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Cigar Thoughts, Game 11: hope is the enemy

The Las Vegas Raiders used an 86-yard TD from Josh Jacobs to beat the Seahawks 40-34 in overtime of a wild game in Seattle.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

***As most of you know, Cigar Thoughts is now a podcast. One of the perks of the pod is getting these articles in audio form, in addition to our sit-downs with our amazing guests. You can listen to all the shows, including this article, right here:

Most NFL seasons contains a series of mini-seasons within it, layers of trends masquerading as identities. And the 2022 Seahawks have certainly had theirs. Their most recent personality has been one of a ruthlessly efficient offense with a hungry, opportunistic defense. That chapter resulted in a four-game win streak, each of which coming by double digits and it started to project happy aspirations of a postseason run onto the screens of our imaginations. But then a fairly toothless loss was given an extra week to sink in and before you know it, it had been the better part of a month since this team had won, even if they’d only played one game.

In order to keep that loss from spreading, Seattle would have to handle their business at home against a Las Vegas Raiders team that has struggled their way to a 3-7 record. It’s the hope that gets ya.

You couldn’t have asked for a better start for the home team. Seattle won the coin toss and elected to defer, kicking the ball to the Raiders to begin the game. On the very first snap, Derek Carr dropped back and threw the ball towards Davante Adams but led his all-world receiver a touch too far. The ball sailed straight into the hands of Quandre Diggs, who secured his first interception of the season and returned it to the Raiders’ 12. After an incomplete pass to DK Metcalf in the endzone, Geno Smith handed it off to Ken Walker III and let the rookie shine.

Walker III bounced to the right, ran into trouble, shifted out of it, and then beat the pursuit to the edge before turning upfield and diving into the endzone for the score. He runs like a Tecmo Bowl player, changing direction instantly and seemingly without changing speed. The man needs just a little room and he can make magic happen. But it would be giving him that room that would prove to be the issue as the game progressed.

Las Vegas answered with a really nice drive, stringing together a number of short completions to the likes of Ameer Abdullah, Foster Moreau, and Mack Hollins to keep the chains moving. As they got across midfield, Carr took a shot deep and in so doing, took a shot to the ribs as well, courtesy of Uchenna Nwosu. The pass fell incomplete and Carr fell in a heap, staying down as the trainers rushed out to minister aid. Carr would only miss one play, however, and upon his return, he found Abdullah on a wheel route up the right sideline for an 18-yard TD to tie the game.

Seattle’s response was to somehow go zero yards on five plays, as six-yard gains by Smith and Noah Fant were erased by the next three plays. Walker III was tackled the moment he took the handoff on the ensuing 1st down, then Will Dissly dropped an easy one over the middle, which led to a nine-yard sack and Seattle had to boot it away.

The Raiders got a two-yard run from Josh Jacobs on the first play of their next drive before going back to the air. Carr fired a pass up the right seam towards a receiver tightly covered by Cody Barton, and the LB snaked a hand in to deflect the ball up in the air. Diggs, who was probably still buzzing from his last pick, swooped in to snag this one as well and set Seattle up with great field position once again. And when I tell you that Lumen Field was rocking, I mean it felt like a peak LOB-era crowd.

But Seattle almost gave it right back, as Geno Smith succumbed to his penchant for low throws on intended jump balls and nearly got picked as he tried to find Metcalf in the back of the endzone on 3rd down. In fact, the play was originally ruled an interception before review overturned the call when the ball jiggled free as the defender hit the ground. There have been more than a few close calls like that from Smith this season and Seattle was fortunate to make it out of that possession with a field goal and a 10-7 lead.

Poona Ford announced himself in a big way on the next possession, notching Seattle’s only sack when he collapsed the pocket to Carr’s right before beating his man with a move back to the inside for the takedown. He followed that up by knifing past his man on the next play and wrapping Jacobs up in the backfield. After an incomplete pass over the middle, the Raiders would punt for the first of only two times and Seattle got the ball back with a chance to extend their modest lead.

And extend it they would, just not by as much as they would have liked.

Smith hit Dissly for five yards on 1st down and, after a one-yard run from Walker, went up top to Metcalf on 3rd & 4. DK found himself isolated in coverage to the left, a rare sight for him this season, and expertly beat his man with a clean stutter-step that he accelerated out of like a thoroughbred. Smith tossed an airtight spiral his way and Metcalf coasted under the pass, caught it, and then obliterated the safety coming in full speed for the kill shot. It was one of those moments that makes you question what you know about physics, because there was a 200+ lb missile in human form sprinting into Metcalf from a perpendicular angle and yet it was the defender who ended up in a crumple on the sideline while the receiver signaled first down.

Feeding off that juice, Seattle finally ran the play I’ve been begging for all season. With Metcalf lined up in the left slot, they brought him on a shallow cross in front of all the linebackers as the other receivers muddied things up with their routes. Metcalf picked his way through the crowd and into the right flat, giving Smith an easy completion and using his potent speed to get a first down. It’s something they’ve done all season with their tight ends and I was thrilled to see them use their best athlete on what I think has been their best play this year. And Metcalf made it count, too, as he found yards after the catch that neither Fant, Dissly, or Colby Parkinson would have. Two plays later, Smith went back to the big dog, hitting Metcalf on a slant before he was upended a yard short of the first down inside the Raiders’ 10. Facing 4th & 1, the Seahawks shrewdly went with a hurry-up and completed a pretty read-pass option play to Tyler Lockett for a first down. Unfortunately, it was called back on an extremely suspect illegal man downfield penalty* and Seattle had to settle for another field goal. 13-7.

*They need to overhaul the way they call this, because it’s gotten absurd. O-linemen have no idea how far they’re supposed to go on RPOs so the NFL should do as college has done and change the way they enforce that rule on plays like that. Minor gripe, but whatever. Too many good plays are called back because some confused giant has wandered a step too far without affecting the success of the play in any way.

I have to hand it to Derek Carr. He got plastered early in this game but he bounced back in a big way and, by this point, started to look downright comfortable. He hit Davante Adams, who for my money is still the best WR on the planet, for nine on the first play when Adams made a remarkable diving grab. After three consecutive Jacobs runs, he went back to Adams for eight more and another first down, with Davante breaking Mike Jackson down on a razor-sharp out route.

With the Raiders at Seattle’s 36, they pulled out one of the prettiest plays I’ve seen anyone run against the ‘Hawks all season. Carr handed the ball off to Jacobs, who stopped and flipped it back to his QB while Adams sprinted down the middle of the field. Nearly every flea-flicker you see leads to a deep throw and frankly, NFL teams have just wisened up. That was the case on this play, as Diggs joined Tariq Woolen in guarding Adams down the field, but Adams wasn’t the point. Hollins, who spent the first two seconds of the play pantomiming a run block, released across the middle of the field and Carr dumped it off to him with no one within an area code. Hollins sauntered into the endzone and the extra point gave Las Vegas a 14-13 lead.

The Seahawks’ next drive got off to a promising start, with Deejay Dallas gaining 11 yards on a run and a catch, but it was derailed on the very next snap. With a fresh set of downs, Geno dropped back with Lockett and Metcalf running deep crossers. As they did, Denzel Perriman floated back to the intersection of their routes, undercutting Lockett right as Smith let go of the ball. Lockett didn’t fight through to finish the route and Perriman made the easy interception to set Vegas up in great position.

It didn’t take them long to cash in, either. On the first play after that turnover, Jacobs bounced out to the right, ran through an arm tackle, hopped out of another, and sprinted down the sideline for a 30-yard touchdown. It was so reminiscent of the Saints and Lions games that saw the Seahawks defense just disappear on plays that led to huge gains.

One thing about this year’s Seahawks, however, is that their offense is almost always ready with a counterpunch. What followed was a terrific drive, with Smith completing his first four passes for 35 yards and three touchdowns. Following a two-yard run from Walker III, Smith took the snap and drifted back as Lockett got a clean release up the right sideline. Geno locked in on his target and launched an absolutely perfect pass that Lockett sprinted under for a 35-yard touchdown. It was one of those drives that makes Smith and this offense look invincible, and pulled the Seahawks within one at 21-20.

Vegas returned Seattle’s score with one of their own, using 13 plays to go 57 yards and drain the rest of the first half clock before kicking a short field goal to extend their lead before the break. The teams headed to the locker room at 24-20, and you had to wonder if either defense was gonna stand up for themselves in the second half.

Seattle got the ball to start the third quarter and proceeded to uncork their second consecutive 7-play, 75-yard effort. Walker III gained five yards on the first play, then Smith found Fant for four more before keeping it to convert the 3rd & short. With a refreshed set of downs, Geno dropped back and zipped one to Lockett as he zoomed across the field from right to left. Lockett caught the short pass and careened up the left side for 28 yards to put the Seahawks in position to take the lead— something they’d do just three plays later. Smith’s next pass was unsuccessful but the one after that found a leaping Marquis Goodwin for 21 to put Seattle on Vegas’ 16. What followed was an impressive display of group strength and determination. Walker III took the next handoff and darted through the D-line before lowering his shoulder and powering through a linebacker. As the defender reeled, reinforcements arrived; but Walker III never stopped. He kept his feet churning until his O-line reached him and pushed the scrum across the goal line. Just a freaking man’s game touchdown from a running game that was sputtering mightily. 27-24, Seahawks.

If the Seahawks defense rested up during halftime at all, it was not apparent on the Raiders’ next drive. They moved the ball effortlessly nearly the full length of the field using a couple of short completions and a bunch of long runs to get into the redzone with only the faintest whisper of resistance. Seattle eventually dug their heels in enough to force a 4th & 1 at their own 7 but there was nothing indicating that they’d be able to protect that final yard, nor any reason why the Raiders wouldn’t try for it. After all, they were averaging nearly six yards per carry on the game and far more than that on this drive. But Josh McDaniels, to the relief of every Seahawks fan watching, chickened out and elected to kick the field goal. Daniel Carlson knocked it through the uprights and the game was tied at 27.

And even though the game was knotted up, that familiar yet uncomfortable feeling of needing to score on every possession was setting back in. Games like this are their own kind of fun but man, the pressure it puts on the offense to keep scoring is immense. And when Seattle went three-and-out, you could feel a bit of a pall start drizzling through the atmosphere.

The defense would hold on the next drive, however, despite giving up a 28-yard catch to Jacobs, who went absolutely ballistic today. The Raiders ended up punting, but only because Moreau dropped a 3rd down pass that hit him right in the chest. It was a massive break for a Seahawks defense that was showing no signs of being able to do the job themselves.

Smith hit Metcalf for eight yards to open up the following possession, and then did the exact same thing again on the next play before finding Goodwin for 21 more. But on the ensuing first down, Ken Walker III fell victim to his own contact balance. Walker was engulfed by a defensive lineman the moment he took his handoff but instead of going down, he wrestled his way out of the grasp and tried to make something happen. Unfortunately, he got pushed 13 yards behind the line of scrimmage before one of the six Raiders chasing him finally knocked him down. That set up a 2nd & 23, which would normally be a drive-killer, but Smith lobbed a perfect pass to Travis Homer out of the backfield and Seattle’s mighty mouse trucked his way forward for 27 yards to keep things moving. A Homer run and two more completions to Metcalf had Seattle back in scoring range and ready to take the lead, but a mixup on a read-option between Smith and Walker III put the ball on the turf and Las Vegas pounced on it for a crucial turnover.

The Raiders gave the ball to Jacobs on all six plays of their next drive because frankly, he’s that good, and he was able to get them one first down. He almost got another, but he was strung out on a 4th down run by Barton and Shelby Harris— a rare tackle for loss today but one that came in a huge moment. It let the Seahawks off the hook for the fumble, sort of, and put them back in position to retake the lead— something they’d follow through on this time.

The drive got off to an innocuous start, with Smith eating a seven-yard sack, but he got it all back and more with a slick 18-yard scramble. A defensive holding penalty on 3rd down played a major role in continuing the drive, and Smith made it count when he rolled out of trouble and found Homer on a 3rd & 1 two plays later. Homer caught the pass, shook a defender, and charged into the endzone to give Seattle a 34-27 lead with 5:37 left to go.

With their backs now formally against the wall, the Raiders stopped fucking around and leaned into the two best players on their offense. Davante Adams started things off with a preposterous one-handed catch down the right sideline and Jacobs chased it with a 14-yard catch of his own. Adams would get 11 more on the next catch then Abdullah chipped in a nine-yard grab of his own. Jacobs converted the first down on the next play before taking a handoff up the middle and getting wrapped up by Al Woods. As Jacobs tried to fight for an extra yard, Woods twisted him backwards and Coby Bryant reached in with his grabby hands to yank the ball away. Jacobs was initially ruled down by contact, though replay seemed to indicate nothing of the sort. Pete Carroll challenged the call, only to be told that the officials said that forward progress had been stopped so the play wasn’t reviewable.

I’m going to try my best to be delicate here.... that call was horseshit.

Regardless, what was done was done and there was still football to be played. The Raiders would commit a false start to make it 2nd & goal from the 12, but Carr bailed them out with a gorgeous cross-field throw to Foster Moreau, who got a step on Jordyn Brooks along the back edge of the endzone. Just a fantastic throw in a huge moment. 34-34.

To be honest, this was just a hell of a game to watch. I almost wish it was one I wasn’t emotionally invested in, because the back and forth was delicious to anyone who loves football. And after all of that, Seattle still had one last chance to win the game with 1:54 to play.

Smith swung a pass out to Deejay Dallas for four yards, then hit Goodwin for six more and a first down. One minute, ten seconds to go. An incompletion to Tyler Lockett removed a few seconds from the clock but Geno went back to Metcalf one last time and DK responded with a sensational diving grab for 12. There was no question that he caught it, and that fact was hammered home as the replay showed Metcalf catching it over and over and over again. I don’t know why they spent so much time watching Metcalf catch that pass, because that’s definitely what he did. Still, they let valuable minutes of our rapidly waning existence pass before somehow ruling that the ball wasn’t controlled through the entire process and overturned what was absolutely, inarguably, a catch. Geno got sacked by Maxx Crosby on the next play and Seattle’s chance at a game-winning drive was snuffed out.

Michael Dickson injected some brief drama into the game’s final seconds by crushing a godly 58-yard punt that chased Keelan Cole inside his own 10 yard line, and doing so so powerfully that the ball crashed through Cole’s hands and squibbled around on the turf. Seattle had one frantic chance to recover it but the gunner couldn’t divert his momentum on such short notice and Vegas recovered to preserve overtime.

The visitors would win the coin toss and get the ball back with a chance to win against a beleaguered defense; and for a minute there, it looked like that’s exactly what would happen. Vegas went 37 yards on eight plays before facing a 3rd & 1 at Seattle’s 37. They went back to Jacobs to get the crucial first down but Harris won his one-on-one and wrapped the runner up for a massive loss of one. A gigantic play to absolve an exhausted defense and it forced a mile-long field goal attempt from Vegas.

That brought out Carlson, who has been the best long-distance kicker in the NFL this side of Justin Tucker the last few years, to try a 56-yard field goal. But despite having made his last 11 50+ yard kicks, Carlson pushed this one to the right and the Seahawks had hope once more. One first down, maybe two— that’s all this team needed to win. But with this opportunity came the pressure we all felt but no one dared utter— if they don’t score on this drive, Seattle ain’t winning. The defense was too gassed to get another stop, so Seattle’s offense had to end it.

Seattle got five yards on first down with an out to Lockett but Walker III was stoned when he ran into a crowded box on 2nd & 5. On 3rd down, Crosby bullrushed Lucas all the way into Smith, forcing a desperate throwaway and a punt back to the Raiders. That’s when Jacobs put this game to bed.

On the first play of the game’s last drive, Jacobs took a handoff from his own 14, juked through a hole in the line, and accelerated past everyone and into the open field. All we could do is watch with some combination of horror and resignation as Jacobs jogged off the remaining yards, crossing the goal line and sending the Seahawks off the field with a 40-34 loss.


~This was the third straight game where Geno Smith looked dull early on but just like the two before it, he bounced back with a sustained stretch of excellence. And, thanks to the early turnovers, it didn’t put them in the same desperate position that they found themselves in last week. His first two endzone passes were thrown dangerously, and he skipped a couple as well. But he settled down early in the second quarter and was mostly sharp the rest of the way.

Smith was decisive, on time, and accurate. He threw with conviction and never got impatient— never forced throws into tight coverage unnecessarily. He consistently and rhythmically worked the middle ranges of the field and kept the Seahawks offense on schedule despite getting very little from the run game. And when it was all over, he had another sterling box score to add to his resume.

His line: 27/37 (73.0%), 328 yards (8.9 Y/A), 2 TDs, 1 INT for a passer rating of 106.1

Smith led the Seahawks to a score on five of Seattle’s first seven drives, but only one on their final five. For all of his excellence— and he has been excellent— the one thing he hasn’t done in his time as the Seahawks starter is lead a late, game-winning drive. That’s not to say he hasn’t been clutch, because he’s helped seal a lot of games late, but he has yet to deliver when Seattle needs a score to win. And it hasn’t been for lack of opportunity.

And who knows? If the refs don’t ratfink DK at the end of the 4th, maybe this never comes up. But the Seahawks had an equally promising opportunity on their very next drive in overtime and didn’t convert. Now, it’s not Geno’s fault that Maxx Crosby wore Abe Lucas down to the nub by the time crunch time arrived, nor can he control what the officials decide is forward progress or a catch. But he can control whether he checks out of a run into an 8-man box on 2nd & 5 with single coverage on an isolated DK Metcalf in overtime. Quarterbacks carry outsized responsibility for the results of close games, an assertion I have no doubt Geno would agree with— nor do I doubt he can’t wait for his next chance.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying. Geno Smith has been awesome this season and he was good today. I’m thrilled to have him as the Seahawks signal-caller and I think he’s very capable of leading a game-winning drive. It just hasn’t happened yet, and winning games that are in doubt is the final infinity stone in becoming a truly great QB.

~After his first carry of the game, a jittery 12-yard touchdown, it looked like we were in line for another massive Ken Walker III performance. Instead, he had his second straight dud, notching just 26 yards on 14 carries a week after going 10 for 17. Both games have been redeemed in other ways, as he caught six passes for 55 yards against Tampa Bay and found paydirt twice this afternoon, but he had scant room to operate in both contests and that changes this offense.

Last week Walker III struggled with his footing on the German pitch so I’m willing to chalk some of it up to that, but in both games he’s missed a cutback opportunity or two. Still, he’s been one of the toughest runners in the league to bring down, so I’m more inclined to worry about the blocking up front than I am about Walker III’s instincts or abilities.

Travis Homer wasn’t asked to do much today but when his number was called, he answered in a big way. He carried the ball twice for eight yards and snagged two of three targets for 45 yards and that slithery score. Love that guy.

~DK Metcalf has, for whatever reason, become a possession receiver— fortunately, he’s gotten very good at it. Metcalf has learned to wed his remarkable frame to greatly improved short-area quickness to become an incredibly reliable pass catcher. He has evolved so far beyond the go-ball / contested catch guy he came into the league as that the former part of his game has almost disappeared entirely.

Metcalf earned a stout 41% target share today, turning his 15 opportunities into 11 catches for 90 yards. The 11 grabs are fantastic, but that’s just six yards per target with one of the more incredible wide receivers in the league. Here are Metcalf’s last six games (I’m not counting the Chargers game he got hurt in):

7 targets, 2 catches, 34 yards (4.9 YPT)
10 targets, 6 catches, 55 yards (5.5 YPT)
6 targets, 5 catches, 37 yards (6.2 YPT)
9 targets, 6 catches, 71 yards (7.9 YPT)
15 targets, 11 catches, 90 yards (6.0 YPT)

Now, his per-target numbers were noticeably better before the leg injury. It wouldn’t surprise me if we find out he’s playing through something, or maybe the big play is simply being schemed away from him, but if this team is gonna make a push, they’ll need their most explosive guy to be more explosive. On the flip side, if he is playing with something, it’s pretty cool that he’s developing such a polished midrange game. Either way, I hope the big yardage plays come back.

Tyler Lockett was quiet in the first part of the game made some big plays, starting with the long touchdown late in the second quarter. Lockett is so crafty, and has retained enough of his suddenness to remain very dangerous. Smith went his way seven times today, connecting on three of them for 68 yards and a score, including the interception and the long crosser in the fourth quarter. Lockett is quietly on pace for 83 catches, 989 yards, and 9 TDs.

Marquis Goodwin filled in on a day where the tight ends were quiet, coming through with a couple of big catches en route to a 3/38 line on three targets. Just the easiest guy to root for.

~The offensive line was much better in pass protection than it was in the run game, allowing the Seahawks to gain 8.3 yards per pass play but just 2.8 on the ground. They gave up one sack in the first quarter and then kept Smith clean until Maxx Crosby finally got his late in the game. One of the things that makes great pass rushers great is their ability to set up blockers throughout the game, like a pitcher that throws nothing but fastballs and sliders the first two times through the order before unleashing a split-finger late. Crosby is of the most relentless and polished edge players on the planet and blocking him for three hours is a tall order for anybody— but especially a rookie. Abe Lucas, who has been sensational this year, held his own all game long before getting worked over twice in crunch time.

Overall though, they did a nice job protecting their quarterback and that’s honestly the most important thing. That said, we know what this offense is capable of when the run game is clicking and that has been nowhere to be found the last two contests. I don’t know which intricacy of O-line play is most responsible for the recent neutering of Seattle’s potent rushing attack but I’d love for that to be something they figure out.

~Man, is the defense bad again/still? They looked so awesome during that four-game win streak and it was— more than Geno, or Walker III, or anything else— the reason I’ve become convinced this team could make a playoff run. But today they were more sieve than staunch, allowing eight yards per pass and seven yards per run.

The two picks by Quandre Diggs were fantastic but they didn’t have a lot to show for themselves after that. Poona Ford had tackles for loss on consecutive plays in the second quarter and the defense came up with two monumental short yardage stops in the fourth quarter and overtime, so it wasn’t all shitty but...

We all felt it. The heaviness in the gut, just above the pubis, that has you praying for a stop instead of expecting one. Some of that can be chalked up to the fact that Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams are elite but you could tell the unit as a whole just got worn down as the game progressed.

Jordyn Brooks had 16 tackles, which gives him 106 on the season but a lot of them were empty calories. Tackles are kinda like batting average, if you’ll allow me to stretch the baseball analogy a little further. You can have an impressive BA but I’d rather have a guy hit .250 with a bunch of walks and extra base hits than a .300 guy living off of slap singles. Still, tackles have to be made and Brooks is very good at them, leading the NFL with 9.7 per game. I just wanna see more disruption— more turnovers and tackles for loss. He’s still so young, and the middle linebacker isn’t as much of an attacker in this defense, but I’d love to see more drive-ending plays from him one way or another.

Outside of Diggs’ picks, we didn’t hear much from the secondary. The Raiders wisely lined Adams up against Mike Jackson down the stretch, keeping him away from Tariq Woolen and letting him work his surgical routes for crucial first downs. Coby Bryant almost (read: should’ve) had yet another forced fumble but we didn’t hear a ton from him otherwise. Ryan Neal got hurt late, too, which might be the biggest deal of all. He has been one of the best defenders on this team this year.

Where was the pressure today? Very quiet games from Uchenna Nwosu and Darrell Taylor this afternoon. That makes two straight without bothering the opposing quarterback too much.

576. That’s how many yards from scrimmage the Raiders had on 77 plays today. Not great, Bob.

~Seattle went 3-9 on 3rd downs after getting a bye week to recover from a 1-11 performance in Munich. That means the Seahawks are only converting 20% of their third downs during this mini losing streak after being one of the best in the league in that category through nine games. Honestly, I think this has almost everything to do with their recent inability to get consistent yardage on the ground. Doing so not only gives you more manageable 3rd down distances, it keeps the threat of running on 3rd & short/medium alive.

~Officiating. Man do I hate even mentioning it, because every team has gripes every week and I’ve always felt like blaming a game on the refs does a disservice to the guys who played. But come ON!

The “illegal man downfield” penalty I get by the letter of the law, though the league needs to be re-evaluate how they enforce that rule. But the “forward motion” call was extremely suspect because I’m pretty positive the whistle didn’t blow prior to the ball coming out and Jacobs had just started moving backward when Bryant ripped it free. The shitty part about how they ruled it is that it kills any chance at a review, which almost certainly would’ve resulted in a fumble.

And then you have the crew taking an anthropological age to re-litigate DK Metcalf’s catch during the final drive of the fourth quarter. That was ruled a reception on the field and I’m sorry— if it takes you 10 minutes to figure out what happened, you do not have the conclusive evidence necessary to change the call.

I don’t think there were any calls coming down from on high to make sure a 3-7 Raiders team won that game but there’s no doubt that officials dramatically hurt the Seahawks chances in this one. Seattle still could’ve won, though.

Look, when it’s all on the line, you need your best players to make the biggest plays and that’s what the Raiders did. Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs, and Maxx Crosby are among the very best at what they do and that’s who Las Vegas leaned on to win this game. Seattle came close, getting some big time plays in the 4th quarter and one big one in OT but never the one that closed the casket on a Raiders team playing out a lost season. Two weeks ago, the Seahawks were the #3 seed in the NFC and sitting atop the division. Now, they’re 8th and on the outside looking into the playoffs.

This loss sucked, no doubt. But what it did do was give me an opportunity to step back and remind myself of the path that this team is on. I think all of us would’ve taken 6-5 without so much as blinking if it was offered to us before the season started but 6-5 after 6-3 feels much different. It’s what makes hope such a dangerous thing, and why it was kind of nice to imagine a season devoid of playoff expectations. Just a one-year breather where we could reset, evaluate, and gear up for a sustained push starting in 2023. Instead, these fuckers roped us back in with their exciting games and lovable personalities. Assholes.

Cuz we’re in it now, at least for the next couple of weeks. And to be honest, it’s better this way. It’s more fun to be invested, even if doing so should come with a surgeon general’s warning. Because despite the recent disappointments, this team is WAY ahead of schedule.

The Seahawks head to LA to play the reeling Rams next week, and a win there gets this thing right back on track. Until then, onwards and upwards my friends.

Busted out an Arturo Fuente Gran Reserva today, which is an occasion unto itself. Full-bodied and extremely rich in flavor, this baby smokes like a meal. It also makes an excellent companion to a stiff glass of Whistlepig Farmhouse Rye.

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