Will Sunday’s bottomless brawl in Arizona be remembered as an all-time classic? It probably depends on the legacies of these two teams in 2016, and how much the crooked number in their records affects the remainder of the season. There are some who will say the stubby offense and squandered kick opportunities will leave permanent scars on their minds, for sure, but I think over time the outcome will be rightly celebrated for its defensive ferocity and the exquisite existential neutrality of its ending. (Get it? “Over time.”)
If that’s so, we’ll need a handy title to stand as a shorthand for the emotional trauma and singular uniqueness evoked when we think back to the cruel draw played by the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals in the mid-autumn of that year, something like the Fail Mary, the Miracle at the Meadowlands, the Catch, the Ice Bowl, the Immaculate Reception, the Music City Miracle or the Tuck Rule Game.
These things always come about organically through the collective unconscious of communities, but let’s give it a shot and see if we can’t dub this collision something fitting. It’s hard to narrow down, because there were so many twists and turns and signature moments quickly got covered up by the next ruthless surprise. There were pieces of the evening when I expected we’d remember forever the Bobby Wagner Jump Game or the Tanner McEvoy Game, but while those blocks proved both essential they were also by the end almost minor detours from the overall struggle.
Let’s try to parse through some of the candidates:
In a game without a winner, survival is the best you can hope for. Seattle got a break when it escaped Glendale not only without a loss but with no major injuries, especially after its defense played nearly 100 snaps. Bradley Sowell did sprain his MCL in the fourth quarter, but this too might constitute a break as the Seahawks offense actually somewhat sprang to life with the untested George Fant. This handle relies on a pun that probably loses its juice when it’s not an election season, however.
The Bird Bath
Seahawks and Cardinals are both birds. And it kind of sounds like bloodbath.
The defenses played angry, and probably stayed angry afterward as each offense and special teams unit let them down. Bruce Arians was so angry I thought he was gonna turn into Red Hulk like Thunderbolt Ross.
Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds
Horrors and suspense from start to finish. Okay enough bird jokes.
Solitaire is a card game that can seem to be both low-action and fundamentally fruitless, and frequently frustrating at the end. But Solitaire by definition is a game played with no opponent. If there was a way for the Cardinals and Seahawks to be playing Solitaire against each other it probably would have resembled the first four quarters of this game, but alas this was definitely a duel.
The Waste Land
That game was as crude, brutal and rudimentary as the barren, dusty landscape that surrounds Arizona’s artificially-watered communities. If you’d left the players playing until there was a proper settlement, all we might have found remaining was a bleached pile of bones and a few outlying stragglers wandering with dementia. There were hits, like Richard Sherman’s blow to Larry Fitzgerald in the fourth quarter, which seemed to split jagged faults in the earth and send rock critters scurrying and slithering into their baked holes. And of course you can’t ignore the forsaken chances each team had to win the game late.
The 5-Quarter Drought
Also referencing the local climate conditions, scoring Sunday night was as paltry and hard to find as natural water sources in that dried-up desert.
The Anemics in Phoenix
Because the offenses were so lacking in iron. Unfortunately, this plays as a comment on John Brown’s sickle-cell condition diagnosed this week, so it probably isn’t an appropriate moniker.
But if you’re into the geographical shoutout, you could go alternatively with the Realness in Phoenix, the Helix in Phoenix (because the offenses got lost in a vortex), or, simply, Mean Kicks in Phoenix—or for those who prefer the more explicitly visceral: the Ripped Entrails in Glendale.
Further in that mode …
In Glendale to No Avail
I traveled all the way to Arizona and all I got was this lousy third column on my record.
Cactus in the Balls
If you squint your ears, you hear the sound of the failed field goals, and another part of your body reflexively contracts too.
Simple. Powerful. Not specific enough to be memorable. I know the Drive and the Fumble are in that category and still get suitably used to references individual games from 30 years ago, but it’s not even a playoff game, and those moments proved catastrophic to an entire franchise and city in their accumulated cost. Seattle has a lot of field left to run. But if the tie ends up keeping Arizona out of the playoffs, Carson Palmer keeps declining and the Cardinals gradually disband never realizing the peaks promised by 2015?
This game dragged in length and showcased different areas of athletic specialization (placekicking, um, tackling), plus appeared as physically challenging as a multi-sport medley like a triathlon or decathlon—and in the end it was decided by a complicated scoring system no one understands. Oh wait, no there were so few points anybody could compute this result.
What if Luke Skywalker had missed the exhaust port with his final torpedo blast and the Death Star never blew up?
The Kick Rocks Game
Captures the frustration and futility of the affair, and describes the missed field goals almost like a basketball game with low shooting percentages on both sides is a rock fight.
This is honestly probably the one that bears out. We’ll tell future generations about “The 6-6 game” like it was some great storm. Its minimalist integers are spare and sort of iconic in its starkness, just like the ballgame itself, and resolute in it’s being nothing but what it is: the lonely freight of four field goals stacked up at the end of the journey. It’s probably best, actually, to not get too cute with these things. But we can also have some fun with the sixes motif…
You can only say this game with no touchdowns was not entertaining if you didn’t bother to watch it. Those 75 minutes featured some of the wildest moments and turns in fortune I’ve ever witnessed in a football game—with a jagged win-probability chart that jerked around like a Beastquake seismometer in overtime.
The Devil Takes Three
No religion but the final score is two digits of the sign of the beast and “666” has become enough of a culturally co-opted meme as to be practically secular. I’ve got friends who Instagram their grocery receipts when the checkout totals them up to six dollars and 66 cents. The missing six here is accounted for by the pair of three-pointers taken off the board by the missed kicks, and if you include Wagner’s block the Devil’s cut was three field goals in all.
And that’s not even the end of the occult possibilities…
The Blair Witch Project
Certainly seems like Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh, who missed a 27-yard field goal in the playoffs to hand the Seahawks a voucher to the divisional round, could have placed a curse on this game.
Red Dead Redemption
Includes the Southwestern setting, the color of Arizona’s jerseys and the feeling after Catanzaro’s goalpost bonk. But “redemption” surely fails to represent the outcome of the game.
The Hauschank Transgression
A Field Gulls reader tried to coin this one. Another play on a famous title with the word “redemption” and also just slightly off because in this case “transgression” seems rather heavy for a kick that didn’t even cause a loss. But a transgression can also just be an error, a misstep. Also interesting because the Shawshank Redemption is apparently Hauschka’s favorite movie—and we were all definitely prisoners of the spectacle, and felt like we all crawled through five quarters of shit-smelling foulness to get to the other side.
I probably like this one best. There’s so many entendres here: It represents the level scoreline, and implicates the kicker, while incorporating the first name that already made headlines in advance this week, but also says, “Hey look, remember this guy is not exempt from mistakes and goofups like other NFL kickers (see: Catanzaro) and he probably from time to time even blunders ordinary things like lose his keys or lie to his kids—just like us.”
It sounds like forgiveness and recognition of betrayal at the same time. Et tu, Hauscka?