Last night, the Seattle Seahawks walked into CenturyLink Field amidst a lightning storm. They did so without two of the most important pieces on perhaps the most important unit of the team in Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin, against the incumbent NFC Champions that have, arguably, improved their team just as much as Seattle did through the offseason. The Seahawks would walk out victorious for the second consecutive time, outscoring their division rivals 29-3 and forcing an uncharacteristic five turnovers by Colin Kaepernick. The Seahawks' gasher, Frank Gore, was held to 16 yards. Anquan Boldin, who lit up the Packers secondary last week, had one catch. For a defense that ranked second in DVOA for rushing in 2012, they allowed Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks' offense to march down the field for 172 yards on the ground.
But in the end, these are all just numbers on a stat sheet, and as next week comes around they will again be rendered useless, and the slate will be wiped clean for all intents and purposes. "Each week is a championship week," as Pete Carroll would say. These statistical nuggets are not what we need to take away from the game.
What we can take away from a big win over a very, very good opponent, is this: the Seattle Seahawks entered the season with hype, unprecedented expectations and the pressure to perform to a level they had not yet experienced. This is a team that, for once, has a roster that has become the envy of other team's fans rather than a team shown contempt or pity; that the consideration of "adopting" the Seahawks as your NFC team is reasonable, if not simply jumping on the bandwagon.
For a while it looked like it would be a smooth ride, but perhaps in football more than any other sport, it always comes down to a war of attrition, and when reality strikes, it hits hard. Bruce Irvin is suspended. Percy Harvin is PUP'ed until midseason. Anthony McCoy, out for the year. Jordan Hill tears his bicep. Antoine Winfield retires. Michael Robinson is cut. Brandon Browner has a nagging injury. Cliff Avril misses all of camp and the first game with a hamstring.
When the Seahawks narrowly won against the Panthers last week there was a sense of confusion and panic that this team was underperforming and doomed to the curse of Seattle sports or set to follow in the footsteps of the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles. Nevermind that it was one game. Nevermind that the Panthers are severely underrated in terms of talent. The pundits, the fans, and even I could entertain the thought of losing to the 49ers in this one despite playing at home with all of the improvements made to the roster. The excuses, the justifications were there, and that's all we need to fall back on the safety net of pessimism.
I would realize, in seeing the team I saw play last night, that this will be no longer necessary. The Seahawks are not accepting "what if's" or "could've been's", especially behind the loudest fan base on earth.There was a hunger to beat their arch-nemesis evident in their play, and though there were hiccups with Russell Okung going down and Russell Wilson not playing to his best, the truth is that Seattle, through two games, have begun separating themselves from the pack. In two games, they have set a new bar for themselves, particularly on defense.
The cool thing, as Pete Carroll pointed out in his post-game presser, is that this is a team that still has a lot of room for improvement - execution-wise on offense, and talent-wise with the players returning on defense - and will be able to clean things up in a lot of areas. And I can't wait to see where that might take us.