We all know that looks can be deceiving. Like an oasis in the desert that promises refreshing, thirst quenching water, sometimes what lies on the surface can be no more than waves of sand. So what does this analogy have to do with our beloved Seahawks? On the surface it looked like the Seahawks were being christened NFC champs and representatives to the Super Bowl even before the season started. In reality what we have received is a team that has been weathered, tried, malleable and refined.
On Sunday we saw the Vikings come to town riding on a horse called ‘optimism’ after beating a Washington Redskins’ team that is also floundering. The Vikings came in hopeful; hopeful to catch the Seahawks just wanting to get to the bye week, hopeful the Seahawks were looking just far enough into the future to forget that they had a tiny game against the Vikings. But thank goodness the Seahawks quickly corralled that horse and renamed it ‘reality’, as in wake up to the reality that you are facing a 9-1 team that is so laser-focused that they could bore a hole into sheet metal.
The game started off with a couple of possessions by both teams without much success. We showed flashes of good up front pressure, getting our hands on Christian Ponder, culminating in Cliff Avril knocking the ball out of Ponder’s hand. Minnesota changed up their protection scheme allowing only two sacks the whole game, despite being within one step of about 8 other sacks. It seems like he was getting the ball out of his hands just before he was hit, like he was playing defensive line Russian roulette.
Our much beleaguered offensive line was finally healthy and for the most part did an admirable job of protecting Russell Wilson. There were actually plays where he had so much time he didn’t have to move around in the pocket but could stand there flat footed….looking….looking…throwing. This protection and his natural talent allowed him to complete passes to eight different receivers, tallying a Total QBR of 98.5 and rating of 151.4 against Minnesota…wow…just wow. We can see what he can do with time, placing the ball very accurately either directly to his receivers or in a place that nobody can catch it other than his receiver. It doesn’t hurt that all of his receivers took a Cirque de Soleil acrobat course this last summer. This was evident last week with Tate’s TD in the corner of the end zone and this week’s Baldwin TD catch in the corner over two defenders.
We continue to have a few things that need to be addressed. Penalties continue to be a plague that we can’t seem to shake. We had three penalties that gave them first downs, including one pass interference by Richard Sherman on 3rd down that gave them 28 yards to the 15 yard line. Oh and hey Jeremy Lane do me a favor and at least feign like you are looking for the ball when you are covering your receiver, this may have prevented the big pass interference called against you.
We also are prone to big pass plays occasionally throughout the game. In fact, I wasn’t aware that pigs had sprouted wings and were flying these days…I mean, I have to believe this since Sherman got beat big time on a double move by Jarius Wright for a 38 yard TD. Sherman had better figure out how to defend these double moves as he has been beaten two consecutive weeks for big plays. He will.
Lynch continues to put the ball on the carpet occasionally. Odds are, because he carries the ball so many times, that he will fumble the ball, but is it bad that I get both really excited and nervous when he is running with it? But having him pound his way into the end zone twice and then catching a nice flip pass from Wilson to saunter into the end zone for another reminds me of why Seahawk nation loves him. What a ‘MVP’ he is on a team loaded with a bevy of potential most valuable players.
We continue to lose one player a game, this time it was Jermaine Kearse to a concussion. We don’t know how serious it is but thankfully we have a bye week for him to get his head straight, literally. I suspect we will still be without Brandon Browner for the foreseeable future and this could hurt us in weeks to come, especially against New Orleans and San Francisco.
“Surprise, surprise, surprise” (said in my most authentic Gomer Pyle voice). Toward the end of the 2nd quarter Percy Harvin decides to field a kickoff in the end zone and run it out to the tune of 58 yards, and into Vikings territory. Boom! That is why we traded away our first round draft pick this year. An instant game changer in a 5’11 frame, powered by lightning. This allowed Wilson to work his magic leading to a TD right before the half, I believe this changed the flow of the game. Even though Harvin’s touches were few and far between he opened up plays for the other receivers around him. Several times he was either double teamed or being watched so closely by a second cover guy that he couldn’t help out elsewhere. In a play that didn’t result in yards, but proved Harvin’s worth, the pass interference called on his defender that would have been good for 50 yards if it wasn’t negated by a holding call. But you can see what will happen as defenders start to realize that he is going to pull away from them and in turn they physically pull him back to them.
Our defense caused a lot of disruption to Minnesota’s game plan. It is a sign of a balanced defensive effort when you get an interception each from a cornerback, linebacker and defensive tackle. Throw in a pick six for good measure and you have a recipe for a win. Additionally, I feel there were at least three other passes that could have been very easily picked off. But perhaps the biggest thing we had to achieve was controlling the line of scrimmage and boxing in Adrian Peterson. Achieved. He was held to 65 total yards rushing, 3.1 yards/carry and a long of 13 yards…man, I will take that and a bag of chips. When Toby Gerhart is your leading rusher, you know you did something right. No offense Mr. Gerhart.
We have traveled as nomads at times this season, plundering and pillaging from other teams on our way to 10-1. At times we have found ourself alone in a vast desert, looking for any oasis to give us quiet sanctuary. Week 12 serves that much needed respite for our tested Seahawks. Looking out against a sea of sand, our destination, the Lombardi trophy, is starting to come in to view, although still a ways off…we just hope that it isn’t a mirage on the horizon. Go Hawks!