no TDs. Russell Wilson, for his part looked good, despite the two interceptions (one was tipped, which raised the curtains on four straight minutes of "Wilson might just be too short for the NFL" by Jon Gruden, although he made sure that we all knew he still "loved the kid's makeup"). He didn't throw for any touchdowns in the first half, but Wilson did net first career rushing TD on a slithery 12-yard scramble out of a collapsing pocket. All in all, trailing 9-7 after two quarters felt pretty good.
Unfortunately for all of us in blue and rave green face paint, the Packers did in the second half what we are all afraid they would do in the first. Rodgers threw for 244 yards over the final two quarters, plugging away with Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and Jermichael Finley with psychosis-inducing repetitiveness. The pass rush was non-existent, with Clemons getting double-teamed, Jason Jones, Red Bryant, and Mebane lacking consistent push, and Bruce Irvin getting swallowed up at every turn.
With that much time, Rodgers broke out his instruments of torture and dissected our vaunted defense with passes so precise it was like handing the ball off 15, 23, 37, and finally, back-breakingly, 54 yards downfield. They scored quickly each time, showing plenty of no-huddle. After Wilson's third pick came on the first play of the fourth quarter, the remainder of the broadcast focused, rightfully so, on just how damn good the Packers are. The final score was 37-17, or maybe 37-14? You don't really remember 'cause you kind of zoned out during the fourth, taking some solace in the fact that Nelson's two TDs gave your fantasy team the win.
It was in the days following that we all started to doubt. You heard Brock and Salk talk about whether or not Wilson was the right pick to start the season. You heard Bob and Groz wonder if Pete Carroll's leg-humping was really very inspiring at all, and Kevin Calabro and Jim Moore railed about the fact that $26 million dollars of freshly signed free agent quarterback was sitting on the bench as the season started to slip away. The came the reports on KJR that Matt Flynn was starting to take first-team reps. It got a passing mention on NFL Network, too, and on Thursday, Carroll confirmed that Flynn would be starting Week 4 against the Rams.
Then came the disaster in St Louis. Flynn started, and was actually alright, going 19-31 and 234 yards without a pick. He should've had two TDs as well but the first one, a fade to Rice, was called back on a Breno Giacomini hold and the second was overturned when replays showed that Edwards was still bobbling the ball as he fell out the back of the endzone.
All of the little mistakes added up. Nine penalties in the first half, 14 overall. A fumbled kickoff return, a log punt return called back on a phantom block in the back that sent the FieldGulls game thread into a fit of "just like Cleveland last year!" comments. Steven Jackson ran hard, ran like a man trying to prove something. He toted the ball 36 times, racking up 122 yards an two short TD runs. That would be all St. Louis needed, sneaking out a 14-13 win that should have gone to Seattle for a thousand different reasons, the main one being Seattle's near doubling of the Rams total yardage.
So now you find yourself waiting to hang a left on the way to work but the guy in front of won't take any of the gaps until the yellow light is expiring, leaving you stuck at your second red of that same damn intersection. You're already going to be late, it's just a matter of whether your boss notices or not.
The Seattle Seahawks are 0-4 and fans are calling for Carroll's head. Did the constant threshing of the roster in the PC/JS tenure cause a lack of continuity? Was the team tuning out their coach? Was it time to burn it down and start over? I mean, this team wasn't supposed to win the Super Bowl this year or anything, but they were damn sure supposed to be better than 0-4.
You tell yourself not to lose hope but the hangover isn't listening. You push through anyway, reminding yourself that Seattle has outplayed two of their opponents so far, that the team is still extremely young, that they've only forced two turnovers so far while committing eight and that disparity wasn't likely to continue. They had won the time of possession in three of four games, they had been competitive in four out of four.
Truth be told, the Seahawks hadn't played all that badly. In fact, they were a dropped pass away from beating Arizona, a third-down stop away from a real chance to beat Dallas, and were stripped naked by the refs in St Louis. Green Bay was the only team to truly show any sort of real superiority. But none of that changes the record.
The Seattle Seahawks are 0-4. Are you still in?