Tag Archives: Jon Ryan

#10for10 Game #2: Championship Comeback (Seahawks vs. Packers, 2014 NFC Championship Game)

17 Dec

*To commemorate my 10th season as a Seahawks season ticket holder, I am telling the stories of the top 10 home games I have attended in the past 10 years*

10for10 kearse catch

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

After overtaking the Arizona Cardinals for the NFC West lead and eventual division championship late in the 2014 season the Seahawks earned the number one seed in the NFC playoffs for the second consecutive season. All it would take was a win in the divisional round and the Seahawks would host the NFC Championship Game for the second straight year. We did just that, and on January 18th, 2015 the Seahawks hosted the Green Bay Packers with the winner earning a trip to Super Bowl XLIX.

The day started a little different than any other Seahawks home game in my 10 years as a season ticket holder simply because of what time the game was scheduled to start. The AFC and NFC alternate kickoff times for championship weekend each year; one game starts at 12:00pm while the other kicks off at 3:30pm. In 2014 the NFC title game was a noon kickoff Pacific Time which meant the game would start one hour earlier than an afternoon regular season Seahawks home game. After a 5:30am wake up call, I got myself ready to go and I was out of the house by 6:30. I met my friend Jake at a Pioneer Square Starbucks shortly before 7am and we grabbed a cup of coffee before walking over to our pregame destination, the Hawks Nest Bar and Grill. The bar usually opens at 8am for Seahawks home games and they did not open earlier to accommodate the earlier start time. Because of this there was a line about 75 people long waiting to get in at 7:30. We met a couple of Jake’s brother’s friends and when the doors opened at 8 o’clock we headed straight for the L-shaped mini-bar-looking spot in the back of the building.

For the next two and a half hours we watched the various NFL pregame shows on the televisions surrounding our spot while eating and drinking merrily with all the Seahawks fans sitting and standing around us. Over this time I was paid visits by my Dad and uncle who were attending the game together, as well as my friend James and his little brother Lane who had also won tickets through the Seahawks.

10for10 packers pregame

James (left), Jake (right), and I at the Hawks Nest before the game

After a few beers Jake and I left the bar at around 10:30 and headed into the stadium. We got our rally towels at the gate and headed straight up to my seats. We were met with a stadium getting fuller by the minute and by the time the Seahawks headed into their locker room after pregame warmups CenturyLink Field was nearly completely full. The Seahawks defense was introduced to a raucous ovation and after Paul Allen raised the 12 Flag for the third time ever with a sea of white towels waving all around, Steven Hauschka kicked off to the Packers to get the game underway.

That first drive could not have been any better. After letting the Packers drive into Seahawks territory, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw a third down pass into the endzone which was picked off by Richard Sherman. All the momentum shifted in the Seahawks favor. If we could take our first possession and turn it into a touchdown, it may be an easy day en route to the Super Bowl. Those dreams ended real fast. On the third play of our first drive Russell Wilson was intercepted by Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. For some reason everything that followed for the next three quarters fell out of sync. That interception led to a field goal and a 3-0 Green Bay lead. Doug Baldwin fumbled the ball back to the Packers on our next offensive play and that turnover turned into another Packers field goal. Then a three and out gave the ball back to the Packers and they in turn scored a touchdown. After the first quarter the Packers had over 4 times as many points as the Seahawks had yards. Packers 13, Seahawks 0.

The Seahawks started the second quarter with another three and out. The Packers turned their next drive into another field goal and a 16-0 lead. By this point all the fans were silent and discouraged beyond belief. We could not believe that a team so good playing at home on a stage so big could come out so flat. Our next drive did not make matters any better. Another Wilson interception to Clinton-Dix gave Green Bay the ball back but we were able to take the ball back from the Packers when Byron Maxwell intercepted Rodgers. We needed to go down the field and score a touchdown to have any confidence moving forward. We got the ball all the way down to the Packers 18-yard line. Unfortunately we could not capitalize. Wilson targeted Jermaine Kearse on the left side of the endzone but was intercepted by Sam Shields. Packers ball 1st and 10 up 16-0 with 1:55 left in the half. I was in a state of such shock and disbelief I needed to decompose and catch my breath. I abandoned an equally-shocked Jake at my seats for a short period of time and I decided to take a walk down the concourse and use the restroom at the halftime break.

I sit in section 340 at CenturyLink Field which is in the northwest corner of the stadium. I walked all the way down to the 12 Flagpole in the south end of the stadium and waited in a bathroom line that stretched about 100 feet down the concourse. I did not even care about the Alice in Chains halftime performance going on right next to me. I just stared into space, thinking about the 30 minutes of atrocious football I had just witnessed. I was not physically sick but just thinking about how poorly we played made me want to puke once I got in there. I walked back to my seats with a renewed hope that the Seahawks could come back and make this game competitive. Luckily I made it back just in time for the start of the second half.

After trading drives resulting in punts the Seahawks got the ball back and drove down to the Green Bay 19-yard line. Steven Hauschka lined up for a 38-yard field goal but the ball was picked up by holder Jon Ryan who scrambled left and lobbed up a rainbow to eligible receiver Garry Gilliam for a touchdown. The fake fooled everyone in the stadium and when the pass fell complete the stands went nuts. The gutsy play call put us back in the game. We knew we had a long way to go but we thought this score could spark a comeback. Packers 16, Seahawks 7.

After exchanging punts once more the Packers drove down the field to kick a field goal which extended their lead to 19-7 with 10:53 left in regulation. The Seahawks got the ball back with just over 5 minutes left to go needing a touchdown. On the first play of the drive Wilson was picked off for the fourth time, once again intended for Jermaine Kearse. Many fans gave up on our chances and decided to head for the exits including Marc and Mike, the two guys who sit in front of me. After forcing the Packers to punt the Seahawks got the ball back with 3:52 left in regulation. The following 7 minutes and 11 seconds earned this game the number two spot on my countdown.

The Seahawks drove 69-yards down the field culminating in a 1-yard read-option keeper by Russell Wilson. The score cut the Green Bay lead to 19-14. It was a huge score but we still needed to recover an onside kick to have any shot at taking the lead. Steven Hauschka kicked the ensuing onside kick which bounced off the helmet of the Packers Brandon Bostick. Chris Matthews jumped to snare the ball out of mid-air and the remainder of the crowd went insane. I bear hugged Jake and the guys sitting next to us. I immediately turned to my left to look down at all the fans who decided to leave stop in their tracks. Instead of walking away from the building they stood frozen, hearing the distant cheers inside the stadium; honestly one of the most satisfying sights I have ever seen at a Seahawks game. After an 8-yard pass to Luke Willson, Marshawn Lynch took a handoff 24 yards for a touchdown. All of a sudden with 1:25 left in regulation the Seahawks had their first lead of the game 20-19. We could not believe it. After screaming in celebration I bent over to catch my breath, not before letting out one last yelp. The Seahawks had to go for two to try to extend the lead to 3. Wilson rolled to his right and when the play did not develop he was chased backwards and after spinning around he chucked up a prayer of a pass across his body where it was somehow hauled in by Willson. The Seahawks miraculously had a 22-19 lead but the game was not yet over. The Packers were successfully able to drive into field goal range and kicked a game-tying 48-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. After 60 minutes: Seahawks 22, Packers 22.

The Seahawks won the toss to start overtime and I immediately wanted to yell “WE WANT THE BALL AND WE’RE GONNA SCORE!” in reference to the infamous Seahawks/Packers Wild-Card playoff game in 2003. Jake could tell by the look on my face and before I even had the chance to open my mouth he looked at me and with a dead straight face said “don’t you even dare say it.” Facing a third down Wilson found Doug Baldwin for a 35-yard gain and the Seahawks were a mere 35 yards away from a second straight NFC championship. On the next play Wilson saw the Packers were lined up with a single high safety so he audibled. He dropped back and floated a beautiful pass right into the arms of Jermaine Kearse as he crossed the goal line. When the pass left Wilson’s hand I screamed “FOR THE WIN….” And sure enough when the pass dropped into Kearse’s bread basket I jumped into the air. Jake jumped into my arms and the guys surrounding me in turn jumped onto us World Series style, as if we were the ones who had just won the game. The Seahawks players and coaches stormed the field and pig-piled Kearse in the south endzone. We were the NFC Champions and if felt so good. Daft Punk’s “One More Time” blared over the sound system as the trophy presentation stage was being set up in the middle of the field.

10for10 packers postgame

Jake and I with the championship celebration ongoing on the field in the background

Steve Largent presented Paul Allen the George Halas trophy and after speeches by Allen, Pete Carroll, and Russell Wilson it really started to sink in that we were going back to the Super Bowl. Jake and I left the stadium and walked up 1st avenue on our way to dinner where traffic was at a standstill. We high fived everyone we walked past on the sidewalk while also watching various fans run through the streets in celebration. This was the greatest comeback in the history of Seahawks football and not only were we fortunate to see it live, we were also smart enough not to leave when our chances to win seemed grave with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter. This game will always be one of my favorites and it has rightfully earned the number two spot on my #10for10 countdown.

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Seahawks/Vikings Preview

5 Dec
vikings preview 2015

Photo Credit: Vikings.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings

Site: TCF Bank Stadium (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Kickoff: 10:00am

Raise your hand if you had this game as the Seahawks most important game of the season when the schedule came out. After three consecutive games at home the Seahawks hit the road for two straight games. Up first is a huge conference matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. The Seahawks are 6-5 and are coming off a huge win over Pittsburgh a week ago. The Vikings were a team that many experts said to keep an eye on at the start of the season and they are proving the experts right. Minnesota holds an impressive 8-3 record and are currently the leaders of the NFC North. Seattle leads the all-time series 8-5. In their last meeting the Seahawks crushed the Vikings 41-20 in Seattle and the Seahawks eventually went on to win the super bowl. This could very well be a preview of a potential playoff matchup next month. Here is what I will be watching for.

The Minnesota defense allows an average of only 17.6 points per game, second best in the league. It is imperative for the Seahawks offense to be able to stay on the field and drive deep into Vikings territory. Thomas Rawls will face his biggest challenge of the season and I will be keeping close tabs on his yardage coming on first down opportunities. If he can gain at least 4 yards on first down it will put the offense in a good position to gain first downs and keep drives alive. In the passing game I will be focused on the blocking by left tackle Russell Okung and left guard Justin Britt. The right side of the Vikings front seven consists of lineman Everson Griffen as well as linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr. These three players have combined for 14 of Minnesota’s 25 sacks this season (56 percent). I expect Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to take care of the ball just like how he did a week ago against Pittsburgh but he must be more aware of his blindside in this game. If Okung and Britt struggle to block it would not be surprising to see Wilson get hit and fumble the ball multiple times. Quick passes to Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, and Luke Willson may be the best way to attack the Vikings through the air this week.

If there was one game this season where I wish we still had Red Bryant it would be for this game. Priority number one for the Seahawks defense this week will be to stop Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. It will be up to Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin to lock down the middle of the line of scrimmage. Given the solid play of Minnesota’s offensive line penetrating the line will be difficult. Good fundamental tackling will go a long way to limiting Peterson’s production. One guy on defense that may see more playing time than usual is Jordan Hill. In an attempt to limit Peterson’s presence it may not be surprising to see Hill, Mebane, and Rubin all play on the line at the same time.

The Minnesota Vikings have the top ranked rushing offense in the league. In contrast they also sport the league’s second worse pass offense. At age 30 Adrian Peterson is still as productive as ever and the Vikings offense is only as effective as he is. Peterson leads the league in rushing yards with 1,164 and has rushed for over 100 yards six times this season. The Vikings are 6-0 in those games. My worry is that the Vikings will use other ways to move the ball on the ground in an attempt to avoid throwing towards the Legion of Boom. My X-Factor Player to Watch for the Vikings this week is one of the better young quarterbacks in the league and the man that makes the entire Minnesota offense work, Teddy Bridgewater. Although Bridgewater has not thrown for many touchdowns, he is a very conservative passer who tries to move the ball in small chunks to wear out the opposing defense. Bridgewater has had a completion percentage of over 65 percent in six games. In those games he has thrown only two interceptions. The main reason why he is my X-Factor this week is the threat of him keeping the ball and running. Although he has not nearly put up the type of rushing stats as Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick of seasons past, Bridgewater is one of the faster quarterbacks in the league and he will scramble and take off if he feels the pressure and does not have any open receivers. Peterson may be the number one priority of the Seattle defense but Bridgewater also contributes to that top ranked rushing attack. Plain and simple, shut Peterson and Bridgewater down on the ground, win the game.

Something that is not garnering the attention that I believe it should is one fairly significant advantage the Seahawks have in this game. Gone are the days of playing the Vikings at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which was one of the better home field advantages in the NFL. It would be a tougher challenge for the Seahawks if we were playing at the Metrodome. Instead the Vikings are playing the second of two seasons at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota while their brand new stadium is under construction. The stadium seats just over 51,000 which is the smallest capacity of any current NFL stadium and crowd noise will hardly be a factor.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear white jerseys and wolf grey pants. Seattle is 0-4 all-time in this combination. The Vikings will wear purple jerseys and white pants… Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch will have the play-by-play and commentary respectively on FOX. Pam Oliver will report from the sidelines… Terry McAulay will be this week’s referee… I briefly considered hitting the road for this game but ultimately decided to go to Dallas instead. The reason behind that decision was the potential weather in Minneapolis. Being a December game I thought there was a realistic possibility of it being below freezing and snowing. Hindsight is 20/20 and in that vein it looks like it will be a nice day for football. The high temperature on Sunday will be in the low 40’s and it will be sunny. That is exactly the kind of weather we have experienced in Seattle the past two weeks… After this week the combined record of the Seahawks next three opponents is 10-23. Translation: If the Seahawks beat the Vikings, you will be extremely hard-pressed to make the argument that Seattle will miss out on the playoffs.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: The Seahawks currently hold the #6 seed in the NFC playoffs and with a win we are locked into this spot for at least another week; we cannot move up but a loss may knock us out of the current playoff picture. Seattle is three games behind the Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West. Here are games to keep track of that may have NFC playoff implications this week. Teams to note are bolded.

Arizona (9-2) at St. Louis (4-7)

Atlanta (6-5) at Tampa Bay (5-6)

Prediction: The Seahawks are 12-2 in games played in December with Russell Wilson at quarterback. Each of the prior three seasons our December success has carried us to the playoffs. With the win last week we will be riding some serious momentum into this game. Thomas Rawls will run for over 125 yards and score two touchdowns. Wilson will also throw a touchdown to Luke Willson. The game will come down to Minnesota’s final drive. After a punt by Jon Ryan pins the Vikings at their own 2-yard line, Bridgewater will have to drive 98 yards for a game-tying touchdown. On the first play of the drive Minnesota will be penalized for holding in the endzone, giving the Seahawks a safety and in-turn, clinching the game for Seattle. We will improve to 7-5 and be in the driver’s seat for an NFC wild-card berth.

Seahawks 26, Vikings 17

Review: Seahawks 24, Eagles 14

7 Dec
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

For the second straight week I started the game as a nervous wreck and by the time it was over I had to question myself as to what I was so nervous about in the first place. The Seahawks added yet another defensive gem to their resume as Seattle went all the way across the country to Philadelphia and physically dominated the Eagles en route to a convincing 24-14 victory. The Seahawks and Eagles both now sit at 9-4. With the win Seattle has a firm grip on an NFC wild-card playoff berth while still sitting one game behind the Arizona Cardinals for the division lead. For Philadelphia, Sunday’s loss ties them atop the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys but they remain the division leaders based on their tiebreaker over the Cowboys. This was the toughest game left on Seattle’s schedule and with this win I believe the path has been cleared for the Seahawks to make some noise in the playoff standings for the rest of the regular season. For now here is what I took out of this week’s game.

Wilson’s Indecisiveness Costs Seahawks Points: Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson played a very good game overall, throwing for 263 yards and 2 touchdowns as well as running for 48 yards and a touchdown. It seemed as if he got more comfortable with his timing and his throws as the game wore on. I did see Wilson make two mistakes in the first quarter, both possibly taking points off the board. The first came on the first drive of the game. With the Seahawks facing a 3rd and 5 at the Eagles 30-yard line Wilson scrambled to the right and instead of throwing the ball away he tried to find an open receiver and ran out of room, stepping out of bounds for a loss of 4 yards. With the wind swirling throughout the game, those 4 yards made the difference between the Seahawks attempting a field goal and punting. Instead of taking a 3-0 lead, the Seahawks punted. The second mistake occurred with just under 4 minutes left in the first half; virtually the same situation. With the Seahawks in field goal range on third down, Wilson was pressured and threw the ball away and did not get the pass back to the line of scrimmage. Intentional grounding was called on Wilson and the Seahawks were forced to punt once again after the 15-yard penalty. A field goal in that situation would have made it a 10-7 game and I believe those two opportunities could have given the Seahawks at least 16 points going into halftime.

Offensive Line Thoughts: The Seahawks surrendered only two sacks of Russell Wilson on Sunday. Just like how the entire offense played better as the game progressed, the same could be said for the Seahawks offensive line, specifically the right side of the line anchored by tackle Justin Britt. Britt had trouble blocking the wide array of weapons Philadelphia threw at him. It seemed like Britt had no answer for Connor Barwin, Fletcher Cox, and Bennie Logan for the entire first half. As the first half was coming to a close, I noticed that right guard J.R. Sweezy started to help Britt out and the Seahawks stuck to that strategy in the second half, resulting in significant improvement in the passing game. Lemuel Jeanpierre played a good game at center in place of Max Unger, proving that he can be a serviceable player until Unger returns from injury. If Unger can play next week this healing and improving offense will only continue to grow and put more points on the board.

Boom > Speed: The number one question coming into this game was how the Seahawks defense would handle the speed of the Philadelphia offense. Coming into this game the Eagles were averaging 412 yards of offense per game. On Sunday, the Seahawks and the Legion of Boom completely shut down Mark Sanchez and company, holding the Eagles to 139 yards. In my game preview I wrote about how to this point Sanchez has not been required to do a whole lot for the Eagles to win games. Today his weaknesses were exploited. The Seahawks were able to hold Eagles running back LeSean McCoy to 50 yards rushing on 17 carries, forcing Sanchez to throw for Philadelphia to move the ball. Sanchez finished the day 10/20 for 96 yards, 2 touchdowns, and one interception. Both touchdowns however came with the Eagles working with a short field (14 yard and 54 yard drives respectively). In our last three games the Seahawks have averaged less than 7 points per game. With the reeling 49ers coming to Seattle next week, this defense could be primed for another dominating performance.

Time of Possession: With all the talk about Philadelphia’s lightning-fast pace on offense it is amazing to me that the Seahawks possessed the ball for 41 minutes and 56 seconds of the game (69%). That number sets a Seahawks franchise record for time of possession. Everything related to time of possession fell into place and you could see it on the field. The Seahawks gained 28 first downs, were able to run the ball to keep the clock running, and perhaps most importantly our defense was able to stay rested throughout the game. As far as clock management goes this was as perfect of a game I have ever seen the Seahawks play and it could not have come against a better opponent.

Procedure Penalties Still a Problem: Although total penalties improved from last week to this week (8 penalties for 67 yards), the Seahawks still need to clean up easily avoidable pre-snap fouls. Half of Seattle’s penalties this week were procedure calls which included two false starts and two delay of game penalties. These fouls are continuing to give me a headache. These situations are fundamental in practice and there is no excuse for giving the opponent easy yards like we did again on Sunday.

Thoughts on Philadelphia: The Philadelphia Eagles are a good team but without Nick Foles this team could be headed towards another early round playoff exit. I believe they have the talent on defense to push this team to a division title. Even though they played the #1 defense this week this offense is not broken. I do question Mark Sanchez’s ability to lead this team deep into January. I believe the Eagles are good enough to win a wild-card playoff game at home but with Sanchez at the helm, if the Eagles have to travel in the playoffs, particularly to Seattle, they will have a very difficult time winning.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks went white/blue this week. This was the first time since beating the Redskins in week 5 that the Seahawks won in white jerseys… I am going to talk way more about the Eagles uniforms than I probably should. In my game preview I said the Eagles would wear their midnight green jerseys with white pants. I was wrong. They decided to go with their black alternate jerseys and black pants. I found this surprising considering the Eagles were forced to wear black for the first half of the season after a snafu with Nike in regards to having their green jerseys ready for the first part of the season. Considering that black is the Eagles “alternate” jersey, I would have thought that they could not wear that jersey anymore this season. Oh well… Ricardo Lockette what was that flop all about??!! Terrible… On Saturday night punter Jon Ryan spent his evening playing Nintendo 64 Mario Kart with kicker Steven Hauschka and long snapper Clint Gresham. Perhaps Ryan should spend a little more time practicing catching the ball. Two straight weeks now Ryan has fumbled a punt but this week he could not get off the kick and the Eagles took advantage of the short field we gave them. The Seahawks defense saved Ryan from being the goat of the game in my opinion… Richard Sherman almost had his 4th interception of the season early on in the game. I continue to be amazed that Sherman is rarely penalized with the style of play he sports… I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here. I believe we will win out and go 12-4. We need to take it one game and one week at a time but I believe we can run the table.

Thanks for reading everyone! Check back on Saturday as I preview our week 15 game against the San Francisco 49ers. Go Seahawks!

Review: Seahawks 30, Raiders 24

2 Nov
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Usually when the Seahawks score 30 points in a game I am thrilled. It usually means we played a very sound game and should mean that we won fairly easily. Why is it then that I feel so shortchanged and worried? The Seahawks have yet to put together a complete victory and today they showed improvement in areas and showed regression in others. The Seahawks defeated the Oakland Raiders 30-24 on Sunday in a game that I believe should not have been as close as the final score indicates. Regardless, the Seahawks improve to 5-3 on the season, taking over sole possession of second place in the NFC West. With today’s loss the Raiders fall to 0-8. Here is the good and the bad that I took out of this week’s game.

Running Game Improves: Today offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell gave running back Marshawn Lynch a hefty dose of the ball and it paid dividends in controlling time of possession and making the difference on the scoreboard. Lynch ran the ball 21 times for 67 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, his most productive game on the ground since week 3. Behind an offensive line missing two starters, Lynch did a great job finding running lanes and gaining yards after contact. What I also liked was the play calling which got Lynch, Robert Turbin, and Christine Michael involved on early downs. Russell Wilson handed the ball off to his running back on first down 48% of the time, a significant improvement from the past few weeks.

Wilson Still Having Trouble Making Throws: For the second straight week, Russell Wilson struggled to connect with receivers on throws he has proved he can make. Today, among the incomplete passes that stick out in my mind, he overthrew wide receiver Jermaine Kearse multiple times and also failed to hit tight end Luke Willson on a play-action shotgun pass which would have picked up a first down and significant yards after the catch. Perhaps today the weather played a factor in Wilson’s performance but against a defense like Oakland’s a 179-yard performance with no touchdowns or interceptions feels very unsatisfactory. This season Wilson has had only four 200-yard passing games and of those, he has only thrown for over 300 yards once. It seems as though we cannot put a complete offensive game together; we can either run the ball effectively and struggle passing or vice versa. Could it be that Wilson is not yet 100 percent comfortable with his targets, particularly the rookie wide receivers? Time will tell as he become more familiar with them on a weekly basis.

Special Teams Regresses Terribly: The Seahawks special teams allowed yet another touchdown on Sunday, when Denico Autry of the Raiders blocked a Jon Ryan punt which was recovered by Oakland’s Brice Butler in the endzone for a touchdown. Given the recent struggles of the Seahawks special teams unit I pose this question: is the absence of special teams captain Heath Farwell making the difference in the poor play of this year’s squad compared to the shutdown play of last year’s unit? There are several new players in different positions on special teams which led head coach Pete Carroll to label special teams “a circus” after today’s win but Farwell was the anchor of last year’s unit. This is scary to me. The inability for the offense and defense to run away with games this season makes me think that it may be only a matter of time before these special teams mistakes cost us yet another game much like what happened in St. Louis.

Plug-and-Play Defense Survives: Today the Seahawks defense was introduced during pregame ceremonies and there were three new names to the lineup. Brock Coyle started at middle linebacker while Tharold Simon and DeShawn Shead took Byron Maxwell and Kam Chancellor’s spots respectively in the Legion of Boom. They played adequately. Among these three players Shead led the pack with 4 tackles and Coyle only recorded 2 tackles of his own. Coyle was helped out in large part by outside linebacker K.J. Wright who played a very Bobby Wagner-esque game. Wright made 13 tackles and also added a pass defensed. Bruce Irvin also started in place of Malcolm Smith and had a big impact, intercepting and returning a self-tipped Derek Carr pass to the house for a touchdown. All in all, the defense forced two Carr turnovers and survived the game despite allowing 17 points. We simply need to get healthy. I do not think it is crazy to think that if we had played any other team today we may not have come out victorious.

Thoughts on Oakland: The Oakland Raiders have potential on offense but they are not there yet. Derek Carr needs talent around him to put more points on the board. A new running attack would not hurt either, as Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew are not getting any younger. On defense the Raiders need to get younger. They are too old to stay consistently healthy although the play of second-year cornerback D.J. Hayden had me pretty impressed on Sunday. The Raiders will likely bring in a new head coach in 2015 to replace the current interim coach Tony Sparano. It seems like the Raiders are consistently rebuilding, and from where I am currently sitting, it may be a few more years before they can challenge for even a wild-card berth.

Random Thoughts: Jerseys were just like I thought for both teams. Moving on… Today Walter Jones’ 4 offensive line mates from the 2005 Super Bowl XL season raised the 12th Man Flag. It was great to see Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Chris Gray, and Sean Locklear back in Seattle all together. Personally I believe Hutchinson should get a turn to raise the flag by himself in the future. Also, I am assuming Locklear retired because he was in attendance today. How is that possible? He was a rookie in 2005, and even though he is currently 33 years old I think he could still be of service to a desperate team seeking offensive line depth. I guess that just goes to show you how short NFL careers are… I loved the Marysville-Pilchuck High School logo on the Seahawks touchdown flags and the moment of silence was nice also… The Ring of Honor ceremony for Walter Jones was awesome. Those navy blue blazers worn by all the Ring of Honor members look pretty good. Jones seemed to get more emotional for the ROH ceremony than he did for his jersey retirement 4 years ago… Another home game next week. I’m already looking forward to it!

Thanks for reading everyone. Check back next Saturday as I preview our week 10 matchup against the New York Giants. Go Seahawks!

Review: Rams 28, Seahawks 26

20 Oct
Photo Credit: stlouisrams.com

Photo Credit: stlouisrams.com

No matter how good or bad the Seattle Seahawks are, we always struggle against the St. Louis Rams in St. Louis. That is exactly what happened on Sunday. Thanks in large part to special teams, the Rams defeated the Seahawks 28-26 in a game that was frustrating to watch due to both the Seahawks play and the officials. The Seahawks fall to 3-3 on the season while the Rams improve to 2-4. Here are my thoughts on Sunday’s disappointing loss.

Offense, and Getting Wilson Involved: The Seahawks offense struggled to put points on the board in the first half this week and I personally questioned the play-calling of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell throughout the game. I was happy about the way running back Marshawn Lynch was used even though his production was not ideal, as he ran 18 times for 52 yards. What upset me were the first down pass plays and the second down run plays, which set the Seahawks up for third down and long multiple times this week. I think Bevell dropped the ball in this regard and if the Seahawks were able to stick to a running attack in the first half, the Seahawks would have come away with more than 6 points in the first 30 minutes. At halftime I called upon the Seahawks to make the necessary adjustments to get quarterback Russell Wilson more involved in the running game which is exactly what happened. In the second half Wilson ran for 82 yards and a touchdown. In addition Wilson took more shots down the field in the second half which helped the Seahawks score 20 second half points. On offense we need to avoid slow starts moving forward. If we can play a full game like how we played in the second half this week we can fix this problem and become more consistent.

Defensive Struggles: The primary struggle the Seahawks are facing is putting pressure on the opposing quarterback, which in effect is allowing opposing offenses to easily convert on third down. After sacking Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo only once last week, the Seahawks struggled once again to put pressure on Rams quarterback Austin Davis. Davis was not sacked on Sunday and on third down plays the Seahawks did not send more than 4 rushers until the very end of the game. I never thought I would miss the presence of Chris Clemons so much. I am not saying Clemons alone makes the difference in last year’s defense compared to this year’s defense but on the whole the Seahawks defense has struggled mightily this season thus far. Including this loss the Seahawks have allowed 25 points in their first three road games this season. We are 1-2 in these games. Last season the Seahawks allowed an average of 20 points through their first 3 road games and went 2-1. If the Seahawks can improve the pass rush, pressure will be taken off the linebackers and the Legion of Boom and we will have a chance to be comfortably ahead in our games.

Thoughts on the Rams Front Seven: Coming into this game the St. Louis Rams had only recorded one sack on the season. Today the Rams sacked Russell Wilson 3 times. I warned about the potential of the Rams defense penetrating our offensive line to get to Wilson and my fears became reality. Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald and Eugene Sims among others bullied the depleted Seahawks offensive line all day long and Russell Wilson rarely had a clean pocket to throw from. I thought that it was only a matter of time before the Rams defense had a breakthrough performance and that is exactly what happened on Sunday. This unit is one of the best in the National Football League. As a Seahawks fan I just wish we had a healthy Max Unger and a fully healthy Russell Okung. If we had our entire starting offensive line, perhaps our offense would have been more effective and we would have been able to tame the Rams defense easier.

Rare Special Teams Gaffs Kill Seahawks: There were three huge special teams plays this week that cost the Seahawks points and could have cost us the game. First, Benny Cunningham of the Rams returned a first quarter kickoff 75 yards to instantly put St. Louis into Seahawks territory and into scoring range. The drive resulted in 6-yard touchdown run by running back Tre Mason. The second mistake came on a second quarter punt. Jon Ryan punted to Rams return man Stedman Bailey who returned the punt 90 yards for a touchdown. The only problem was that the St. Louis special teams unit tricked the Seahawks special teams unit into covering decoy return man Tavon Austin. This gave Bailey a wide open field and he was easily able to return it for a touchdown. 14 points in the first half came on special teams breakdowns and in hindsight could have made the difference between the Seahawks winning and losing. The cherry on top of the cake was a fake punt pass from Rams punter Johnny Hekker to Cunningham on 4th down deep in Rams territory. The play had to be executed perfectly, as a screw up would have resulted in a turnover, Seahawks ball deep in St. Louis territory down by 2 points, and an easy opportunity for Seattle to re-take the lead. Instead the Rams executed the fake punt flawlessly and the Rams were able to run out the clock to preserve the victory. Of all these mistakes the fake punt irritates me the most, simply because the Rams have had recent history of fooling the Seahawks on special teams. Two years ago Rams head coach Jeff Fisher called for a fake field goal deep in Seahawks territory. Hekker found an uncovered and completely wide open Danny Amendola for a touchdown. It is this play that should have had Pete Carroll and special teams coordinator Brian Schneider’s attention this time around. I believe the Seahawks should have been more aware of the potential of St. Louis trickery, and the Rams caught us off guard and capitalized once again.

The Fumble: Let me make this last point short and sweet. Regardless of whether or not the Seahawks recovered that fumble at the end of the game, the fact that there was no booth review to confirm who had possession of the ball infuriates me. With as close of a call that was in as close of a game that was, there should have been a booth review. I personally believe Richard Sherman fell on the fumble but there was no 100 percent conclusive evidence to overturn the call on the field. After a full game of questionable officiating this play put it over the top. I am not blaming the referees by any means necessary; the Seahawks put themselves in this position and lost the game. However the fact that no booth review was called on this crucial play is enough to make every Seahawks fan mad.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks need to retire the white jersey/wolf grey pant combination. Since the Seahawks updated their uniforms in 2012 the Seahawks are 0-3 in this uniform combo. I hope we do not see it on the road for the rest of the season and definitely not in the postseason… I liked the Rams helmet logo on the 50-yard line. It looked slick… I am not a fan of referee Brad Allen. For that being his first Seahawks game as a head referee he did not make a good impression from a Seahawks fans perspective… We always struggle in St. Louis. Period… It is hard to think of random thoughts for a 10am road game when you watch on television from home. I guess I’ll stop here.

Thanks for reading everyone, even in defeat. Check back next week when I preview the Seahawks week 8 matchup with the Carolina Panthers. Go Hawks!

Rant: Seahawks 20, Titans 13

13 Oct

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Through all of the bumps and bruises, the Seahawks reached down deep on Sunday as they pulled out a 20-13 win over the Tennessee Titans. The Seahawks improve their record to 5-1 and still hold a one-game lead on the San Francisco 49ers for first place in the NFC West. The “average” Titans, as described by head coach Mike Munchak following today’s game, fall to 3-3 on the season. That seemed to be the only positive to come out of today’s events. On multiple different occasions today, both on the field and in the stands, I seemed to be extremely frustrated and was left scratching my head as well as being angry and extremely disappointed. I apologize in advance for the following rant folks. Let me explain…

Fumbles: I will get to the botched field goal a little bit later on but let me touch on the Seahawks inability to hold on to the ball from a broader perspective. The Seahawks fumbled the ball 4 times on Sunday. Two of these fumbles resulted in a turnover and/or points for the Titans. This number is beyond concerning and is absolutely unacceptable. The fumble by Derrick Coleman out of bounds and the fumble in the red zone by Marshawn Lynch (which was basically flipped right back to Russell Wilson by the Titans) illustrates a need to figure out how to carry the ball more securely, especially for Lynch, who has fumbled four times in scoring range dating back to last year’s playoffs. The Sidney Rice fumble and turnover is so baffling to me for a couple of reasons. First, from my view in the stands it looked as though Rice had gained enough yards for a first down. If that was the case, then why on Earth would you extend the ball out while it is mostly unprotected?! Secondly, I know it was next to impossible to see which direction the defender is trying to tackle you from but usually the receiver and defender are running towards each other. You are basically asking the defender to take the ball from you if you try to get fancy to gain extra yards. This fumble was a total brainfart by Rice and he needs to quit trying to be fancy and take the yards you have already gained. The risk definitely outweighs the reward. The risk? Turning the ball over deep into enemy territory. The reward? A gain of only ONE extra yard.

Really, Maragos?!: Steven Hauschka briefly left Sunday’s game with a concussion he suffered on kickoff coverage with 9:23 remaining in the second quarter. That injury ultimately led to a Titans touchdown and a mind-boggling switcheroo of personnel on the field goal unit. Typically the punter holds for the kicker on field goal attempts but when an injury occurs to the field goal kicker, it is common to see the punter replace the kicker and a quarterback (starter or backup) fill in for the punter as the holder. The best example I can think of this is Tony Romo in the 2006 playoffs. He started the 2006 season as the holder on field goal attempts because he was the backup quarterback at the time. Organically, I must raise the question, why was Chris Maragos the emergency holder?! It would make more sense in my opinion to have Tarvaris Jackson or B.J. Daniels hold for Jon Ryan but apparently (and unfortunately) that job belongs to Maragos. What is frustrating is that the snap did not slip out of his hands. He just simply dropped the ball. What is even more frustrating is the fact that Maragos tried to make chicken salad out of chicken crap. Why would you ever risk the possibility of turning the ball over and having the Titans run it back for a touchdown?! Maragos should have just fallen on the ball and gone to halftime with a 7-3 lead. Instead, Maragos tried to shovel pass the ball and make a miraculous play and it backfired to the max. Tennessee’s Jason McCourty returned the fumble 77 yards for a touchdown and a 10-7 Titans lead. I cannot remember the last time I saw as boneheaded of a play as that one.

“Can You Win the Game in the First Quarter? Can You Win the Game in the Second Quarter? Can You Win the Game in the Third Quarter?…”: As you probably know, this is part of one of Pete Carroll’s famous mantras. After the third quarter the Seahawks took control of the game, piling up 139 fourth quarter yards and scoring 10 points which ultimately determined the outcome of the game. As positive as these numbers are, the fourth quarter defense also left me frustrated. On Tennessee’s 14 play, 96 yard drive which resulted in a field goal towards the end of the game, the Seahawks defense could not stop Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Titans no-huddle offense. We have given up long scoring drives in the fourth quarter in each of our last two games. Fortunately it did not cost us a victory today but our defense needs to find a way to stay fresh for the entire game. With only 4 days to prepare for the Arizona Cardinals, I am immensely skeptical about our ability to stop any defense when it matters the most. If the Seahawks are in a close game in the fourth quarter on Thursday night, I will definitely be afraid of the possibility of another win slipping away from us on the road.

Commentary, Skittles Celebrations Are Over: Before I get into this part of the rant, let me quote the NFL in-stadium code of conduct policy:

“When attending a game, you’re required to refrain from the following behaviors: Behavior that is unruly, disruptive, or illegal in nature… Event patrons and guests who violate these provisions will be subject to ejection without refund and loss of ticket privileges for future games.”

As you know or may have read about in one of my blog posts, I bring two large Ziploc bags full of Skittles to each home game and when Marshawn Lynch scores a touchdown my guest and I throw handfuls of Skittles in the air in any and all directions to celebrate. These celebratory actions are simply that; celebratory. When I throw the Skittles, I am in no way whatsoever trying to hurt anyone or piss anyone off. Today after Lynch’s second touchdown of the game a middle-aged male fan sitting in the front few rows of the section to my right angrily complained to a security guard that a SINGLE Skittle hit him and his wife. Although security did not single me or anyone around me out as the main perpetrator, myself and the people around me were warned that they were going to camp out in our section and that if they saw anyone throw Skittles again they would be ejected from CenturyLink Field. I consider this to be a direct threat not to bring Skittles again or else I will be kicked out of the game.

Remember that my intentions are good, so someone please explain to me how celebrating by tossing Skittles into the air violates the NFL code of conduct policy?! In my opinion I do not see how you can justify the action of me throwing Skittles in celebration violates the league’s code of conduct policy. It is not unruly. It is not disruptive (as the entire stadium was in celebration mode). It is not illegal.

To the furious fan who ratted us out. I WAS NOT INTENTIONALLY TRYING TO HIT YOU! You were sitting one section over and at least 20 rows in front of us. If you think I was intentionally trying to hit you with a single Skittle from that distance you might as well sign me up to play quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars with that kind of accuracy.

I have been celebrating Marshawn Lynch’s touchdowns by throwing Skittles since the end of the 2011 season and I have NEVER had a single complaint from security or anyone else around me. The majority of people I have talked to think it is a very creative celebration and they have even joined in by bringing their own bags of Skittles to games to throw.

Instead of reveling in the excitement of celebrating a touchdown with fellow Seahawks fans, you choose be a “Debbie Downer” and get pissed off over what I believe to be the smallest thing possible.

By attending a Seahawks home game you are subjecting yourself to witnessing way worse behavior in the stands. If you can tolerate witnessing excessive alcohol consumption, hearing foul language constantly throughout the game, and seeing potentially intense heckling by other fans around you, why can’t you tolerate feeling the slightest “pelt” of a Skittle that hit you from at least 200 feet away?! It’s not like I threw them as hard as I could directly into your face!

It is incredibly disheartening that one butt hurt fan can ruin such a fun tradition for an entire group of fans. Of all the frustrating moments today, this one REALLY got my blood boiling. Absolutely infuriating. It is with great anger, frustration, and sadness to say that I will not be bringing Skittles to anymore Seahawks games.

Thoughts on Tennessee: The Seahawks had their hands full with the Titans at home today. Just imagine what could have happened if Jake Locker was healthy? Chris Johnson will make this team incredibly dangerous if he can perform like his 2009 self. Also, their defense might be one of the most underrated units in all of football. I think that the Tennessee Titans have solid young talent and if they play as tough as they did today, I think they might challenge for an AFC Wild-Card spot.

Random Thoughts: Pre-gaming started at 9am at King Street Bar and Oven. Good to know you can call ahead to reserve a table. All of the tables were reserved when we got there… “Hawk Shots” are the King Street staple drink and they taste like straight candy. Pretty easy on the wallet as well… King Street Bar and Oven are famously known for their calzones and today I tried the house favorite “Sicilian” calzone; three different meats and cheese baked into a homemade pesto-brushed crust. It was the best pregame meal I have had in a very long time…The only problem I had with this bar was that they only showed one morning game on all of the televisions. I wanted to watch Rams/Texans not Packers/Ravens… The giveaway this week was “crazy hair” which is basically a headband with lime green hair-like fuzz on the top of it. I left mine at my seat after the game and I can’t say I’m sad I did so… Like all Seahawks home games I was right again. Blue jerseys and blue pants for the home team this week… Blake Lewis of American Idol fame sung the national anthem on Sunday. I was only slightly surprised he didn’t burst into full beat-box mode halfway through… Any other week the 12th Man flag raisers would have been great. The Seahawks picked the wrong week to host the Eastlake Little League team to raise the flag because both Will Ferrell and Macklemore were in attendance at Sunday’s game. I was really hoping one of those two guys would do the honors. Unfortunately they did not and I was pretty bummed out about that… Kevin Lee was also in attendance at his first ever Seahawks game this week. For those who may not know or may not remember, Kevin was featured on ESPN’S “My Wish” series over the summer and the Seahawks invited him back to Seattle for this week’s game… Nice to have you back, 60 degrees and sunshine… Time to get back to work, Seahawks. We have a lot to get fixed before we play again on Thursday night.

Programming Note: Check back on WEDNESDAY for my preview of Thursday Night Football between the Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. Talk to you very soon, 12th Man. Go Hawks!

Review: Dolphins 24, Seahawks 21

26 Nov

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Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins was once again another frustrating, nail-biting heartbreaker. After an unfortunate penalty which negated an interception, the inability to put together a game winning drive and the inability to stop the Dolphins when it mattered the most, the Seahawks fell to Miami 24-21. In this review post, you will probably get the feeling that I am just venting about our constant struggles on the road but I think that is acceptable. Here are my thoughts and frustrations about Sunday’s game.

We Couldn’t Catch a Break I: The Seahawks were called for 10 penalties totaling 59 yards on Sunday. Most of these penalties were mental mistakes such as false starts and delay of game. There was also a couple holding calls and one personal foul penalty (which I will discuss in part II). Of course penalties are always a big problem but this week it felt like the penalty yardage added on to our plays were the difference in whether we converted for a first down or not. A lot of our penalties were called in the first half and we seemed to do a good job making adjustments for the second half, but unfortunately it was not enough in the end. With another huge road test next week, these simple mistakes need to be corrected in a big hurry.

We Couldn’t Catch a Break II: The toughest penalty the Seahawks had in this game came with 8:13 left in the fourth quarter. After forcing Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill out of the pocket, while scrambling to his right he threw a pass across his body which was intercepted by linebacker Bobby Wagner in the endzone for a turnover. However, on the play, safety Earl Thomas came rushing in towards Tannehill and after Tannehill released the ball Thomas could not stop his speed and momentum, jumping and crashing into Tannehill. Thomas was flagged for roughing the passer/blow to the head and the Dolphins got the ball first and goal at the three-yard line. Daniel Thomas punched it in for a Miami touchdown on the next play. Without those points, Seattle would have held on for the win. Here are my feelings about the penalty on Thomas. According to the rules no defensive player can make contact with the quarterback’s head with any body part. Unfortunately, Thomas was running at full speed and could not avoid crashing into Tannehill. What is Thomas supposed to do in a situation like this? Running that fast, it is nearly impossible to not run in to the quarterback. One could say Thomas could have just rammed into the quarterback with his shoulder but the play happened so bang-bang that you have virtually no time to think about how to try to stop him. Technically Thomas did commit a punishable foul, but I think the rule concerning running into the quarterback should be examined before the 2013 season.

Just Like In Detroit, Defense Couldn’t Step Up When It Mattered Most: After failing to put together a game-winning drive of their own, the Seahawks punted back to the Dolphins with 1:32 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins drive started at their own 10-yard line. In a minute and a half, Miami drove 65 yards to their own 25-yard line and then kicked the game winning field goal. The Seahawks defense continues to let me and the rest of the 12th Man down in crucial situations on the road. How can a unit so talented give up so many yards in such a short period of time at the end of the game? The Seahawks gave up 435 total yards of offense to the Dolphins, which is usually enough to lose a game just like what happened today. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, things do not get any easier with Chicago coming up next week.

Silver Linings: For all of the frustration and suffering that occurred on Sunday, here are some positive things I took out of the Dolphins game. After getting off to a shaky start, Russell Wilson settled down and completed 16 consecutive passes at one point in the game. If he had completed 17, he would have tied Warren Moon for the Seahawks record for consecutive passes completed in a game. Wilson ended the day 21/27 for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns. Wilson continues to improve but still is showing growing pains on the road. Next week Wilson and the Seahawks offense cannot afford to get off to a slow start… Jon Ryan had a great game punting this week. Ryan had 7 punts for a total of 280 yards (a 40 yard average). Six of these punts landed inside the 20-yard line. Ryan continues to show why he deserves to be the NFC punter in the pro bowl this season… Leon Washington tied Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs for the most kickoff return touchdowns in NFL history. He returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown which gave the Seahawks a 21-14 fourth quarter lead. One more kickoff return touchdown and Washington has the record.

Random Thoughts: The Dolphins had scored a total of 10 points in their previous two games. They scored 17 points in a 9-minute span in the fourth quarter on Sunday. Simply embarrassing… I don’t think I have seen a smaller crowd for an NFL game this season. There were TONS of empty orange seats at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday. No question I am putting bandwagon status on Miami Dolphins fans… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan I am begging you guys. Please go back to broadcasters training. It is turning into a fun game to see how many times you can screw up the play-by-play and commentary any given week… According to the Seahawks Twitter account, the team landed in Seattle Sunday night and immediately started preliminary preparations on next weekend’s game against Chicago. I like the idea. We may need all of the prep time we can get… The Seahawks wore blue jerseys and grey pants this week; the same combination we wore when we beat Carolina on the road in week 5. Too bad the combination didn’t work this time around… I am sick and tired of these close losses on the road. Honestly I would much rather see us get blown out on the road than see us lose these close games. I think watching us get blown out would be easier to handle… After our loss and the San Francisco 49ers win in New Orleans, I am starting to come to the very real realization that we may not catch San Francisco for the division. At this point our first concern and priority should be locking up a wild-card berth.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: The Seahawks are 6-5 and based on tiebreakers are currently holding onto the 6th seed in the NFC playoffs. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings also have 6-5 records. Also in the playoff picture with 5-6 records are the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, and New Orleans Saints. Next Week’s matchups with potential playoff implications:

Seattle (6-3) at Chicago (8-3)

Tampa Bay (6-5) at Denver (8-3)

Minnesota (6-5) at Green Bay (7-4)

Like I noted in “Random Thoughts,” the Seahawks have already begun preparations for next Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears. Be on the lookout for my preview of the Bears game on Saturday afternoon. Tough Loss guys but we’ll bounce back. Down but not out! Go Hawks!