I’d handed the keys to the Monday post on this site to the Huskies this season, but the less remembered or said about the game on Saturday, the better. I’ll get to Husky football later in the week, when I’m better able to handle such rejection. In the meantime, I’ll kick things off on a much more pleasant note: a weekend-salvaging victory for the city of Seattle that took place in New England.
I didn’t really give the Seahawks much of a chance to win this game, along with most of the football-watching public, for all the usual reasons: we were coming off of a short week, they were coming off of a BYE; we were flying across the country, they’d only left the greater northeastern portion of the country one time after week 1; we’re dealing with injuries at many key positions, they’ve enjoyed relative good health for the most part. And, let’s face it, you never feel comfortable going up against a coach like Bill Belichick, but you ESPECIALLY never feel comfortable when he’s got two weeks to prepare for you. They’re the best team in the AFC and one of the best teams in all of football, and as such, you not only had the vast majority of America predicting a Patriots victory, but a blowout victory to boot!
To my very minimal credit, I told you that line was too high. As I mentioned, the Seahawks have only lost twice by more than 7 points since the start of the 2012 season; WE. DON’T. GET. BLOWN. OUT. If you were smart with your money, you would’ve written that down, pinned it to your shirt, and at the very least bet the Seahawks to cover. If you would’ve been truly ballsy and bet the Seahawks on the money line, I heard it got as high as +290, which is an absurdly tempting bet when you’re talking about a team like the Seahawks. Even if I didn’t think they’d win outright, +290 is too good not to at least throw a hundo on!
The Seahawks had a couple things going for them that made all the difference in the world. First, we got Kam Chancellor back for the first time since we had our BYE week; and second, we finally came to terms with the fact that Christine Michael isn’t a starting-calibre running back in this league. Well, maybe that’s not fair, but he’s certainly not starting-calibre in this system that we run under Tom Cable. He might very well thrive under a different scheme, but we’ll never realize that with him in a Seahawks uniform.
The difference between Michael and C.J. Prosise is drastic! I never really picked up on it until I finally got an extended look at Prosise – like most of the rest of the world – in last night’s game. Prosise seems to know where the plays are supposed to go. He seems to hit the appropriate hole more often than not. When he gets the ball in his hands, I’m not sitting there worried about him running himself into a 3-yard loss. Michael has a lot of talent in open space, and it often feels like he’s THIIIIIIS close to breaking one for 60+ yards. But, more often than not, he misses his opportunity to get a decent gain by trying for the home run.
Prosise also avoids a couple of annoying Christine Michael traits that have been driving me crazy this whole year: 1) he doesn’t slip and fall with no one near him, and 2) he doesn’t try to avoid contact by running out of bounds. The slip & fall thing I just don’t get. Either Michael isn’t wearing the proper cleats, or he’s literally a fucking character on the old Scooby Doo cartoons whose legs are running faster than the rest of his body. But, again, last night he found himself on the turf before a defender was anywhere near him, and that shit just needs to stop! As for the avoiding contact thing, I don’t get that either. I mean, Marshawn Lynch was JUST HERE last year! Michael’s been working under Lynch since he came into the league in 2013! How does NONE of Lynch’s toughness rub off on him? Has he not been paying attention to how the rest of the team reacts and feeds off of our running backs when they seek out contact instead of running away from it? Let’s face it, that’s not who we are. We don’t run away from anything; we get after it! (unless you play quarterback, and then you do the sensible fucking thing, because we don’t need you missing games).
It’s cool to have last night sort of be the coming out party for a guy like Prosise. I scoffed quite a bit when – after we drafted him – a few people who were familiar with him in college broached the idea that he could be an every-down type of back. I still think that’s a little far-fetched, mostly because I have serious doubts about his ability to stay healthy in ANY role, let alone one as a feature running back in this system. But, I think it’s very reasonable to point out that the Seahawks have added a valuable weapon to our offensive arsenal. When you think about the Seahawks on offense, you rightly start with Wilson, Graham, and Baldwin; then, if you’re feeling generous, you tack on Tyler Lockett, Thomas Rawls when he’s healthy, and Jermaine Kearse as a bigger, possession-type receiver who’s also capable of going down field and making a big play. Well, I think you very much have to throw Prosise’s name into that mix, and a lot higher on the list than you might’ve thought coming into the year. Just imagine what this offense will look like when Rawls comes back in a week or two.
There were a lot of huge plays in this game. Baldwin’s three touchdowns were all impressive, there was a pretty dime to Lockett early on to jumpstart things, and I seem to remember at least one really important conversion to Jimmy Graham to keep a drive alive (was it at the end of the first half, maybe?). But, do you want to know what my favorite play was in that game last night? I should really say “plays”, because the Seahawks went to this well more than once, to almost universal positive results; and, quite frankly, it was something I don’t remember the Seahawks running all that much to this point in the season. It’s that play where the Seahawks allow the opposing rusher to run free at the quarterback off the edge, and as he runs past a running back (mostly Prosise) who spills out into an open flat, Wilson lobs the ball over the rusher to the wide open running back for an easy gainer. The Patriots defended that play correctly only once all game, but the Seahawks gashed ’em repeatedly, as they kept forgetting to have a backup defender peel out on the running back. These weren’t just checkdowns, either. This was something they likely saw on tape as a way to beat this defense, and it almost always worked for either first downs or big yards. And, the thing about it is, it’s easy to defend, so I’m sure other teams will take note and try to take that away from us, but you know what happens then? It re-opens the middle of the field for Jimmy Graham to take over. WE GOT YOU ASSHOLES COMING AND GOING!!!
And, make no mistake, New England’s #1 gameplan was to Stop Jimmy Graham. To their credit, they did the job. Graham only had 48 yards on 4 receptions and no TDs. You know what you’re going to get with a team like New England: they’re going to take away what you do best, and you’ve got to find other ways to beat them. To Russell Wilson’s credit, he didn’t try to force the issue by targeting Graham unnecessarily (if anything, he probably targeted Kearse too much, especially in the early going, but it’s not necessarily his fault that Kearse’s stone hands have returned).
Russell Wilson really played a fantastic game. He was far from perfect – he missed repeatedly on the goalline when we were trying to turn some of those field goals into touchdowns, often overthrowing guys too far to the outside in what looked like an effort to be extra-cautious and not have his routes jumped – but even in a game where he left some throws on the field, he showed he was the best offensive player in that game. Oh yes! Even better than Mr. Tom Brady himself! To be fair, Brady had a pretty good game in his own right, but his interception was VERY uncharacteristic, and he was held without a TD pass (which really screwed over a lot of fantasy teams like mine, I’m sure). I actually thought he was going to beat us on yet another quarterback sneak, as that play might be the most deadly play in football. But, he went up against a very talented and very fired up defense, who got the better of him in the end.
This game as a whole was reminiscent of the Super Bowl these two teams played, and not just because NBC made no bones about bringing up that game, and that fateful pass, what felt like every 30 seconds (as was expected going in). Tom Brady, for the most part, took what the defense gave him, as he did two years ago, and it was successful throughout the game, until the final drive. It was entertaining as all get-out, to be sure! Seven lead changes in that game, just hours after another game (Cowboys at Steelers) had seven lead changes of its own (leading to pundits and NFL lackeys to hyperbolically dub yesterday The Day That Saved The NFL). But, there was one key difference in last night’s game that swung it to the Seahawks: health, particularly on defense.
See, New England’s defense is garbage, and I didn’t really have any fears about moving the ball on them. When we started off the game settling for field goals, I was a little nervous. You can’t be an underdog, on the road, trading field goals for touchdowns against a player like Tom Brady. So, while I was fairly confident in the Seahawks scoring points in this one, my main concern was: could we score ENOUGH? In other words, how big of a hole would our defense dig us into?
Probably an unfair fear on my part. I mean, I’ve been watching this team and following it pretty closely for a while now. Years and years and years now. All I needed to do was go back, reflect on that Super Bowl, and think about how that team differed from this one. What was the main reason (aside from not handing it off to a certain running back at a certain goalline) the Seahawks lost that game? A game that, if you’ll recall, we had been leading by two scores going into the fourth quarter. Why did we blow such a lead? Because of injuries in our secondary. Jeremy Lane literally died in the first quarter when he intercepted Brady. LITERALLY DIED! Richard Sherman, I’m pretty sure, lost an arm. He got a bionic one in the offseason though, so he’s fine now. Kam and Earl contracted leukemia for that game, then cured it organically afterwards through their sheer badassery. I may be misremembering things here a bit, but rest assured, the entirety of our secondary was dealing with pretty savage injuries in that game, and it reflected in our play on defense when we were trying to hold a lead against a surging Patriots offense led by the eventual MVP.
Last night, not only were our guys healthy, but Kam was making his first appearance in over a month. And look, I like Kelcie McCray, you like Kelcie McCray, but this defense just isn’t the same with him back there. Bam Bam is the heart & soul of this defense and this team, but don’t forget he’s also a REALLY fucking good football player! REALLY good. Like, I don’t know what this team looks like without Richard Sherman or Earl Thomas, and I hope I never have to know, but from what I’ve seen out of this team without Kam Chancellor back there, I’m starting to wonder if he isn’t the best player on this defense. Not even joking. He’s that good. He’s that much of a difference maker out there. There’s no other player on this defense like him, and quite frankly, there’s no other player in this LEAGUE like him.
Lots of teams (I’m really just thinking about the Falcons here, with their drafting of Keanu Neal in the first round this year; though, I’m sure every other team feels the same way) are trying to get a Kam Chancellor of their own. But, there’s a big difference between drafting an over-sized safety who hits hard. Granted, Kam is that, but he’s also so much more! He’s technically sound, he’s just as good against the run as he is against the pass, he helps ensure everyone is lined up correctly and that everyone in the secondary knows their assignments, he’s instinctive, he picks up on things and acts upon them that don’t necessarily have to be said to those around him, and he’s probably the only guy in this league who can body up on Rob Gronkowski and not just hold his own, but absolutely make him his bitch. Yeah, I should say that every team wants to have their very own Kam Chancellor, but the dude is one of a kind, and he’s ours, and you can’t God damn have him!
Which is why I’m always so flabbergasted whenever I see 12’s out there trashing him. They write to the beat writers on Twitter, asking about trading him for draft picks or cutting him after the season’s over. ARE YOU INSANE? Do you just not watch the games when he’s in there? Do you not see the difference between when he’s in there and when he’s not? I know the hold-out left a bad taste in our mouths as fans last year, and yeah, he’s been knicked up a little bit the last couple seasons. He plays football, it’s a violent sport, let’s try to have some understanding here.
I’ll just spell it out so everyone understands my position: the Seahawks should not, under any circumstances, be looking to rid themselves of Kam Chancellor, now, in the offseason, or ever. In reality, they need to keep him for the life of his contract, and when the time is right, they need to be looking to see how they can extend him and ensure he retires as a Seahawk. Kam Chancellor is as important to this team’s ongoing success as Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Doug Baldwin, Bobby Wagner, and yes, even Russell Wilson. If you’re looking to get rid of Kam, you’re doing it wrong as a fan.
As this post has gone WAY beyond the realm of decency in its word count, let’s get to the kudos now before it’s too late.
- That hit by Earl Thomas on Gronk that knocked the wind out of him (and knocked him out of the game for a while), was one of the hardest hits I’ve ever seen. How he caved in his chest like that on the slow-mo replay is painful just to watch.
- My favorite play on defense goes to Kam for stripping the ball from Edelman’s hands. I fucking hate that guy, so any time he fucks up (which led to a TD on Seattle’s subsequent drive) it’s really entertaining in my book.
- Again, can’t say enough about Prosise. He led the team in rushing with 66 yards on 17 carries, AND receiving with 87 yards on 7 catches. He won’t be as featured when Rawls gets back up to speed, but like I said before, that’s quite a weapon to have out of the backfield. Pencil us in for points on every 2-minute drill when Prosise is in the game.
- Can’t say the same for Alex Collins, who fumbled on his only carry. You hate to give up on draft picks too early, particularly when they were so vital in college, but he has a real Spencer Ware vibe for me. Like a guy who’s destined to be cut next year, who will be picked up by Kansas City to be an every-down player.
- Frank Clark had a great game, including a 1-handed sack where he grabbed a fistful of Brady jersey and yanked him to the ground while still engaged with the block from the left tackle. Outstanding!
- The interior of the line – Reed, McDaniel, Siliga, Rubin, and newcomer Damontre Moore – all had outstanding games! Granted, LeGarrette Blount ran for three TDs, but those guys combined for 1 sack and 2.5 tackles for loss, as well as held the Pats to under 3 yards per carry, and were critical in stopping them at the goalline at the end of the game.
- Finally, big ups to Tyler Lockett in the return game. He ran his only kickoff back 32 yards, and was a big reason why they kicked the ball out of bounds on another, as they were trying to avoid him getting the ball at all costs.