Tag Archives: Mike Holmgren

#10for10 Game #7: Holmgren’s Swan Song (Seahawks vs. Jets, 2008 Season)

1 Oct

*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*

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

The 2008 season was a year full of lowlights. After winning the NFC West the previous 4 years, 2008 was supposed to be the year we get back and contend for a Super Bowl title, to send retiring head coach Mike Holmgren out on top. Instead, it seemed as though the horrible draft picks and transactions general manager Tim Ruskell had made during his tenure had finally caught up to us. After starting the season 2-5, the Seahawks lost their next 6 games. After a win in week 15 over the St. Louis Rams, the Seahawks came home for their home finale against the New York Jets with a 3-11 record. To some the regular season home finale was going to be just another game, marking the end of a miserable season. To many more it was the opportunity to say thank you and farewell to Coach Holmgren after 10 wonderful seasons. To me however, there was another element to what made this game so special; the elements.

The date of this game was December 21st, 2008 and it fell right in the middle of a two-plus weeklong snow storm which blanketed all of Western Washington. With several inches of snow already on the ground and 5 more inches of snow predicted to fall on game day, it had the makings of a classic game reserved for Green Bay, Philadelphia, or another East Coast city. It was going to be a challenge for me and my friend Dylan to even make it, but no blizzard was going to prevent me from missing a Seahawks home game.

We lived a 5-minute drive away from each other; myself in the hills east of I-405, Dylan along Lake Washington west of the freeway. On this day however, it took us almost a half an hour to meet up, as Dylan’s parents were going to pick us up and drive us into downtown Bellevue to catch one of the very few busses heading into downtown. Once we got to the bus stop I swear we waited for almost an hour for the 550 bus to get there. We eventually hopped on and smoothly made our way over I-90 and into downtown Seattle. The bus dropped us off on the corner of 5th Avenue and King Street and we started the trek through the International District to Qwest Field. After crossing 4th Avenue and the sky bridge over the King Street Station train tracks, we walked down the steps and were instantly in an ice rink, as the parking lot had been frozen over and covered in day-old snow. In the middle of the parking lot there was a snow pile about 10 feet high where people were jumping into it and making snow angels.

A 10 foot high snow pile accompanied a completely frozen over stadium parking lot.

A 10 foot high snow pile accompanied a completely frozen over stadium parking lot.

I had never seen that much snow in Seattle before, much less in a pile like that. Once inside the stadium we headed up to our seats. Looking around the inside of the stadium, I noticed that snow was still present in many uncovered sections, especially in the corners of the upper deck. On the sides of the Hawks Nest in the north end zone, some seats were covered completely with snow, forcing the ticket holders of those seats to sit on snowbanks for the duration of the game. I had seen that happen at games on the East Coast but I never imagined that could happen in Seattle. When it was all said and done, I imagine only about 55,000 of the 68,000 seats were occupied. It was definitely the smallest crowd for a Seahawks home game in the history of the stadium but it was completely reasonable to believe the remainder physically could not get into downtown Seattle because of all the snow.

The view from my seats on December 21st, 2008. Snow blanketed the field and snow piles bordered the turf.

The view from my seats on December 21st, 2008. Snow blanketed the field and snow piles bordered the turf.

Before the game the Seahawks ran out of the tunnel and they had Coach Holmgren run out of the tunnel last as fireworks shot off all around, something usually reserved only for the starting offensive or defensive unit. Mike’s wife Kathy raised the 12th Man Flag to thundering cheers. Because of the snow, the game did not feature many notable plays but it was very close, exciting game throughout. The Seahawks took a 7-3 lead in the second quarter and did not look back. The dagger was a Brett Favre pass which was picked off by Seahawks cornerback Josh Wilson. Wilson went to the area behind the south endzone and celebrated his interception by flinging snow up into the air, snow that bordered the entire field. Although it was only the 4th (and final) win of our 2008 season, the mood inside the stadium felt like we had just clinched a playoff berth. After the game Coach Holmgren, the winningest coach in Seahawks history, did a victory lap around the stadium saluting the fans and thanking them for 10 seasons during which he led the Seahawks to 5 division championships, one conference championship, and one Super Bowl appearance.

After the game posed the challenge of us getting back home to Bellevue. With the sun having already gone down and the snow starting to fall once again, we hiked to the bus stop 5 blocks north of the stadium and waited as several cars tried to drive through the difficult terrain. We even helped a couple of stuck cars trying to drive up the streets by pushing them up the hill. After waiting almost ANOTHER hour we finally got on the bus and headed back to the Eastside, making it home for only the end of Sunday Night Football.

It has not snowed at a Seahawks home game since this day, but I am hoping that the snow graces the Clink with its presence once again sometime real soon.

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Seahawks/Packers Preview

19 Sep
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers

Site: Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wisconsin)

Kickoff: 5:30pm

It has been six years since the Seahawks last played a meaningful game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

Amazing to think about what has happened since.

The Seahawks head back to the frozen tundra for Sunday Night Football this week as they take on the defending NFC North champion Packers. The Seahawks are 0-1 following their 34-31 overtime loss to the St. Louis Rams last week. Green Bay started their 2015 campaign on the right foot, defeating the Chicago Bears 31-23 last Sunday. The Packers lead the all-time series with the Seahawks 10-8. By now you know what happened the last time these two teams played but here’s a quick reminder. The Seahawks trailed 19-7 late in the fourth quarter. After a Russell Wilson touchdown run, a successful onside kick recovery, a Marshawn Lynch touchdown run, and  a successful Luke Willson two-point conversion, the Seahawks suddenly took a 22-19 lead. The Packers drove down to tie the game at the end of regulation and in overtime Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse for the game winning 35-yard touchdown. Seattle advanced to Super Bowl XLIX. Green Bay’s season ended. This is going to be an extremely difficult game for the Seahawks to win. Here is what I will be looking for.

After giving up 34 points last week it is crucial that we see improvement out of the Seahawks defense. There has been ongoing talk during the week about cornerback Richard Sherman lining up at nickel this week in order to cover Green Bay’s best wide receiver Randall Cobb. I think we may see Sherman on Cobb a little bit but Sherman will predominantly play on the outside like normal. The number one thing I am focused on this week will be how we go about eliminating explosive plays. Last week the Seahawks gave up 13 plays of 10 yards or more. The correlation? Although we sacked Rams quarterback Nick Foles twice, for the most part he had plenty of time in the pocket to go throw his progressions and make his throws. In order to eliminate the big plays this week, something that the Packers are well equipped to do, we must put excessive amounts of pressure on Aaron Rodgers. The Packers offensive line did not allow a sack last week so it will be difficult to rattle Rodgers. My hope is to see Bruce Irvin used as a pass rushing specialist. Frank Clark could be a pivotal player this week. The more pass rushers we can get on the field at the same time, the better off the Seahawks will be.

For the Seahawks offense my main focus will be on the play of the offensive line, and how their play will have a domino effect on the rest of the offense. The offensive line’s performance last week was second-rate. The Packers sport big time players in Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and B.J. Raji who do an exceptional job getting to the quarterback. This week I believe Russell Wilson must take it upon himself to avoid the kind of pressure that he faced in St. Louis. Screens and slants may be the most effective strategy in the passing game. I would also like to see Wilson be more assertive in the running game. The read-option was nonexistent last week which I believe was necessary for our offense to keep drives moving. There were multiple plays last week where Wilson could have easily run for a first down. Instead he elected to stay behind the line of scrimmage to try to make a throw. If it is necessary this week or if plays are broken, I want to see Wilson run for yards.

It is no secret that the Green Bay Packers have one the most explosive offenses in football. Aaron Rodgers is a master at playing to the weaknesses of the opposing defense. I believe Rodgers will take a Tom Brady-esque approach in regards to how to face the Seattle defense. This could mean a lot of three step drops and short passes. Instead of going deep he will rely on his receivers Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, and James Jones to pick up yards after the catch. As tough as the Packers passing game is to defend, running back Eddie Lacy may be poised to make a significant impact on the ground. In 18 career games at Lambeau Field, Lacy has averaged 81 yards per game and a solid 4.6 yards per carry. If these numbers can hold up in this game it will greatly contribute to an outstanding performance by the Green Bay offense.

On defense for the Packers one position in particular has my full attention. Last week starting middle linebacker Sam Barrington injured his foot and was placed on season-ending injured reserve shortly thereafter. My X-Factor Player to Watch for Green Bay this week is Barrington’s counterpart in the middle of the defense, Nate Palmer. Palmer enters his third season with the Packers but a cloud of uncertainty hangs over him. Before last week, Palmer had not played since 2013 after injuring his foot.  He spent the entire 2014 season on injured reserve. In 2013 Palmer played in 9 games, accruing only 17 tackles. To make things even murkier, Palmer made the transition from 3-4 outside linebacker to 3-4 inside linebacker during this past offseason. His inexperience could give the Seahawks offense an advantage in the middle of the field. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy noted that Palmer will wear the “green dot” helmet, meaning the coaches will communicate the defensive play calls through the radio in his helmet. Given that these are new responsibilities for Palmer, there is a possibility that the Green Bay defense will have communication issues.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks tweeted out their uniform combination Friday night. We will be wearing white jerseys and white pants… The Packers will wear their traditional home look of green jerseys and yellow pants… Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have the call for NBC this week… Gene Steratore is this week’s referee… The Seahawks have only beaten the Packers once at Lambeau Field. I remember the game well. It was Monday Night Football during the 1999 season. Mike Holmgren made his first trip back to Green Bay after leaving for Seattle following the previous season. It was Brett Favre’s worst career game, as he went 14/35 for 180 yards, one touchdown, and 4 interceptions. Shawn Springs was the player of the game as he blocked a field goal and returned it for a touchdown and intercepted Favre twice. The Seahawks won the game in dominating fashion, 27-7. Let’s hope for the same kind of result this week… Random travel story of the week: I am not looking forward to flying Southwest Airlines to Milwaukee. My only ever experience flying Southwest was in 1999 coming home from Omaha, Nebraska. On Southwest your boarding priority is determined by the time you check in. The earlier you check in, the earlier you get to board. My family was filling up our rental car with gas near the Omaha airport when the street was shut down so Vice President Al Gore and him motorcade could come through. We were late getting to the airport and were placed in the “C” boarding group (the last group to board). I was separated from my family on the plane (something somewhat traumatic for a 9-year old) and I wound up sitting in between an older couple. I had a book of word searches with me and I just did word searches for the entire flight. Surprisingly, the older woman next to me had no idea what a word search was so she looked over my shoulder and watched me do word searches for the majority of the flight. Talk about awkward… I will be tailgating on someone’s property right off of Lombardi Avenue, directly across the street from Lambeau Field on Sunday. The Green Bay tailgating scene is somewhat restrictive to non-Packers season ticket holders so it will be fascinating to see how Packers fans do tailgating… I am beyond excited to step inside Lambeau Field. I consider it to be the cathedral of professional football. So much history has occurred inside that bowl that I’m sure to get chills just walking around. Just like going to Notre Dame Stadium in 2009, this is sure to be a trip I will never forget. The only thing that will make it better will be a Seahawks win!

Prediction: After the Fail Mary and the NFC Championship miracle comeback, the Packers finally get back at us. Aaron Rodgers will come out firing and will throw touchdowns to Randall Cobb and Davante Adams in the first half. The Seahawks will only be able to counter with one Steven Hauschka field goal as the Packers will go into halftime with a 17-3 lead. The Seahawks will make the proper adjustments and will score two second half touchdowns; one by Marshawn Lynch and another to Jimmy Graham. The Packers will lead 23-20 and will deliver the dagger with just under 5 minutes left to play. Rodgers will find Cobb for his second touchdown of the game and the Seahawks will head home for their home opener with a disappointing 0-2 record.

Packers 30, Seahawks 20

Programming Note: My game review will be published on Monday when I get back from Green Bay, NOT late Sunday immediately following the game.

Packers/Seahawks Preview (NFC Championship Game)

17 Jan
Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Matchup: (2) Green Bay Packers at (1) Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 12:05pm

In Pete Carroll’s first season as head coach, the Seahawks were one divisional playoff win over the Chicago Bears away from hosting the Green Bay Packers in the 2010 NFC Championship Game. Unfortunately we fell short but now four seasons later the Seahawks now have that matchup set. The Seahawks and Packers meet in Seattle in the 2014 NFC Championship Game Sunday afternoon. The winner will represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLIX. The loser goes home. Green Bay leads the all-time series with the Seahawks 10-7. The Packers have had Seattle’s number in the playoffs but the Seahawks have had the better luck as of late, winning the past two games including a 36-16 win over Green Bay earlier this season for NFL Kickoff 2014. This is what I believe must happen for the Seahawks to successfully defend their NFC Championship and advance to their second straight Super Bowl.

In their first meeting back in September running back Marshawn Lynch torched the Packers defense for 110 rushing yards and two touchdowns. This week could be more of the same. The Seahawks will once again attempt to establish the running game with Lynch in an effort to control the clock and the tempo of the game. A successful day running the ball I believe will lead to a Seahawks victory. In the passing game the Seahawks could benefit due to the fact that our number one weapon in our first meeting this season, Percy Harvin, is no longer on the team. Receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, as well as tight end Luke Willson combined for 5 catches for 23 yards back in week one. Given that these three guys were not primary features in our offensive game plan in that game, I believe this adds a wrinkle in our offense this week that the Packers have not seen. Quarterback Russell Wilson was willing to throw down the seam to Kearse and Willson against Carolina last week and I believe both could be primed for big games yet again this week.

The very first play of the 2013 NFC Championship Game was a Russell Wilson fumble recovered by the San Francisco 49ers. That play ultimately resulted with 3 San Francisco points. Three Colin Kaepernick turnovers in the second half ultimately doomed the 49ers. See where I am going here? The Seahawks number one priority in this championship game must be to protect the ball. I am fully confident that the Legion of Boom can force Green Bay turnovers so it is imperative that Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch among others hold onto the ball to prevent extra offensive opportunities for the Packers. We will not win if our offense turns the ball over multiple times because Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers will take advantage of extra opportunities, especially short yardage opportunities. The Seahawks did not turn the ball over last week and we won by two scores. Another clean game and the Seahawks could be cruising to Arizona.

The number one storyline on the offensive side of the ball for the Green Bay Packers is the health of Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers played last week with a strained and possibly slight torn left calf, an injury that limited his mobility but not necessarily his ability to make plays. Immediately following last week’s game Rodgers came out and said that his calf was not feeling as good as in the days leading up to last Sunday’s game. It is likely that Rodgers’s mobility will once again be a question mark this week. The best way to rattle the ailing likely league MVP is to send pressure from all directions, whether this results in sacks or forces Rodgers to retreat from the pocket. Rodgers has been sacked 11 times by the Seahawks in his last two games in Seattle. Bruce Irvin and O’Brien Schofield are the two guys I expect to see on the field a lot this week. I will consider it a success if Irvin and Schofield can quickly penetrate the Packers offensive line and get to Rodgers at least one time each. If Green Bay struggles to protect Rodgers early on, it could be a very long game and the threat of Rodgers injuring his leg worse will absolutely increase.

With the majority of the attention on the Packers offense, the fact that Green Bay ranks 10th in the league in pass defense has flown under the radar. Four members of the Packers secondary rank among the six best tacklers on the team. Only one of those guys has recorded double-digit passes defensed, and that is why cornerback Tramon Williams is my X-Factor player to watch for the Packers this week. Williams has recorded 61 tackles this season with 13 passes defensed. Williams is also tied for the team lead in interceptions with 3. I expect to see Williams line up across from Jermaine Kearse for most of the game but do not expect to see him also go up again Ricardo Lockette and Kevin Norwood in dime packages.

Normally this last point would be worthy of a note in “Random Thoughts” but given the circumstances I feel that this is important to point out on itself. Seahawks fans are not used to early starts. In fact, this is the first time since CenturyLink Field opened that the Seahawks have hosted a game that starts at noon. To everyone attending Sunday’s game, BE IN YOUR SEATS AT LEAST 30-45 MINUTES PRIOR TO KICKOFF. When we go live to the nation on FOX at noon, I want to see 68,000 people all in their seats waving their rally towels as the Seahawks get ready to be introduced. Please plan accordingly.

Random Thoughts: The Packers will wear their classic white jersey/yellow pants combo this week. The Seahawks in all-blue per usual… Joe Buck and Troy Aikman have the call for FOX this week with Erin Andrews and Chris Myers patrolling the sidelines… This will be the first time the Seahawks host the earlier conference championship game. Both of Seattle’s previous trips to the NFC Championship Game kicked off at 3:30pm… Tony Corrente is the referee this week. Corrente previously officiated the Seahawks win over San Francisco on Thanksgiving… This is going to be one of the earliest wake-up calls for a Seahawks home game I have ever had. Definitely planning on being downtown with a drink in hand by 8am… As previously mentioned, the giveaway this week once again is rally towels… The National Anthem will be sung by 2006 American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee… The Seahawks announced Friday that the halftime show will be Seattle band Alice in Chains. That will be pretty cool but in my opinion not as cool as Macklemore last year… I would love to see former Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren raise the 12th Man flag this week, especially since it would come against his other former team, the Packers. I doubt it will happen but I would love to see it happen. There has been a lot of talk about letting Paul Allen raise the flag again. I personally think we should let somebody else do it. It would become super predictable for potential future NFC title games if Mr. Allen gets to raise the flag for every single one. My dark horse candidate to raise the flag is Randy Johnson… In the 24 or so hours following this game should we win, will be the shopping spree loading up on Seahawks Super Bowl XLIX merchandise… Why does this game feel like no big deal? Have we become spoiled? Is it because we are not playing the arch-rival 49ers again? Something just feels a little more relaxed about this year’s NFC Championship Game. My guess is that all changes once we all get down to CenturyLink Field.

Prediction: This game will be an instant classic and will see-saw until the very end. The Seahawks will get the scoring started with a field goal with the Packers adding a field goal of their own. A Seahawks second quarter touchdown pass to Luke Willson will give them a 10-3 lead with Green Bay tying the game just before halftime. There will be two more instances in the second half where the game gets tied up; 17-17 and 24-24 respectively. The Seahawks will take the clock down to the wire and Steven Hauschka will kick the biggest field goal in Seahawks history; a 42-yard field goal as time expires to send the Seahawks to Super Bowl XLIX.

Seahawks 27, Packers 24

Win or lose, check back late Sunday night for my NFC Championship review. Thanks for reading and enjoy the game. Go Seahawks!

Packers/Seahawks Preview (NFL Kickoff 2014)

3 Sep
Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 5:30pm

There are a lot of perks to winning the Super Bowl. You get expanded coverage on all the major sports television networks, you get to meet the President, and you get to host the football circus that is NFL Kickoff; the first regular season game of the year. That is what is on deck for the defending world champion Seattle Seahawks as they host the Green Bay Packers in NFL Kickoff 2014. The Packers lead the all-time series with the Seahawks 10-6 but the last matchup between these teams was by far the most memorable. Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate “caught” a 24-yard Hail Mary pass from Russell Wilson and the Seahawks defeated the Packers 14-12. The controversial ending ended the referee holdout and the difference that one game made in the final 2012 standings had a potential impact in the playoffs as the Packers eventually lost to the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park in a game that could have instead been played at Lambeau Field had the Packers defeated the Seahawks. With the entire city of Seattle watching, emotions will be high as the 2013 Super Bowl championship team will be honored before the game. After that it is all business. Here is what I will be focusing on this week.

The Green Bay offense versus the Seahawks defense will be the primary intriguing matchup this week but I am very interested in how the Seahawks offense plays against a talented Packers defense that to me has question marks. I believe the Seahawks will give the Packers a heavy dose of running back Marshawn Lynch early in the game in order to establish the running game, the tempo of the game, and to chew some time off the clock while trying to come up with points. Lynch will have a big impact in this ballgame and he will no doubt get the grand majority of the total carries. The passing game intrigues me with this matchup against the Packers for two big reasons. First, this is the first time since the Super Bowl that we go into a game with Percy Harvin in the offensive game plan. Harvin will not be used as just a wide receiver but as an “offensive weapon.” Do not be surprised to see Harvin lined up all over the field including out wide, in the slot, and even in the backfield. Secondly, I want to see Russell Wilson challenge the Packers secondary, specifically rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Clinton-Dix may not start but he will see playing time whether he starts or not. In games against New Orleans and San Francisco last season, Wilson aired the ball out to challenge rookie safeties Kenny Vaccaro of the Saints and Eric Reid of the 49ers. This week could be no different. If he likes the matchup, do not be surprised to see Wilson go to vertical threats Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse to challenge Clinton-Dix.

In their last meeting the Seahawks defense sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers 8 times in the first half. This week it will be just as crucial to pressure Rodgers and force him into sacks and mistakes. The Seahawks will use a pass rush rotation including Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Bruce Irvin, and O’Brien Schofield. These four players will need to play a significant role but keep an eye specifically on Bennett. Although he will start at defensive end, I expect Bennett to be lined up as a pass rushing defensive tackle due to the uncertainty of the Green Bay offensive line. The Packers offensive line includes two players who have never played at CenturyLink Field. Left tackle David Bakhtiari has earned the starting job after being an injury fill-in in 2013. Green Bay will also start rookie Corey Linsley at center. Linsley will be my main focus among the Packers offensive line as he will have the difficult challenge of attempting to handle the 12th Man in his first career NFL game as well as handling a fierce interior pass rush. If the Packers cannot show they can protect Rodgers early it may be a long night for the Packers offense.

Despite the uncertainty on the line, the Green Bay Packers offense is one of the most talented and dangerous units in the league. The offense plays a very large part in why many experts believe the Packers can make a deep playoff run in 2014 and are serious contenders to win Super Bowl XLIX. By now you know the Packers are led by All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers and this year he sports a more balanced attack. In addition to his dangerous downfield weapons Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, Rodgers also one of the best up-and-coming running backs in second-year man Eddie Lacy who can be used to run the ball as well as catch passes out of the backfield. All three should see their share of targets but the Packers still have a big mystery to solve on offense. With the departure of tight end Jermichael Finley the Packers seem to have a void at the position. According to the Packers official depth chart, the starting tight end is listed as rookie Richard Rodgers but my X-Factor player to watch this week is veteran tight end Andrew Quarless. Quarless led all Packers tight ends in receiving with 6 catches, 70 yards, and a touchdown during the preseason. I believe he will be a more relied on target than Rodgers, especially deep in Seattle territory. If Green Bay can move the ball into scoring range, look for the Packers to potentially use a two tight end package with Quarless and Rodgers as well as Nelson and Cobb on the outside.

In the 9 NFL Kickoff games hosted by the defending Super Bowl champion, only the 2012 New York Giants have lost in front of their hometown fans. Hosting the first game of the NFL season provides an interesting emotional challenge. During pregame, the team is introduced in front of the entire country watching on television and shortly afterwards, the world championship banner is unveiled to a stirring emotional roar from the crowd. Almost immediately following these special festivities however, it is time to shift the mind to play a football game. Against a quality opponent such as the Green Bay Packers and with no prior experience playing in this game, I wonder if the Seahawks will be able to handle all of the pregame distractions adequately in order to win the football game. It would not surprise me to see the Seahawks get off to a slow start but then pick up the pace later in the game; I mean it is week 1 after all. If the Seahawks can show they can put the pregame emotions behind them and score quickly we will be in very good shape for the rest of the game.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear blue jerseys and blue pants this week with the Packers wearing white jerseys and yellow pants… Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have the call for NBC this week with Michele Tafoya patrolling the sidelines. In addition, the entire “Football Night in America” crew will be in Seattle this week for pregame and halftime coverage. That will be neat… This may have deserved its own little paragraph because I feel it is of great importance but here it goes. If you are attending the game PLEASE skip the Pharrell Williams/Soundgarden concert. The concert takes place at 4:30pm and immediately following the concert at 5:30pm CenturyLink Field goes live to the nation on NBC to start pregame festivities. I want to see everybody with a ticket in their seats by 5pm to be a part of a truly special series of ceremonies. That and we need everyone ready for the start of the game… If you are attending the game the Seahawks are strongly advising fans to enter the stadium through the southwest gate and touchdown city. All areas north of the stadium are going to be a nightmare due to concert traffic and people who do not have tickets to the game. It may be best just to stay and tailgate south of the stadium to avoid any congestion… Hawks Nest Bar at 12pm on gameday. Be there… I think it would be really cool if instead of unveiling a world championship banner in the rafters, the Seahawks raise a special championship “banner flag” instead of the normal 12th Man flag. That probably won’t happen though as there are now 3 covered banners already hanging in the rafters at CenturyLink… I wonder if the Seahawks will mix alumni day with the Kickoff festivities. Traditionally the Seahawks honor past players at the home opener… The question must be asked: who will raise the 12th Man flag this week? It is confirmed that former head coach Mike Holmgren will be in attendance this week and he is more than a viable option to raise the flag but his potential participation in the tradition has not been confirmed. Traditionally because the home opener is alumni day the Seahawks let a prominent member of the franchise’s past raise the flag. If I got to choose who gets to raise the flag, my vote would go to the two retired members of the 2013 world championship team, wide receiver Sidney Rice and fullback Michael Robinson. How cool would it be to see those guys wearing their Super Bowl rings raise the flag with the presence of the Vince Lombardi trophy? That would be very special.

Prediction: I am going to be bold. This game will NOT end in a Hail Mary touchdown. Yep, I went there. Instead I believe this will not be the offensive shootout people may think will happen. The Seahawks defense will do a decent job putting pressure on Aaron Rodgers but Rodgers will still manage to throw for a pair of touchdowns. Russell Wilson will throw a touchdown to Doug Baldwin and Marshawn Lynch will add a touchdown on the ground. The Seahawks will take advantage of Green Bay turnovers and turn them into additional points. The game will be close for the majority of the night, but a couple of late Seattle field goals will doom the Packers. The Seahawks will go to 1-0 and take a couple of days off before preparing for their week 2 game against the San Diego Chargers.

Seahawks 23, Packers 14

Check back late Thursday night/early Friday morning for me Packers/Seahawks review. To everyone attending have a great time. For everyone watching on television, enjoy the game! Go Seahawks!

49ers/Seahawks Preview (NFC Championship Game)

18 Jan
Image

Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: (5) San Francisco 49ers at (1) Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 3:30pm

Not very often do you get an opportunity like this, even less often at home. It has been 8 years since the Seahawks played the Carolina Panthers in the 2005 NFC Championship Game and personally I have been waiting for the Seahawks to get back on this national stage ever since. I became a season-ticket holder in 2006 and for all the games I have been to over the past 8 seasons, opportunities like the one presenting itself on Sunday makes having tickets and going to games during the bad years absolutely worth it. In front of a nationally televised audience on FOX, the Seahawks will take on the San Francisco 49ers in the 2013 NFC Championship Game. If the Seahawks lose the season is over, but if the Seahawks win they punch their ticket to New York for Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2nd. The all-time series between the Seahawks and 49ers is tied 15-15. Their last meeting came on December 8th when San Francisco defeated Seattle 19-17 in the final seconds at Candlestick Park. This is the first meeting between the two teams in the playoffs. There are many storylines that have gained momentum from both a local and a national perspective in the days leading up to this game. Here are my thoughts as we head into the biggest home game in franchise history.

The absolute number one key for the Seahawks this week comes on defense. In the last two 49ers/Seahawks games played in Seattle, the Seahawks have held 49ers running back Frank Gore to a total of 44 rushing yards. What I’ve noticed when you dig into all of Colin Kaepernick’s career starts is that he has been successful because of a dynamic rushing attack helping him. When opposing defenses are able to shut the San Francisco running game (especially Gore) down, Kaepernick becomes extremely vulnerable. Once again the number one key for the Seahawks is to stop Gore. Unlike last week where I wanted to see the Seahawks force the New Orleans Saints to run, forcing Colin Kaepernick to throw will help the Seahawks mightily. In Kaepernick’s 28 career starts he has thrown only 11 interceptions. 4 of those interceptions have come in his two starts in Seattle. The Legion of Boom will be Kaepernick’s worst nightmare if the Seahawks run defense allows it to. My target rushing total for Frank Gore this week is between 50-60 yards. If the Seahawks can hold Gore to under 60 yards on the ground, we will be in fantastic shape.

The Seattle offense is a unit that has not lit up the stat sheet recently but they have been efficient enough to win football games. There are three things I need to see out of the Seahawks offense this week. The first thing is for Marshawn Lynch to have a productive day at the office. Unlike Frank Gore, Lynch has been very efficient running the ball against the 49ers in Seattle. In the same two game span that Gore has rushed for 44 total yards, Lynch has rushed for 209 total yards and has also added 3 touchdowns. I fully expect the majority of fans to panic if the Seahawks cannot get the running game going early but it will be necessary to be patient through the first half to try to get Lynch large chunks of yards. The second necessity for the Seahawks offense this week is to protect Russell Wilson. Wilson was sacked 3 times last week and he has been sacked 18 times in his last 6 games. The last time the Seahawks and 49ers played in Seattle, the Seahawks were without two starting offensive lineman and lost Russell Okung to a foot injury early in the game. This week the entire starting offensive line is healthy and I expect significant improvement in pass protection. Keep an eye on the left guard position this week as Michael Bowie is expected to start again after playing a great game last week in his first career start at that position. The third thing I need to see out of the offense this week is an extension of my second offensive key, only the weight of this key falls more on the shoulders of Russell Wilson. There have been instances throughout the past few games where when Wilson drops back to pass, at times he seems to bail from the pocket and move around to try to make throws while at other times he seems a bit too overconfident being patient in the pocket. In those instances he will wait for a receiver to get open and by the time he decides on his read he is either on the ground sacked or throwing the ball away. Wilson needs to be more aware of what is going on around him to know how much time he has to throw. Confidence in the pocket and connecting on throws down the field will help the Seahawks greatly this week.

The San Francisco 49ers come into the NFC Championship Game red-hot and firing on all cylinders. My 49ers preview is rather broad this week as there are only three things that I believe will help the 49ers be more effective this week. The first key is to ride the wave of momentum that comes with an 8-game winning streak. San Francisco comes into the NFC Championship Game as perhaps the more confident team, which comes naturally riding a long winning streak. My other two 49ers keys will be the most important to keep that momentum going.

The 49ers need to handle the crowd noise much better than they have in their last two visits to CenturyLink Field. Shorter verbiage and hand signals will be necessary this week and I would not be surprised to see the 49ers use a no-huddle package, especially early in the game. San Francisco will want to take the 12th Man out of the game as early as possible so it will be very important to score early. On offense for San Francisco this week there is only one player that I believe is deserving of my X-Factor player to watch, and that is the most important player that was not on the field the last time the 49ers played in Seattle. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree has elevated the 49ers passing game to extraordinary levels since returning from a torn Achilles on December 1st. Crabtree has averaged 62 receiving yards in 7 games this season and he has also been targeted an average of 8 times per game. It is hard to believe how big of a difference Crabtree has made since returning; the 49ers have not lost since his return. Taking Crabtree away will limit Colin Kaepernick’s weapons to tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

In my “Making Memories” post earlier this week, I recall the 2005 NFC Championship Game in great detail. One of the things I mentioned is how I never sat down throughout the duration of the game and the 12th Man did not let up on the Carolina offense all game long. I cannot stress the importance of duplicating that stadium environment again this week. At last week’s Divisional playoff game many fans left following Marshawn Lynch’s final touchdown assuming the game was all but over. For a playoff game I find that behavior utterly pathetic. This week cannot and hopefully will not be the same as last week. I hope to spend the majority of the game on my feet regardless of who has the ball. I expect every single fan to scream when San Francisco has the ball. I expect no fan to leave before the fourth quarter clock hits zero. If everything goes right this should be the biggest party in the city. I hope you will not want to leave as the game gets closer to the finish. In addition, I want this game to be the loudest Seahawks game I have attended up to this point in my life. We the 12th Man WILL have a voice in deciding the outcome of this game. Do not doubt that. We also owe it to the guys on the field to give it our all. If we stay consistently ear-drum-bursting loud this week, the 49ers will have no chance communicating and coming into our house and stealing a victory.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will likely wear blue jerseys and blue pants for the final time this season. I say “likely” because should the Seahawks win, they will be designated as the road team in Super Bowl XLVIII. The 49ers will wear their classic white jersey/gold pants look… Gene Steratore is this week’s referee. He called the Seahawks week 8 game against the Rams in St. Louis and Steratore’s crew loosely called that game. He let the players play. Hopefully the same goes this way because if the game is called tight the Seahawks may be in trouble… Joe Buck and Troy Aikman have the call for FOX this week with Pam Oliver and Erin Andrews covering the sidelines. In addition, the entire “FOX NFL Sunday” pregame crew will be attendance this week and they will do their pregame show from inside the stadium, an annual tradition, starting at 3pm… The giveaway this week is white rally towels. All I can say is hallelujah. I’ve been waiting to get the chance to wave a rally towel all season and it is entirely fitting that chance comes in the biggest home game of the season… Ann Wilson from “Heart” will sing the national anthem before the game which actually surprises me because I thought FOX would bring in the most recent American Idol or X-Factor winner to sing it like they have done in the past… The halftime show is one that I am very much looking forward to. Grammy nominated and Seattle recording artists Macklemore and Ryan Lewis will perform at halftime, which turns the NFC Championship Game into a mini Super Bowl in my opinion. Hopefully the Seahawks take control of the game in the first half so I can actually enjoy Mack’s halftime performance… In my opinion there is only one group that I think should have the honor to raise the 12th Man flag this week. Back when we played Tampa Bay in November, the Seahawks honored the 30th anniversary of the first playoff team in franchise history. Members of the 1983 Seahawks stood at the flagpole while Steve Largent did the honors of raising the flag. This week should hold the exact same concept. The only group that I see fit to raise the 12th Man flag this week is members of the 2005 Seahawks led by head coach Mike Holmgren, the first Seahawks team to play in the Super Bowl. I will be extremely disappointed if this does not happen. Even if they do not celebrate the entire team, Coach Holmgren deserves the chance to raise the flag this week… Goal for Sunday: Try to meet up with all of my friends that I know are going to the game… Streamers are a must once again this week. Gotta go all out… If we win, the Halas Trophy presentation will be really awesome to be a part of again… Let this sink in: We are 60 minutes away from playing in the biggest game in Seahawks franchise history.

Prediction: There is no doubt that this will be a physical game and it may be close until the final few minutes of the fourth quarter. Zach Miller will catch a first quarter touchdown to make it 7-0 Seahawks. A Steven Hauschka field goal will extend the lead to 10-0 before the 49ers score on a Michael Crabtree touchdown pass in the final two minutes of the half. Halftime score: Seahawks 10, 49ers 7.

In the second half the Seahawks will take full control in the running game. Marshawn Lynch will run for a pair of touchdowns, the second of which coming in the final 5 minutes of the game. That will be the dagger. Vernon Davis will catch a garbage time touchdown under the two-minute warning but by then it will be far too late. The Seahawks will win, hoist the Halas Trophy, and will head to Super Bowl XLVIII as the 2013 NFC Champions.

Seahawks 24, 49ers 14

Whether we win or lose check back late Sunday night for my review of the NFC Championship Game. Whether you are watching on television or at the game, enjoy this one everybody because hopefully this will be a game we all look back on as one of the best in team history. Go Seahawks!

Making Memories: An NFC Championship Commentary

15 Jan

*On Sunday the Seahawks will host the NFC Championship Game for the second time in franchise history as a part of what I have dubbed “Hate Week Part III” with the San Francisco 49ers. I was in attendance at the first NFC Championship Game in 2006 and I am hoping that this week’s game against the 49ers will be just as, if not more special than the first*

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This was the scene on January 22nd, 2006 as the Seahawks ran out of the tunnel before the 2005 NFC Championship Game.

Pictures sure do say a thousand words, don’t they? 67,000 fans screaming at ear-damaging decibel levels while waving their white rally towels; one of the most amazing sights these eyes have ever seen and been a part of.

This Sunday the Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers in the 2013 NFC Championship Game in what I believe is the biggest home game in Seahawks history; even bigger than the 2005 NFC Championship Game against the Carolina Panthers.

Pick any Seahawks home game over the past 8 years and I could tell you some detail or memory about it. Every Seahawks game I attend becomes a collection of memories. Some of them are good, some of them are bad, yet every single game I have ever attended is its own unique story.

I can still distinctly remember that cloudy January day in 2006. Sports Radio 950 KJR had done a live broadcast from a pioneer square bar overnight leading all the way up to game time. I had turned the radio on in my room and at a very soft volume and I subconsciously listened to the entire overnight portion of the pregame show while I attempted to sleep. When I woke up in the morning I immediately got dressed into my gameday attire, my 2005 NFC West Champions hat, and my blue Matt Hasselbeck jersey over my white Seahawks sweatshirt. My friend Alan and I headed into downtown where after waiting for at a table at the waterfront Red Robin, we decided to instead walk down to Ivar’s for a fish n’ chips pregame meal. Following lunch we decided to head straight into the stadium and we hung out at our seats in section 302 for two hours as we watched the entire stadium fill up before the Seahawks even concluded on-field warm-ups about 25 minutes before kickoff. I was amazed how full and crazed the stadium was that early. Everybody was at their seats with plenty of time to spare and the mood was utter excitement and confidence, as if there was no doubt that we were going to walk off the field as the 2005 NFC Champions. Following the most beautiful rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” I had ever heard (performed by the beautiful and talented Carrie Underwood) Alan and I briefly sat down just before kickoff. We knew we had to charge up our lower bodies as we did not sit down for the duration of the game; a feat that has not been repeated in the 82 preseason, regular season, and postseason games I have attended since. Just before kickoff Seahawks owner Paul Allen raised the 12th Man flag; the most epic sports moment I have ever been a part of.

The game went just as everyone in attendance hoped it would. Jerramy Stevens caught a touchdown pass to make the score 7-0 Seahawks and following a Lofa Tatupu interception later in the first quarter, the Seahawks had taken control of the game for good. Starting at this point the 12th Man started several “Super Bowl” chants following every score and timeout. 2 Josh Brown field goals, a Darrell Jackson touchdown catch and two touchdown runs by league MVP Shaun Alexander cemented a 34-14 win as the Seahawks punched their ticket to Super Bowl XL.

An extended postgame fireworks celebration and large quantities of blue and green confetti bathed the entire stadium as the Seahawks and the 12th Man entered full party mode. By the time the clock hit :00 no one had left the stadium and quite frankly no one wanted to. The 12th Man wanted to soak in the greatest moment in the history of Seahawks football for as long as they could. A stage was wheeled to mid-field as Terry Bradshaw of FOX presented Paul Allen, coach Mike Holmgren, Matt Hasselbeck, and Shaun Alexander with the George Halas memorial trophy, emblematic of the champions of the National Football Conference. At the end of ceremony Alexander took the trophy on a victory lap around the stadium to “show everybody” as Terry Bradshaw advised him to do. After the Seahawks left the field and headed back into the locker room Alan and I headed for the gates to head home. My friends are amazed at the selective memory I have for every Seahawks game I have ever attended but I can say with full confidence that there is no game I can remember more clearly than the 2005 NFC Championship Game.

I will be taking my Dad to this year’s NFC Championship game; an event that I am sure will be made a memory for him and me to bond over for years to come. Needless to say this will be a very special moment between the two of us, made even more special since he will not be going to New York with me to attend Super Bowl XLVIII should the Seahawks win this week. I am very excited for him to experience everything an event like the NFC Championship Game has to offer.

When we beat Carolina to get to Super Bowl XL no Seahawks fan went out of their way to make fun of or insult any Panthers fan in attendance, or to make them feel any worse that their team did not make it to the Super Bowl. I realize that our ticket to Super Bowl XLVIII will come at the expense of the one team Seahawks fans hate the most but my ultimate hope is that the same celebratory actions from 2005 repeat themselves this week. I know it would be the sweetest feeling in the world to beat the 49ers to get to the Super Bowl but that should not mean that the 12th Man should go out of their way to emotionally pummel any 49ers fans in attendance. Simply put, this is OUR moment to shine. Do not make it about them. This game and this potential victory should be made all about US by US. If we win, celebrate the win as a Seahawks victory, not a Seahawks victory AND a 49ers loss. make sure to also revel in the amazing scene that will take place following the game. This is an experience that every sports fan dreams of. To everyone lucky enough to attend the 2013 NFC Championship Game, savor every moment and even the smallest little details of your gameday experience because I promise you this will be an event that you will never forget

Jets/Seahawks Preview

10 Nov

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Matchup: New York Jets vs. Seattle Seahawks

Site: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)

Kickoff: 1:05pm

The Seahawks have a chance to head into their bye week at 6-4 and on a two-game winning streak. In their way this week is the New York Jets. The Jets are coming off their bye and are sitting at 3-5 and they are looking to get back into the AFC playoff picture. The Seahawks lead the all-time series with the Jets 9-8. In their last meeting, the Seahawks defeated the Jets and their quarterback Brett Favre 13-3 in December of 2008. That game was most famous for being in the middle of the worst snowstorm stretch in Seattle history. It was also Coach Holmgren’s final home game coached for the Seahawks. There is a lot to be looking for out of both teams this week. Here is what I’ll be watching for.

Marshawn Lynch is 119 yards away from reaching the 1,000 yard plateau for the second straight year. The New York Jets defense is giving up an average of 141 rushing yards per game. It is no surprise given these numbers that running the ball will have a big impact on the productivity on offense this week. I do not think Russell Wilson will have to put up big numbers passing this week. My hope is that we can have a 55/45 mix in terms of running and passing the ball. The Jets defense is banged up and all-pro cornerback Darrelle Revis is out for the season. Outside of Lynch, I think Sidney Rice will have a big game this week. Russell Wilson has been looking more towards Rice’s direction recently and I think it is only a matter of time before Rice really breaks out and puts up numbers that challenge for the best wide receiver numbers in the NFL in a given week. The key to Wilson’s play this week will not to be too eager to throw the ball, especially if he gets into a comfortable rhythm. This is the type of game could get sloppy with multiple turnovers if the Seahawks are overconfident. If the Seahawks offense has more than 2 turnovers, the game may be closer than I hope.

I watch film of the New York Jets and I see an offense and a quarterback that can get flustered fast and try to force passes. Of course one of the most important aspects of a successful defense is establishing a pass rush but if that does not work this week, the Seahawks can get off the field if they can shut down New York’s receivers. If Mark Sanchez finds an open receiver, he will make a throw. But what happens if Sanchez cannot find an open read? Sanchez will hold on to the ball and try to force throws into coverage. The faces of Earl Thomas, Brandon Browner, and Richard Sherman will not have wider smiles if this happens this week. I expect at least two interceptions thrown by Sanchez this week. Stopping Shonn Greene will also be a focus this week given our struggles in the running game the past three weeks. I think the key to victory on defense however begins with forcing Mark Sanchez into mistakes. I will even go on a limb right now and make the bold prediction that Tim Tebow will be the Jets quarterback late in the fourth quarter, as Sanchez will struggle mightily this week.

On special teams, I am interested to see if the Jets do anything differently in order to stop Leon Washington. Washington previously played for New York before being traded to Seattle on draft day 2010. Because of this, the Jets and head coach Rex Ryan would know better than anybody how to stop Washington. Leon has struggled recently, especially on punt returns. It would be nice to see him break off a couple decent returns but I am not expecting anything extraordinary.

The New York Jets have been labeled my many fans and critics as “The Circus” given the always-contending mentality of Rex Ryan and the fact that they sport the league’s most popular backup quarterback, Tim Tebow. This year the Jets have gotten off to a shaky start at 3-5. The Sanchez vs. Tebow debate rises every week that Sanchez struggles and the Jets also have lost two of their best players for the season due to injury; cornerback Darrelle Revis and wide receiver Santonio Holmes. It is the Jets’ offense that has my attention this week. New York is averaging just shy of 20 points per game on the road this season and they are 1-2 in the process. I put my spotlight on the Jets receiver corps this week. Without Holmes, the Jets available receivers are Jason Hill, Clyde Gates, Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens, and rookie Stephen Hill. None of these receivers have proven themselves to be Sanchez’s go-to target and the leading receiver, Kerley, only has 30 catches for 478 yards on the season. As I noted earlier in my preview, if the Seattle defense can stay on top of New York’s receivers all game long, Sanchez will have a difficult time. All-in-all, the Jets defense does not scare me one bit. 20 points per game may be an okay amount on the road, but I expect the Seahawks to hold them for significantly less this week.

One more quick note, this week the Seahawks need to keep up the momentum at home. This is the first home game where the Seahawks are unanimously picked to win by all the experts on every sports network. After beating Minnesota last week, a mental letdown would be the worst thing for this team, especially since our next two games after the Jets are on the road.

Random Thoughts: This week is “salute to service” military appreciation week around the NFL. The Seahawks will participate in a card stunt during the national anthem just like last season. The Seahawks will also wear camouflage accessories on the field and World War II vet Joe Moser will raise the 12th Man flag… I got my customized authentic Seahawks home jersey in the mail this week. It looks so cool. I can’t wait to wear it on Sunday… Speaking of uniforms, expect the Seahawks to wear blue/blue again this week… I am taking my dad to this weekend’s game. One slight negative to taking my dad is I give up my aisle seat for him. I am more than happy to do it but when you sit in that seat 9 out of 10 times a season, sitting in seat 2 feels really weird… The Washington Huskies play Utah at 7:30 Saturday night. I was praying the Huskies game would be an afternoon game. Now I have to decide how hard to go Saturday to make sure I am rested and ready to go for Sunday… The temperature is supposed to be in the high 40’s at gametime. It looks like I’ll be able to wear the beanie I got with my season tickets for the first time this week… I am sick of all these 1:05 starts. It’s nice to have an extra 20 minutes if the game starts at 1:25 instead. The good thing I guess is the rest of our games are 1:25 kickoffs, barring a game being flexed into Sunday Night Football… No word on the pregame giveaway at this point. Odds are the giveaway will be military themed though… Marv Albert and Rich Gannon have the call for CBS this week. Given Marv’s primary broadcasting focus is basketball, how many times do you think he will call the Seahawks the Sonics?… It will be nice to have a bye after this game. If we can beat the Jets and win in either Miami or Chicago, we have a tremendous chance of making a push for a playoff spot.

Prediction: I have no reason to believe the Seahawks will lose this game. We are better than New York in all three phases of the game. Like I predicted earlier, Lynch will get to the 1,000 yard mark, he will score a touchdown, and Tim Tebow will be quarterbacking the Jets by the end of the game. Rex Ryan will make a statement in his postgame press conference about how the Jets play was embarrassing, and the Seahawks will head into the bye week with a 6-4 record.

Seahawks 28, Jets 9

Check back Monday for my review of the Jets game. Enjoy the game everybody! Go Seahawks!