Thursday, February 6, 2014

Speechless - Five Words for XLVIII

7th round draft pick for Super Bowl MVP? Of course.

I had it all planned.  About halfway through our two-week XLVIII Wait Of Death, I started contemplating a Seahawks victory, and a blog post theme popped into my head.  In years past, my superstitious side would have slapped myself in the face for prematurely expecting success - PCJS and this team, however, let my superstitions die a slow yet certain death this season.  As victory daydreams danced around my 12-tinged brain, the theme that prevailed revolved around Super Bowl XXXVI between the Rams and Patriots, the first Patriots title on their way to a dynasty. It was practically a carbon copy of what I expected from XLVIII.  What the hell, I'd compared the construction of this Seahawks team to dynasties before, so why not again?  (Shoutout to twitter follower @Jenny_Boom21 for tweeting about the XXXVI comparison too - I swear I thought of it before your tweet and didn't steal the idea from you!)  If the Seahawks won, the similarities would be there... A 2nd year starting quarterback still wet behind the ears... A perfectly planned defensive game plan by a defensive-minded head coach... Putting the brakes on an all-time great offensive squad... Sounds familiar, right?  

A funny thing happened though - Super Bowl XLVIII was actually played.  Much like how they treated the Broncos offense, the Seahawks put a dramatic stop to my theme idea.  In XXXVI at the half, the Patriots had a stunning 14-3 lead; after that though, the Rams made a game of it and tied it at 17 with 1:30 remaining.  The Pats then went surprisingly aggressive, and ended up winning on a last second Adam Vinatieri field goal. Sure, some the similarities held true through the first half of XLVIII - but the way the Seahawks bullied and harassed Denver like the 7th grade math geeks they were ended my theme idea.  They not only piled it on, but also put on the single greatest defensive performance in Super Bowl history (more on that later).  

Since the game ended I have run out of superlatives for the Seahawks' performance.  I thought I had a good vocabulary, but the Seahawks have stolen every last word I could have used.  To keep saying "overwhelming"... "stunning"... "awesome"... "dreamily magicalicious"... just seems redundant.  It was such a thorough and complete dismantling of the AFC champions, I have to abandon my "Gong Report" format. If you've read the blog, you know I typically look for one- or two-gong moments - moments of ineptitude or areas of weakness.  I have always striven to be (relatively) objective towards this team, and know they are not infallible.  However, when watching that game, how could anything not be 4-gong worthy? What am I going to complain about?  That the Seahawks took three drives to score a TD? That Kam Chancellor wasn't awarded the MVP (my personal pick)? That clinic they put on left me speechless, and without words... almost.  In the end, five words encapsulate this game and its effect on me.


Immediate - The Seahawks scored immediately on the safety (12 seconds!)... Every time a Bronco receiver caught a ball they were hit immediately... It seemed like any time the Broncos had a positive play it was followed by a turnover immediately.  This was no more evident than on Manning's first completion of the game.  He hit Demaryius Thomas for what looked like at least a 6-7 yard gain, and against most teams it probably would have gone for 15-20 yards.  But as I believed in my pre-XLVIII post, the Broncos simply were not ready for the speed and physicality of the Legion of Boom.  Kam Chancellor did what Kam Chancellor does, and laid a vicious (yet legal) hit on Thomas, driving him back five yards for a paltry gain of two.  Keep in mind, he didn't grasp Thomas and carry him back; the hit itself was powerful enough to throw Thomas back those five yards.  Yards after the catch my ass. This happened all day - Welker, Decker, Thomas ("weapons!")... they all had so little room after catching the ball, where all season the AFC defenses let them do what they wanted. The Broncos got punched in the face, and had absolutely no answer for it.

 Dominating - It is incredibly validating and gratifying that this defense is getting serious consideration in the press for "best of all time" arguments.  The '85 Bears and the '00 Ravens are the two best defenses I've seen since I started watching football as a wee Chinaman, and if I had to choose between the two, I'd pick the Bears.  But when you think about the great defensive performances in Super Bowl history - let's add the '90 Giants, '00 Buccaneers, '01 Pats, '07 Giants to the mix for good measure - only one of them faced what was, at the time, the highest scoring offense in NFL history. That would be the '07 Giants, who still gave up more points than these Seahawks in their game, and that, let's face it, wouldn't compare with us man-to-man. The only defense to beat an all time #1 scoring offense (again, at the time) was the '83 Raiders.  '83 Raiders versus '13 Seahawks? Exactly.

I'm not going to say the Seahawks were a better defense than the '85 Bears or the '00 Ravens... yet... but when comparing a 60-minute Super Bowl performance?  There is no comparison.  Neither of those teams faced offenses that come close to what the Broncos did this season, not to mention the Seahawks domination was in an era of rules that are designed to give offenses and quarterbacks every edge possible. Of the top 14 passing yardage seasons of all time, two - TWO - were thrown before 2007. And the best of all time was just thrown by Manning, who the Seahawks absolutely manhandled. The Broncos went the entire season without failing to score on consecutive drives.  In XLVIII their first seven drives yielded 0 points and produced a safety, two interceptions, and a fumble.  It's simply staggering. Peyton's single greatest QB season of all time versus Tony Eason in '85 and Kerry Collins in '00?  

When that Kamtrak hit on Thomas happened, I threw a fist in the air and let out a defiant scream. Why defiant?  Because the 12s were the only ones that saw this defensive performance coming.  We may not have expected it to be so complete, but we all knew what they were capable of because we had, you know, seen more than a single Hawks game this season.  The rest of the NFL fans and national media were in shock.  The 12s, not so much. There were plenty of other plays I could point to to bolster my point - Smith's pick-6 and fumble recovery just to name a couple - but one play in the 2nd quarter stood out to me. Manning throws to Jacob Tamme in the flat, and Tamme gets caught from behind for a two-yard loss by... Brandon Mebane.  All 310 pounds of him caught Tamme from behind.  Not Wright, or Wagner, or Thomas.... Mebane.  When yout tight end is gettting caught from behind by a 300 pound lineman, the day is probably not yours.*

*This all not to mention an offense that, while not "dominant", produced two absolutely spectacular TD catches by Kearse and Baldwin.  Let's not forget that in the midst of all the glory the defense is rightfully getting.  

Controversy - Or, more accurately, the lack thereof. The haters are out there, and they are loud.  If there were any single reason to take away Seahawk credit from this victory, they would in a second.  If the Seahawks had won by one score and there were a couple iffy calls?  CONTROVERSY!  If the weather had been snowy and brutal like it was mere hours after the game?  UNEVEN PLAYING FIELD!  If a single Bronco had been injured and couldn't return?  THE SEACHICKENS WOULDN'T HAVE WON
IF 'insert Bronco player here' HAD BEEN IN THE WHOLE GAME!

The Friday before the game at work, a coworker of mine, who happens to be a Peyton fan* and was sporting her orange jersey, decided to talk some trash.  I overheard her conversation with some colleagues, and heard her mention that if it were snowing, that would unreasonably favor the Seahawks, and the Super Bowl wouldn't be a neutral game. She was already making excuses and taking away our victory BEFORE THE GAME HAD BEEN FUCKING PLAYED.  Here's an idea... if your team can't win in inclement weather, oh I don't know, build one that will like the Seahawks have.  Build it around a group of tough physical players rather than one gimpy-necked QB.

Fact is, it couldn't have been better for the Hawks - the weather was perfect, both teams were the healthiest they'd been during the entire season, and the playing field was as even as it could possibly have been.  And we still won 43-8.  This team left absolutely not doubt about who the best squad was.

*This is a unique phenomenon I'd never seen on the East Coast. Plenty of fans in SoCal either root for different teams each year or are fans of players. She has a Manning Colts jersey as well. It's completely foreign to me to not be a fan of a TEAM. Maybe it's me but i just don't get that.

Cathartic - This win was cathartic not just for me, but for Seattle.  For me, it validated 30 years of loyalty and (for most of it) mediocrity.  I think I've written about this before, but before the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, my teams had gone through a total of just over 100 sports seasons without any titles.  I just saw two of my teams win titles in one calendar year. (If you ever hear me complain about anything sports-related from here on out smack me in the face, immediately).  It erased memories of the Oilers loss, Bo Jackson  on MNF, Testaverde's "TD", the Dead Behring Era, XL... the list goes on. And XLVIII makes all of that drudgerous shit worth it.  

From the Seattle side, it erases memories of Dikembe clutching the ball on the ground, the Mariners winning 116 games and NOT EVEN MAKING IT TO THE WORLD SERIES*... the unholy criminal stealing of the Sonics... 35 years without a title (sorry, Storm)... Seattle can now look to the 2013 Seahawks and say "champions", and it makes all that suffering a-okay.  In fact, all of this, for both myself and Seattle, makes this title that much better. 

*Tip of the hat to blog reader @j_stewart97 for reminding me about Dikembe and the 2001 M's. Your memory of Seattle's low points deserves mentioning.

Crying - I cried at the end of the game and many of you reading this are probably like "yeah, what's the big deal, we all did."  For me though, crying isn't exactly a daily occurrence.  On a personal note, I don't show emotion well.  My Dad, who was born and raised in China and moved here in the early '60s, made expressing emotion pretty much forbidden.  If you've ever met a man raised in China, you probably noticed his facial expressions ranged from "stoic" to "slightly less stoic".  So crying has never been my thing.  I can probably count the number of times I've cried in my life on both hands.  The death of my grandmothers, the birth of my daughter and a few movies are the only times I remember shedding post-adolescence tears (both of my grandfathers passed before I was born).  As a kid when I went to see Dances With Wolves I bawled like a little girl. I lost it at the end when Kevin Costner and his wife were leaving the tribe and his Indian friend is on top of the cliff yelling "KEVIN COSTNER YOU ARE MY FRIEND AND YOU WILL ALWAYS BE MY FRIEND!  YOUR HAIR IS GLORIOUS AND IF YOU STAY WE CAN DRINK BEER AND WATCH SEAHAWKS GAMES!"  I'm paraphrasing, but I'm pretty sure that's an exact translation.  

So crying doesn't happen often, but when the confetti fell, and Paul Allen raised that trophy, the tears fell as well.  Waiting 30 years for something will do that to you I guess, so it's understandable.  But aside from my marriage and the birth of my daughter, I've never felt a moment of such pure, unadulterated emotion and elation.  Like all of you, seeing Carroll, Schneider, and all 53 men on that roster celebrate after the game is something that I will never forget, and those tears, like this team, would not be denied.

_______________________________

Let's see, there's 1, 2....10.... LOTS.
(photo credit: @meganbloomer1)

This win will reverberate for years, even if we don't win another one, and over the coming months I'm sure we will see and read about things that happened during the game or parade that will again bring the emotion. You've probably seen all of the "12s" in the game by now.  First score 12 seconds in... Harvin's kick return that took 12 seconds... Lynch had 39 yards (3 + 9 = 12)... and so on.  Hell, even the date of the parade gave us a 12 (Feb 5, 2014... 2-5-14... 2 + 5 + 1 + 4 = 12... and a hearty thanks to blog reader @nickelduque for tweeting that little bit of genius).  Everybody, meet fate.  Fate, everybody.  

But I have to look to that past, as I often do, out of love for the history of not only this team but also this league to put this win in context.  Whenever I think of my fanhood, I go to the one season that single-handedly made me the fan I am - 1992.  You would think a season like '83 or '84 would do it, but there's always been a special place in my heart for the 1992 team.  Yes, I'm speaking of the 2-14, historically offensive-inept Seattle Seahawks.  I was in my senior year in high school, and, especially since I lived in Pennsylvania, that year I took so much shit for that team. It ranged from simple "they suck" taunts to being asked why I didn't just switch teams.  I slowly but surely grew angrily defiant, the same defiance that would emerge vocally during Kamtrak's hit.  What's that, they suck?  FUCK YOU, they're my team.  Oh, they scored 6 points in three games?  FUCK YOU, they're my team.  Oh, I should become a Steelers fan?  FUCK YOU, the Seattle Seahawks are my team!  That season taught me I'd never abandon this team, and a little over 20 years after that season I was handsomely rewarded.  

Cortez Kennedy and a Hawks MNF win that season are what gave this blog its name.  Stan Gelbaugh came in and led the Hawks to an OT victory, and Tez is my favorite pre-PCJS era Hawk of all time. That's where TezBaugh comes from, and I wear that season, and my fanhood with a badge of pride.  I'm sure we all have, consciously or subconsciously, dedicated this XLVIII victory to some past Seahawks player or coach.  For me, it'll always go back to 1992, the year that made me realize just how much this team meant to me. So to that 1992 team I say what I've been waiting 30 years to say: The Seattle Seahawks are Super Bowl Champions, and no one will ever take that away from us.

Oh, and that 1992 MNF win?  It was over the Denver Broncos.  Fate indeed.







  

4 comments:

  1. Loved it... you made me laugh ("one gimpy-necked QB" damn near killed me), and you made me cry. (more than once.) Thanks for another great read!

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  2. Thank you! It means a lot that my words were able to move you... Thanks for reading!

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  3. You and your crying...just call me a baby I guess. Let's see....I cried when my Sooners lost to UW in 1984 Orange Bowl. I cried when my Sooners lost to Kansas in the B-ball final in 1988 (Eff Danny Manning). Oh and I cried at the end of Titanic...well it wasn't exactly a cry cry, it was more of a welling of tears that probably would of iced up an Oscar nod if I'd tried out for the Leo's part in the movie. Speaking of movies...who'd play PCJS if they made a flick about the Seahawks?

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    1. Per your request.... Paul, you're a baby. Regarding the casting choices...

      Hmmmmm...
      Pete Carroll - Gary Busey if he could reign in the crazy a bit. His manic energy would work in that role though. Richard Gere may be a close second.

      John Schneider - a few weeks ago I would've said Philip Seymour Thomas... whoops. How about Matt Damon if they do the hair right?

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