Beat The Man - Week Eight

Folks…the Seattle Seahawks have turned the corner. You've been hearing that all week, but after 30 years of walking down the wrong sidewalk – it's worth saying again. Against the Dallas Cowboys, we turned a corner down which we had never thought fit to walk before.

Last Week: 3-3
Season to Date: 15-24 (still baffled)
Hawk Picks: 2-0

There have been moments of magnificence for Hawk fans over the years. But never in the manner we’ve succeeded over the last month. Following a heartbreaking loss in DC (where Josh Brown missed the clincher), the Hawks went on to St Lou – for a game that had to be considered a MUST win in every sense of the term. Mission accomplished (in my view, that win was triplicate as we killed the prior week’s disappointment AND ended a streak of futility facing the Rams, on the road). That had us feeling pretty good about ourselves - which has been a danger in the past, but not this time – as we parlayed that confidence into absolute domination of a lesser opponent. And with that came respect from the national media. For whatever reason, that has also been a danger to us in the past - setting the stage for the perfect opponent to end our momentum… The Dallas Cowboys.

Thieves of Monday Night Football.

Another bad memory.

Instead, we refused to succumb to insecurity and have now catapulted ourselves into confidence and complete team unity heretofore unknown. This is a moment of bliss. This is what we’re willing to hurt for.

The Seahawks, red-headed stepchild of the NFL, took the field with a roster compromised by injuries that had us on the minus with our Offensive Passing attack AND our Pass Defense, facing a quality Opponent with an exceptional passing attack. Not to mention historical ‘Hawktype’ trends against us. The Ace of Spades was in our pocket, as always, ready to answer as an excuse for fear and feeble inconsistency.

But that did not occur.

We did not fall upon the black Ace. Rather - the team found a way to depend on each other when the moment arrived. No matter what area or individual required.

A Defensive Line that can’t get to the passer came up with several coverage sacks rushing only 4. Our Run Defense, sporting a Rookie in the middle, a first time Hawk on one side, and a Nickel LB or Rookie on the other side – stuffed the short yardage downs as they have all damn year long. With their backs against the wall in the final minutes of the 4th, where anything more than 3 would have assuredly ended the game, and Drew Bledsoe on a rollout that looked to me like a certain first down – 3 Seahawks came crashing down to blow up Bledsoe AND the ball inches short of the marker and allow our Offense another opportunity (Fisher, DD, and Babineaux – coincidentally, representing every line of Defense. Glorious!).

At that moment I knew for certain we would score going the other way. Winning the game remained questionable, but I KNEW our crew on Offense would tie the score – they owed it to the Defense. And score they did. With a myriad of guys making plays all over the field. I mean, EVERYONE got involved.

Moments later, while I’m yelling at Mike Holmgren again for leaving so much time on the clock (via an ill-conceived Time-out), DB afterthought Jordan Babineaux gets a clutch finish for the 3rd time this year (shades of Boulware) and bursts down the sidelines because HE understands clock-management brilliantly (had he cut inside the clock would have ended) – and sets up the opportunity for another guy to get a piece of atonement… Josh Brown gets to kiss DC goodbye.

Seahawks win.
Seahawks kick dust on disgust.
Seahawks decree to embrace effort and verify victory.
Seahawks want it just as bad as you do.

For the next 20 minutes, a bottle of emotion I’ve been carrying deep for far too long burst forth like I was every firework on the 4th of July. A few minutes of roaring was not nearly enough. I had one note to say and it would not stop chanting (“YES! YES!! YES!!!”). My body became a giant fist, thumping away rejection. Obliterating the concept of failure. Eventually, it tore out my eyes in an explosion of absolute joy… as if I had just witnessed my baby being born.

And perhaps that’s not far from the truth…

Football is a game of camaraderie, loyalty, and dedicated response. When your Defense bites the bullet for you and offers you a chance to atone for yourself? You muster up a little bit more and make sure you get the job done… if you’re a quality football team. Not a quality player, or blessed athlete, or heroic individual – but a quality TEAM. And the same occurs the other way when the Offense makes it happen and puts the ball back on you to give them a chance to win it. It’s shared interest in results. Like a Fan and his Football Team.

Quite clearly, that’s the difference between this year’s less talented squad – and last year’s roster packed with “gifted” individuals.

Last year’s results sucked a lot out of me. I can’t remember a season before where I felt such distinct disappointment and frustration of expectations. The team’s sense of indifference just bled me as dry as a dusty skeleton. And I’ve actually been angry at them ever since.

… I’m not angry anymore.

Those bones have been swept from the closet.

We get 2 weeks to smile about where we’re going before we nail our Division one, two, three in November. And position ourselves for a step up the ladder facing Philly, Monday Night…

“Looking good, Billy Ray… Feeling good, Louis!” (Trading Places)

This week’s picks:

DEN –3.5 vs PHI
Last week Denver went into NYC and had the game in hand well into the 4th Q, before the G-men made aNOTHER late game surge to hand Wellington Mara a charmed final salute. Considering the impressive string of wins the ‘Orangemen’ had going in to that game (as I mentioned last week) I see no reason whatsoever to get concerned about Denver. They let one slip away on the road. It happens. Shanahan and the Snake now return home for an opportunity to bump themselves up the ladder of respect another notch. A loss last week is just the thing we needed to boost the effort - facing the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles.

Yo Adrian… I’m punch drunk and the air is thin up here. The Greenbirds have not been so impressive the last several weeks. They struggled vs Oakland at home, bounced back miraculously in KC, got riddled with bullets by Dallas, and bumped into a 10 point swing for victory last Sunday - when it appeared the Chargers were kicking to clinch it. They are damaged and delirious heading into the-air-up-there in Denver. You have to credit them for the way they play the Rush, holding Tomlinson (I’ll never call him LT. There can be only one!) to SINGLE digits last week (wow!). But I’m more inclined to respect that string of impressive Denver victories. I got on board last week and they covered in a loss… I ain’t getting off.

DC +2.5 @ NYG
As I mentioned, the G-Men found a way to fight back in the closing moments and post a couple quick scores to win it last week (by 1). They now find themselves in a logjam for first place with the Eagles, and the team that will own sole possession of 1st when the day is over – the Washington Redskins.

The Skins have been playing solid football while the media mocks them. A 2-pt loss @ Denver is not so insulting when you look at what the Broncos have done, and the loss in KC was not a poor performance either. It looks to my eyes like they’ve been building credibility within the team, maintaining an excellent Defense (particularly vs the Pass at 56.2% - 157.5yds/game - 4TD’s), while consistently improving the Offense - which culminated in an absolute pasting of the 49ers last week. I’m thinking they’ve now arrived as a complete team concept and will arc success forward from here. This is another team, like the Broncos, that I did not have on my radar as good or bad to start the season (more on that next week). They’re simply earning my interest with performance on the field.

I won’t call Manning “Elisha” anymore, but facing the success of this Secondary (as opposed to his own)… they won’t be singing his praise in the post-game.

JAX –3 @ ST LOU
Our personal nemesis, the Rams, are clearly in a state of flux right now. You’re looking at an absolute meltdown of their passing tree. Mid-season replacements to the QB, and the HC, and now – both Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt are on the shelf (perhaps it’s an NFC WEST thing). That can’t be good, folks.

Did you know that the upstart Jagz - who’ve now beat back both Cincy AND Pittsburgh in successive weeks - have the 2nd best Pass Defense in the NFL? You thought they just stopped the run, right? (2TD’s on the year). Nope, they’ve been quite excellent against the Passing game of Seattle (W), Indy (L 3-10), and Cincy (W). Do you think it might be a problem then for the Lambs to overcome their current mass adjustments in that area? I sure do. I’m thinking Leftwich has enough to get it done against that conversely weak St. Louis Secondary (62.6% - 245.6yds/gm – 14TDs, 4INTs) and I’m expecting Jax might improve their already excellent TD/INT ratio of 7-8 with a few more snatches on D.

With Indy owning a lock for the Division title, the Jagz can’t afford look past games while fighting for a Wild Card in the jam packed AFC. They’ll show up and I like the small give here.

NE –9 vs BUF
Did Buffalo make me look good last week, or what? Not! They’ve been killing me from both sides all year. I guess I’m willing to take another punch and involve them in my list again this week (“Yo Adrian… this guy loves to take a beating more than I do!”).

The Bills have proven ‘inconsistent’ if we can even credit them that much. Meanwhile, the Champs have their backs against the wall while searching for warm bodies. I’m not liking giving 9 points here, but I have to think Billy Bell will make fine use of the 2 week interim and ensure his team doesn’t drop the Division title lead to Buffalo. It’s Sunday Night in New England, where they haven’t played since getting embarrassed by the Chargers. In fact, the Pats have only had that game and the Thursday Night opener played on their own grass this year. I’m thinking they advantage their surroundings and the return of the heartbeat (Tedy ‘my last name is your favorite slang for beer – ya gotta love me’ Bruschi) and finally put the hurt on somebody…

Not that I’m assuming that will continue past this game.

CHI +3 @ DET
The Bears have not failed my pre-season assessment they’d be the ‘quiet’ spread to advantage this year (covering 4 of 6 contests, while managing a 3-3 record). In fact, they slugged me a good one last week for taking Baltimore when I couldn’t even manufacture a reason to do so. I’m very sorry about doing that and I want to atone for my sins.

The Lions live in Detroit, and they have no claws - cuz there ain’t nothing but concrete and asphalt in that gray landscape. Along with Arizona, the team everyone wanted to see get serious… hasn’t. They can’t scrap. They just thud into things. Da Bears, on the other hand? Oh, they scrap. They scrap almost as hard as Rufus Porter and that Seahawk Defense did when we couldn’t manufacture a first down to save our lives. The Bears Offense is just a tiny bit better than we were then, and that’s why they’ve managed to surpass our 2-win season already. If I remember correctly, Seattle covered the spread consistently in that season. And in their honor… I’ll carry that loyalty forward by cashing in on Chicago.

Getting points from a malfunctioning Detroit Offense (Garcia didn’t bust out. And the Redwoods (WR’s) have been temporarily cut down). And noting that DT Shaun Rogers will be Out, allowing quietly dominating Thomas Jones (641, 4.8/carry, 6TD’s) some room to carry the rock… I like Chicago’s chances to avoid the revenge game in Detroit (Chi-town spanked ‘em earlier this year 38-6).

NO –2 vs MIA
And lastly – the Saints get a home… uh, State game in Louisiana. You may recall they won their initial punch for the town back in Week 1. Since then they’ve played competitive football when in San Antonio, covering each of those games (the road has been a different story). I’m thinking it’s going to matter very much to New Orleans they win the opportunity for the home folks once again. They’ve likely been chomping at the bit to get back in the Bayou and do da bidness.

Meanwhile, Miami has experienced some difficulty themselves this past week with Hurricane Infinity (will they ever stop? No one’s laughing at Chicken Little these days). Beyond that – they have been a true disappointment to yours truly since I jumped on them following the Carolina game. They’re just not getting it done like it appeared they were capable of. QB controversy is beginning to enter the equation and at the very least – momentum has hit the skids.

I like emotional advantage football and 2 points ain’t to much to pay on the Saints.

This week’s rock solid picks that have zero chance of failure (ehem):
DEN –3.5
DC +2.5
JAX –3
NE –9
CHI +3
NO –2

“Beat the Man, ‘cuz… our 53 man roster says it can be done”


G. Scott Jones is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to Seahawks.NET. Reaction of any sort is always encouraged at schleprockhawk@sbcglobal.net.

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