When the clock strikes 5:30 PM on the west coast, the Seattle Seahawks will begin play on the road against the New England Patriots. It will be the first time that these teams have met since the devastating finale of Super Bowl XLIX and the first time in quite a while that the Seahawks are massive underdogs in a game.
Many pundits aren’t giving Seattle a shot in this matchup, and I can see where they’re coming from to an extent. The offense, before last week, has looked anemic and the defense looks gassed and unable to get themselves off of the field. They haven’t shown an aptitude for running the ball at all and being forced to throw it 40 times doesn’t necessarily seem like a winning formula.
But who really gives a shit about numbers? (I know, I do too, but just go with it...) This game isn’t about which quarterback has a better passer rating or which defensive line gets more sacks. This game is about playing up to the biggest moment of the season thus far.
For my Keys to Victory articles in the past, I outline three specific aspects of the game that the Seahawks need to excel at to win. That is not the case this week. There is one key to victory against the Patriots: Seattle needs to execute to the best of their ability throughout the entire contest.
I’ve said this plenty of times in the past, but never has it been more relevant. Against other teams, the Seahawks can get away with showcasing some sloppy play while still finding a way to win. They generally end up being in the game near the end of the fourth quarter, no matter the circumstances.
Sloppy play cannot happen tonight. Not against arguably the greatest combination of coach and quarterback that this game has ever seen. Not in a brawl where the light at the end of the tunnel is redemption.
You could argue that third down is the biggest factor of this game. Can the defense get off of the field on third down and can the offense continually convert these critical plays? They’ll need to if they have any hope of winning. Darrell Bevell and Kris Richard are going to have to call an aggressive game. Risks must be taken when you want to beat great teams. How Seattle performs when taking these calculated risks will decide the outcome of this battle.
Gillette Stadium is one of the toughest places to play in the league and the Patriots are in an echelon all by themselves right now. Still, there is no doubt in my mind that the Seahawks can win this game. If there is one thing that Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll have taught us, it’s to never count out this team. Never.
If Seattle plays to the best of its collective ability, they can pull this off. They truly can. But will they? We’ll find out tonight.