I usually have a sunny and rosy disposition on life, not much gets me down and I seem to look for the positive, glass half-full outlook in everything. For some reason when I look at my sports teams I take the glass-half empty approach; a much more pessimistic outlook than my daily life takes. Maybe I have conditioned myself by using negativity as a mechanism protecting me from disappointment, a protective salve so to speak. So excuse me if my pessimism comes out in the following paragraphs.
If you were able to see into the future and see this team going into week 10 with an 8-1 record and 1.5 game lead over the nearest NFC opponent I would have gladly taken you up on that scenario. Now that that situation has come to fruition I have two statements: 1) The Seahawks may be the most challenged 8-1 team ever based on recent trends 2) Does anybody have contact information for a good cardiologist? My heart can’t take another week like the last two.
The Seahawks peaked in week 3, beating San Francisco and Jacksonville handily, and with that my confidence in this team has steadily declined. Those were the only two games that they were able to play with a large lead and looked like they were having fun. Lately they have been playing with the deer-in-the-headlight strategy; a less desirable game plan.
I have started to subscribe to the thought that this team plays to their opponent’s level. For the last several weeks I have predicted a comfortable win and each game proves to be a test of one up-man-ship for the dramatic. I know that in any given week a lesser team can beat a stronger team, but Seattle has made a habit of testing this theory.
The first quarter didn’t see much action (Although a very innocuous statement, this sentence should have been the first cause for concern). A Seahawks team that was returning home, needing to make a point and they come out flat? That omen hung in the air. Our first drive goes down to the 11 and then Russell Wilson throws an errant pass and is picked off. Hey no problem, these are the Buccaneers after all…right?
The second quarter saw 21 unanswered points…from Tampa Bay? Wha..what happened? There was a quick pan to the Seahawks bench after the Bucs scored their third touchdown, I have seen our defense look intense, but at that moment they looked angry. In the words of one of the acting geniuses of our time, the Incredible Hulk, “You wouldn’t like me when I am angry” came to my mind. We went 80 yards in three plays to score our first touchdown. Isn’t that the way this game was supposed to go?
Just an observation that I never thought I would say, it didn’t seem that the crowd had an effect on this game. The crowd yelled and screamed but it seemed that the Bucs were immune; maybe the training with their full-tilt sound-system helped them to block out the sounds.
The start of the third quarter saw Tampa Bay receive the ball and I anticipated a much more focused and hard-nosed Seahawks team to take the field. Field goal Tampa Bay. Huh? But then we put together our first sustained, long drive of 86 yards which culminated in Russell Wilson‘s scamper of 10 yards for a TD. And our defense suddenly kicked into gear.
The end of the third quarter saw Golden Tate make his presence felt; I love his flair for the dramatics. A 71 yard punt return, from inside of our own 5 yard line, was exactly what the football doctor ordered. Even after this very encouraging, awe-inspiring, will-imposing return we could only muster 7 yards on offense and had to settle for a field goal.
Well that is a bit demoralizing. Five plays later we had the ball back and we were moving and groovin’ all the way down the field. 1st and goal from the three. Beastmo…wait, what? A timing pass into the middle of the field? What is Darrell Bevell thinking? Even if it worked and we scored 6, what kind of message does that send to Marshawn Lynch?
He has been noticeably absent in goal line running lately; he needs the ball. And just like that, the balloon was deflated and it was left to our defense to stop them with enough time for our offense to score, which is exactly what happened. Score tied with under two minutes to go and our defense makes a final stand in regulation to prevent them from entering field goal territory.
OT gave the Buccaneers another chance to win, but our defense decidedly said ‘we will have none of that’. On our last two offensive plays of overtime Marshawn Lynch ran for 14 and 13 yards respectively and effectively put us in field goal range, leaving Mr. Hauschka a chip shot. Game over.
A couple of take home points
-Our opponent’s third down conversions continued to plague us in the first half. 7-8 successful conversions, and this against a back-up quarterback, who was missing key components of an offense. Thank goodness we got the mirror image in the second half and stopped them on 6 out of 7 third down attempts.
-Another week, another back-up running back that shreds our defense. Zac Stacy ran for 134 yards last week and Mike James runs for 158 yards this week. Which begs the question of Tampa Bay, why didn’t you run it more to control the game? You were leading, keep running it.
-We only committed 6 penalties for 67 yards, sad when this is the good news.
-Three turnovers. We gave up three turnovers and didn’t muster a single one against Tampa Bay. And this result was after Coach Carroll said “We’re trying to take the ball away so much that we’re not tackling very well.” Apparently they are gearing on forcing turnovers so much they didn’t tackle very well, which, in the end, garnered 0 turnovers. That is a big swing and a miss.
-No sacks against Seattle. Let that just sink in for a moment. However, Mr. Wilson continued to be pressured, to the tune of 55% of his dropbacks, a career high.
-Marshawn Lynch had a solid performance and returned to form, in his bruising style. Our wide receivers did an admirable job. Both Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate proved they belong on the field. Jermaine Kearse had an up and down day but definitely gives us something to work with.
A perfect storm of opportunities arose for Tampa Bay and the Seahawks found themselves riding on rough waters in the second quarter. Thankfully our unflappable quarterback took it all in, assessed the situation and took flight in the fourth quarter to bring the team home safely.
Just like engineers who conduct a procedure called ‘metal fatigue’, which is where you bend a metal back and forth until it breaks to determine it’s tensile strength, it seems our beloved Seahawks are going through this same process, bending just a little more each week, to prove their overall strength. I hope we don’t reach our ‘Seahawk Fatigue’ point this coming week in Atlanta. Go Hawks!