I don’t know about you all, but this week has wiped me out. In the last four days alone, I’ve written over 12,000 words about the Seahawks. Granted, not exclusively about this game, but they all get the point across: in the battle for Seattle sports fans to overcome their neuroses and insecurities regarding the teams they love so much, there is one obstacle left that must be slain.
The Seahawks Must Win A Championship.
It’s not enough that the Supersonics did it in 1979, because the Supersonics officially don’t exist anymore. Just as it’s not enough that the defunct Metropolitans did it in professional hockey in 1917. And it’s CERTAINLY not enough that the Storm did it however many times they did it. The most successful Seattle franchise from conception to present has been the Sounders, and even THEY haven’t been able to win a championship. Of course, even if they did, let’s cut the shit here. The MLS isn’t real soccer and it never will be. You’ll know the MLS has made it when the world’s best players choose to move to America vs. the other way around. And, the Mariners are a thing that exists, but come on now. There’s a better chance of my dick growing an extra 60 inches and winning the Olympic Gold Medal in Speed Skating than there is of the Mariners winning a World Series.
But, even if they did, it wouldn’t come close to the impact of the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl.
I think it’s a pretty universal experience that a city “comes together” whenever a professional sports franchise goes deep into a playoff run. You’ll see a bunch of flags flying. Various buildings will be lit up different colors. The Mayor dedicates a day or a week after that franchise. And it’s the only time you ever see the local news kick off their coverage with “Sports” (which is almost exclusively saved for the last five minutes of the broadcast). There’s anticipation and excitement on the faces of pretty much everyone you see. Team shops have lines out the door. Local department stores are selling out of team gear as fast as they can bring it in. People who have never given two shits about sports are suddenly marvelling at what’s happening. Entire cities swell with pride and puff out their chests; you never see that with anything else! It normally takes a national disaster to get people to come together like this, but that’s a response to tragedy. It’s expected. With a run like this, it happens organically. It’s like the end of Ghostbusters II and Elf all rolled up into one.
With all of that understood, there’s something different about the Seahawks. I mean, name me another fanbase that has the identity that the 12th Man has (aside from the student sections at various university basketball and football games). Even the original Texas A&M 12th Man doesn’t have the identity that we have up here! I’ve always found it a little silly that the team went and retired the #12 jersey (primarily because there was no one good enough on this team whose number was worth retiring until Steve Largent finally hung up his cleats). And, I think the 12th Man can get a little full of itself on occasion (yeah, we have the loudest stadium and all, but if this team was shitty, CenturyLink Field would be as dour and quiet as Jacksonville’s stadium, without question). But, it’s pretty awe-inspiring to see a group of disparate individuals unite under the umbrella of a common cause. Seattle is as diverse of a city as it gets, yet right now, we’re all 12’s. Even if you don’t follow sports, even if you don’t associate yourselves with that term, right now, we’re all one. And that’s pretty cool.
It’s also something you wouldn’t necessarily see with any other local franchise. Not with this ferocity. Not with this passion. I know baseball is a different game and a different type of spectator sport, but you’d think the fans could be a little more involved than trying to half-ass a “wave” around the stadium in the 6th inning. I’m not asking for fans to stand up and yell all game like they do at CenturyLink. I’m not asking for fans to choreograph chants and songs like they do for Sounders games. I’m just saying: maybe we could do what we do in the King’s Court EVERY game, regardless of who’s on the mound.
Granted, you’d need a team as impressive in baseball as these Seahawks are in football, but even if the Mariners were the best A.L. team, I don’t think you’d see the type of crowd participation that you see at even the worst home Seahawks games.
This city needs this. It needs an elite franchise. It needs a champion. Hell, it needs a DYNASTY! And it needs it to be the Seahawks.
As with all cities with major sports franchises, there are ebbs and flows of success. In my lifetime, the Sonics really peaked in the early-to-mid 90s. From there, the Mariners picked up the slack through the turn of the century. Then, the Seahawks took over under Holmgren’s tenure. It all bottomed out in 2008 to the point that we’re STILL talking about how fucked up that whole year was. But, ever since, we’ve been waiting around for a rebound that has yet to fully materialize until these Seahawks went on their run last season. You take this team out of it, though, and what do you have? The Mariners are as bad as they’ve ever been, the Husky basketball team has spun its wheels and looks to be no closer to an NCAA Tournament berth, the Husky football team has slowly made progress to the point where MAYBE we can compete for a conference title in the near future, and of course, the city was denied its chance at making the Sacramento Kings our future Sonics.
I’m not saying the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl will entirely make up for how 2008 ravaged our very souls, but it will go a long way in repairing the karmic damage.
And here is the best part: in my (going on) 33 years of existence, these Seahawks have the very best chance of any franchise we’ve ever seen in that span of doing it. This team is healthier, deeper, and more talented than any of those Sonics or Mariners teams from the 90s and 2000s. AND, we’ve got a team who we match up well against!
At the end of the regular season, we finished 2-2, playing some hard fought games against everyone in our division (with a shutout against the Giants sprinkled in for fun). Somewhere in there, I changed my attitude hardcore about who I wanted to see in the playoffs. Earlier in the year, I was worried about the very type of team we’ll face in the Super Bowl: great quarterback, high-powered passing attack, can put up points with the best of ’em. I think I actually said that one of the last teams I’d want to face in the playoffs was Green Bay, because Aaron Rodgers would be coming back from injury and they’d be peaking at the right time.
How foolish I was as a child.
After that gauntlet of defenses we had to plow through – 49ers, Cardinals, and the underrated Rams – I knew that for our team to succeed, we needed to get away from those types of teams. Even if it meant playing the very best offense the world has ever seen.
Russell Wilson and Co. have gotten a TON of flak about underperforming. That’s why everyone was sucking the dicks of the San Francisco 49ers – because ostensibly they had just as good of a defense as ours, only their offense was peaking at the right time. I’ll be the first to admit we were fortunate to win that game (Kaepernick really hand-delivered some mind-boggling turnovers in that second half; like he was secretly on the Seahawks’ payroll or something), but that doesn’t mean we didn’t DESERVE to win that game. We’re in the Super Bowl because we’re the best team in the league. We’re so good, it doesn’t even require our best effort to get to this point!
Yeah, this offense was underperforming, but it was also going up against some of the best defenses in the league. That Arizona defense, for my money, is as good as it gets (besides our own defense, of course). My thinking, once we survived the final four games of the regular season, was: just wait until we run into a sub-par defense. THEN we’ll show you what this offense can really do.
And, even though the Saints were rated pretty high, I have little respect for what they can do defensively. If the weather wasn’t a God damned trainwreck, I think the outcome of that game would’ve been much like the earlier contest against them on Monday Night Football. So, a bad offensive performance there. Then, we had to go up against our arch rivals in the 49ers. Not the best offensive performance there, but obviously better than the previous week’s monsoon-soaked debacle.
That brings us here, to this Sunday, against what should be a pretty piss-poor defense. THIS is exactly what I’ve been waiting for since we won the division in Week 17! An opportunity for Russell Wilson & Co. to really show what they can do.
Now, it’s unfortunate that it happens to be the Super Bowl where we get our chance. One would think, with a team as inexperienced as ours (with nary a soul having played any Super Bowl snaps), you’re bound to see some jitters. Of course, if any team is equipped to overcome youthful jitters, it’s this one. Russell Wilson is as cool as it gets under pressure. He’ll snap everyone out of it before too long.
(And just imagine what it’ll be like if the offense DOESN’T come out with any jitters whatsoever!)
Besides, one area of the team that should be jitters-proof is the defense. This is still the number one defense in the league, and I’ll take the number one defense over the number one offense every time. Because this isn’t just any ordinary #1 defense. This defense is special. Like, All-Time special. And shutting down Peyton Manning and the best offense of all time is EXACTLY the type of performance that gets a defense like this recognized among the all time greats. The ’85 Bears, the 2000 Ravens, the 2002 Bucs. And, if we’re able to keep this defense mostly intact for an extended run, it’ll be heralded among the 70s Steelers, Vikings, and Broncos. It’s that good.
We’ve yet to see Peyton Manning really struggle this year like we know he’s capable of. Just because he’s thrown for the most yards and touchdowns of anyone in a single season, people seem to forget his rabid meltdowns of just about every year prior to this one. What gives Manning trouble? Great defensive performances. Guys roughing up his receivers. Throwing his timing off. Guys getting in his face, forcing him to throw before he wants to. It doesn’t take much for his game to snowball. This is just the team to do it.
The narrative this week has been about how the Seahawks’ defense is pretty simple: you know what they’re going to do and they know that you know. They don’t care. They’re going to do what they do regardless and they’re STILL going to stop you, because they’re that talented. No one’s really talking all that much about how the Seahawks need to adapt to the Broncos’ offense. It’s entirely the other way around: how can Peyton Manning get his guys moving down field? Well, they need to run screens and picks and still take some downfield chances to keep the defense honest. They need to protect well and Manning needs to get the ball out fast. They need to be crisp and precise, because it’s going to take lengthy, 9 to 12-play drives to score on the Seahawks.
But, as I’ve said before, Peyton Manning isn’t perfect. He’s not going to complete EVERY pass. Some will be off-target. Some will be knocked down. Some will be on the money, but knocked out thanks to a monstrous hit by a defender. They’ll run a little bit, but I wouldn’t expect them to run much better than the 49ers were able to (sans Kaepernick, of course).
I think this is the game where our defense really flexes its muscles. In my post yesterday, I admitted that I don’t think we’ll be able to force the turnovers we’ve been able to generate on a game-in, game-out basis, and I still hold to that belief. But, I don’t think we’re going to NEED the turnovers. I think their punter gets more action in this one game than he’s seen all year!
I see big plays out of our offense. I see that opening up running lanes that allow us to gash them. I see Harvin having a pretty big influence on the proceedings. And I see Wilson completing somewhere around 70% of his passes.
You know what I see? I see a score of Seahawks 24, Denver 7. Wouldn’t that be the perfect capper to a season like this? You’ve got the whole 24/7 angle that the sportswriters can beat to death, because these Seahawks have been focused on this goal from the moment the previous season ended. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they’ve all been working together towards this one goal. I see Earl Thomas as the game’s MVP, leading the team with 15 tackles. I see the confetti mixing with the Skittles being thrown from the stands. I see tears of joy on many of the faces on this team.
I see myself jumping for joy and running around the house like a maniac
We need this. I need this. I need this like I’ve never needed anything before. And I need these Seahawks to do it. No next year. No Someday. Now. Right now. 60 minutes for the rest of our lives.