The Mediocre 90’s Ended With An Unlikely Seahawks Playoffs Apperance

I’ve been seriously negligent in my ongoing series of Seattle Playoff Futility, so thank you COVID-19 for killing sports and affording me the opportunity to wallow in the past. I’m effectively the human embodiment of this meme:

Also: I be shopping …

The 1990s were fucking HARD to be a Seahawks fan, especially for me. Which is a shame, because I was born in March of 1981, so they should’ve been smack dab in the epicenter of my wheelhouse. I was 7 years old in 1988 – the last time they made the playoffs before this year – and I remember very little about that time as a Seahawks fan, other than the fact that Steve Largent was my favorite professional athlete on the planet. But, he retired after the 1989 season, and it was all downhill from there (Largent would go on to a Congressional seat in Oklahoma by the time the Seahawks returned to the post-season in 1999).

Nevertheless, formative Steven A. Taylor caught the Seahawks bug coming out of the 80’s, which made the next ten years all the more tragic.

When you talk about the Worst People In Seattle Sports History, most others get overshadowed by the people involved in the Sonics going to OKC, but there’s a special wing in Sports Hell for Ken Behring (and owners of his ilk). He bought the team in 1988 – again, the last time the Seahawks made the playoffs – and he did everything to destroy this franchise from the inside out, so he could move them to Los Angeles in 1996.

It all started by disillusioning would-be Hall of Fame head coach Chuck Knox after the 1991 season, stripping personnel control away from the most-successful figurehead in franchise history to that point. Behring went on to hire Tom Flores, who had success with the Raiders in the early 80’s, but was well past his prime. It’s hard to tell who was more inept – the bumbling Flores, or the men he was charged with turning into professional football players – but the real losers were the fans, who had to watch the Seahawks from 1992-1994 go 14-34; including the absolute nadir in franchise history, when we went 2-14 in 1992 (as fate would have it, we weren’t even competent at LOSING, as we somehow managed to defeat the only other 2-14 team that season – the New England Patriots, IN Foxboro – to miss out on drafting Drew Bledsoe #1 overall, settling for the incomprehensibly-pedestrian Rick Mirer at #2).

As we got to the Dennis Erickson era from 1995-1998, my interest in rooting for the Seahawks took a serious nosedive. Thankfully, Paul Allen stepped up in 1997 to save the franchise and help get a new stadium built. That nevertheless didn’t stop this team from an endless string of middling finishes during this period:

  • 1995: 8-8
  • 1996: 7-9
  • 1997: 8-8
  • 1998: 8-8

Woof. There were some interesting players on those teams – future Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy was wrecking fools on the D-Line, Joey Galloway was drafted and was easily the most-talented receiver we’d had since Largent, and Warren Moon was a gun-for-hire for those last two seasons at the tail-end of his career – but we were simply unable to put it all together for one reason or another (epitomized in a December game in 1998 against the Jets in Giants stadium, when Vinny Testaverde was clearly short of the goalline on a 4th down QB-sneak, yet the refs didn’t see him reach the ball over after the fact, resulting in the NFL re-instituting Instant Replay the next year; you could argue that lone play prevented us from making the playoffs and ultimately cost Erickson his job).

By the time 1999 rolled around, I was all but actively courting other NFL teams to root for (the Atlanta Falcons were a particular favorite of mine at the time). If it were easier (like today) to root for a team in another market, I’m sure I would’ve bailed long before. Paul Allen, to his credit, was quite a hands-off owner, but he knew when to step in at the right time. When it was clear that Mike Holmgren was available, Allen stepped in and hired him to be Head Coach and General Manager, unprecedented to that point in franchise history. And it worked! That move single-handedly kicked off the greatest run of Seahawks teams (until Allen turned around and hired Pete Carroll in 2010).

Even factoring in the disasterous Jim Mora season in 2009, from 1999 through 2019, the Seahawks made the playoffs 14 times in those 21 seasons (including 9 division championships, three Super Bowl appearances, and the one NFL championship I’ll never have to write about for this series).

What makes the 1999 season awkward to analyze is the fact that so many of the guys on this team were holdovers from the Erickson era (especially that 1998 team that came so close to breaking the futility streak). It’s brought into even starker perspective when you consider that first Holmgren draft was among the worst in franchise history (Lamar King, anyone?).

But, that team was weird in general. There were zero expectations heading in; we all figured there’d be at least ONE rebuilding season before Holmgren could tear everything down and build it back up again. Which made it all the more surprising when the 1999 Seahawks started out 8-2; they would go on to finish the season 9-7 and be improbable champions of the AFC West. Jon Kitna won the starting job and was a reasonably-capable Game Manager in his 15 games that season. Ricky Watters was an absolute stud for us at running back with over 1,200 yards rushing and another 387 yards receiving. Unfortunately, Joey Galloway – who should have THRIVED in a Mike Holmgren system – held out for half the season in a contract dispute and hardly made a dent that year when he did play (he would go on to be traded the next year for two first round picks, who would go on to be Shaun Alexander and Koren Robinson).

Obviously, backing into the playoffs is never a good thing (we were tied with the Chiefs at 9-7, but held the head-to-head tiebreaker by defeating them twice, including a Must Win matchup in Week 16 in the Kingdome), but considering it had been over a decade since our last post-season berth, beggars can’t be choosers.

Our reward was the #3 seed and a home Wild Card matchup against the 9-7 Miami Dolphins. All things considered, that was EASILY the cushiest of matchups that we could’ve gotten, considering the Titans – who would go on to lose in the Super Bowl to the Rams that year – were a 13-3 Wild Card team in the 4-seed, and the Bills were 11-5 as the 5-seed (Hello Music City Miracle!).

This was our first home playoff game since the 1984 season. It would also prove to be the last time Hall of Famer Dan Marino ever won a football game (the Dolphins would go on to be DESTROYED by the Jags the next week, 62-7).

But, Seahawks fans old enough to remember January 9, 2000, obviously remember this as the Trace Armstrong game.

Trace Armstrong was a … good defensive end. He played from 1989-2003; in five of those seasons he had double-digit sacks (and one of those seasons he was a Pro Bowler, in 2000, when he had a career-high 16.5). Sometimes he was great, sometimes he was mediocre, and obviously – because this is football – sometimes he was injured.

On January 9, 2000, however, he was a fucking WORLD DESTROYER!

Of his three sacks in the game, two of them came on third down (resulting in punts). His final sack came late in the fourth quarter, on a drive that would result in a punt (it resulted in a punt, because on third down, he stopped Kitna for a 1-yard gain to force yet another punt). But, even that doesn’t do his day justice. He was in Kitna’s face ALL DAMN DAY. If he wasn’t getting the sack, he was wreaking so much havoc that the guy next to him got it (Kitna was sacked 6 times total, 3 times in the fourth quarter, including twice on that all-important next-to-final possession).

On the final possession of the game, Kitna was 1 for 7 for 17 yards. This game outlined in great detail the need for improved offensive line play, as well as at the quarterback position (within two years, the Seahawks would go get Trent Dilfer, Matt Hasselbeck, and Steve Hutchinson – on top of eventual MVP Shaun Alexander – to really solidify things on the offensive side of the ball).

The Seahawks had so many chances to win this game. They were up 10-3 at half, and then 17-10 midway through the third quarter after a kickoff return for a touchdown. The offense couldn’t do jack shit in the second half, though. Aside from that kickoff return, we went 3 & Out, 5 & Out, 6 & Out, 3 & Out, and that final 7-play drive that ended on Downs; we moved the ball a total of 27 yards of offense and another 22 yards of defensive pass interference on one play. That’s just never going to get the job done.

Jon Kitna was 14/30 for 162, 1 TD and 2 INTs; Dan Marino wasn’t much better (17/30 for 196, 1 TD and 0 INTs), but he was only sacked one time and obviously didn’t make the mistakes Kitna made. In the end, it was a workmanlike 20-17 victory for the Dolphins, in the final game the Seahawks would ever play in the Kingdome (indeed, the final event the Kingdome ever hosted!).

All of that turmoil being said, as you could see by the thrashing the Jaguars gave to the Dolphins the very next week, there’s no way in HELL the Seahawks would’ve advanced any further. So, would you rather lose in a semi-heartwarming way to a beloved figure like Dan Marino? Or, would you like to be murdered and have your corpse micturated upon by Hitler and The Devil after ass-fucking you for three consecutive hours? Kind of a harsh image to put on a team like the Jags, but you get the idea.

Better days would be ahead for the Mike Holmgren-led Seahawks, but of course, not before a few more instances of utter heartbreak.

Is Russell Wilson The Greatest Dual-Threat Quarterback Of All Time?

The first thing we have to ask is: what constitutes a true Dual-Threat Quarterback? I think it’s pretty easy to whittle things down on the Eye Test alone. For starters, we’re talking about quarterbacks who can also run with the football. So, we’re not talking about the greatest Running Quarterback, because if you looked at just the 2018 season, you’d have to say Lamar Jackson was the best Running Quarterback in the league. But, Dual-Threat means he can beat you with his legs AND his arm, and it’s pretty safe to say Jackson hasn’t built up that arm half of his game just yet.

So, I went into Pro Football Reference and played around with the numbers. First, I separated all the quarterbacks into a list of those who’ve run for 1,000 yards in their careers. But, that’s not quite good enough, because Tom Brady has 1,003 rushing yards in his career, and he is NOBODY’S idea of a Dual-Threat. So, I went ahead and bumped it up to 1,500 career rushing yards (mostly to knock him the hell off of a GOAT list, because he has enough GOATs in his life).

When you list them by rushing yards, you’ll find someone by the name of Tom Matte, who is listed as a quarterback and a running back. Among all quote-unquote Quarterbacks in NFL history, Matte has the 4th highest rushing yards total with 4,646. But, he only threw for 246 yards, so he’s obviously got to go. To be considered as the Greatest Dual-Threat Quarterback Of All Time, I figure at a minimum you need 20,000 passing yards. That drops our total from 53 to 38, which is a number I can get behind.

Such a list includes favorites like Jim Zorn, Andrew Luck, Joe Montana, Warren Moon, Archie Manning, and even Ryan Fitzpatrick! But, it also includes such stiffs as Vinny Testaverde, Boomer Esiason, Jay Cutler, Johnny Unitas, and Brett Favre. While they’re all pretty good-to-great, I don’t think you’d ever fear for your life if they were running with the football. Those guys mostly just hung around long enough to qualify for my arbitrary cutting-off point.

So, to whittle it down further, I had to put a limit on Yards Per Game. Yards Per Attempt isn’t worth a damn for a quarterback, because most guys scramble once or twice per game, and with the defense not expecting it, they tend to rack up a lot of garbage yards in the process. We need to focus on guys opposing defenses are specifically game-planning for. Setting it at 10 yards per game gets us down to 30 guys, and just barely keeps Jim Zorn on the list. But, it also keeps Jay Cutler on the list, and I just can’t have that. So, I increased it to a minimum of 13 yards per game, which also managed to cut off Joe Theismann, Ken Anderson, and Mark Brunell (who had 12.5 yards per game). While I like Brunell an awful lot, I don’t mind lopping him off because I don’t think he belongs in the conversation.

1,500 career rushing yards, 20,000 career passing yards, and 13 rushing yards per game put us at 25 quarterbacks. But, a couple of names still bothered me, because mediocre quarterbacks like Jeff Blake and Aaron Brooks were still hanging around. So, I made the cutoff 22,000 passing yards, and we’re left with a Top 23. This fits better with my idea of a Dual-Threat Quarterback.

For what it’s worth, I was going to be more strict with the Rushing Yards Per Game, and set it at 20, to really separate the wheat from the chaff, but that ended up cutting off guys like John Elway, Fran Tarkenton, Roger Staubach, and Aaron Rodgers. While I don’t consider A-Rod to be a “running quarterback” per se, he’s still lumped into that Dual-Threat mold, even though his arm is VASTLY superior to his running ability (I’d put it at somewhere like 90/10, or 80/20 at the very most). And, while Elway certainly slowed down on running in his old age, you just can’t have this conversation without him.

There are a number of ways to go about ranking these guys, but I’m just going to go by Who I Would Most Want On My Football Team, at the beginning of their careers, for the duration of their careers.

I’m also going to split them up even further, because ultimately I have a Top 4 REAL Dual-Threat Quarterbacks.

There’s no perfect way to rank these guys, because all of the ones in the aforementioned Top 23 are much more passers than runners. But, I would argue that the vast majority of them are more “scramblers” than actual threats to run downfield with the football. So, if I had to pick a Top 10, I would definitely include guys like Andrew Luck (10), Donovan McNabb (9), Steve McNair (8), Fran Tarkenton (7), John Elway (6), and Aaron Rodgers (5). Those guys have a ton of rushing yards, pretty solid Yards Per Game averages, and a ton of passing yards. But, to me, they’re not REAL Dual-Threat Quarterbacks in the sense I’m defining here.

Just outside my Top 10, I might add, we have Alex Smith, who I wouldn’t have expected to show up here, except he has over 34,000 passing yards, over 2,600 rushing yards, and averages over 15 rushing yards per game. I’m also leaving out Michael Vick, because his passing game was far too weak to be considered, even though he leads all QBs in total and per game rushing yards.

My Top 4 includes Randall Cunningham (4) and Cam Newton (3). I LOVE me some QB Eagles, and if their careers both ended today, he’d actually rank ahead of Cam. But, given Cam’s age and the fact that he has so much left in the tank, he’s easily the superior option. Even though I don’t love the way he reacts in losing situations, it would be idiotic to keep Newton outside of the Top 3.

My Top 2 should come as no surprise. In some order, it’s Russell Wilson and Steve Young. Young has over 33,000 passing yards, over 4,200 rushing yards, and over 25 yards per game. He’s right in that sweet spot of elite passer and elite runner, and if you just count his prime (from 1991-1998), you’re talking about eight Hall of Fame seasons where he averaged nearly 4,000 passing yards and 28 passing touchdowns, with an average of over 400 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns. I mean, just unstoppable production, and his total career could’ve been so much better if he A) wasn’t saddled behind Joe Montana for so long, and B) didn’t succumb to head injuries (among other maladies) late in his career.

So, if we’re just talking about today, I have Steve Young at #1 and Russell Wilson #2, but it won’t be too much longer before Russell Wilson is the All Time Greatest Dual-Threat Quarterback, with Cam Newton coming in at #2 (in other words, we’re watching the two greatest Dual-Threat Quarterbacks while they’re in their primes, and that’s pretty amazing).

Not for nothing, but if you compare Young’s best 7 years to Wilson’s only 7 years, you can see what I’m talking about:

  • Steve Young 1992-1998: 24,266 passing yards, 178 TDs, 68 INTs, 66.9% completions; 2,450 rushing yards, 29 TDs, 5.8 yards per attempt
  • Russell Wilson 2012-2018: 25,624 passing yards, 196 TDs, 63 INTs, 64.2% completions; 3,651 rushing yards, 16 TDs, 5.7 yards per attempt

As I said, it’s only a matter of time before Wilson surpasses him in all career numbers. And, considering Wilson’s best statistical years might still be ahead of him, it could be sooner than we think.

Finally, I know nobody likes talking about superficial things QB Winzzz or Pro Bowl/Playoff appearances, but I’m sorry, you just can’t have this discussion without bringing those into the mix. Young’s record as a 49ers quarterback was 91-33 over 13 years; Wilson is 75-36-1. Young was in 7 Pro Bowls to Wilson’s 5, and he was on 3 First All Pro Teams to Wilson’s 0. Young has 14 Playoff Games Started to Wilson’s 13, with an 8-6 record to Wilson’s 8-5. Young, of course, has 3 rings to Wilson’s 1, but two of Young’s were as a backup to Montana. Finally, Young has 2 MVPs to Wilson’s 0, and 1 Super Bowl MVP to Wilson’s 0. Wilson is RIGHT THERE in so many areas, but just not quite over the hump.

Not yet, that is.

Exorcising The Demons Of Our Super Bowl XL Defeat

February 5, 2006.  We’re coming up on the 8th anniversary of that fateful day in Seahawks history.  Do you remember what you were doing?  Because, I remember what I was doing.  I was in my house in West Seattle, with my roommates and some other friends.  Pretty small gathering.  I was in my rocking chair, with a fridge full of Miller High Life at my disposal.

I drank 18 beers that day.  I want to say that’s a personal high, but then again I’ve never really sat there and counted.  This total was unmistakable though, as I found them the next morning, in a semi-straight line next to the chair I had sat in throughout the entire afternoon.

According to the day-after notes I took, on my old LiveJournal account, I started drinking around noon and was most likely passed out by 8pm.  I had one of the worst hangovers the next day that I’ve ever endured.  How I made it through even PART of a work day is mind-boggling to me now.  In 2006, I would turn 25, so maybe that explains it a little bit.  Couldn’t do that today, that’s for damn sure (which is why I have requested the Monday after this upcoming Super Bowl off of work).

I don’t remember a lot about the experience of actually watching the game, though.  Obviously, I remember seething with hatred.  At the refs, at Jerramy Stevens.  At the Pittsburgh Steelers.  I remember being with friends who weren’t nearly as rabid in their Seahawks fandom as myself (but, then again, I have a real problem, so don’t consider that comment in any way detrimental to their character) and I vaguely remember feeling some of their eyes on me, as if to say, “Who is this crazy person I’ve chosen to make my friend?”

I remember, in an important situation, when the Seahawks were in need of a big play, a long bomb to Jerramy Stevens.  At first, the announcers called it a catch.  It LOOKED like a catch, if only for a moment, because he had his back to the camera when he fell.  In my excitement, I jumped up out of my chair, with a fist raised to the air, unleashing a raucous cheer … and in the process, my fist collided with the ceiling and punched a hole through it.  A moment later, it was revealed that Stevens, in fact, dropped the ball.  Not only did that drive stall, but now I had a hole in the ceiling that would come out of my share of the deposit (the house was a rental).

I remember after the game, when all was said and done, not saying one word to anyone else at our little gathering.  I left the room, called a friend of mine (who happens to be a Steelers fan) to grudgingly congratulate him, and that’s it.  That’s all that I remember.

***

After Super Bowl XL, I avoided any and all highlights of that game.  If it popped up on television, I’d change the channel.  If they talked about it on the radio, I’d turn the fucking thing off.  I also avoided any and all Internet articles on the subject.  I tried my damnedest to pretend the whole fucking thing never existed.  And, aside from a few drunken debates among friends, I did my best to never bring it up.

As a kid, I remember watching TV after a major sports championship and seeing those Sports Illustrated commercials.  You know, they offer a year’s subscription to their magazine, and if you bought RIGHT NOW, you’d get this deluxe, embossed keepsake of whichever sports team just won their respective championship.  I remember watching those commercials and thinking, “One day, a Seattle team is going to win a championship, and I’m going to be the first one to call that number and order that subscription so I can get that keepsake.”  I thought it might happen for me in the mid-90s with one of those Sonics teams.  Then, I thought it might happen for me at the turn of the century, with one of those Mariners teams.  Then, I thought SURELY I’ll get my chance with the Seahawks after Super Bowl XL!  And, every year of my life, I’ve been denied this opportunity.

Just once, I’d like to have that keepsake in my home.  I’d like to buy that DVD of the championship game.  I’d like to be able to reflect back upon just ONE season with joy in my heart.  And not a sense of loss.

I don’t know if there are Seahawks fans out there who bought that Sports Illustrated subscription after the Steelers beat us, just to have something saying that we WENT to the Super Bowl, but I know there are fans out there who are just happy to be involved.  Who would like to see the Seahawks win it all, but are just as satisfied with “having a good season”.  Those people – while maybe they’re not psychotic about sports like I am – make me sick.

It has taken me nearly 8 years to get to the point where I was able to re-watch Super Bowl XL.  Honestly, I’m only just now capable of this feat because my Seahawks have finally made it back.  I figure, if I’m ever going to be able to let this thing go, I’m going to have to sit there, watch the whole thing, and try to keep an open mind.  Maybe not ALL of the calls by the refs were horrid.  Maybe it wasn’t so much the Seahawks making mistakes as the Steelers just out-playing us.  MAYBE, the Steelers actually did deserve to win that game.

So, over the last week, in two separate sittings, I sat there and watched this game.  For the record, the first half was so brutal, I had to give myself a few days before I could come back and watch the second half.  I originally intended to do some sort of Sports Guy Running Diary of this thing, but that flew out the window pretty quick.  Instead, I took copious amounts of notes, which I’ll get into right now.

***

For starters, I pulled this video from the Internet.  It had the ABC video feed, but they dubbed it over with the Pittsburgh Steelers radio announcers.  Right off the bat, I was annoyed.

Before I get into the actual notes of the thing, if you wanted to perfectly sum up Super Bowl XL, I don’t think I can say it any better than this:

To score points in an average football game, normally you have to punch the ball into the endzone (for a touchdown), kick the ball over the goal post (for a field goal), or tackle the quarterback/running back in his own endzone (for a safety).  However, if you scored Super Bowl points based on your effectiveness of driving the football between the 30’s and then failing miserably, the Seahawks of Super Bowl XL would be the greatest Super Bowl team known to mankind.

So, let’s just get into this.  The Seahawks got the ball first and, if you remember anything about Mike Holmgren-coached teams, you remember that he likes to script his first 15 or so plays to start the game.  I don’t know why.  I don’t remember it working predominantly more than it failed; I feel like it’s a 50/50 endeavor.  If you succeed on that first drive, then it’s because you prepared really hard?  But, if you fail, then what?  I don’t understand the rationale behind it either.  Essentially, you’re saying, “We’re going to run these 15 plays in order, regardless of the situation or the defense in front of us.”  Yet, if it works so well, why wouldn’t you script the first 30 or 45 plays?

Whatever.  Anyway, in the first couple minutes of the game, Seattle moved the ball down the field with authority.  Quick passes, quick huddles, quick snaps.  Everything quick, everything in a nice little rhythm.  We got to midfield and on 2nd & 9, Matt Hasselbeck overthrew Darrell Jackson – who was wide open at the 35 yard line of Pittsburgh – which would have given us a first down and a lot more.  We got sacked on third down and that was that.  Tom Rouen punted the ball into the endzone.

As I go along, I’m going to track all the Seattle Mistakes, as well as all the times the Seahawks were screwed over.  In the first drive, we had two big mistakes:

  • Hasselbeck overthrew a wide-open Jackson
  • Rouen punted the ball into the endzone

On Pittsburgh’s first drive, our defense was strong, holding them to a 3 & Out and one net yard gained.

Possession #2 – Started at our own 36 and we quickly moved into Pittsburgh territory.  Again, very quick pace.  It’s startling to watch, after these last two years of the Seahawks slowing things down to a turtle’s pace.  Darrell Jackson caught a ball that would have put us into field goal range, but there was a holding call on Chris Gray.  On a repeated viewing, this looked to be a legit call.  He got there late on a stunting linebacker on the right edge.  This led to 3rd & 16 and a poor throw by Hasselbeck into massive coverage (which should have been picked off).  This was followed by another fucking punt into the endzone.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Legit holding call on Chris Gray
  • Punt #2 into the endzone

On Pittsburgh’s second possession, they ran the ball twice and threw an incompletion for another 3 & Out.  Roethlisberger had all day, but just made a bad throw.

Possession #3 – Booming punt was returned to the 49 yard line by Peter Warrick.  Remember that guy?  I sure as shit didn’t.  Anyway, two plays into the drive and we were in field goal range.  Darrell Jackson was REALLY having a day, tying a then-Super Bowl record of 5 catches in the first quarter.

Next play:  offensive pass interference on Darrell Jackson, which would have been his sixth catch of the quarter AND a touchdown.  If I’m going to be honest with you:  it’s a bullshit call.  WHO calls that?  Did Jackson stick his arm out?  Yes.  Did he push off with that arm?  No fucking way.  Did he gain an unfair advantage by putting that arm out there?  No fucking way.  The Steeler who he supposedly interfered with (known as #28 because I don’t care to learn the man’s name) was in a TERRIBLE position to make a play.  28 got caught standing in the back of the endzone looking into the backfield.  Also:  the ref didn’t even begin to throw the flag until Jackson had secured the ball and 28 started complaining like a bitch.  If the ref sees a foul, fine, throw the flag.  But, don’t let the emotions of the game lead you to throw the flag late.  Either you saw something that should have been penalized, or you didn’t.  If you did, then throw it IMMEDIATELY!

I don’t think that flag gets thrown today.  Even the Steelers radio guys thought that was a ticky-tack call!  I’m not even shitting you!

Nevertheless, we still had 1st and 20.  We were still more or less in field goal range.  There were ample opportunities to get that yardage back and have a reasonable chance at a touchdown.  So, what did we do?  TWO SLOW-DEVELOPING STRETCH RUNNING PLAYS IN A ROW!!!

I like Mike Holmgren.  I think he did more for this city and this franchise than any other head coach, maybe with the exception of Lou Piniella.  But, I’ll be God fucking damned if Holmgren didn’t make some BAFFLING play-calling decisions in his career.  Are you fucking SHITTING ME?  I know our offensive line was good and everything, but why do you run practically the same play twice when it didn’t work the first time AND YOU NEED 20 FUCKING YARDS FOR THE FIRST DOWN???

I’m telling you, that actually makes me more infuriated than the bogus pass interference call.  3rd & 23 (so we LOST three yards on those two runs).  In this situation, there are two things you can do:  go conservative to try to better your position for a field goal, or go for the knockout.  I love me some Matt Hasselbeck, and the next play is exactly why:  fade pass into the right corner of the endzone.  D.J. Hackett actually had two fucking hands on the ball, but couldn’t come down with the catch.  There was incidental contact by the Pittsburgh defender, but he was facing the direction of the throw, so probably a good no-call.  Either way, we ended this drive up 3-0 when we should have been up 7-0.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Holmgren’s play-calling on 1st & 20
  • D.J. Hackett dropping a touchdown

Referee fuckup:

#1.  Lame offensive pass interference on Jackson that should have been a no-call.

Pittsburgh’s third possession ended the first quarter with a third straight 3 & Out.  I’m trembling with rage at this point, considering we ONLY had a 3-0 lead.  Feels like it should have been 21-0, but every drive has seen us shoot ourselves in the foot.

Possession #4 – Another booming punt by the Steelers, which Warrick returned into Steelers territory.  Except … you guessed it.  Holding penalty on #35 brought it back.  This was probably the weakest holding penalty I’ve ever seen, as repeated viewings show he hardly put a hand on the guy.  Cost us a good 30 yards of field position.

Still, Hasselbeck was on point, quickly getting us up near midfield.  Shaun Alexander ripped off a couple of nice runs that got us to 3rd & short.  For some reason, we took Alexander off the field, but that really doesn’t matter, because Matt Hasselbeck was dropping dimes.  He made an excellent throw to Jerramy Stevens about 20 yards down field, who caught it, but got hit immediately and had the ball pop out.  He absolutely should have come up with that play.  Professionals make that catch!  He had it in both hands, tucked it into his right arm, and that’s when the hit came & knocked it out.  It was very nearly a completion and a fumble, but he never made a “football move” in my opinion.  This drive finished with a third punt into the endzone.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Jerramy Stevens Drop #1
  • Tom Rouen Shitty Punt #3

Referee fuckup:

#2 – Phantom holding call on the Seahawks’ punt return.

The Steelers finally got their first first down of the game at 11:15 to go in the second quarter, on a completion on 3rd & 8 with fabulous coverage by the Sehawks.  Considering to this point, the Seahawks have had the ball four times, moved the ball fairly well each time, and only came away with 3 points is more than a little disconcerting.

We ended up biting on an end-around to Hines Ward for 25 yards to put the Steelers around midfield, and on the play Marquand Manuel was injured.  That’s something to keep in mind, because we were already thin as it was in the secondary, and because Manuel would not return to the game.

On the very next play, however, a deep ball by Roethlisberger was badly underthrown and picked off by Michael Boulware.

Possession #5 – 3 & Out.  We were short of converting that by mere inches.  And, of course, when we NEED a big, booming punt out of Tom Rouen, he kicks a low, short line drive.  Fuck me?  No, fuck YOU, sir!

On Pittsburgh’s next drive, we had them in third & long, but somehow lost Hines Ward, who caught a shovel pass and converted.  From there, Roethlisberger hit a seam pass deep into Seattle territory.  Marcus Trufant was lined up a MILE in front of the guy, to allow him to make an easy catch for a big gain.  Remember, this was our BEST cornerback at the time.  If the 2013 Seahawks played corner that poorly, I’d have a fucking heart attack.

Next up, Hines Ward dropped what would have been a highlight-worthy catch at the right sideline of the endzone.  At this point, the second-year Roethlisberger was looking more and more comfortable.  This was a lucky break for the Seahawks, because Hines definitely had a chance to make the catch.  Offensive pass interference followed (didn’t see it, they never showed a replay), followed by a sack back at the 40 yard line.

This led to 3rd & 28.  They were out of field goal range, so we were probably expecting some sort of 10-yard checkdown.  The line flushed Ben out of the pocket to his left, then he unloaded a ball all the way down to the Seahawks’ 3 yard line, which was miraculously caught by Hines Ward for the first down.  MOTHER OF GOD!  What the Hell is going on here???  There were three Seahawks around him, yet not one of them could make a play.  There are no words.

A steady diet of The Bus followed, netting 1.5 yards and running the clock down to the 2-minute warning.  This led to yet another fuck up by the refs:  bootleg by Roethlisberger (designed run) for a touchdown.

Here’s the thing:  like the pass interference call on Jackson earlier, if you see something, CALL IT IMMEDIATELY!  You know what I saw on this play?  I saw the line judge raise one hand in the air, as if to signal fourth down.  As he ran down the line towards the pile, he switched his call and put both hands in the air signifying touchdown.  Do you know what happened in these seconds between the 4th down call and the touchdown call?  Roethlisberger – who landed with the ball in his gut, while half of his torso was over the line – discreetly moved the ball over the goalline.  You can see on the reverse view that shows the ball, the ref ran into the shot, and he only had one arm in the air until Roethlisberger moved that ball.

Of course, in reality, it was as close as a play gets.  I could look at that play 50 times and flip-flop back and forth as to whether that ball crossed the line or not, but that’s not the point.  The point is:  if the ref calls it 4th down, they won’t overturn it on replay.  If the ref calls it a touchdown, they won’t overturn it on replay.  There’s no concrete evidence either way, so that initial call is CRUCIAL.  And that particular ref didn’t stick with what he saw initially.  He pussed out and called it a touchdown after Ben moved the ball.  From how he landed, if you just saw his body and nothing else, you’d think, “Surely he scored on that run.”  Except, when the Seahawks defender stopped him, his helmet knocked the ball down around Ben’s gut.  The ball wasn’t positioned on his body like it normally would have been.  The ref was fooled, he fucked up, and that’s that.

Seattle fuckups:

  • Allowing Pittsburgh to convert 3rd and 28

Referee fuckup:

#3 – Switching his call halfway down the line after Ben moves the ball across the goalline a la Vinny Testaverde.

Possession #6 – 2-minute offense, just after the 2-minute warning.  Pittsburgh squib-kicked and we returned it to the 40 yard line.  But, of course, they called holding.  On #57.  He didn’t hold anyone.  How do I know that?  Because he didn’t BLOCK ANYONE.  I don’t know if anyone else held on that play, but 57 sure as shit didn’t.

Almost immediately, we got the yards back and drove up near midfield.  Our offensive line was holding up well against their blitzes as we moved into Steelers territory.  There was a deep ball up the right sideline to Jackson that would have been a touchdown, but Jackson was careless with his footwork and was rightly called out of bounds.  He got his left foot down, his knee grazed the pylon, but his right foot landed totally out of bounds.

Then, for some insane reason, we opted to run the ball up the gut for four yards with 40 seconds left.  AND THEN WE LET THE CLOCK RUN DOWN TO 13 SECONDS BEFORE PITTSBURGH CALLED A TIME OUT???  What the tap-dancing FUCK?

Part of that is on Hasselbeck totally not giving a shit about the clock winding down as he’s changing the play at the line, but most of that is on another Holmgren play-calling brain fart.  Seriously?  It’s a 2-minute offense and you’re running the ball up the gut?  And then you DON’T call a time out when Hasselbeck is clearly freaking out about something he’s seeing from Pittsburgh’s defense?  Bad Holmgren.  Bad.

Once again, we aired it out to Jackson down the right sideline, but the pass was offline and led him out of bounds.  Probably not the best decision by Hasselbeck, when just getting ten yards would have been more helpful.  But, what do you expect him to do when his coach doesn’t put the team in a position to succeed by running the fucking ball with 40 seconds to go on the clock?

That led to a 54-yard field goal that Josh Brown pushed wide right.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Some of the worst clock management I’ve ever seen
  • Poor footwork on Jackson’s part on that first deep pass
  • Poor decision on Hasselbeck’s part to not check down for some extra yards for the field goal

Referee fuckup:

#4 – Phantom holding call on the kick return.

Halftime.  7-3 Pittsburgh.  Legitimately, the Seahawks missed out on 10 more points in that half (4 for the bullshit P.I. call on Jackson, 3 on the Jerramy Stevens drop that would have put us in field goal range, and 3 on that drive before half).  Should have been 13-7.  Should have been a lot of things.

Pittsburgh got the ball after halftime and on second down, Willie Parker ran up the gut for 75 yards and a touchdown.  14-3, Pittsburgh.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Linebackers were swallowed whole
  • Safety (Manuel’s replacement) bit ridiculously hard on a cut inside before Parker bounced it out into the clearing
  • Overall shit defense from A to Z on that play

Possession #7 – Good first drive out of the half by the offense.  There was another deep ball to Jerramy Stevens who dropped it again.  This one would have made it first and goal.  The fucking thing hit him right in the chest.

Still, we drove it into field goal range.  On 3rd & 5, Hasselbeck was pressured into throwing quickly, took a shot down field, and it landed incomplete.  Josh Brown, this time, pulled the field goal wide left.  He was 1 for 3 at this point.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Jerramy Stevens Drop #2
  • Poorly kicked field goal

On Pittsburgh’s next possession, on 3rd & 4, Hines Ward totally shoved a defender in the face to get open.  No flag, first down.  They got deep into Seattle territory – 3rd & 7 inside our 10 yard line – and Roethlisberger made the worst throw I’ve ever seen, on a short out route to the right side.  #31 for the Seahawks jumped it and ran it all the way back to Pittsburgh’s 20 yard line.

Referee fuckup:

#5 – No offensive pass interference on Hines Ward on a third down conversion

Possession #8 – We gained four yards on the first two plays, then on 3rd & 6 from the 16, Hasselbeck hit a wide open Jerramy Stevens for a touchdown.  14-10, Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh’s next possession was a 3 & Out, where they ended up running all three times.  Looked like they wanted to protect Roethlisberger’s ego there instead of giving him a chance to atone for his mistakes.

Possession #9 – First play would have been at least 10 yards if not more, but of course, Jerramy Stevens dropped it again.  This drive ended up as a 3 & Out and Rouen had another short, shitty punt.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Jerramy Stevens Drop #3
  • Tom Rouen Shitty Punt #AllOfThem

Pittsburgh came back with another 3 & Out as Roethlisberger overthrew an open Hines Ward.  Seriously, does ANYONE want to take control of this shitty game?

Possession #10 – Peter Warrick let the punt bounce at the 20 yard line, where it rolled all the way down to our 2.  What’s it like to have a good punter?

It’s really nice to have the best left side of an offensive line in the history of the NFL, though, because the 2 yard line became the 7 yard line on one play.  Ryan Hannam was now in at tight end, because JESUS CHRIST JERRAMY STEVENS SUCK A DICK.  We got all the way back to midfield on some more quality throws.  Then, a third down conversion to Engram took it down to the 30 yard line, followed by a couple of solid Alexander runs taking it inside the 20.

And, like clockwork, after the Seahawks did so well to move the ball down the field, they started shooting themselves in the foot.  This time, the edge rusher for Pittsburgh got an INSANE jump, moving into the neutral zone just as the ball was being snapped.  He happened to be rushing on Sean Locklear’s side, who had no choice but to hold or let Hasselbeck get killed.  The refs saw the hold and called it.  Where this hurt, of course, is that on the pass, Hasselbeck actually completed a ball to Jerramy Stevens down to the 3 yard line.  Instead of first and goal, with Alexander running it in all but certain, it was 1st & 20 at around the 30 yard line.

Next play:  Tobeck got abused and Hasselbeck got sacked.  2nd & 25, we ran a draw play that gained a good 9 yards or so.  Alexander would have had a lot more, actually, but the Pittsburgh defender horsecollar tackled him.  Refs missed it, but the Pittsburgh broadcasters sure didn’t, and wondered why a flag wasn’t thrown.

On 3rd & long, Hasselbeck threw deep again, and this time was bit for it, getting picked off.  He was eventually called for a “low block” on the return, even though he was trying to make a tackle on the play, and even though he hit THE GUY WITH THE FUCKING BALL and not any other Steeler.  #Refs.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Warrick letting punt go down to 2 yard line
  • Holding that negated a 1st & goal
  • Interception, throwing into heavy coverage, not allowing your team a chance for the field goal

Referee fuckups:

#6 – Did not call the horsecollar tackle
#7 – Penalizing Hasselbeck for a low block on an interception return when he went in to make a tackle.

On the Steelers’ next possession, they converted on third and short just past midfield.  Then, they ran an end-around pass from Randle-El to Hines Ward for a 43-yard touchdown.  Seattle fuckups:

  • Safety bit hard on the play-action
  • Linemen didn’t keep contain on the end-around
  • Allowed a fucking WIDE RECEIVER to throw the ball to another fucking wide receiver!

Possession #11 – It’s 21-10 with 9 minutes to go.  We once again got the ball quickly to midfield, then the drive stalled with Hasselbeck taking a sack on third down by an unblocked cornerback.  We opted to punt the ball with 6:30 to go in the game (obviously – AND I MEAN OBVIOUSLY – the punt was kicked into the endzone).  Seattle fuckups:

  • Letting an unblocked cornerback sack your quarterback
  • Punting when you’re down by 11 points with 6 and a half minutes to go in the game

Pittsburgh’s next possession had a real chance to be over with a 3 & Out.  On 3rd & 6, the refs missed a delay of game penalty, opting to give Pittsburgh the time out, even though Roethlisberger didn’t call the time out until the clock had already reached zero.  They converted that on a wide receiver screen and bled more clock.

The Bus ran it down to a 3rd & 2, as the Seahawks were using their time outs, then we fell for another quarterback bootleg keeper for the first down.  The Steelers ended up running the clock down to the 2-minute warning before they had to punt.

Referee fuckup:

#8 – Not calling Delay of Game on 3rd & 6, which would have made the next play much more difficult.

Possession #12 – The Seahawks got the ball into Pittsburgh territory on a couple of plays before clocking it with 1:00 to go.  Hasselbeck missed Engram, who was open down the sideline, for a would-be big gainer.  Not that it matters, but after that Hasselbeck was throwing short outs for some reason.

The final Seahawks play of the game:  a deep ball, near the goalline, which was dropped by Jerramy Stevens.  Because what more fitting way to end this game, except for maybe another shitty Tom Rouen punt?

By my count, here’s the happy totals:

  • 23 total mistakes by the Seahawks
  • 8 bullshit calls/non-calls by the refs
  • 5 of the worst punts you’ve ever seen
  • 4 legitimate, should-have-had-them drops by Jerramy Stevens
  • 3 legitimately huge plays by the Steelers (3rd & 28, 75-yard TD run, 43-yard WR-to-WR TD pass)
  • 3 bonehead coaching decisions by Mike Holmgren
  • 2 critical offensive holding penalties that were good calls by the refs and drive-killers for us
  • 2 missed field goals by the supposed “most clutch kicker in Seahawks history”
  • 1 interception deep in the opposition territory to cost us at least three points

Add it all up, and you’ve got one of the worst Super Bowl performances in the history of the game.

Make no mistake, the Steelers were NOT the better team on this day.  They had a bunch of 3 & Outs, Roethlisberger had some baffling throws, and for this supposedly-vaunted defense, they sure as shit let the Seahawks move the ball up and down the field at will.  We had nearly 400 yards!  Their wide receivers had more touchdown passes than their quarterback!  This was NOT a good Steelers performance.  For as great as they were in the three AFC playoff games leading up to this, they looked like they were lost and overwhelmed in the Super Bowl.

Had the Seahawks capitalized – like they should have – the Steelers would have lost this game, and Bill Cowher would have been The Coach Who Chokes In Super Bowls.  And I’m not even saying the Seahawks needed to play a perfect game!  Just take back a small fraction of those mistakes, and a small fraction of those bullshit referee decisions, and you’re looking at a comfortable win for the Good Guys.  Just about EVERYTHING had to go against us at critical times for us to blow this game.

In the end, there’s not one person or entity to blame.  The refs are to blame as much as Jerramy Stevens, Mike Holmgren, and our own offensive line.  This was truly the perfect storm, and a nasty way to introduce Seahawks fans to participation in the NFL’s greatest spectacle.

So, did you hate reading this as much as I hated researching it and writing it?  Good.  Let’s keep this game in mind as we head into Sunday:  we CANNOT have a repeat of this performance.

Seattle Sports Hell 2013 NFL Power Rankings – Week 1

I don’t throw around the word “love” very often, but I fucking LOVE NFL Sunday Ticket.  I purchased the Madden game for X-Box and got a deal on the online-only version of DirecTV’s signature product, and boy was it worth it!  The only shame of it was the fact that the Seahawks were playing at 10am, so the bulk of my focus was on that.  Nevertheless, I had my laptop running the Atlanta/New Orleans game in the background.  And, when both games were on commercial:  that was time to flip it over to the Red Zone channel!

I’m sure many of you have enjoyed this NFL viewing experience for years now, but this is entirely new to me.  Anytime I’ve ever had a chance to watch multiple games, it was either at my Dad’s house or in a bar somewhere.  At my dad’s, he’s got three TVs in the living room.  But, he’s only got regular ol’ cable TV, so I was at the mercy of whatever Fox or CBS deemed worthy for the Seattle market.  Which usually means a lot of Jets, a lot of Cowboys, and in the afternoon, a lot of Raiders and Rams and Cardinals.  I fucking can’t stand all of those teams.

At a bar, sure, you can watch whatever games you want (if you find the right bar, with the right configuration of TVs, and you’re not bombarded with a bunch of annoying Steelers or Packers fans).  But, if you’re getting any sound, it’s on one dedicated game, so you can’t toggle between games like you could at home.  And, you can’t just sit at a bar and not buy anything, so in any given day, you’re spending anywhere from $30-$60, depending on how much you eat and drink.  If you’re going to spend that much every week, you might as well just buy DirecTV and get it over with!

This is starting to sound like an advertisement, which I promise you it is not.  I’ve only had it for one week, so I’m sure there are things I’ll hate.  But, right now, it’s a whole new world.  I’m hooked.  I would probably pay any amount of money in the world just to know that I’ll never have to watch another boring Jets game ever again.

***

  1. Seattle Seahawks (1-0) – Until the Seahawks lose, I’m not even thinking about moving them down this list.
  2. San Francisco 49ers (1-0) – For anyone wondering when Kaepernick is going to go through some sort of second-year slump, keep dreaming.
  3. Denver Broncos (1-0) – They might end up with the best record in football, but that won’t make them the best team.  Nevertheless, they’re still pretty fucking good.
  4. Green Bay Packers (0-1) – Man, what can I say?  The 49ers just have their number.  Pretty sure that’s the only team in the NFL they fear playing in the playoffs.
  5. Atlanta Falcons (0-1) – The Falcons are still the second-best home team in the NFL.  They lost a tough road game against a tough divisional opponent; and they almost won anyway!
  6. Houston Texans (1-0) – Pretty amazing come-from-behind win to start their season.
  7. New England Patriots (1-0) – I’m pretty sure the Patriots won’t be terrible this year, but they’re not going to be elite.  The defense is still iffy, and the offense totally lacks weapons.
  8. New Orleans Saints (1-0) – Outside of the Chiefs, the Saints might be the most improved team in the NFL this year.  Still, Drew Brees can be sloppy with the ball.
  9. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) – Chicago certainly isn’t the easiest place to start your NFL season, but the Bengals are better than that.  They’ll bounce back.
  10. Washington Redskins (0-1) – Welp, that’s what happens when your starting quarterback goes the entire pre-season without playing.  I expect the offense to improve and in a hurry.
  11. Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) – Something tells me the Chiefs won’t be out of the Top 10 for long.  Andy Reid was a terrible coach for what the Eagles became last year, but he’s just what these Chiefs need.
  12. Carolina Panthers (0-1) – Excellent front seven, better-than-they-showed-on-Sunday offense.  I kinda predicted Tampa Bay would be one of the breakout teams of the NFC, but it’s probably going to be Carolina.
  13. Detroit Lions (1-0) – You pair that passing game with Reggie Bush and you’ve got something lethal.  They better hope Bush can stay healthy for the duration; a pass-catching back is all they need to be unstoppable on offense.
  14. Baltimore Ravens (0-1) – The thing is, those receivers won’t drop as many balls as they did in the opener.  The other thing is:  I’m telling you, this is a .500 football team.
  15. Dallas Cowboys (1-0) – Jesus Dallas, how did you almost blow that game after generating six turnovers?
  16. New York Giants (0-1) – Of course this is the year that Eli Manning dominates.  I had him on my fantasy team LAST year and avoided him like the plague this year.
  17. Chicago Bears (1-0) – This is still a team that only has one receiver, and still a team that under-utilizes their running back.
  18. Indianapolis Colts (1-0) – Took quite the effort to beat the Raiders, when it should have taken no effort whatsoever.
  19. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) – Weird!  You lean on LeSean McCoy and use Vick in the passing game as little as possible and you do well on offense!  Andy Reid, are you fucking WATCHING THIS?
  20. St. Louis Rams (1-0) – I kind of expected the Rams to handle the Cardinals better than they did.  Does that mean the Rams are worse than advertised, or are the Cards better?
  21. Miami Dolphins (1-0) – Whoop-dee-doo, they beat up on the Cleveland Browns, BFD.
  22. San Diego Chargers (0-1) – I’m shocked that they blew a 21-point lead, but then again I’m not that shocked.  Philip Rivers always finds a way.
  23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) – They were one bone-head play from being 1-0.  Then again, I’m hearing all kinds of bad press on Josh Freeman.  In a contract year?  That doesn’t bode well.
  24. Minnesota Vikings (0-1) – God the Vikings are terrible.  Ponder is one of many busts at quarterback starting right now.
  25. Arizona Cardinals (0-1) – Carson Palmer, where have you been all of Larry Fitzgerald’s career?
  26. Cleveland Browns (0-1) – I’m having a tough time figuring out how bad Weeden is.  He throws the ball a ton of times per game and kinda racks up the yardage.  But, his completion percentage is usually terrible and he throws for more picks than TDs.  He sort of strikes me as a young, disappointing Vinny Testaverde, without the possibility of ever having a long career.
  27. Tennessee Titans (1-0) – The Titans are terrible.  But, who knows?  Maybe they’re not as terrible as we thought.  Who am I kidding?  They ARE as terrible as we thought, but the teams under them are even worse.
  28. Oakland Raiders (0-1) – I never for one minute thought they were going to beat the Colts.
  29. New York Jets (1-0) – Lucky win for a bullshit team.  Here’s to hoping Geno Smith turns out well.  Mark Sanchez needs to go away forever.
  30. Buffalo Bills (0-1) – Goes to show you how underwhelming this rookie quarterback class is that EJ Manuel is getting seriously glowing press even though he only threw for 150 yards.
  31. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) – The Steelers might not be the next-to-worst team in the NFL, but this is the penalty they get for being my Survivor Pool pick in week 1.  I might not ever put them in the top 30 all season.
  32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) – Two points?  Gus Bradley, would you like to reconsider your decision?

Seahawks & Replacement Refs Defeat Packers, NFL

The streets will flow with the blood of the non-believers!!!

Which way did he go, which way did he go?

For the most part, I like how Seattle has responded to this national tragedy.  Essentially, we’re not apologizing, so you all can go fuck yourselves.  Does that make us bad fans?  No, that makes us fans; if this happened in a Giants/Redskins game and the Giants benefited from this same exact call, Giants fans would be dancing in the street.  You know it, so just stop it!

What I don’t care for is Seattle fans trying to justify this as some kind of karmic retribution from the football gods.  Bringing up Super Bowl XL or Vinny Testaverde is illogical and makes you sound silly.  This isn’t “the refs” making up for past transgressions; hell, these aren’t even the same refs!  THESE refs don’t give two shits about Super Bowl XL or the phantom touchdown!  So, instead of trying to get the rest of the NFL-viewing public to see things from our point of view, just give the whole thing a hearty, “Fuck it,” and let everyone else duke it out.

The Seahawks got the win.  We don’t have to apologize for shit!  The NFL should probably apologize to the Packers for letting it get to this point.  Then again, that game is 100% different if the regular refs are working that game.  After all, it wasn’t just one call that was blown.

Personally, I’m such a Seattle fan, as the events were unfolding in that end zone, I was CONVINCED the thing was going to either be waved off or over-turned.  What would have happened then?  What would have happened if they went to the replay booth and overturned a play that can’t be challenged to begin with?  Yeah, they would have gotten the call right, but they clearly would have voided the rules in doing so.  Does that make it any better?  OK, so just forget about that.  I guess the play WAS reviewable …

I’d say probably 94% of the NFL-viewing public would say yes.  But, they’re not Seahawks fans, so they can go to hell.

The key to that whole scenario, of course, was the ruling on the field.  I knew two things going into that final play:  they were never in a million years going to throw a flag, no matter how egregious the penalty; and the ruling on the field was never going to be overturned by replay.  Let’s face it, those refs were in a hostile environment, with tens of thousands of jacked up fans living and dying by that single play; are you going to be the guys who takes a win away from that potentially angry and hostile mob?  Once they signaled touchdown, there was just no way!  Maybe if they got a head start and announced the interception from the airport …

Of course, the game was more than just that one play.  And at this point, I have to wonder whether a win in this scenario is actually a good thing.  Not because I’m concerned about what other NFL fans outside of the Pacific Northwest might think of me, but because a win here really masks a lot of problems … exclusively on the offensive side of the ball.

Russell Wilson was far less than ideal last night.  His biggest problem was leaving the pocket before he REALLY had to.  His second-biggest problem was always running to his right to get away from pressure – especially when that pressure was coming from the right!  This is the NFL, kid, you’re going to get taken down more than you’re going to escape.  Wilson’s got good speed, but he’s not the fastest guy in the world.  He’s going to need to figure out how to roll to his left and still be able to throw on the run.  I’ve yet to see him even attempt it, so I don’t know if he even has this ability or not.  It would be a nice little something to add to the arsenal.

The wide receivers were just about God awful as well.  No separation, whatsoever.  Aside from the Golden Tate double-move for a touchdown (which really seemed more like a breakdown in coverage, as seemingly every Seahawk on the field was wide open for a potential TD score), I didn’t see Wilson getting a whole lotta help from his targets.

The play-calling could’ve been better too.  I like the way we stuck to the run last night; it was the one thing we did well on offense.  But, what in the hell was that in the 4th quarter?  An OPTION?  Are you kidding me?  At first I thought it was one of those jobs where you fake run up the middle and pitch to a running back out wide, but no, that was a straight-up option play and it STUNK.  I NEVER want to see that play again!  No NFL defense worth its weight in salt will ever fall for such bunk, especially on such a crucial down where you only need a couple yards for the first down.  That’s not the only bad play called by the Seahawks (seems to me that they could have been a little more creative with their routes on passing plays), but it was by far the worst.

Russell Wilson is probably going to catch a lot of heat for his performance last night (what heat is left over from the referee debacle, that is), but truth be told, he didn’t get a lot of help.  That’s not me blindly defending the guy; I think he deserves exactly 1/3 of the blame for what should have been a loss last night.  But, the receivers and the offensive coordinator deserve the other 2/3 of the blame as well.  Let’s not go crazy here with our overreactions.

The bottom line is:  the Seahawks come away with a win that really probably should have been a loss.  Does this propel us to lofty heights?  Or, does this breed a type of overconfidence where the shortcomings I noted above are just swept under the rug as No Big Deal.  Because, I’m not gonna lie to you, this passing game IS a big deal.  It’s one thing to be a dominant rushing offense that controls the ball, bleeds the clock, and relies on its opportunistic defense to win football games; it’s quite another to be completely one-dimensional on offense to the point where it will eventually make that one thing you’re good at (running the football) so much the focal point of opposing defenses that you can’t even do THAT properly!

No defense in this NFL should be afraid to play strict man-to-man defense on our receivers for the entire game.  No defense in this NFL should be afraid to have their linebackers play man-to-man on our tight ends.  No defense in this NFL should be afraid to put as many men in the box as possible.  Because until this Seahawks offense proves it can actually stretch the field, why would you do anything else?

Russell Wilson is going to have to grow up awfully fast.  He’s going to have to get more comfortable in the pocket.  And he’s going to have to start leading this team on scoring drives before the last 10 seconds of a game.  Everyone else on offense is going to have to step his game up as well.  Okung?  The penalties?  Cut that shit out!  You’re better than that!  (or are you?)

Because what everyone else is saying is definitely true:  you can’t squander this defense.  This truly IS a top 5 defense.  That first half last night was the single greatest defensive first half I’ve ever seen out of a defense.  That’s no hyperbole.  That’s one man’s rational opinion (one man who, admittedly, has watched a lot of Seahawks games over the years, so look at what he’s comparing it to).  8 sacks, a constant stream of pressure, and blanket coverage on some elite receivers.

The Packers may come away thinking they’re the better team, but they just got an eye-opening wake up call.  This defense is no joke.  The 49ers’ defense is no joke.  The Cardinals’ defense is no joke.  The Packers can’t just expect to score 35 points a game and think they’re going to go undefeated.  They have real flaws.  They crumble when confronted with an aggressive, talented defense.  I’d look inward if I were them, instead of exclusively focusing on how they were jobbed by the refs.  They might be in trouble.  They might not be as good as we thought they were.

And the Seahawks MIGHT be better …