Tag Archives: Super Bowl XL

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

Review: Seahawks 23, Giants 0

15 Dec
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Don’t get me the least bit wrong, I LOVE the outcome of Sunday’s game, but this 20-burger with cheese should have been at least a 40-burger with cheese (if you’re confused try to look it up). The Seahawks defeated the New York Giants 23-0 on Sunday in a game that featured an unstoppable Seattle defensive unit, a shaky yet functioning offensive unit, and perhaps a preview of the Seahawks getting their feet wet in the stadium that may house the biggest game in Seahawks history on February 2nd. The Seahawks are now 12-2 and are one win away from clinching the NFC West title and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Giants fall to 5-9 on the season and nothing was improved on their side except for their slot in next year’s draft. There is so much good to go over in this game (with a little “just okay” to go over as well) but let me start with the obvious.

Defense Plays Best Game of the Season: In general let’s not ignore this undeniable fact; the Seattle Seahawks defense played their best all-around game of the season. But honestly, how can you not when you shut out your opponent? The Seahawks held the Giants to 181 total yards and New York did not have an offensive play in Seahawks territory until the fourth quarter. The run defense looked particularly dominant, holding Andre Brown and Peyton Hillis to 25 total rushing yards. The pressure the Seahawks front seven put on Giants quarterback Eli Manning started early with a sack by Bobby Wagner and did not let up, even when the Giants were able to get small drives going. Two interceptions by Richard Sherman and an interception by Earl Thomas are examples of what I preached in my Giants game preview. If the defense could force New York into mistakes the Seahawks offense would control the game. That is exactly what happened. Constant pressure on Manning forced him into bad throws which resulted in interceptions. Sherman and Thomas played a great game but it was one other Seahawks defender that really opened my eyes.

Brandon Who? Walter Who?: There is a very special feeling fans get when they see a backup player get his chance, make an immediate impact, and display his “star-of-the-future” potential. Byron Maxwell played the best all-around game of his young career on Sunday, recording 3 passes defensed and also intercepting 2 passes. In three starts in place of the injured Brandon Browner and the suspended Walter Thurmond, Maxwell now has 3 interceptions and 8 passes defensed. Maxwell’s play is making it incredibly difficult for the Seahawks defensive coaches to justify replacing him once Thurmond returns from his suspension. With Maxwell playing well on the outside, that also helps cornerback Jeremy Lane, who can focus strictly on playing nickel cornerback instead of having to switch between different positions in different packages if Maxwell was struggling to hold down the second cornerback spot. Although Maxwell is taking over a starting spot, regardless of who is the second starter when Browner and Thurmond come back, the Seahawks will have a proven idea of just how deep they are in the secondary for the playoffs.

Pass Rush Forces Mistakes: Eli Manning threw a career high 5 interceptions this week and it was due in large part to the effectiveness of the Seahawks pass rush. The Seahawks recorded 4 sacks of Manning and additional pressure forced bad passes which ultimately stopped drives. Bobby Wagner and Michael Bennett stuck out in my mind this week, as both had phenomenal performances. Wagner and Bennett combined for 14 tackles and 2 sacks. Over the past few road games the Seahawks pass rush seemed to be lacking. The last time the Seahawks defense recorded at least 4 sacks in a road game was back in week 7 at Arizona and the 4 sacks Seattle had against the Giants this week is the second highest total on the road this season. This was the game that the 12th Man knew the Seahawks had in them. The focus now will be to carry this defensive momentum into two dominant performances to end the regular season.

Offensive Line Must Improve: As joyous as it was to watch the Seahawks dismantle the Giants there was one gigantic concern that stopped the hearts of me and my friends during this game. Russell Wilson gets hit too much. Even when Russell does not get hit, more often than not he is scrambling trying to make a play because he has to. Wilson was sacked 4 times on Sunday which is definitely too many in my opinion. Many of Wilson’s short to intermediate throws also came out of the pocket. This has been a problem throughout the season and things must change in order to keep Wilson clean and limit the chances of him getting hurt. Because the Seahawks are winning and the offense has been productive throughout the season many fans tend to ignore any potential problems within the team but I see an issue on the right side of the offensive line that needs to be corrected. Second year right guard J.R. Sweezy seems to be having a hard time pass blocking and Breno Giacomini is quite hit-or-miss in pass protection. I would be interested to see an offensive line combo that puts Paul McQuistan at left guard, moving James Carpenter to right guard to replace Sweezy. Like I said at the beginning of this review, the Seahawks should have been able to put up at least 40 points in this game and the main reason why it was a closer score I believe can be ultimately traced back to the spotty play of the Seahawks offensive line.

Moving Forward, Turn Field Goals into Touchdowns: There were several third down and short opportunities that were squandered this week, leading to field goals instead of touchdowns. Kicker Steven Hauschka ranks 6th among all NFL kickers in field goals made and he has connected on a career high 7 field goals in the 20-29 yard range this season; kicks where the drive stalls inside the opponent’s 10-yard line. The Seahawks need to do a better job of punching the ball in the endzone in these short yardage situations. Marshawn Lynch was stopped on a goal line run today on a drive that resulted in a Lynch touchdown a couple of plays later, however the ineffectiveness of getting the ball into the endzone from just outside the goal line makes me question the blocking schemes drawn up in the red zone. Simply put, the Seahawks need to prove to me that they can score a touchdown in positions where anything but a touchdown is a complete disappointment. Being able to finish off drives with 7 points instead of 3 will help greatly later on in the game.

Thoughts on the Giants: The New York Giants are a team that may be close to a light rebuild. Their core group of talent is getting older and it is apparent that they need to re-make the offense in order to take pressure off of Eli Manning in both the passing game and the running game. I would not be surprised to see the Giants use their first couple of draft picks next year on offensive linemen because that is where I believe the Giants were the weakest on Sunday. Getting veterans healthy and adding solid, young talent could put the Giants in the running for a typical 8 or 9 win season in 2014, which may or may not put them in a position to make the playoffs.

Random Thoughts: I am sick of stupid penalties. 8 penalties for 50 yards on Sunday and many of them were procedure fouls, aka the simplest, most fundamental aspects of football. This needs to change. It is amazing that we can be the 2nd most penalized team in the league, yet we are good enough to be 12-2. If we had played cleaner football throughout the season, it may not be overly impossible to think we could be 14-0 right now… Bill Leavy didn’t screw us over this week. Thanks Bill! However, I refuse to fully forgive you for Super Bowl XL until we finally win a championship… I watched the game down at my friend Jake’s house and it was a really fun time with all of my best friends… Didn’t get to watch RedZone so we flipped between Kansas City/Oakland and Green Bay/Dallas in the afternoon, while also being able to sneak in a quick catnap… 6 month old Bud Light still tastes fine. I don’t see a problem with drinking old beer as long as it doesn’t taste bad. There’s no problem with that right?… The Seahawks were wearing white jerseys and blue pants this week so my prediction was correct… With two home games left I think it is impossible to lose out on the division but honestly I am looking a bit ahead to the St. Louis game week 17 because if we win and wrap everything up next week against Arizona, I think we will treat the Rams game like a preseason game by resting all of our important starters. My point: Our 14 (15 if you count a win next week over the Cardinals) game home winning streak could be in jeopardy. That would be devastating.

The Seahawks will now come home for the final two games of the regular season. Next week we host the Arizona Cardinals. Check back on Saturday for my preview of next week’s game. Enjoy this win everybody. Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Giants Preview

14 Dec
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Photo Credit: seahawks.com

Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants

Site: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, New Jersey)

Kickoff: 10:00am

After failing to clinch the NFC West last week the Seahawks will have another chance to get the job done this week as they take on the New York Giants. The Seahawks are 11-2 while the Giants have struggled throughout this season. The Giants have a 5-8 record and with their loss last week to the San Diego Chargers, New York has been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. The Giants lead the all-time series with the Seahawks 9-6 but it was Seattle who was on the winning end of their last meeting; a 36-25 Seahawks victory over the eventual world champion Giants in New Jersey in 2011. Traveling across the country and playing in the 10am Pacific Time slot is always a difficult challenge for the Seahawks but the motivation of coming off a loss last week makes this Seahawks team a group no team would like to get in the way of. In order to take care of business this week this is what the Seahawks need to do, as well as what the Giants need to do in order to upset this Seattle team.

Playing sound defensive football, especially after allowing 19 points in a losing effort last week is the first thing I need to see out of the Seahawks this week. Earl Thomas made it known after last week’s game that the entire team felt angry because they let that game get away from them so I would expect the Seahawks defense to come out completely motivated and they will look to make big plays early. It may be hard for Eli Manning to make deep throws because of the Legion of Boom likely looking to take their anger out by playing a phenomenal game this week. My main focus is something that has been improving on a week-by-week basis and that is the interior pass rush. Eli Manning leads the league in interceptions with 20. The Legion of Boom will make the long passing game hard for Manning this week but if the Seahawks can be consistent rushing the passer this week Manning will surely be forced into making bad throws especially if the Giants are trailing. Brandon Mebane and Clinton McDonald are two Seahawks defenders to watch this week. Mebane is overdue to get involved in the sack department since he has not recorded a sack yet this season, and McDonald was able to make Colin Kaepernick uncomfortable last week, sacking him once. Add effectiveness from Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, and Bruce Irvin as well and the Seahawks defense will spend a good chunk of game clock on the sidelines while they watch the offense work.

Last week against San Francisco Marshawn Lynch ran for 72 yards and a touchdown. Lynch has not run for more than 100 yards in a game since playing Atlanta in week 10 so this week it will be very important to keep feeding the beast. There should be a primary focus this week on the run not just because of Lynch but because of the weather forecast which is calling for potential snow during the game. The Giants defense has been improving each week and their passing defense now ranks in the top half of teams in the league in yards allowed per game. Although we will see Russell Wilson make plays this week I think Marshawn Lynch is due for perhaps his biggest workload of the season this week. A 100-plus yard rushing performance by Lynch could send the Seahawks well on their way to a victory this week. 25-30 carries is the range I expect to see Lynch get against the Giants.

Like I stated earlier, Giants quarterback Eli Manning ranks first in the NFL in interceptions thrown and this week poses a daunting challenge for Manning and the New York offense. In order for the Giants offense to be successful against the Seahawks this week I think Manning needs to play similarly to how Colin Kaepernick played the Seahawks last week; by going conservative. Out-routes will be Manning’s best friend this week and I anticipate that he will not try to test the Legion of Boom down the middle of the field, much like the way Kaepernick effectively played last week by throwing along the sidelines. Wide receiver Victor Cruz will be Manning’s most reliable target this week but also keep an eye out for Hakeem Nicks who caught 5 passes for 131 yards against San Diego last week because he may emerge as a dangerous sideline threat this week.

The New York Giants defense is a mystery to me as a unit this season. Although they are one of the older, more experienced defenses in the league they still have playoff caliber talent. Mental lapses, ineffectiveness, and injuries have doomed the Giants all season long. The Giants give up an average of 337 yards per game to opposing offenses and in their 8 losses they allow close to 34 points per game, certainly one of the worst averages among all NFL teams. Justin Tuck continues to be the most well-known and most productive defender New York has to offer. Tuck has recorded a team high 8.5 sacks this season but the lack of production by the rest of his defensive teammates allows opposing quarterbacks to stand in the pocket, make throws, and continue drives. Fundamental tackling and forcing Russell Wilson turnovers will help the Giants prevail with a win this week. Having said this, my X-Factor player to watch for the New York Giants this week is Safety Antrel Rolle. Rolle leads all Giants defenders in tackles with 79; about 6 per game. Rolle has also intercepted 5 passes which also leads all Giants in that category. Rolle has been New York’s best all-around player on defense this week and it will be important for him to tackle smart to prevent big gains of yardage and to fly around in the secondary, similarly to Earl Thomas, in order to confuse Russell Wilson and have a chance to take advantage of any potential Seattle offensive mistakes.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear white jerseys this week. Pant color has become a total crapshoot on the road but if I have to make a prediction, I say we will wear blue pants… The Giants will wear blue jerseys and I would not be surprised to see them wear their new white pants again this week… Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch will have the call for FOX this week and Erin Andrews will patrol the sidelines. It was just announced this week that the Burkhardt/Lynch/Andrews team has earned the right to call one of two NFC Divisional playoff games on FOX on either January 11th or 12th. Good for this team. I would agree that they deserve this opportunity. I have enjoyed their broadcasts on Seahawks road games this season… Expect all questionable calls to go against the Seahawks this week. That’s right friends you guessed it. The referee for this week’s game is Bill Leavy. You know, the guy who helped prevent us win our first Super Bowl 8 years ago. Yeah. That guy… My cousins are going to be at this weekend’s game. I’m jealous. Oh well, maybe I’ll get the chance to go to the next Seahawks game at MetLife Stadium!… This will be the first game of the season that I get to watch with my best friends/roommates from last year. That will be a lot of fun. Looking forward to it Jake, Alan, and Clayton… I would love to see it snow during this week’s game. Not like the Detroit/Philadelphia game from last week but a light dusting would do for me… It’s really cool to think that if things go as planned in the coming weeks this will be the last Seahawks road trip until Super Bowl XLVIII should we make it. Let’s take care of business this week so we can maintain the wiggle room to clinch sooner rather than later. I do not want to see us lose, essentially thrusting our final two games into must-win games.

Seahawks Playoff Outlook: The Seahawks can clinch the NFC West and a first round bye with a win over the Giants and a 49ers loss to Tampa Bay. The Seahawks can clinch the NFC West and home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the Giants, a 49ers loss to Tampa Bay, and a Saints loss to St. Louis. Here are this week’s games to watch that could affect the entire NFC Playoff picture. Teams to note are bolded.

Seattle (11-2) at New York Giants (5-8)

San Francisco (9-4) at Tampa Bay (4-9)

New Orleans (10-3) at St. Louis (5-8)

Philadelphia (8-5) at Minnesota (3-9-1)

Chicago (7-6) at Cleveland (4-9)

New York Jets (6-7) at Carolina (9-4)

Green Bay (6-6-1) at Dallas (7-6)

Arizona (8-5) at Tennessee (5-8)

Baltimore (7-6) at Detroit (7-6)

Prediction: There is a sense of urgency and the team knows it. They let last week slip away and I believe that this week they will not let the Giants get anything going to start. The Seahawks will build a lead and although New York may make it close, this game will be the Seahawks game to lose. Marshawn Lynch will run for a pair of touchdowns and Kam Chancellor will force a fumble which will be recovered by Bobby Wagner. The Seahawks will win but with a predicted San Francisco win, the Seahawks will have to wait one more week to clinch the NFC West at home against Arizona.

Seahawks 26, Giants 17

Check back late Sunday night/early Monday morning for my Giants review. Thanks for reading and Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Redskins Preview (NFC Wild-Card Playoff)

5 Jan

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Matchup: (5) Seattle Seahawks at (4) Washington Redskins

Site: FedExField (Landover, Maryland)

Kickoff: 1:30pm

The “second season” kicks off on Sunday as the 11-5 Seattle Seahawks head to the Nation’s Capital to take on the 10-6 NFC East champion Washington Redskins in an NFC Wild-Card playoff game. Both teams head into the playoffs with tons of momentum. The Seahawks enter the postseason riding a 5-game winning streak. The Redskins made a tremendous run to the postseason after starting the season 3-6. They ended on a 7-game winning streak and won their division. The Redskins lead the all-time series with Seattle 11-6 but the Seahawks hold a 2-0 advantage against the Redskins in the playoffs. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs was after the 2007 regular season in Seattle. The Seahawks defeated Washington 35-14 after pick-six’s by Marcus Trufant and Jordan Babineaux sealed the game in the 4th quarter. These two teams met in the regular season last season in Seattle and the Redskins knocked off the Seahawks 23-17. There are many storylines that are being covered by the national media and storylines that have been swept under the rug that I will try to cover in this preview. Here are some things to be looking for this weekend.

14 months ago the quarterback matchup between these two teams was Rex Grossman vs. Tarvaris Jackson. Both teams used the draft to pick quarterbacks they thought could lead their teams for years to come. For Washington, they traded three future first-round picks to trade up to take 2011 Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III. The Seahawks kept their early round picks and maneuvered themselves in position to take Russell Wilson in the third round. Both teams have struck gold. Griffin led Washington to their first division championship since 1999 and Wilson led the Seahawks to their winningest season since 2005. Both are extremely quick and add an extra dimension to their teams running games, not to mention that they have combined for 46 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions passing.

For Washington, their main focus should be to put pressure on Wilson. I am sure the Redskins defense will be watching film of last week’s Seahawks game against the Rams to see how they can penetrate Seattle’s offensive line to hurry Wilson. J.R. Sweezy will start for the Seahawks at right guard this week but John Moffitt will also be rotated in and see playing time. I hope that Moffitt plays more than Sweezy. Keeping the continuity along the offensive line with Moffitt would be the best scenario because in our four wins before the Rams game the offensive line gave Russell Wilson plenty of time to make plays. With the amped crowd and a pumped up pass rush, the Seahawks could be in trouble this week if the offensive line plays like they did against St. Louis.

The main focus for the Seahawks this week is definitely to stop the Redskins powerful rushing attack. Washington has rushed for 2,709 yards this season; the most total rushing yards by any team in the National Football League. Robert Griffin III plays a big role in the running game because of their similarly-designed zone-read option but rookie running back Alfred Morris is just as dangerous if not more dangerous than Griffin III. The Seahawks have the second best run defense in the league and the fourth best defense overall. The Redskins have not faced a top 10 defense all season. If the Seahawks can successfully stuff Morris and keep RGIII at bay, the Redskins will have to throw. Washington has minimal talent at the wide receiver position and with our secondary at full strength this week, I expect the Seahawks to be able to shut down the Redskins offense and will allow our defense to get extended rest on the bench.

The Seahawks head to Washington with no injuries of note and a huge piece of our starting defense back in the mix. After serving his 4-game suspension for Adderall the Seahawks will start Brandon Browner at cornerback this week. With Browner back, the “legion of boom” is back in full. This week Richard Sherman will line up against Washington wide receiver Pierre Garcon and Browner will line up against either Santana Moss or Leonard Hankerson depending on the situation. Like I previously stated, the Redskins do not have the advantage in terms of the wide receiver group this week. If the Seattle defense is successful in stopping Washington’s running game, Griffin III will be forced to throw. As a fan I am licking my chops at the possibility of this. In their 16 games this season, Griffin III has been the leading passer only three times and he has not faced a secondary as big and fast as the Seahawks. I would not be surprised to see a couple on interceptions this week if Griffin III has to throw. I think Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas will have the biggest impact this week for the Seahawks. If those two guys can create turnovers by the Redskins, they will put us in good position to win the game.

Let’s talk about the Washington Redskins defense. They have good talent at each defensive level but I will put my spotlight and focus this week on the linebackers. The most notable player on defense for Washington is linebacker London Fletcher. Fletcher is the veteran leader of the Redskins defense. He played in the Redskins playoff game against Seattle in 2007 and was a part of the Rams squad that won Super Bowl XXXIV in 1999. Fletcher has not slumped off with age as he led the Redskins in combined tackles this season with 139. He also added 3 sacks and a forced fumble. Fletcher is mentoring and playing alongside two other noteworthy linebackers. Ryan Kerrigan is one of Washington’s starting outside linebackers. The second year man out of Purdue leads all Redskins defenders with 8.5 sacks this season and he does a good job of moving around and confusing the opponent’s offensive line. Kerrigan will be zoned in on by the Seahawks offense but my player to watch this week is linebacker Perry Riley. Riley may be the most consistent and balanced player on the defensive side of the ball for Washington. Riley finished the regular season second on the team in tackles with 129 and finished third on the team in sacks with 3.5. Playing in the middle next to Fletcher, Riley is a rising star on this team and in this league and he will be around many plays this week for the Redskins.

Random Thoughts: This is the first game the Seahawks have played at FedExField since week 4 of the 2005 season. In that game Seahawks kicker Josh Brown missed a field goal at the end of regulation and Nick Novak connected on a 39-yard field goal in overtime to win it for Washington 20-17. The Seahawks then went on an 11-game winning streak which helped take them to Super Bowl XL… The Seahawks will wear white jerseys this week with the Redskins wearing maroon tops. No word on pants yet. The Seahawks are 1-0 this season with the white jersey/white pants combination so I hope that’s what we go with this week… Expect things to be a bit chippy early between these two teams. Last year in Seattle, the captains of these two teams got into a verbal altercation at the coin toss and the first part of the game was very pushy. Redskins corner DeAngelo Hall has even come out this week and said these two teams hate each other. I would not be surprised to see some players get into it after some plays… This is the first Redskins home playoff game since 1999. Crowd noise will play a factor this week. I think Russell Wilson will control the offense with poise eerily similar to our win in Chicago earlier this season… Joe Buck and Troy Aikman have the call for FOX this week with Pam Oliver and Erin Andrews patrolling the sidelines. I really hope Andrews gets to cover the Seahawks sideline… Pete Morelli is the referee this week, I believe his first Seahawks game of the season… The Seahawks have not won a playoff game on the road since 1983 when they upset the Miami Dolphins in an AFC Divisional playoff. After the game the players carried head coach Chuck Knox off the field on their shoulders. As cool as that would be to see, the players know that as great of a win as it would be we still have work to do. Pete Carroll wouldn’t be carried off the field until we do further damage in the postseason… I am very surprised we are favorites in Las Vegas this week…. I think I would rather play in San Francisco in the Divisional playoffs if I had a choice in the matter. What is great though is no matter who we play in any round, the Seahawks should feel no pressure to perform well. We just need to go out and play football… I am glad they scheduled our game for Sunday. We are not screwed out of a day of preparation and our week of practice has not been changed… For the first time in recent memory weather will not play a huge factor in a Seahawks playoff game. Dating back to 2003, we have played 2 road playoff games in Green Bay and 2 games in Chicago. Snow and other bad weather always seem to work against us in these games. This Sunday in Washington they are calling for a daytime high of 40 degrees and sun. Perfect conditions for playoff football in my opinion.

Prediction: Our strength is our run defense. This week we will be able to hold Alfred Morris to under 80 yards and RGIII will have to throw especially because he is battling an LCL injury, which is causing him discomfort to move around a whole lot. The Seahawks will intercept two passes; one by Richard Sherman and one by Earl Thomas. Russell Wilson will struggle early but will settle down in the second half. After the Seahawks break a tie midway through the 4th quarter, the Redskins will drive for a game-tying touchdown but our defense will shut them down before they can even get into field goal range. The Seahawks will head home with their first playoff win on the road in 29 years and will start preparation for Atlanta (most likely).

Seahawks 27, Redskins 20

I hope everyone enjoys this game. There is nothing better than playoff football and I am extremely excited to see if the Seahawks can keep our momentum going. Check back Monday afternoon for a review of our game with Washington and hopefully a short preview of our potential NFC Divisional Playoff game. Go Seahawks!

“The separation’s in the preparation.”- Russell Wilson

Seahawks/Lions Preview

27 Oct

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions

Site: Ford Field (Detroit, Michigan)

Kickoff: 10:00am

After a long break the Seahawks head back to the scene of the crime to take on the Detroit Lions. This is the second time the Seahawks have been to Detroit since that dreary February evening in 2006. The last time these two teams played was in 2009 in Seattle where the Seahawks came back from a 17-0 deficit to beat the Lions 32-20. The Seahawks lead the all-time series against Detroit 7-4. The 4-3 Seahawks are looking to end the first half of the season with a victory while the 2-4 Lions are looking to gain momentum and regain some ground in the surprisingly deep NFC North. Here is what I will be looking for from both teams this Sunday.

It is no surprise by now that Russell Wilson struggles mightily on the road. In 4 road contests so far this season, Wilson has 7 interceptions. Limiting turnovers will be crucial this week but the biggest key on offense this week will be to control time of possession. The Seahawks do a good job of scoring points and taking time off of the clock in the first half but in the second half we struggle to do these two things. If we can establish long possessions in the second half, it will be likely that we will be able to put up points later on in the game. Just like what the 49ers were able to do last week, long possessions will tire out the Lions defense which will also be to our benefit.

In order for us to maintain long possessions we have to be able to effectively run the football. I feel Marshawn Lynch is overdue for a big game. He has not scored multiple touchdowns in any game so far this season and I think he could break off for a few decent size runs and he can get into the endzone more than once. If Lynch can do this Russell Wilson will not be forced to throw the ball late in the game and the pressure on Wilson’s shoulders will be limited.

This week the Seahawks will be without wide receiver Doug Baldwin who is nursing an ankle injury. Charly Martin will take Baldwin’s place in the lineup. My prediction for our leading receiver this week is Sidney Rice. Russell Wilson looked Rice’s direction a lot in San Francisco last Thursday and he will be targeted a lot again this week. Rice will go up against Lions cornerback Chris Houston. Houston is coming off his most productive game so far this season, making 6 tackles on Monday night against Chicago. Although I am predicting Rice will be the most productive receiver this week, do not be surprised if the catches, targets, and yardage numbers are close together this week among all of the wide receivers since both Russell Wilson and Coach Carroll have talked about spreading the ball around more in practice this week.

The one-on-one matchup I am looking forward to the most this weekend is Lions receiver Calvin Johnson vs. Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner. Browner is definitely the tallest defender Johnson has had to face this season and Browner may turn out to be the most physical defender also. After last week’s game 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh claimed that the Seahawks defensive backs were playing unnecessarily physical against his receivers. After fueling their fire with those comments, I would expect both Browner and Richard Sherman to try to jam their receivers frequently. As a matter of fact, I am worried that this may lead to stupid penalties this week. If illegal contact and pass interference is called against the Seahawks defense this week, the game plan may change and the Lions may try to take advantage of our looser play on defense.

Although the Detroit Lions are only 2-4, they possess some talented players on both sides of the football. On offense the Lions field general is 4th year quarterback Matthew Stafford. After a 5,000+ passing yard season last year, Stafford has struggled this year. Stafford is averaging 293 yards per game and has thrown more interceptions (6) than touchdowns (5). Stafford’s biggest target is the previously mentioned Calvin Johnson, who also has not been producing as well as previous seasons. Johnson has only one touchdown so far this season. If the Seahawks are successful in shutting Johnson down the Lions may be in trouble. They lost receiver Nate Burleson to a season-ending leg injury last week and their other receivers include Titus Young and rookie Ryan Broyles. Young is a fast, talented receiver who can make plays happen but the Lions depth at receiver is not good overall.

The Lions running game is my focus this week when they have the ball. Much like San Francisco, Detroit runs with a trap-blocking scheme. This style of blocking makes it difficult for the defense to detect where the ball carrier is between the holes and tackles. Frank Gore was able to run for over 130 yards last week against the Seahawks and if nothing has been done to improve the run defense, I am afraid Mikel Leshoure will have his way with the Seahawks run defense this week. Leshoure is a physical back who will not go down easily. We must make sure our tackling is on point this week. If Leshoure can consistently get going, the Seahawks defense will give up points and will put added pressure on our own offense.

The Lions defense is led by tackle Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. The Lions average just fewer than 3 sacks per game on defense which is good news for Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offensive line. The talent on defense for Detroit leaves me questioning how effective Marshawn Lynch will be this week. Overall, I do not think the Lions defense will have as big of an impact as a lot of people think.

One final note on the Lions, they had trouble with punt returns against Chicago. Stefan Logan may be pulled from his punt return duties this week. If he is not however, look for Jon Ryan to sky some punts to see if we can get Logan to cough up the ball again.

Random Thoughts: I love the fact that Richard Sherman changed his Twitter name to “Optimus Prime” this week. Megatron does not know what is coming his way… The last time we played in Detroit we barely escaped with a win. I understand it is hard to win on the road in a different time zone but I wouldn’t be surprised if we struggle… Uniform prediction of the week: once again, white jerseys and grey pants… It is looking like I’ll be watching the game back in Bellevue at my dad’s house. I haven’t watched a game with him since we went to the Arizona game on the road last month. I’m looking forward to spending the day watching football over there… I lost my dinner bet last week. I’m leaning towards my pasta specialty: Angel hair with homemade meat sauce. Maybe I’ll experiment with a pesto sauce as well. Date and time TBD… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan have the call this week for FOX. This duo calls a pretty good game so I’m not too disappointed about the play-by-play assignment this week… I need a win in fantasy football this week. I can’t afford to fall to 3-5… I consider this game to be the last of our “tough” games on our schedule. At the beginning of the season I predicted that we would be 3-5 at the halfway point. We have a chance to be 5-3. That is incredible to me. Even if we lose and go to 4-4, I’ll be satisfied overall but I’ll be disappointed about this one game after the fact.

Prediction: The Seahawks are now averaging just under 13 points per game on the road. Unfortunately, I think that the trap-blocking scheme the Lions have in place will be tough for the Seahawks defense to handle. Mikel Leshoure will run for more yards than Marshawn Lynch and the Lions success running the ball puts pressure on Russell Wilson and the rest of the Seahawks offense. I expect this game to once again be close nearing the end of the game, but I don’t think we have enough fire power on offense to pull this one out.

Lions 23, Seahawks 17

Look for my review of this game on the blog sometime Monday. Enjoy the game everybody and as always, thank you so much for reading. Go Hawks!

“NOT Detroit. How many times do I have to go to that city?!”- One of the guys I go on my annual Seahawks road trip with when asked about which game he wanted to go to this season.

Review: Seahawks 24, Patriots 23

15 Oct

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Arguably the three toughest home games this season were the first three. The Seahawks have survived the gauntlet. The Seahawks beat the New England Patriots 24-23 on Sunday, improving their record to 4-2 and are now in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC West. The Seahawks are also 3-0 at home. This was yet another incredible game to be in attendance for. Here are my thoughts about Sunday’s victory.

Defense Showed Up When It Absolutely Needed To: The Seahawks defense came into this game as the top defensive unit in the NFL. After giving up 475 yards to New England that will most likely change. With the exception of the final Patriots drive of the first half and the last two at the end of the game, the Seahawks defense was virtually nonexistent. The no-huddle offense Tom Brady called worked extremely well, especially the running plays called on first and second down. However, the stops the Seahawks made in the periods previously mentioned ultimately determined the outcome of the game. With 6 seconds left in the first half, the Seahawks pass rush forced Brady to throw the ball out of the endzone. The officials called intentional grounding on Brady which required a ten-second runoff to end the half. The Patriots took a gamble and missed out on 3-7 points. After the Seahawks scored with 1:16 left in the game, I was worried that we left too much time for Brady since all the Patriots needed to do was get into field goal range. The sack on Brady on second down was huge and that backed them up enough for the Seahawks to make sure the Patriots would not convert. The pass rush as a whole was disappointing but the Patriots offensive line did a great job. Holding the Patriots to 23 points is great but the yardage given up needs to be improved.

Finally!: Russell Wilson threw for more yards in this game than any other game this season. Wilson ended the day 16/27 for 293 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions although he turned the ball over once on a fumble. Wilson showed that he can fire down the field with no hesitation. This was proved with two 45+ yard throws; one to Doug Baldwin which set up Baldwin’s touchdown reception and the bomb to Sidney Rice with 1:16 left in the game. Wilson throws a beautiful deep ball and he did a great job exploiting the Patriots pass defense which is ranked among the worst in the NFL. A game like this against a legitimate super bowl contender should prove that Wilson is drastically improving and that he is going to be a star caliber quarterback really soon. I was incredibly impressed with Wilson on Sunday. I am convinced now that Coach Carroll made the right choice naming Wilson the starting quarterback.

Richard Sherman Is Gary Payton With Shoulder Pads: I have talked about how much I love Richard Sherman. He is a nice, intelligent, and witty person and a hard-hitting, trash-talking, confident football player. Sherman loves to get into his opponent’s head and his best challenge yet was to Tom Brady on Sunday. Brady told Sherman to meet him after the game after the Patriots won. Sherman challenged Brady to throw against him. With Tom Brady always wanting to prove to his opponent that he is better than them, Brady did in fact throw in Sherman’s direction. Sherman made him pay. He intercepted a pass intended for Deion Branch. After the game, a picture surfaced online of Sherman appearing to continue trash talking to Brady. Sherman already has 3 interceptions and is on pace for 9 or 10 on the season. The performance by Sherman is a tip of the cap to not only him but to the playing style of the rest of the secondary. He is developing an on-the-field “bad boy” image much like Gary Payton was with the SuperSonics during his career. I look forward to see what Sherman will do or who he will call out on Thursday against San Francisco.

A New Number In The Rafters: At halftime, the Seahawks retired #96 for Pro Football Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy. The Seahawks presented him with his Hall of Fame ring, a framed jersey from Kennedy’s playing days, a video montage of his career highlights, and then took a cover off his number in the rafters at CenturyLink Field. It was an incredible ceremony and I got emotional to be honest. Kennedy definitely deserves the honor he received on Sunday afternoon. I am so proud that he is a Seattle Seahawk and now the rafters are completely full with all the numbers that should be retired by this organization. The best part about the ceremony was that it was done at halftime; not at the two-minute warning like Walter Jones’s number. It was nice to see everybody close to Kennedy be here to help celebrate this amazing achievement. And I also think the ceremony may have given the fans the extra juice to scream and get excited during the second half.

Random Thoughts: I have now been asked to sit down at every regular season game so far. Once again, I stood up; not to piss them off, but because I couldn’t see due to everyone standing below me. At the next game, I am seriously considering wearing a sign on the back of my jersey that says something like “I don’t sit. Deal with it”… Bill Belichick wore his famous hoodie. What is funny is that Coach Carroll also wore the same style hoodie… I am so glad I got to see Tom Brady play live. I’m even happier that I got to see the Seahawks beat him… Wes Welker and Danny Woodhead are so short. Even from the upper deck they look like hobbits… The starting defense was introduced this week. Fitting considering that we have the best unit in the league… This was one of those games where the weather is so borderline I didn’t know whether to wear shorts and a sweatshirt. That is exactly what I decided to wear with my jersey… Thank God for undercover seats. It poured throughout the entire game… Russell Wilson had trouble throwing the wet football. He should practice with the wet ball a lot in practice for the duration of the season… The Seahawks uniform combination was blue jersey/blue pants. That is probably going to be our look at home for the remainder of the season… I tailgated in a parking lot in Pioneer Square across from the Last Supper Club. Super fun, especially when Fireball is present… Walter Jones raised the 12th Man flag this weekend. I was kind of disappointed however because the video they played for Jones prior to him raising the play was the exact same video they played before he rose it at the NFC Wild-Card Playoff against New Orleans in 2010… It was Canada Day this week. Kind of ironic however, because the Seahawks were playing the Patriots… Free stuff counter: IHOP pancakes and beef jerky and Slurpee’s from 7-Eleven. Almost got a free doughnut from Top Pot but Sidney Rice came 19 yards shy of 100… The post-game party took me to 88 Keys where one of my roommates and I watched the first part of Sunday Night Football, drank a bucket of beer, and celebrated our amazing win with dozens of Seahawks fans… I think the Seahawks have a really good chance of going 8-0 at home for the first time since 2005; the year we went to the super bowl.

The Seahawks now face a short week in preparation for the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night. This means I also have a short week to write my preview post for Thursday’s game. Look for my preview of our game against San Francisco on either Wednesday night or early Thursday morning before my flight takes off for San Francisco. Thanks for reading everybody! 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!