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#10for10 Game #3: The Fail Mary (Seahawks vs. Packers, 2012 Season)

25 Nov

*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 fail mary

Photo Credit: Seahawks.com

Typically the University of Washington schedules the first day of fall quarter on the last Wednesday of September. In 2012 however they changed protocol. The first day of classes was scheduled for Monday, September 24th and because both of my Monday classes took place in the late afternoon, I skipped the first day of class in order to attend the only Seahawks Monday Night Football game of the 2012 season.

The day started fairly routinely and my afternoon was somewhat uneventful. At about 3:30 my friends Jake, Alan, and I left our house in Wallingford via Yellow Cab and we made our way downtown. When we got to the international district we parted ways. Jake and Alan were heading to the bar for a couple of quick pregame beers while I made my way into the bus tunnel to meet my friend Elliott who I was taking to the game. Elliott had come straight from work and his attire proved it. He donned a dress shirt and slacks with a Marcus Trufant Seahawks jersey over the shirt. Probably the most ridiculously awesome wardrobe I have seen any of my friends wear at a Seahawks game. Since he was running a little late we decided to head straight into the stadium at around 4:15. The pregame giveaway was rally towels which were awesome but interesting given it was only the third week of the season (normally the Seahawks save towels for the postseason or crucial games late in the regular season).

The game started slowly on the scoreboard but the Seahawks gave the 12’s plenty to cheer about in the first half. Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin, and Brandon Mebane combined for 8 first half sacks. Seattle’s incredible ability to put pressure on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers helped keep Green Bay off the scoreboard through two quarters. With each sack the crowd became louder and louder. I can remember laughing hysterically with Elliott because of how easily our defense dominated the line of scrimmage. Other than the sack barrage the biggest play of the first half came with 6:29 remaining in the second quarter. After four drives resulting in punts, the Seahawks put together a 7 play drive culminating in a long 41-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate, giving the Seahawks a 7-0 lead.

In the second half the Packers adjusted well. Their first two drives went for field goals which cut the Seattle lead to 7-6. What was frustrating late in the game was our pass rush went from dominant to nonexistent. We could not put any pressure on Rodgers which contributed to Green Bay’s ability to put together lengthy drives and score points. After another Seahawks punt the Packers got the ball back to start the fourth quarter. The Packers drove 82 yards in just over 6 minutes and things got interesting. Rodgers hit receiver Greg Jennings for a touchdown but the Seahawks challenged that Jennings stepped out of bounds before the ball crossed the plain. The call was reversed and it brought up 3rd down and 1 at the 2-yard line. On the next play Rodgers scrambled and was marked short of the first down marker but the Packers challenged this play. Once again the call on the field was reversed giving the Packers a first down at the 1-yard line. On the next play running back Cedric Benson punched the ball in. After failing to convert the two-point conversion the Packers had their first lead of the game, 12-7 with 8:44 remaining in the game.

On our next possession we were able to drive down inside the red zone to the Green Bay 7-yard line. Unfortunately we could not settle for a field goal. On 4th down with 2:00 remaining Wilson threw a fade pass to the left corner of the endzone which looked to be intended for Sidney Rice. Instead Golden Tate jumped in front and tried to make the catch but he ball hit off his hand and fell incomplete. The Packers would get the ball back with 1:54 remaining but the Seahawks had two timeouts left. If they could force Green Bay into a three-and-out, the Seahawks would get the ball back and have one more chance to win the game. The Seahawks were able to force the Packers into a three-and-out which backed them up to their own 4-yard line. Green Bay punted back to Seattle, giving the Seahawks the ball on the Packers 46-yard line with 46 seconds left.

After a first down incompletion Wilson fired down the middle and connected with Sidney Rice for a 22-yard gain. With the clock ticking the Seahawks hurried up to the line of scrimmage and instead of spiking the ball they went for the win. Wilson floated a pass into the endzone but the ball deflected off of Golden Tate’s fingertips. The clock was stopped with 18 seconds left. The Seahawks had the ball on the 24-yard line. After two more incompletions the game came down to one final 4th down play with 8 seconds left. Wilson dropped back and scrambled to his left, buying time for his receivers to get into the endzone for the Hail Mary. Wilson lofted a pass into the left corner of the endzone which was caught “simultaneously” by Packers safety M.D. Jennings and Golden Tate. From my view it looked like Tate had outjumped the mass of bodies and made the catch cleanly. When the side judge ruled it was a touchdown Elliott and I went bonkers. The team stormed the north endzone and in the stands we all jumped up and down with wide eyes, seemingly not being able to believe what had just happened. I can remember tossing Skittles at a few Packers fans sitting around us; Packers fans that had been trash talking the Seahawks throughout the second half. When head referee Wayne Elliott came out from under the replay hood and ruled that the call on the field stood, the fans erupted one more time. The Seahawks improved their record to 2-1 and it made for a jubilant rest of the night.

10for10 eric and elliott

Elliott and I going crazy in the postgame craziness

Upon walking down to the upper concourse we ran into Jake and Alan and we walked down the stadium ramp screaming and cheering. I can even remember Alan exclaiming “this is the best night of my life!” When we exited the stadium Elliott and I parted ways because we were heading home in different directions but the night was just starting for Jake, Alan, and I. We took a bus back to the University District which was filled with happy Seahawks fans. While standing on the bus Jake agreed with Alan’s prior declaration that it was the best night of his life. This caused one bitter Packers fan standing next to us that “that was sad. Graduation or getting married would probably be the best night of my life.” Once we got off the bus we walked back to Wallingford but not before picking up a fallen tree branch off of the sidewalk randomly. We jokingly waved the branch all the way back home and we decided that it would be our house “victory branch” which we placed on the porch. It stayed there for the remainder of our lease.

We cooked up six chicken top ramens in a giant pan and we watched SportsCenter where for the first time we realized what had actually happened on the final play of the game. We had no idea how questionable the final touchdown ruling was and we could not believe he had witnessed one of the most controversial games in NFL history. It is the greatest regular season Seahawks game I have attended in the 10 years I have been a Seahawks season ticket holder and it rightfully has a spot near the top of my #10for10 countdown.

#10for10 Game #9: Monday Night Snowbowl (Packers vs. Seahawks, 2006 Season)

1 Sep

*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*

When I was in high school I loved it when the Seahawks played Monday and Thursday night home games. It gave me the opportunity to dress up in all my Seahawks gear and attend all my classes as “that guy;” the guy you just knew was going to the game that night. The day was Monday, November 27th. The Seahawks were hosting their second Monday Night Football game in 4 weeks and we were facing off against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. As soon as 7:30am when I got to school I could tell it was going to be a special and memorable day. I was taking my friend Modris to the game and it was going to be his first ever NFL game in-person so I was very excited. After four 90-minute block periods of AP Language (the hardest class I ever took in high school), Band, Culinary, and U.S. History, Modris and I headed straight from school to the park and ride to catch the bus downtown.

It was very cold throughout the day. When I woke up and turned on SportsCenter they were doing a live report from Seattle and they said the game time temperature would be in the 30’s with a “chance” of snow flurries. Looking back I was probably underdressed a little but my classic look of sweatshirt-under-jersey with a knit hat kept me plenty warm. As the teams came onto the field for pregame warmups you could see a light dusting of snow falling from the sky and blanketing the field ever so slightly.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey, Getty Images

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey, Getty Images

The snow continued to fall as the teams headed inside their locker rooms and as we got ready for pregame ceremonies something pretty amazing happened. The National Anthem was sung and the snow really started to pick up. During the anthem a 20-yard wide American flag was held at midfield. The rendition took about two minutes and afterwards the flag was removed, revealing a very noticeable green rectangle of space where the field was untouched by snowfall. The snow continued to fall for the majority of the first half. During television timeouts, the field staff pushed shovels across the field at every 5-yard line marker so we could make out where the yard lines and endzones were. It was a scene made ironically enough for Green Bay and it was only fitting that the Seahawks first ever home game played in the snow was against the Packers.

Photo Credit: nwsportsbeat.com

Photo Credit: nwsportsbeat.com

The game itself got off to a slow start, as the Packers took a 14-12 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Seahawks however were able to capitalize on Brett Favre’s two second half interceptions. Add in 40 rushes for 201 yards by Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander and two touchdown passes from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks were able to dominate the later stages of the game, ultimately pulling away for a 34-24 victory. The win gave the Seahawks a 7-4 record and we maintained control of the NFC West.

Photo Credit: mynorthwest.com

Photo Credit: mynorthwest.com

After the game it took Modris and I almost two hours to catch a bus back home. My parents picked us up and drove us home which was a challenge itself. More than 3 hours had passed since the end of the game and I was finally home safe and sound. It had snowed about 4 inches back in Bellevue and it was enough to cancel school for the next two days. This game occurred in my first season as a season ticket holder but it continues to stick in my mind as one of the more unique games I have been to over the years.

FINAL: Seahawks 34, Packers 24

2012 Season Review: My Top Ten

17 Jan

The 37th season of Seattle Seahawks football was a very special one for me and the rest of the 12th Man. From day one of training camp on July 27th to day 177 last Sunday, we were a part of a journey that had its ups and downs and showed us how far a group of men can come and improve in such a time span. Most importantly, this Seahawks team showed what is to come next year and for many seasons following. I attended 10 of our 16 regular season games this season; 8 home games from my 2nd home in section 340 at CenturyLink Field, and spent hundreds of dollars to make sure my voice was heard and body was present in Arizona and San Francisco. Instead of chronicling our season from start to finish in a traditional season review piece that many other people will do, I have compiled my top ten moments of the 2012 season. These moments are not only the moments I witnessed first-hand but also the moments that were the most exciting and the moments that contributed in how our season was shaped. Some will agree with my list, others will disagree. Maybe you agree on the moments but not the order I have placed them in. Nevertheless these are the moments I have chosen as worthy of our top ten of the 2012 season. Let the debate begin!

#10: Washington Ties Cribbs (Seahawks at Dolphins, Week 12)

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Leon Washington made history in the fourth quarter of the Seahawks loss to the Miami Dolphins in late November. After scoring a touchdown to tie the game at 14-14, Miami kicked off to Washington with 8 minutes left in the game. Washington took Dan Carpenter’s kickoff 98 yards and into the endzone for a touchdown that gave the Seahawks a 21-14 lead. The kickoff return touchdown was Washington’s 8th in his career and that number ties Cleveland Browns kick returner Josh Cribbs for first all-time in that category in NFL history. After coming back from a devastating leg injury three years ago, Washington has re-emerged as one of the most dangerous return men in the league. Although he is getting older I fully expect Washington to play a big role on special teams next year. He has a unique burst and you could tell he was close to breaking off a couple big runs in the playoffs. Hopefully next season Washington can claim sole possession of first place in kickoff return touchdowns.

#9: Defense Makes A Statement, Pummels Rodgers (Packers at Seahawks, Week 3)

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When you combine a national television primetime setting, a ferocious fan base, an extremely talented defense, and a sub-par offensive line, you get my number nine moment of the season. With the entire nation watching the Seahawks defense combined to sack Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers 8 times in the first half alone. Chris Clemons led the attack with 4 sacks, rookie Bruce Irvin added 2 of his own, and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane also added 2 sacks. It was the most dominant span on defense this season and as I noted in my Packers review, it actually left me laughing in the stands because our play was so amazing and dominant. If only our pass rush could have been more consistently dominant over the course of the entire season. If that happened, we may still be playing football. I tipped my hat to the Seahawks defense on this night. I probably won’t see that many sacks recorded during a 30 minute span again in a very long time.

#8: Wilson Runs Into The Record Books (Seahawks vs. Bills, Week 15)

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The Seahawks debuted their wolf grey uniforms in Toronto against the Bills on December 16th and Russell Wilson looked especially good in them. The Seahawks were coming off a 58-0 win over the Arizona Cardinals the previous week and the offensive surge did not stall against the Bills. The Seahawks won the game 50-17 but Russell Wilson was the biggest factor in the final score. Wilson became the first quarterback in Seahawks history to run for three touchdowns in a game and he ran for all three in the first half. The zone-read option worked the best against the Bills in my opinion as Wilson and the running backs combined for 270 rushing yards.

#7 Cowboys Special Teams Screw-Up Number One (Cowboys at Seahawks, Week 2)

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The Seahawks hosted the Dallas Cowboys in their home opener on September 16th and the game could not have gotten off to a worse start for the Cowboys. With the entire sellout crowd already in their seats for kickoff, the Seahawks kicked off to Felix Jones of the Cowboys to start the game. After making it out to around the Dallas 25-yard line, Jones was hit on his side which knocked the ball free from his arms. Earl Thomas recovered the fumble and the crowd erupted into chaos. Ten seconds into the game and the Cowboys had already turned the ball over, given the Seahawks excellent field position, and they gave the 12th Man something to go crazy about. In the stands the play was awesome and everyone around me was beyond excited. The drive culminated into just a field goal but luckily for the Seahawks and the fans, the Cowboys were not done with their special teams blunders yet.

#6: Cowboys Special Teams Screw-Up Number Two (Cowboys at Seahawks, Week 2)

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After this play my friend Alan and I believed that the Dallas Cowboys special teams unit was cursed in Seattle. With the Seahawks forcing the Cowboys to punt on their first offensive drive of the game, defensive end Bruce Irvin penetrated the punter protection and got one of his hands on the kick. The ball took one bounce backward and right into the hands of Jeron Johnson inside the Dallas 5-yard line. Johnson walked the blocked punt into the endzone for a touchdown and the Seahawks took a 10-0 lead early in the first quarter. This play was very fast since the block and score occurred within seconds of each other. Once again, the crowd went crazy and we now had full confidence that we could beat Dallas handedly on this day.

#5: U Mad Bro? Seahawks Stun Brady, Patriots (Patriots at Seahawks, Week 6)

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Coming off a win in Carolina the week before, the Seahawks came home with a 3-2 record and a home date with the defending AFC champion New England Patriots. The Seahawks trailed the Patriots 23-10 with 9:21 left in the game. Russell Wilson connected with Braylon Edwards for a touchdown on 4th down to cut the Patriots lead to 6 points. The Seahawks got the ball back with 2:38 left in the game with a chance to take the lead. With 1:10 left in the game, Russell Wilson connected with Sidney Rice for a 46 yard touchdown pass which gave the Seahawks a 24-23 lead. It was the prettiest pass I saw Wilson throw all season long. The Seahawks defense came back onto the field for one last New England drive and successfully stopped the Patriots on four plays, giving the Seahawks the win. One other storyline of this game was the communicating (or trash talking) between Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. During the game Sherman challenged Brady to throw in his direction while Brady told Sherman to see him after the game when the Patriots win. Brady did in fact challenge Sherman by throwing in his direction and Sherman picked off a pass in the 3rd quarter. After the game Sherman went up to Brady to tell him “you’re just a man. We’re a team.” The exchange was photographed and was given the caption “U Mad Bro?” with Sherman mouthing off to Brady while Brady tried to walk off the field. This moment tossed Sherman into the national spotlight. After this incident Seahawks fans started to love Sherman even more and fans of other teams started to loathe Sherman.

#4: RW3 > RGIII. Seahawks Win First Road Playoff Game Since 1983 (Seahawks at Redskins, NFC Wild-Card Playoff)

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The Seahawks finished ½ game behind San Francisco for the NFC West title but they still earned the #5 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Seahawks faced the NFC East champion Washington Redskins in the Wild-Card round of the playoffs and things did not get off to a good start. Washington jumped out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. At the time it was the largest deficit the Seahawks had faced all season long. The Seahawks came back thanks in large part to Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and Earl Thomas. The Seahawks scored 24 unanswered points in the final 45 minutes to beat the Redskins 24-14 to advance to the NFC Divisional playoffs. This game was the only playoff game to feature two rookie quarterbacks. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was playing with a sprained LCL in his right knee and he was unable to finish the game after further damaging his knee. The Seahawks did a great job of containing Griffin III and their rookie running back Alfred Morris. It was one of the most exciting road games of the season and the Seahawks came back home not before winning on the road for the first time in the playoffs since Chuck Knox’s Seahawks beat the Miami Dolphins in an AFC Divisional playoff in 1983.

#3: The Two Drives That Changed Our Season (Seahawks at Bears, Week 13)

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After losing to Miami in week 12 the Seahawks hit the road again for a crucial game against the Chicago Bears. At the time the Bears held the NFC North lead while the Seahawks controlled their own destiny as an NFC Wild-Card. With the Seahawks trailing 14-10 with 3:40 left in the game the Seahawks had to drive 97 yards to take the lead. On the drive Marshawn Lynch racked up 21 yards and Russell Wilson also ran for 19 yards. Wilson hit Zach Miller to convert a 4th down which would have ended the game if the pass was incomplete, and then he found Sidney Rice for a gain 27 yards. With 24 seconds remaining Wilson hit Golden Tate on a slant. Tate juked two defenders before diving into the endzone for the go-ahead touchdown. The Seahawks took a 17-14 lead. Game over right? Unfortunately not. Because of a breakdown in communication on defense, Jay Cutler found Brandon Marshall for a gain of 56 yards to put Chicago in field goal range. Robbie Gould knocked the kick through the uprights and the game was headed to overtime. In overtime the Seahawks won the toss and started their next drive on their own 20-yard line. Did Wilson have another game-winning drive in him? He proved that he could go down and win the game again. Thanks in large part to Wilson’s legs, he led the Seahawks into the red zone and connected with Sidney Rice from 13 yards out for the game winning touchdown. This was just the Seahawks second road win of the season but with the win we improved to 7-5. These two drives are considered to be the turning point in our season. In our next three games after the Chicago game the Seahawks scored a combined 150 points. Most importantly though, the Chicago game was the start of an impressive winning streak that did not end until the Divisional playoff loss to Atlanta.

#2: Sherman Steals The Show On Sunday Night (49ers at Seahawks, Week 16)

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I stepped into CenturyLink Field on Sunday Night December 23rd expecting to see a close, hard-fought game against the San Francisco 49ers. If we won we would clinch a playoff berth. I had no idea how bad of a mismatch and how big of a blowout this game would turn out to be. My number two moment of the season occurred with just over 12 minutes left in the second quarter. With the 49ers trailing 14-0, kicker David Akers lined up for a 21-yard field goal. The kick was blocked by Red Bryant and the ball bounced right into the arms of Richard Sherman. Sherman returned the ball 90 yards to the house for a touchdown and a 21-0 Seahawks lead. The game was over at this point. Everyone in the stands felt confident we would handle San Francisco for the rest of the night. In the stands the play was wild, which justifies my reasoning for ranking this play as the second best of the season. Once I saw the ball blocked and picked up by Sherman, I knew he had the speed and separation to outrun both Akers and the holder Andy Lee. I started jumping up and down wildly and screaming at the top of my lungs while pulling and shaking the guys who sit below me. Once Sherman crossed the goal line I ran down the stairs of my aisle collecting high fives and hugging everybody in my vicinity. I could not have been happier and the last time I celebrated that wildly on any play was the Marshawn Lynch beast quake run in the 2010 playoffs. I guess there’s something about primetime football that brings out the wild child in me. The Seahawks won the game 42-13 and clinched a playoff berth. Not only that, we also beat the hated 49ers which always puts a smile on my face.

#1: The Monday Night Miracle (Packers at Seahawks, Week 3)

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As the season wore on a lot of Seahawks fans got the feeling we were developing as the most hated team nationally during the 2012 season. The reason why is because of what transpired on Monday night September 24th. With the Seahawks trailing 12-7 with 8 seconds left, Russell Wilson threw up a Hail Mary into the north endzone. From my view it looked like Golden Tate out jumped three Green Bay defenders to make the catch. When one of the officials ruled touchdown, the stadium went absolutely crazy. Everyone around me started to jump up and down and we all embraced each other with looks of sheer amazement and non-belief in our faces. I had never seen a more epic finish then what had just happened. The play was reviewed by replacement official Wayne Elliott and the call on the field was upheld. The Seahawks won in what ESPN’s Mike Tirico called “the most bizarre finish you’ll ever see.” In the stands we couldn’t believe what had just happened and we headed out of the stadium under the impression that Golden Tate had cleanly made one of the greatest plays we had ever seen. I had never attended a football game that was decided by a Hail Mary on the final play so the adrenaline was coursing through my veins. I collected a program after the game that was sitting on a picnic table because I wanted a piece of memorabilia from the most exciting game of the year. Nobody I was with had the slightest clue what had actually happened on the field. When my friends and I got home from the game we turned on SportsCenter and watched for two hours as they broke down the final play. As you well know, the play was not as clean as it looked like from my view inside the stadium. We won the game but the controversy over the replacement officials had just begun. The SportsCenter following this game was the most watched episode in ESPN history and within 48 hours of the game, the referee lockout was over and the real NFL referees were back on the field. Sports Illustrated named this play the most iconic sports moment of 2012 and it is definitely deserving of that title. I have a mini-shrine to this game in my room including my ticket stub, the program I picked up, the rally towel that was given away at the game, and the front page of the Seattle Times sports section from the day after with the headline “Last Call?” Although I will be attending many many more football games in my lifetime, I am confident in saying I will never see a more incredible finish then what happened on this crisp September night.

Review: Seahawks 23, Bears 17 (OT)

3 Dec

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The Seahawks were able to bounce back from their loss in Miami and defeat the Chicago Bears 23-17 in overtime on Sunday. This game was a nail-biter and it turned out to be what I would consider to be an instant classic. The Seahawks are now 7-5, in full control of the final NFC wild-card spot while the Bears fall to 8-4 and have the 5th seed in the NFC. There was a good mix of great things and bad things that happened to the Seahawks in this game. This is what I saw.

Déjà Vu: The Seahawks had a 10-7 lead at halftime but the feel of the first half felt eerily similar to the first half of the Miami game. The Seahawks went the first 27 minutes of the first half without scoring. They did put up 219 yards of offense in the first half; about 70 yards more than in Miami. The nicest thing I saw in the first half was that the offense was able to move the ball. The Seahawks only had one first half drive of less than 10 yards. Scoring 10 points in the first half on the road against a superlative Chicago defense is decent but I was hoping for more in order for us to remain competitive throughout the entire game. It was good to see us correct mistakes that doomed us in Miami and carried those adjustments into the rest of this week’s game.

52:27 Of Russell Wilson Dominance: This may seem a bit repetitive because this section reflects some stats that occurred in the first half, but you will be impressed with these numbers. From the end of the first quarter on, the Seahawks had 404 yards of offense, 22 first downs, and all 23 points against the Bears on the road. Russell Wilson had his most impressive performance of the season hands down. Wilson ended the day 23/37 for 293 yards passing and two touchdowns. Wilson also added 71 rushing yards on 9 carries. Wilson showed tremendous poise and seemed comfortable in the pocket all day long. For the most part the Seahawks offensive line did a great job protecting Wilson. Two of Wilson’s throws in particular caught my attention, both to Sidney Rice. One was in the first half down the sideline which was one of Trent Dilfer’s “dimes” on Sportscenter Sunday night. The second pass, Rice laid out on 2nd down and 11 to convert for a first down. The drive ultimately ended in points. With a favorable schedule on the horizon and only one more regular season road game, Wilson is headed for a terrific finish and strong consideration for offensive rookie of the year.

Defense Sputters When They Absolutely Can’t: The Seahawks defense played well enough to hold on for the win. Having said this, we continue to give up big plays at the worst times. I will get to the Brandon Marshall catch with 18 seconds left in regulation in a moment but let’s first talk about our third down defense, our pass rush, and our unfortunate penalties.

Once again the Seahawks did a terrible job of stopping the Bears on third down, especially in the first half. Chicago was able to convert half of their third downs on Sunday. The biggest reason why the Bears could move the ball is our constant lack of quarterback pressure on the road. The Seahawks only recorded one sack which was primarily because Bears quarterback Jay Cutler fumbled a handoff to Matt Forte and had to run back and recover it. The Seahawks would have had this game under control for the majority of the time if they had been able to put consistent pressure on Cutler. We had been successful doing this over the past couple years. I do not see how we were so ineffective this time around.

There were also a couple of big penalties that cost the Seahawks in the Bears second touchdown drive. The Bears came up one yard short of a first down at the beginning of their first third quarter drive on 3rd and 8 but because of an illegal hands to the face penalty on Bruce Irvin, it gave the Bears a first down. Later on in the drive, Alan Branch was called for roughing the passer when he tried to tackle Cutler as he was sliding. The Bears of course ended the drive with a touchdown to Matt Forte to give the Bears a 14-10 lead.

Perhaps the most talked about play of the day was the 56-yard reception by Bears receiver Brandon Marshall with 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks had an entire breakdown in coverage on this play. The Seahawks played prevent-man defense and they were able to let Marshall get free on one-on-one coverage. Instead of going for an interception or even a tackle, cornerback Richard Sherman instead decided to go for the interception. Because of this, Marshall was able to break free for an additional 20+ yards. This play set up Robbie Gould’s 46-yard game-tying field goal at the end of regulation. This play “never should have happened in the first place” according to Coach Carroll and there is no doubt he is right. Our defense must continue to improve and it will be nice for them to get back home next weekend after 4 weeks away from CenturyLink Field.

He’s A Beast: There is no other way to describe Brandon Marshall. In my preview, I predicted Marshall would have ten catches and ultimately torch the Seahawks. Marshall did have ten catches for 165 yards. It does not matter who is covering him, Marshall is big enough to grab any ball thrown in his direction, much like Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. The Cutler-Marshall combination is deadly and will be the biggest offensive factor in determining how long the Bears stick around in the playoffs.

Chicago’s Defense Still Good, But Aging: Here is a warning to any team or fan of a team who could be looking at a matchup with the Chicago Bears later on this season: they are still dominant but they get dramatically tired. In the Seahawks final two offensive drives of the game, Russell Wilson was shredding Chicago’s defense apart and you could visibly tell they were getting tired. Most notably the linebackers seemed the most gassed. Lance Briggs got banged up late in the game and Brian Urlacher had to leave the Seahawks overtime drive. He may have been hurt but to me watching on television he just looked exhausted. If the Bears are going to contend for a super bowl, this has to be the year. This group will not stick together much longer. They can play well against almost every team but they get worn down, which ultimately cost them against the Seahawks on Sunday.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks debuted the white jersey/white pants uniform combination on Sunday. It looked really good. Hopefully the white pants stick around… My dad came over to my house for this game and I really enjoyed his company. It always makes it better when we win… My roommate had the time of his life being in attendance at Soldier Field on Sunday. I am super jealous he got to see the Seahawks win and I saw them lose twice on the road. I told him he is our good luck charm within the house and maybe we should look into going to Toronto in two weeks for the Bills game (that won’t happen, but it’s a nice little idea isn’t it?)… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan called a good game on the FOX broadcast this week. Much better than in past weeks… The Bears have an annoying fight song… With our win and San Francisco’s loss I am starting to get excited about the possibility of holding on to win the NFC West. Still a lot of football to be played but we have a chance… I am also starting to get excited about the possibility that the NFL and NBC will flex the Seahawks week 16 game against the San Francisco 49ers into Sunday Night Football. That would be so amazing.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: The Seahawks are now 7-5 and have a full game lead for the 6th seed in the NFC. The Seahawks are also 1 ½ games behind San Francisco for the NFC West lead. It is very possible we could catch them in the coming weeks. Still in the hunt behind the Seahawks are the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Next week’s games to be keeping an eye on with potential playoff implications:

Arizona (4-8) at Seattle (7-5)

Miami (5-7) at San Francisco (8-3-1)

Dallas (6-6) at Cincinnati (7-5)

Chicago (8-4) at Minnesota (6-6)

Philadelphia (3-9) at Tampa Bay (6-6)

The Seahawks now have four games left; three of which are at home in front of the 12th Man. It all starts next week against the Arizona Cardinals. Check back on Saturday afternoon for my preview of next week’s game. It’s really time to start believing everybody. Go Seahawks!

Review: Seahawks 14, Packers 12

27 Sep

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I have watched Seahawks games for 22 years. I have been a season ticket holder for the last seven seasons. I have NEVER witnessed a more epic finish than what happened on Monday Night. I have dubbed the Seahawks victory over the Green Bay Packers the “Monday Night Miracle” after Golden Tate scored on a Hail Mary as time expired to give the Seahawks the lead and the win. I will get to my analysis, feelings, and opinion of Tate’s catch later on in this post. Other than this play, one of the greatest moments in Seahawks history, here are my thoughts about the rest of the game.

Pass Rush: Present: In my preview posts, I always state that the pass rush is the biggest key on defense. If you can put pressure on the quarterback the chances of getting him to be uncomfortable throwing and/or forcing him to commit turnovers skyrockets. The Seahawks sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers 8 times in the first half; 4 by Chris Clemons, 2 from Bruce Irvin, and 2 from Brandon Mebane. It honestly got to the point where the performance of the Seahawks defense was laughable in the stands. It really was that amazing. In the second half the defense recorded no sacks, which is unfortunate. The next phase of improving the pass rush will be to display consistency throughout the entire game. Can you imagine if the Seahawks continued to sack Rodgers throughout the second half? It would have been the greatest defensive performance in team history.

Shutting Them Down: The pass rush is only one part of the Seahawks defense’s night. The defense, which entered the game allowing only 13.5 points per game, held the explosive Green Bay offense to only 12 points. The Packers averaged 35 points per game last season. Considering the weapons Green Bay has, I am beyond satisfied with the defensive performance. The leading receiver for the Packers was tight end Jermichael Finley and he only had 60 yards receiving. The Seahawks now have the 4th best overall defense in the league. With another road test coming next, the Seahawks need to make sure that the defense keeps on rolling. If they can do that, they will prove to me and the 12th Man that they can be successful both at home and on the road.

Another Average Night: Russell Wilson once again did not put up highly impressive numbers against the Packers. Wilson ended the night 10/21 for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns. Wilson did not even break triple digit yardage numbers until the final drive of the game. Once again however, Wilson committed no turnovers. In three games, Wilson has 4 touchdowns and only one interception. It is now to the point where I have to critique Wilson in terms of his stats. Throwing for only 130 yards cannot become the norm for Wilson. Russell must show improvement throwing the ball and completing passes. The defense is holding this team upright and they can only go so strong for so long. Sooner or later whether it is because of seasonal wear-and-tear, the defense will not be able to hold the fort down. It is up to Wilson to improve his numbers. If he can throw for at least 250 yards per game, I think the Seahawks have a great chance of winning the game.

The Special Teams Is Exciting: It feels like every time the opponent lines up to punt or to kick a field goal, the Seahawks have a chance to block it. On Monday night, the Seahawks came incredibly close to blocking both a punt and a field goal. On the attempted field goal block, one Seahawk hurdled the Packers center and I was so convinced he was going to block it I jumped up before the ball sailed through the uprights. Against the Cowboys, the Seahawks special teams could have singlehandedly won the game and it is a huge relief to know that this very important unit is good enough to significantly alter the outcome of the game. The season is young, but I think the special teams will make much more noise throughout the rest of the season.

In Primetime, The 12th Man Never Disappoints: I tip my cap to myself and the rest of the people in attendance on Monday night. Most everybody was in their seats by the time pregame ceremonies rolled around. The scene was really cool with everybody waving their rally towels. The most impressive thing though was that very few people left the stadium after the Seahawks failed to convert on 4th down right after the two-minute warning. Not to criticize Seattle sports fans, but usually at that point in a game most fans usually leave to avoid getting stuck in traffic heading home. Not on Monday night though. I am very happy that everyone around me stayed and we all got to witness one of the most incredible plays not just in Seahawks history but in NFL history.

Let’s Talk About The Final Play: Before the Seahawks lined up to run the final play of the game, I looked up one row across the aisle from me. There was a Packers fan who started chanting “S**t Hawks! S**t Hawks!” He had been chanting this throughout the game and of course it made me mad. I started thinking to myself and praying that the behavior by those types of fans is exactly the reason why the Packers do not deserve to win this game. The Seahawks had played lights-out all game long and they played too hard not to win.

Wilson took the snap and after rolling to the left he planted and fired a Hail Mary to the corner of the end zone. From my view, I thought that Golden Tate had out jumped all 5 Packers defenders and had made the catch. After investigating the scene I saw the side judge call touchdown and I went absolutely crazy. I didn’t even see the back judge call interception and touchback. I was focused on seeing the ref call touchdown. As soon as the side judge did, my eyes were attracted to his arms and the fans around me went into full party and celebration mode. Everyone around me including myself didn’t bother watching the play on the big screen as it was reviewed; we were too happy that we had won the game. When the replacement referee confirmed the call on the field, round two of celebrations in the stands took place. My buddy Elliott and I could not believe what had just happened. As we walked down the aisle to the concourse, I heard people scream “I love Golden Tate!” and “Russell Wilson will NEVER buy a drink in this city ever again!” I then headed back home to re-watch the end of the game.

Upon arriving at home I watched the replay of Tate’s catch over and over and over again. Here is my opinion about what happened:

I don’t think Golden Tate caught the ball. I think that the refs clearly missed his offensive pass interference and although the NFL rulebook states that in the event of simultaneous possession the tie goes to the passers, I don’t think there was simultaneous possession in this case. I think M.D. Jennings of the Packers had two hands on the ball initially and Tate only had one hand on it. Upon descent to the ground, Tate was able to sneak in his other hand around the ball to give it the look that both players had their hands on the ball.

There is one view I have seen that shows that the officials may have made the right call. Although Jennings had full possession of the ball initially, he had both feet off the ground. Golden Tate had two hands on the ball and both feet on the ground before Jennings did, meaning Tate completed the entire “act of a catch” before Jennings did. Over the last couple of seasons there have been a couple questionable touchdown/non-touchdown calls because the receiver did/did not complete the entire act of a catch. Most notably, a Calvin Johnson reception for the Lions in Chicago against the Bears that did not count because he let go of the ball before getting up off of the ground. In this instance, from this one view it looks like Tate completed the catch and the Seahawks were correctly awarded the touchdown.

The response from what happened on Monday night has been unbelievable to me. As a Seahawks fan we have had many games that have come down to close calls go negatively towards us over the years. To have this play go in our favor I honestly had trouble understanding the feeling of the victory. It is incredible to see the national attention we have gotten over the last 48 hours since the last play of the game. We have been the top story on SportsCenter, the Today Show, and even President Barack Obama tweeted his opinion about the outcome of the game. At the end of the day, the Seahawks won and the Packers lost. As great a game as this was and for the memories that will live on forever, it is time to move on, get over it, and focus on our next game.

My Opinion Of The Replacement Refs: I’ll keep this brief. After almost three weeks of questionable calls, it was only a matter of time a call made by the replacement officials would determine the outcome of a game. Although the result of Monday night’s game went in our favor, I still believe the job done by the replacements have been utterly ridiculous and it is time for the real referees to return. As of now it looks like the NFL and the NFL Referees Association have agreed on a new contract which will end the lockout. This is ultimately the best case scenario for the league.

Random Thoughts: I did not prefunk before the game. We were running a little late and wanted to get into the stadium in time to get a rally towel and to see pregame… The Steve Sabol tribute was really cool to see again. The ovation was really nice and well deserved. Sabol, the president of NFL Films died this past week after a battle with brain cancer. He was 69… It was weird to see Trent Dilfer raise the 12th Man flag. Usually in the flag raiser video the person’s accomplishments are listed. The most memorable accomplishment for Dilfer was his 2003 Steve Largent Award. I loved Dilfer when he was a Seahawk but I personally do not think he has the appropriate accolades to be raising the flag for a regular season game, much less a Monday Night Football game… The offense was introduced and Russell Wilson got the loudest ovation once again. What a thrill that must have been for him… I was asked to sit down by the person behind me for the second straight week. This week it was a Packers fan probably in his late 50’s or early 60’s. Of course I ignored him and he must have dealt with it because he didn’t make a complaint through the rest of the game… Beer is too expensive inside the stadium. Period… There were way too many penalties by the Seahawks this week. That must change going forward. Most of the penalties are discipline penalties that should be easily avoided… There were WAY TOO MANY Packers fans in attendance. Probably worse than the number of Cowboys fans at the home opener… Marshawn Lynch did not score a touchdown, but that did not prevent me from ripping open a king-size bag of Skittles and throwing them at the end of the game when Tate scored the game winning touchdown… The 2005 NFC Championship Game will most likely always be my favorite Seahawks game that I attended, but there is no question this game is the most exciting game I have ever been to. It will probably take another Hail Mary reception at the end of a game to de-thrown this as the most exciting game I have ever been to.

I apologize that this review post is a little bit late. I just started my first week of school and have been up to my neck in readings for my classes. This will not stop me from writing my preview post of the game next weekend against the St. Louis Rams. Look for that preview most likely on Saturday afternoon. Thanks for reading everybody. What an incredible game. Go Seahawks!

Camp Notes 8/8: The T.O. Show and Flynn’s Emergence

8 Aug

I am still pinching myself in disbelief over the fact that Terrell Owens is a Seahawk. It was kind of surreal to see T.O. in a navy blue Seahawks practice jersey and see him address the media in front of the Seahawks logo-filled press conference background. It was estimated that there were over four times as many media members and cameras on hand for today’s practice than an average training camp practice. The Seahawks have not had this kind of national media coverage since the weeks leading up to Super Bowl XL. In my opinion it was a nice change to see us be the lead on Sportscenter as well.

The focus of today’s practice was of course the wide receivers. Owens spent the majority of practice running with the second-string unit opposite Braylon Edwards. Owens lined up at flanker for the most part, which is Sidney Rice’s primary position with the first-string unit. From what I could tell he looked very sharp. He did not drop any balls and made every route he ran and catch he made look incredibly easy. Having said that, Owens has been out of the league for over a full season so there is some catch up physically and mentally to be expected. “I’m a little rusty… now I’m just trying to get myself physically back in shape to play football and today was a step in the right direction” Owens said in his post-practice press conference. Coach Carroll indicated yesterday that Owens will not play against Tennessee on Saturday night which as a fan is disappointing but surely understandable. You cannot expect to throw a raw and rusty veteran on the field four days after being signed. The good thing though is Owens is familiar with the offense and based on what he talked about today all that really needs to happen is for him to get his football legs back and get back into great football shape. I expect Owens to play next weekend against Denver and by then be challenging to line up opposite Rice with the first-team offense.

Yesterday Coach Carroll announced that Tarvaris Jackson’s reps would be cut significantly and that Matt Flynn will start against Tennessee on Saturday. The goal is to have Flynn play the entire first half and then have Russell Wilson step in to play the second half. Today in practice, Flynn looked very sharp. His best play was a 30-yard streak to Terrell Owens among others. Flynn’s great practice today was praised by former NFL quarterback Hugh Millen, who told Dave “Softy” Mahler of KJR “It’s likely that in all of 2011, Tarvaris Jackson never had as good a practice as Matt Flynn had today.”

I think it is becoming clearer what the plan is for the quarterback competition. Coach Carroll said yesterday that they have enough data and knowledge on Jackson that they don’t want to see him in this preseason game and can afford to cut his first-team reps down in practice. My prediction is that Jackson will be cut by the time the regular season starts. Carroll suggested he is 100 percent comfortable handing the keys of the car over to Flynn and if that is the case, there is no good reason why he would not be starter come week one. My guess is that Flynn will be the starter, Wilson the backup, and Josh Portis will be the third-string quarterback.

Tomorrow I will be live from the VMAC for practice. If T.O. signs autographs there is no doubt I will try to get a word with him. Three days until the Tennessee game everybody!