After the Seahawks lost to the 49ers on Sunday (19-17, but you know the score by now) I wrapped up a few things, closed up my Twitter, and watched Insidious: Chapter 2. As a big fan of James Wan and a big fan of the original Insidious (definitely one of the 10 best horror movies of the 2000's) I was excited to see what he would bring. As Kirsten Dunst might say:
It has been broughten.
Maybe even more terrifying than the original, Insidious: Chapter 2 sends a message to other horror movie sequels that you can't just phone it in and make continuing editions of a franchise just to make money. Wan and writing partner Leigh Wannell remarked that it was that sort of studio pressure that really harmed the Saw franchise, and I would argue that Insidious: Chapter 2 backs the duo up in that regard. They have talent, and it shows.
I'm telling you this because that's how quickly I was over the loss to San Francisco. It was over and I was already thinking about the movie I was going to watch, the snack I was going to eat, and trying to calculate how many more days of work until Christmas Eve (11.) It's not as though I thought that Seattle was going to lose, but it's more like I had no expectations that they were going to win. The 49ers are a great football team, were at home, and had more to play for.
And even when you consider all of that, this was still a super-winnable game for the Seahawks. It's just that the outcome was close to meaningless to their place in the standings but meant a lot to the Niners. I don't think that sort of mentality seeped into the minds of any of the players on Sunday, that's not how they operate and that's not how you get to 11-1, but I'm just telling you how I felt about it.
"Okay, well, there's plenty of good things that come from losing. Luckily, it won't have much of an effect on getting the number one seed."
Seattle has a two-game lead on San Francisco with three games to go. Two of those games are at home, the other is against the 5-8 New York Giants. Not that winning next week in New Jersey is a gimme by any means, but the Seahawks are so much better than the Giants, you wouldn't believe it.
The Saints beat the Panthers rather easily and improved to 10-3, leaving them one game back of Seattle with three games to go. But the Seahawks beat New Orleans, so really they are down by two with three left. This is the only other team left that can put any sort of challenge on Seattle for the number one seed. Again, two home games, road game against the Giants.
Now, I could be sitting here all cocksure, watching scary movies, eating pudding, and generally come off like an ass that will have 49ers fans begging to see me proven wrong, but I guess that's a risk I'm willing to take. Given that my cocksure opinion has no difference on the outcome of games, I'm okay with saying that the Seahawks are still only one or two weeks away from clinching homefield advantage in the playoffs.
This loss just didn't matter that much.
The loss of KJ Wright? That's a different story.
Over the last seven days, Wright has gotten a lot of praise for his play against New Orleans and it started to highlight to people that there might not be a better coverage linebacker in the NFL. San Francisco scored a touchdown with :06 left in the first half on a pass to Vernon Davis, after Wright had broken his foot, and that right there could have been the difference in the game.
When you do look ahead to the playoffs and start to think about the tight ends you might have to face: Davis, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, Jason Witten, Brent Celek, Zach Ertz. There's a very real concern there and it's something that Seattle is going to have to figure out.
Luckily, they should have the next four weeks to do that and not worry about their place in the standings. They're still number one.
Let's give this article wings and bull it:
- Going up 14-9 with 3:47 left in the second quarter, scoring touchdowns on consecutive drives, and seeing that the Denver Broncos were struggling against the Titans and that the Patriots had struggled to beat the Browns and knowing we had just badly beaten the Saints, it really did feel like the Seahawks were miles and miles ahead of everyone else in the NFL.
Unfortunately they only kicked one field goal over the final 33:47.
The 49ers have a great defense, highlighted by arguably the two best linebackers in the NFL, plus two other at-least-really-really-good linebackers. In Seattle, the Niners have been dominated over the last two games. In San Francisco, the games are really tight.
I'll take it. We aren't playing any playoff games in the Bay Area.
- The Seahawks remain second in scoring defense, behind the Panthers. That gap even closed a bit since Seattle allowed 19 points and Carolina allowed 31 in their loss to the Saints. Which is still a good reminder that in four games against the 49ers, Panthers and Saints, the Seahawks allowed an average of nine points per game.
In San Francisco's four games against Seattle and those two NFC South teams, they allowed an average of 20.25 points per game.
In Carolina's games against Seattle, San Francisco, and New Orleans, they're allowing an average of 17.3.
In the Saints three games, it's 22.3.
Why am I not worried? Because out of the four best teams in the NFC, I still feel that the Seahawks are a solid notch above everyone else and will almost certainly be at home. Seattle has allowed seven offensive touchdowns at home, most of which came happened with the game over (Jacksonville, Minnesota) or off of offensive mistakes (Jacksonville, Tampa Bay.)
- The Seahawks remain second in scoring offense, behind the Broncos. Yes, after scoring just 17 points and struggling in the second half, there's still only one team in the entire NFL to have scored more points than Seattle and that team might be the best offense of all-time.
Marshawn Lynch topped 1,000 yards, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin are both right at 700 yards, and Russell Wilson and the passing offense are tied with Peyton Manning and the Denver offense at 9.3 adjusted yards per pass attempt.
It wasn't Wilson's best game (though the meaningless end-of-game interception will change the perception of anyone who just looks at the box score) but he played well for the most part. If memory serves me correctly, last year in San Francisco it was a very similar situation, with Wilson being a lot more productive in the first half and then just taken out of his rhythm in the second.
It really seems like that read-option isn't quite so effective if the quarterback never keeps it.
But why put your most valuable asset at risk in a regular season game with most everything locked down? I can't take anything away from the 49ers defense in this one, they can play Seattle better than anyone in the league thanks to Justin Smith and those linebackers, and Navorro Bowman put the biggest hit on Wilson we may have seen yet. And when you're a virtual lock to win the number one seed, I had seen enough.
All of which comes with the added bonus that there are four more weeks before a likely playoff game in Seattle. Four weeks for Percy Harvin to get his mind and body right.
- The 11-2 record matches the starts by the 1984 and 2005 teams. The 152-point differential comes in third, behind the +168 of '05 and the +159 of '84.
- If you wanted to ignore the end-of-game hail mary interception, it would be the fourth game in a row where the Seahawks did not turn the ball over and I do think it's fair to ignore it. Which still sucks since that means that Seattle basically won the turnover battle but lost the game.
They haven't officially done that since last November 25 against the Miami Dolphins.
It was at that time that everything seems so bleak and bitter and full of despair. The Seahawks had fallen to 6-5 in a 24-21 loss in Miami that should have been a win, and on that same day it was reported that Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner were going to be suspended for four games each for failing PED tests.
It didn't seem like things could get worse than that. After easy home wins over the Vikings and Jets got the team to 6-4, it really started to seem like we had the rug pulled out from under us in that moment. Not only had we lost, but we were headed to Chicago in a game that a lot of people felt Seattle wasn't capable of winning at that time, and we felt we'd be doing so without our starting cornerbacks.
One of whom was arguably as important to the defense as Wilson was to the offense, at the time.
I wrote the next day that I wasn't going to give up now. You only get one shot every year and that shot is called "your season." When you're out, you're out, but as long as you're alive, don't quit. You didn't invest this much to give up when you're still in it, and at the time, Seattle was still very much in it.
As we found out.
Yesterday, the Seahawks lost to the 49ers and then I ate some cereal with bananas and watched a horror film. There won't be any "we can still do this!" articles, because we're obviously going to be fine. The playoffs are clinched, the home game is coming soon, the bye week, and probably the homefield advantage too.
Take a break, relax -- we've got a lot more important games coming up.