Season to Date: 31-30-1
Last Sunday, following the Hawk game, I lit up a cuban cigar I’ve been saving well over a year for a special occasion. (Which tells you two things 1) I don’t smoke and 2) Ain’t been many special occasions around Schlep’s house lately). Following several attempts at a proper burn, and layers of tangy paper leaves swallowed, I was able to get the damn thing lit and actually inhale. After that… I exhaled. And all was right once again in the universe.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a satisfying breath following a Seahawk game. You’ll have to go all the way back to our first match-up with the 49ers (where the air quality felt close to that of Canada, eh). But you know what I thought to myself, while I puffed away on that illegal stogie and felt the crush of defeat waft weightless through the air… like the trails of smoke among me? While I inhaled… and exhaled… and finally allowed the burden release? I thought ‘This is why it’s worth it. This is what loyalty will earn you. This kind of satisfaction. This is the value… in dedication.’ And you couldn’t slap that grin off my face like Marcus Trufant on a Randy Moss jump ball. Satisfaction was mine.
Suuuure, we put 12 men on the field and gave up 3 instead of zero on the opening drive. And followed that up with a missed opportunity from our most consistent scorer, Josh Brown. Then found ourselves down 10-0 in 8 minutes flat. Looking like the world’s most lengthy hangover would continue (and here I thought I’d cornered the market on that). But it just didn’t matter. Cuz I kept the faith, we battled right back… and we won.
Suuuuuuuure, Mike Holmgren made me furious calling a pass on 2nd and 3 from the Viking 8 - forcing a 3rd down collision between Hasselbeck and Alexander. The most endzone greedy running back in the league didn’t get the chance on a running down that can’t fail – cuz Mike wants to be passing guru where your wide-outs have no room to maneuver (and then outthink himself on the following down). We kicked 3 instead of run for 6. But it just didn’t matter. Cuz I kept the faith, we battled right back… and we won.
Suuuuuuuuuuuure, we let the Vikings creep down the field and threaten to score in the game’s final moments, twice. The longest 4 minutes I’ve ever endured. But it just didn’t matter… cuz unlike the previous 10 weeks – we weren’t about to let this one get away. We’ve seen that road and we want it left behind us, right? Michael Boulware (who I sadly tagged a “creampuff” this pre-season) took full advantage of his promotion to starter and said “Snatch – gimme that!”. Mister Boulware, sir? I owe you an apology (fortunately for me, he doesn’t read my column. So my humility is hardly impressive). You’ve been making game winning plays all year and I couldn’t be more happy my assessment skills suck. But then the Purple People got down there again and this time Antonio Cochran, of all people, crossed from right end to left and made the sack (count it!) to run out the clock. And just like that, my faith found validation. We leaped over the line… and we won.
Let’s take a moment to remember how it looked going into that game. We dropped another 4th quarter to the Cowboys, before a Monday Night nation of doubters. Our head coach had his head in his hands all week. We piled on injury to insult throughout the week. Then we packed our bags and went on the road. Facing a team coming off an embarrassing loss themselves (to the Bears), who are desperately fighting for their division. A team that had punished us severely the year before. We then got off the blocks with our shoes tied together… and went on to win the game. How in the world did that happen?
You wanna know what the difference was? I think it’s quite obvious… Darrell Jackson.
Darrell Jackson played football on the day of his father’s death. And why would he do that? Because, ladies and gentlemen, Football is more than a game. It just is. It’s more than a game. Football is the reflection of life. Baseball doesn’t have that. Basketball doesn’t have that. Hockey doesn’t have it. And neither does Boxing. Those are just Sports. But Football – has it. Football is not just a Sport. It has everything you’ll feel in life, placed inside the hash marks of a 100 yard dream. Because we are all, and I know you feel it – carrying that rock. (And we all need each other to do it).
Football is struggle. With the precision opportunity to control and prevail. It offers the moment - to grab it. And when a football player’s father - the inspiration for his existence – dies? The option is there to turn to the thing he knows and understands. What other option is there to take absolute control of your grief – but play football?
So Darrell Jackson went out there last Sunday, and showed his father what he’s made of. He was told to “hold it down”. And so he did. Cuz that’s his duty… to the man that made him.
And while he did that - the rest of the team recognized what kind of effort that took. And, for our Seahawks, it once again became more than just a game. There was something more on the line than Division Leader, or Wild Card, or “Maybe we’ll lose”. There was only “We need to win, it matters”. And so we did. Because we had to. For Darrell. And for what his effort represents…
And I thought about that… as I smoked my illegal Cuban cigar and smiled in relaxed satisfaction.
Winning a Football game is more than just another notch in the column on the left. It’s a game of inspiration. And the most affecting example I’ve ever witnessed. With Football… you’re not just carrying the rock by yourself. You’re carrying it together.
And that’s why you need to put your head in the helmet on Sunday’s (or whatever else it is that your ritual demands) and pour your heart into your Hawks. For I’d swear I took the field last Sunday. I fought off every doubting demon and had my hands inside the matrix. And you cannot tell me my faith didn’t make a difference, because it did. We won the game!
Let Us Prey… (and it’s spelled that way on purpose, folks).
This team, my team and yours, now has a chance to take what they learned and propel themselves forward. Anyone looking at a Wild Card and 8-8 is blind to the point, and irrelevant to the purpose. In this landscape, we’re looking at the 2nd seed in the playoff’s and here’s how:
The 2 teams above us are Atlanta and Green Bay. Atlanta is now 10-3, looking down. I am quite certain they’re going to relax and they’ve proven susceptible. They face red hot Carolina, followed by unpredictable New Orleans on the road, and then us – in Seattle (where they’re now welcome home again). It is not out of the question the Falcons go 0-3 down that stretch. In fact, it’s quite possible. With us now 7-6, we have a chance at a showdown vs. Atlanta in week 17 for the tie-breaker edge at home field plus that omni-important week off). Meanwhile, Green Bay (8-5) face a quite threatening Jaguars team this Sunday, then head off to the Dome we just came from where the Vikings will play for their playoff existence (only a pessimist will claim the Vikings are not capable), and end in Chicago – where they’ll likely win. Call me crazy, but that looks like 9-7 to me.
Is 10-6 for the Seahawks
out of the question? If you think so? You ain’t invited.
We can be Champions. And there’s no reason not to be.
Inspiration… is reason enough.
…Just ask Darrell Jackson.
Now here’s this week's picks (and btw, in my suddenly satisfied world – I finally had 2 more wins than losses last Sunday. Symbiotically scary):
ATL –3.5 vs. CAR
Last week I picked the Vikings over the Hawks (and challenged our boys). I’m willing to sacrifice another pick with that thought in mind… We all want Schlep to make the wrong pick here.
MINN –3 @ DET
People say the Vikings are folding like last year, and I just don’t see it (Boulware made the play, not the other way around). Other than at Chicago, they’ve been involved in every game and can deliver the goods. For them to lose to Detroit would be an upset I just can’t fathom. I’d bet the farm on this game.
JAX +3.5 @ GBAY
I’ve been respecting the Cats all year and I’m not about to stop now when I really need it. Just one game out of the race, they’ve got the heart to survive. This one will come down to Fred Taylor and the Jags, as always, inside the red-zone. This is an ENORMOUS game for us. They’ll be playing 3 hours after we kick off at NYJ. Grab some Red Bull and carry it forward…
RAMS –3 @ AZ
Did Chris Chandler really throw 6 picks last week? That can’t happen again. While the public remains occupied with that stat, all I can see is the fact that Arizona is just inept right now. Are the Rams worth 3 to try and save their season? I’ll have to say, yes!
HOU +1 @ CHI
As usual, the Texans are tough to figure. Meanwhile, the Bears aren’t – they’re not very good. Watch for Dom Capers to attack that Bears O-Line, create some turnovers, and prove they’re the bettor team (sp intended).
Looking for 4-1 with:
Man… cuz winning is good.
G. Scott Jones is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to Seahawks.NET. Reaction of any sort is always encouraged at firstname.lastname@example.org.