It took about ten minutes before I was literally having flash-backs to Super Bowl XL in this game. Mike Carey and company clearly were going to do their damnedest to ensure this was a one sided fight. The sick, queasy feeling in my stomach wouldn’t relent and my Twitter feed turned into nothing more than ranting with heavy f-bomb usage. Even after the game ended, for the second time, it took me the rest of the day to unwind and remove the knot that had found a home in my stomach. Finally right before bed it sunk in that the Seahawks had won and it couldn’t be taken away.
If the first half of the season was all about the defense carrying the team and just requiring the offense to do a bare minimum to win games, the second half is the opposite. Russell Wilson is maturing and proving all the doubters, myself included, wrong. Marshawn Lynch continues to run like a stud and the team has found a way to continue moving forward and winning games in the process. Seattle has now won as many games (seven) as it has the last two seasons. It would take a colossal meltdown to not finish the season with a winning record. With head-to-head tie breaks over Dallas, Green Bay, Minnesota, and Chicago, a wild card spot is easily within reach. I guess I should be relieved, but I feel even more stressed now.
We have two players facing four game suspensions, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. They are appealing but if they lose, then their delayed suspensions will carry forward into the playoffs. Going into the playoffs without Sherman and Browner seems like a recipe for disaster. Especially since that game will most likely be on the road. Seattle has three of the last four games at home and would could go 2-2 or 3-1 and still make the playoffs with Sherman and Browner back. In other words the downside in this situation is larger, and more likely given the appeals statistics, than the potential risk-adjusted upside.
Because the game was such a stressful experience, it’s going to be hard for me break down anything that wasn’t recognized by others. Golden Tate has huge play-making ability. The read-option is underused. Seattle’s defense really needs to step-the-$&%* up. That last minute field goal by Chicago is inexcusable. I don’t know if Sherman is distracted or his head is getting just a tad too big, but swat that ball away. Interception at the end of the game is nothing but stat padding. Just ask MD Jennings who tried for an interception instead of swatting the ball away at the end of the Green Bay game.
Cutler ended up on the ground only once and he was clearly looking to Brandon Marshall on every play but Marshall managed to light Seattle’s secondary up. Why did they zone cover him? Who the hell knows, but it sure didn’t work and they stayed in it way too long. Matt Forte was a non-factor, however. The run defense was effective. Now if they can get some sort of pass rush. Even half the pass rush Seattle used to sack Aaron Rodgers nine times would be an improvement over the current one. Seattle needs both the offense and defense performing at a high level to have any chance at winning a playoff game.
Mike Carey should be fired and have his house lit on fire. That anger has no subsided in any way. The NFL is facing a serious credibility issue in its officiating. There are actual instances of the exact same play happening and calls not being consistent. For instance, Alan Branch having a personal foul penalty called on him for hitting Jay Cutler after he started his slide. Bad call, but bad calls happen. I accept that. Russell Wilson was hit several times on running plays after he had slid or gone done. No penalty. Not on one single play. He was also thrown down by his helmet on a play which wasn’t called. There was Lynch’s first fumble which was a bizarre play because forward progress had been stopped for several seconds yet the play was allowed to continue. I’d love to see data on how quickly the whistle was blown to kill plays on forward progress being stopped when Chicago had the ball versus when Seattle had the ball. Let’s see, what else. Uncalled holding by Chicago’s offensive line. That’s a recurring theme though, so I can’t blame Mike Carey. Seattle’s defensive line was held constantly last week, as well. Oh right, there was the special teams play where Seattle was called for a low block because the Chicago player threw him to the ground by grabbing his facemask and proceeded to trip over him. I also question the last shot Chicago took on Sidney Rice to end the game.
Let me be clear. I understand bad calls are part of any game. That is an accepted fact. What drives me up the wall is when bad calls are unevenly distributed. If a ref is going to misinterpret a rule, misinterpret across the board for both teams. Then the bad calls even out. That’s fine. It’s part of the game. When horrible calls stack up against one team, over plays that are happening on both sides but only being called one way, I can’t take it. It’s like ending an NBA game with one team shooting 30 more free throws then the other.
Yes, Seattle won. I’m tired though, of it seeming like the Seahawks have to not just beat their opponent but occasionally overcome other obstacles that are unnecessary. It gets old. The requirement for the Seahawks to get to a certain level seems higher than it is for other teams.
I hate talking about officiating. And I hate bitching about it, the last few paragraphs aside. The officials should be essentially invisible but this season they have been terrible. With replay, clock management, on-the-field calls. The standard for the regular refs was set so low by the replacements that it would seem like a cake walk to look good. Au contraire. The regular refs have still found a way to look like garbage. But nobody can replace them so they’re safe, I suppose. If the “integrity” of the game really matters, if “player safety” really matters, then the NFL would make sure officiating was consistent and even. Consistency in officiating ensures that players and coaches understand the parameters in which they are supposed to compete. Inconsistency opens it up to taking risks in order to see how far a player can go. Game integrity goes along with that. If fans don’t feel like games are being consistently called, bad calls and good, then they question the fairness and agenda of the NFL. That’s not good for business.
They NFL gets a free pass most of the time because it is by far the most lucrative league of the big three, but screw-ups have a way of accumulating and even the best damn can crack. You just hope there isn’t too much built up on the other side when it does because if there is a reservoir of sketchy issues it will take much longer and hurt credibility much more than if the problems had been dealt with quickly and meaningfully as they came up.