Dave Wyman: Trying to remain calm in North Carolina

Jan 16, 2016, 11:39 AM | Updated: 12:57 pm
I took to the field after Super Bowl 48. (Dave Wyman)
(Dave Wyman)

I still get nervous before games, especially playoff games.

I last played 20 years ago and during my career as a linebacker for the Seahawks and Broncos, I was part of four playoff teams that never went past the first round. This will be my 20th playoff game covering the Hawks the past 12 years as a pre- and post-game radio and TV analyst. I’ve seen the Beast Mode run, the bad officiating of Super Bowl XL, the interception at the goal line in Super Bowl 49, and the thrill of victory in New York City in Super Bowl 48.

I was nervous for every one of those games and it’ll be no different on Sunday as the Hawks get ready to play the best team in the NFL, the 15-1 Carolina Panthers, here in Charlotte.

It’s a different kind of nervous for a fan. The problem is that you can’t really do much about it. As a player, you were so focused on your opponent and your assignments that you don’t have much time for nervous energy. Plus, you run around all week preparing during practice and you work off some of the nerves. As a fan, you just sit and wait for kickoff.

Maybe I should hit the gym! On second thought, maybe I should go get some Carolina BBQ.

I met Dori Monson and Paul Moyer at the airport late Thursday night for our trip to Charlotte and, ironically, we connected through Minneapolis, the site of the Seahawks’ 10-9 victory over the Vikings in the bitter cold. Having changed planes there, I can report that it is still cold in Minnesota.

We caught a commuter plane there to Charlotte and the end of the jet-way was open to the elements, so we got a small taste of what those players felt for three hours last Sunday.

We were greeted by two similarities when we landed in Charlotte – it was grey, dark, and raining like crazy, and it is clear that this is a city that is in love with their Carolina Panthers.

Now, of course, they are a lesser version of the 12th Man (yes, I do say that for the cheap applause), but everywhere you look there are billboards, jerseys, and goofy weathermen wearing Panther hats and throwing footballs around on TV.

I understand that the 12th Man travels well, but I’m guessing there’s little chance they will make a dent in the noise at Bank of America stadium on Sunday.

If you asked me to compare the 2015 Seahawks to any one of those other 11 Seahawks teams I’ve covered, I’d say that this one is the most surprising.

On the downside, I was surprised that the Hawks could not close out the Cincinnati Bengals and the Carolina Panthers with 17 and 9-point leads, respectively, in the regular season. I was surprised that they let down in Week 16 against the St. Louis Rams after demolishing better teams the weeks before. But on the upside, I am surprised that the Seahawks’ offense ended the season as the No. 4 team in both yardage and scoring.

I’m surprised in the amount of improvement the Seahawks’ offensive line has shown; they gave up 31 sacks in the first seven games and just 15 sacks in the next nine games.

I wasn’t just surprised, but shocked at what the Seahawks did to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17. The Cardinals, according to many analysts around the NFL, were considered the best team in the league and they were playing for a legitimate opportunity to be the No. 1 seed in the NFC that day.

The Seahawks pounded the Cardinals 36-6 with two backup offensive linemen, one of them a rookie, a third string running back and two backup tight ends. On defense, Kelcie McCray filled in for Kam Chancellor and Seattle was able to hold the potent Cardinal defense to a score that made it the best team in scoring defense for the fourth straight year.

That’s what I expect from the Seahawks on Sunday. There is a reason that no one in the NFL wants to play the Seahawks right now. They have the ability to make good teams look, dare I say, pedestrian.

After the Seahawks closed out the Vikings last week, courtesy of a missed chip shot field goal by Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh, many said that the Seahawks got lucky.

But Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White said it best. After the game he tweeted out: “Seahawks find another way to win they always do.”

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