I wonder what it feels like as a fan of another team to have that team play these Seattle Seahawks. I’d like to think they feel an impending sense of dread, like it’s only a matter of time before their worlds are shattered. But, I get the feeling other fanbases aren’t really that impressed by the Seahawks. Part of that, I’m sure, is just the nature of being a fan; you always think YOUR team is better than it really is. So, OF COURSE the Panthers can come into Seattle and escape with a victory! After all, the Seahawks only won the last three games against the Panthers by a combined 13 points!
The thing about the Seahawks is: they don’t really have these hyper-dominating performances across all three phases. Truth be told, the Seahawks haven’t truly dominated from beginning to end since the Super Bowl last year. Yeah, the defense has been elite these last seven games, but it’s like our offense is always a step or two behind. We don’t REALLY take charge of these football games until the second half (and usually just the fourth quarter). The Seahawks are more of a Wear You Down team than they are an unstoppable killing machine. You watch these games and you think, “Man, these other teams are just a couple plays here and there from pulling off the upset!” But, after the fact, you realize that all these little things here and there start to add up.
On Saturday evening, they added up to a 31-17 victory. The Seahawks comfortably covered the 11-12 point spread, and as usual they did it by winning the fourth quarter 17-7.
Considering it’s been so long since the Seahawks have lost a football game, I almost forget what it takes to BEAT this team. The secret formula most definitely starts on defense, though. Carolina’s defense is pretty stout, and Saturday was no exception. Even without their stud, Star Lotulelei holding down the middle of the line, the Panthers were still able to hold us to 100 yards rushing on 28 attempts. Aside from his 25-yard scamper, Beastmode was held in check with only 59 yards on 14 attempts. Russell Wilson didn’t have much luck finding the edge either, so that was that.
I think, if you’re a fan of another team that’s coming into Seattle, if I told you that your team was going to hold our running game in check, leaving it in the arm of Russell Wilson to try and beat you, you’d take that in a heartbeat.
The thing that most of the league doesn’t understand is: we’re perfectly comfortable allowing Russell Wilson to use his arm to beat you.
On Saturday, he went 15/22 for 268 yards and 3 TDs. He posted a 149.2 rating, which is damn near perfect, and overall he’s got the best rating of any quarterback in the playoffs in the history of the NFL. So, there’s that. Russell Wilson was dropping DIMES in this game! It was truly a beautiful thing. In fact, my favorite thing about Russell Wilson isn’t all of his charity work. It isn’t his dedication in the video room or on the practice field. It isn’t even his scrambling and rushing capabilities; though, to be fair, those are all amazing qualities to have. My favorite thing is the way Russell Wilson takes his game to another level when he’s on a national stage. You’ll see the occasional clunker of a game out of Wilson from time to time; but never when the whole world is watching.
Our receivers had a lot to do with how Wilson looked. Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, and Luke Willson all had fabulous games to prove to the world yet again that they’re all better than they’re given credit for.
Defensively, this was the Kam Chancellor Show. He led the team in tackles with 11, he ran back a Pick Six in the fourth quarter to close our night of scoring, and he very nearly twice blocked a field goal attempt at the end of the first half by hurdling the long-snapper untouched. This was, without question, the most fun I’ve had watching Kam Chancellor play football, and yes that’s including the Super Bowl last year.
On a whole, the defense was up to the task. Carolina had one impressive drive – in the second quarter – to tie the game at 7-7. But, it took them 14 plays and over 8 minutes to go 79 yards. Tharold Simon got picked on a bit in this game, as he was curiously starting in place of Byron Maxwell (who was out with “shortness of breath” due to an illness he’d been dealing with all week). Yet, Maxwell was active and even got some snaps in on special teams, so I don’t know. Why was he active at all? Not that we have any better options on the outside (Lane and Burley are both more nickel corners), but it was just interesting, I guess. For a while there, I thought the team was experimenting with what life will look like next year – should Maxwell move on to another team and Simon is left starting in his place. I wouldn’t blame them for doing so, considering the opponent. It’s not like the Panthers have Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson at their disposal. I’d say Simon made it through the game with mixed results. Yes, he was picked on; yes, the Panthers were able to complete some passes to his side; but I’m not so sure he was playing all that poorly. Just one of those days, you know?
The defensive line didn’t get a ton of pressure until the second half, which is a bit concerning. I noticed quite a few blitzes that didn’t even make a dent. Gonna need to tighten that up a little bit, in time for next week.
The offensive line had Max Unger back, which is pretty huge. I wouldn’t say the line was amazing on Saturday, but they only gave up a couple sacks and otherwise kept Russell Wilson pretty clean. More than anything, having Unger back last week will do wonders for us THIS week (assuming he didn’t totally re-aggravate his ankle injury at the end of the game). With a full game under their belts, the offensive line should look a lot better next time out.
I don’t have a lot of other individual shout outs, but I will say, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, CAM? I thought we were at the point where quarterbacks have realized that it’s time to stop challenging Richard Sherman deep when he’s guarding his man one-on-one. I mean, this is getting plain silly. If I was a fan of another team, I’d throw a God damn hissy fit every single time my quarterback challenged Richard Sherman.
Separately, the Patriots held on to beat the Ravens in a thrilling opener to the weekend’s slate of football games. On Sunday morning, the Packers took the Cowboys’ best shot and managed to come away victorious (I’ll have more on the Packers as the week goes on). And, to close everything out, the Colts upset the Broncos, as Peyton Manning looked like he’s done.
This weekend has to be the worst nightmare of every Broncos fan out there. I mean, shit, they went ALL IN on these last three years; this most recent year especially. To get only one Super Bowl appearance out of all of this has to be beyond disappointing. They had the best offense ever, they got to the final game, they were crushed by our defense, then in this past offseason they did everything to jack up their own defense to try to contend. But, as they learned, you can’t BUY the Seahawks’ defense. Hell, I don’t even think you can draft this defense unless you have magical powers like John Schneider has!
You’re looking at a Once In A Generation amalgamation of talent. Fans of the NFL will be talking about the Seahawks’ defense for decades to come. We ARE in the discussion of the best defenses of all time. The Vikings, the Steelers, the Ravens, the Seahawks. What we’re doing is the most impressive of all, considering all the rule changes to legislate defense from the game.
The Seahawks move on and the Broncos stay at home. That escalated quickly.