If there was any doubt that the Seahawks could perform like they did against Arizona and Buffalo against a good team, they shut all of those people up. In front of a nationally televised audience on NBC the Seahawks proved to the nation they could be a seriously dangerous super bowl contender as they beat the San Francisco 49ers 42-13. With the victory, the Seahawks improve to 10-5 on the season and clinched a playoff berth. The 49ers fall to 10-4-1. The Seahawks are still alive for the NFC West title but they will need a bit of help in week 17. For now however, the Seahawks are officially heading to January football. This is what I saw on Sunday night.
Shut Them Up Early: The start of Sunday night’s game could not have gone any better. The Seahawks defense forced the San Francisco offense to a 3-and-out and then Marshawn Lynch scored on the Seahawks second offensive play of the game, giving them a 7-0 lead in the first two minutes of play. The Seahawks got the ball back after forcing San Francisco to punt and on their next possession, scored on a Lynch touchdown pass; 14-0 Seahawks. When this can happen on a national stage against a really good team, this fuels the 12th Man and makes it almost impossible for the opposing team to do anything, much like what happened to the 49ers on Sunday Night. Although it was only a two-score game, what happened next pretty much put the dagger in San Francisco’s chances of winning the game.
Bryant, Sherman Possibly Make Play Of The Season: There is no arguing that the Golden Tate touchdown catch against Green Bay was probably the most exciting play of the 2012 season, but what happened with just over 12:00 left in the second quarter could easily challenge it. San Francisco’s David Akers lined up for a chip-shot 21-yard field goal. The trajectory was low and the kick was blocked by defensive end Red Bryant. The ball bounced to the side of the field and bounced right into the arms of Richard Sherman who returned the kick 90 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 Seahawks lead. The play pretty much stuck the dagger right into the heart of the San Francisco 49ers. With a 21-0 lead and all the momentum on our side, it was certain this night belonged to the Seahawks. From my point of view, in the stands this play was wild. I have not celebrated to the point of running up and down the aisle since the Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown run in the playoffs against New Orleans two seasons ago. What made it even sweeter for me was that it was Sherman, my favorite player, who returned it for a touchdown. The smile could not have been wider on my face.
San Francisco Will Struggle Without Smith: In week 15 when Justin Smith left the 49ers game against New England, the Patriots came back to score 28 points in a 19 minute span. The 49ers held on to the game but it was closer than they had hoped. On Sunday night without Smith in the lineup, you could tell the 49ers were without a huge piece of their defense. Justin Smith may not be the flashiest player on their team but he may be the most important. Ricky Jean-Francois took Smith’s place at nose tackle on Sunday but did not have as big of an impact. Because of this, the pressure on Russell Wilson was minimal at best, allowing the Seahawks offense to pick San Francisco’s defense apart. The 49ers may be in trouble in the postseason if Justin Smith is not available.
Random Thoughts: Only one thought this week because it is strong enough to wipe away anything else I could say about my gameday experience. I have been attending sporting events for almost 23 years and I have been a Seahawks season ticket holder for the last 7 seasons. I have NEVER been more embarrassed and humiliated at a sporting event in my entire life. Whenever security has to get involved because your guest is being belligerent and using excessive amounts of foul language, you are not going to have a fun time. Only a warning was issued to my guest but that was enough to subdue my extremely happy mood because of what was going on down on the field. I guess some people just don’t have filters to know what is appropriate behavior at a Seahawks game and what is not, which is really too bad. It gives me something to think about in terms of who to take to games next season.
Seahawks Playoff Outlook: With the win the Seahawks are 10-5 and have locked up no worse than the 5th seed in the NFC. The Minnesota Vikings are currently positioned to take the 6th seed but the Chicago Bears are also in the hunt to take the 6th seed. Minnesota goes to the playoffs with a win over Green Bay and Chicago makes the playoffs with a win over Detroit and a Vikings loss to Green Bay. The Winner of the Dallas/Washington game on Sunday Night will take the NFC East and the 4th seed in the conference. The New York Giants are also mathematically alive in the playoff hunt but will need to win this week and a get a lot of help to make the playoffs.
The Seahawks can still win the NFC West. If the Seahawks beat St. Louis and Arizona Beats San Francisco, the Seahawks win the division. If the Seahawks, Cardinals, and Packers win, the Seahawks will be the 3rd seed in the NFC. If the Seahawks, Cardinals, and Vikings all win, the Seahawks will be the 2nd seed and earn a first-round bye in the playoffs. Here are the games with potential playoff implications this week:
St. Louis (7-7-1) at Seattle (10-5)
Arizona (5-10) at San Francisco (10-4-1)
Green Bay (11-4) at Minnesota (9-6)
Dallas (8-7) at Washington (9-6)
Chicago (9-6) at Detroit (4-11)
Philadelphia (4-11) at New York Giants (8-7)
I apologize this review is late. The holiday season really tied me up this week. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed reading and be sure to look for my preview of Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams on Saturday afternoon. Go Seahawks!