Wow. I don’t even know what to say. That game became ridiculous somewhere near the middle of the second quarter. Then in the third quarter, the game was handed over to Matt Flynn and the rest of Seattle’s bench. There have already been a couple other “gut reaction” pieces on the site about this game, but I haven’t read them because I don’t want to have other thoughts invade my “purely responsive” weekly piece. So forgive any redundancy that may occur. I’m not going to touch on any statistics because I’m sure they’re covered and at this point they are so ridiculous as to be nearly useless in my opinion.
As a testament to the class I believe Seattle fans have, a Twitter discussion began about how to finish the game with the most class and sportsmanship. Unfortunately, when the opposing defense isn’t able to step up and make any stops it’s that much harder. I do not honestly believe that Seattle ran the score up. Larry Fitzgerald’s father, who is a journalist, feels that the Cardinals quit on the game. I don’t know if that happened, but they definitely lost any sort of fighting spirit. Outside of just handing the ball over to Adrian Wilson on every possession, I’m not sure what Seattle could have done that was “classy.”
- Punt on every first down.
- Take a knee (“victory formation”) on every down and then punt.
- Clear bench, pull starters, and take low percentage shots downfield to rookies with a backup quarterback.
- Run basic, non-gadget plays with the idea that Arizona’s defense will have to make a stop eventually.
Seattle obviously opted for decision three. Every other one would have been borderline mocking to the Cardinals. I also don’t feel like the Arizona players necessarily felt put upon because I can recall several moments in the fourth quarter when Adrian Wilson, a fierce competitor, was helping Seattle players off the field. Ken Whisenhunt was clearly upset with the game, but it didn’t seem like he was especially pissed or offended by Pete Carroll during the post-game handshake. It was just a culmination of several variants that combined into a ridiculous, unavoidable outcome.
I’d also like to point out that I don’t recall nearly as much criticism when admitted cheater, Bill Belichick, repeatedly runs up the score with quarterback Tom Brady, but it’s no big deal. Pete Carroll was actually remarkably calm and contained on the sideline. I don’t know what Seattle could have done differently. Arizona completely broke down and Seattle pulled back as much as possible without actually pointedly, humiliating Arizona.
That’s all I’m going to say on that topic.
Next, Richard Sherman played out of his friggin’ gourd. I don’t know what I can say that hasn’t been shouted from every 12th Man with a Twitter, Facebook, Friendster, MySpace, or Google+ account. What a ridiculous game. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of his celebrations but in the big picture, I think it was good-natured and not intended maliciously. I think he was also out to show that he is a stud whether on PEDs or not.
I really want Russell Wilson and Zach Miller to get on the same page. I feel like this is such an under-utilized asset. Anthony McCoy had a great game but is not a starting tight end. Zach Miller is a great blocking and receiving tight end that for some reason isn’t targeted a lot and, when he is, doesn’t get very accurate throws. If Seattle can figure out this piece of the puzzle, I think it would help the offense immensely.
Now I’m going to take a slightly more conservative position on the game. Statistically, with just plane-jane numbers, (i.e. completed passes, touchdowns, yards of offense, etc.) Seattle is a goliath. These numbers however came against an opponent that was far from competitive. Is it Seattle’s best win ever? Or even best game ever? I don’t think so. For me, the best game is one that is a gut-it-out, grinding, old-school boxing match of a game. Something closer to the win in Chicago a week before that required two game winning drives by a rookie quarterback to overcome a game full of horrible officiating. Those are the games that define a team. Those are the type of games that players, in my opinion, truly earn their stripes. The game against Arizona simply became a circus. Fun to watch, but a statistical anomaly. Putting up similar or even slightly less amazing numbers against San Francisco, Chicago, Green Bay, New England, or Houston would in my mind be a “greater” game.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be celebrated though. A win is a win and Seattle needs all the wins they can get. The only path to a number two seed is for Seattle to win out and San Francisco to lose one other game on top of the game in Seattle on December 23rd which has been flexed to Sunday night. A bye and home field advantage for a game would be huge for Seattle and it’s absolutely in the realm of possibility. The hard part is keeping expectations in check.
The 12th Man had a collective cathartic experience on Sunday. It was long overdue and well deserved. It’s not the end of the road though, and Seattle has some tough games yet to play. I hate losing. Absolutely hate it. I hate it more than I enjoy winning, which is probably why I am taking such a reserved stance on Seattle’s beat down of Arizona. I’m a terrible loser as my girlfriend and family can attest to. I go into isolation and don’t want to talk to anybody. I’m a gracious winner and never bring it up to fans of opposing teams. I didn’t make a single post on the wall of my many friends who are Bears fans after the stressful game two weeks ago.
I make these statements not because I want to feel good about myself, but I think that the 12th Man also generally holds these feelings. We want to win. Badly. We absolutely hate losing. But as a fan base, we are gracious in victory and generally feel uncomfortable gloating after the game is over. Bragging is not something inherent in the Northwest’s nature. We hate being described with pejorative descriptions, like “South Alaska” (suck it Jimmy Johnson and Terry Bradshaw), but let the intrinsic class, dignity, and good nature of the region speak for itself. That’s why I’m proud to be a 12th Man and an ambassador for the Northwest in the other parts of the country that I have lived in.