Three things from the Seahawks’ win over Green Bay
It was a game that encapsulates the beauty of sports. The ability to see something that you did not expect, defied almost everything we thought we knew about the game and left you utterly thrilled. At least in Seattle.
Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com, in his great analysis, summarized it quite aptly: “If winning the Super Bowl is like climbing Mt. Everest, this was like facing a deadly avalanche and surviving.”
Well, let’s try to make sense of Seattle’s Great Escape.
Three things we learned:
1. Don’t ever give up and leave. Don’t ever give up.
A picture of the people outside CenturyLink Field, noses pressed up against the glass hoping to get back in – they didn’t – are proof of that. Yes, things looked dire when Russell Wilson was intercepted for the fourth time with just over 5 minutes to go. Sure, Green Bay’s win probability was at a jarring 96.1 percent at that point, according to ESPN Stats & Information. And only one NFL team had ever trailed by 12 points with 2:10 left in a playoff game and come back to win, and that was the Cowboys. In 1972. Yet somehow a team whose only touchdown in the first 57 minutes came on a fake field-goal attempt scored three times in the span of 7 minutes not to mention a two-point conversion that had as much blind hope as a Hail Mary.
2. Russell Wilson has alligator blood.
That’s the term Teddy KGB used in the movie “Rounders” to describe Matt Damon’s character, Mikey McD, who kept “hanggggingggg around.” He just wouldn’t let go. And well, that was Wilson because for the first 54 minutes of that game, he played as poorly as he has as a Seahawk. While two of the passes that were intercepted bounced off Jermaine Kearse’s hands, two were Wilson’s fault plain and simple. Given the weather on Sunday, one of the major storylines coming out of the game would have been to a) wonder why Wilson struggles in the rain; or b) ask whether he’s worth that top-shelf contract as one of the best-paid quarterbacks in football. All he did over Seattle’s final three possessions was complete six of the seven passes he threw, expertly operate the read-option that resulted in the Seahawks’ first two touchdowns and then throw back-to-back passes that were nothing short of perfect to win the game. It was completely amazing.
3. Seattle’s defense was amazingly resilient.
The only reason the Seahawks had a chance to come back is because of the starch their defense showed, holding the Packers to three first-half field goals. And for all the heat Packers coach Mike McCarthy has taken for his conservative approach to not just the fourth-quarter play-calling but his decision to kick on three different fourth-and-1 scenarios, well, Seattle’s defense deserves a tip of the cap, too. The way the Seahawks played, the backbone that they showed, caused Green Bay to blink. Kudos.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. How was it not all about the ball?
This game turned out to be the one exception to one of Pete Carroll’s most principal tenets of football. The Seahawks committed five turnovers for only the second time in any game since Carroll became coach. The previous time: a 40-21 loss in San Francisco in the 13th game of the 2010 season. Take this a step farther: Seattle had a turnover margin of minus-three on Sunday. In 10 previous regular-season games under Carroll in which the Seahawks had a turnover margin of minus-three or worse, Seattle went 1-9 in those games. The Seahawks’ only victory in that situation came in overtime against Tampa Bay in the ninth game of the 2013 season. Perhaps most amazingly, Seattle had committed a total of five turnovers in its first eight playoff games under Carroll. It committed five on Sunday. And still won.
2. Why didn’t the Packers go after Richard Sherman?
Maybe Green Bay feared that he was playing possum, making his left arm look totally immobile only to show that he was fully operational the minute a pass was thrown in his direction. Perhaps Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers feared the possibility Sherman would earn a new nickname should he pick off a pass: the one-armed bandit. But even on Green Bay’s final drive that resulted in the game-tying field goal, the Packers chose to go away from Sherman until their last third-down play, a short throw to Jordy Nelson that was more about field position than stretching the defense. That was puzzling to say the least and proves that Green Bay wouldn’t fight Sherman even if he had one arm tied behind his back.
3. What will the NFL do to Marshawn Lynch?
Before the game, he was threatened with ejection if he wore gold cleats. During the game, he appeared to position his hand in the same area that drew an $11,050 fine after the Arizona game in Week 16. That time, he leapt backward into the end zone. This time he was just walking. Top it all off with the fact that he was not available in the locker room to answer questions from reporters afterward – something that cost him $100,000 earlier this season – and there are already people asking whether he’ll be disciplined by the league. For the record, I saw Lynch on my way out of the training facility on Monday. I asked how he was doing. He said, “OK, boss.” We shook hands. Hopefully that proves he was available for the media at least once this week. #TeamMarshawn