The Seahawks matched their win total of the past two seasons on Sunday, and they did it in spectacular fashion against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
For the first time this season, we got a taste of what playoff football is going to feel like for the Seahawks.
That’s right: “is going to feel like.” Not “might,” not “potentially” . . . it will happen—even if some aren’t ready to acknowledge it yet.
There hasn’t been a single regular season game where I was heaped on the floor in disappointment between instances of jumping up and down in my living room with excitement. I almost didn’t last until that point.
I could barely watch, considering the way things started. It seemed every officiating call was against Seattle or they were unable to get off the field in key situations. Whatever it was, it felt like the Seahawks weren’t meant to win.
It began with a Marshawn Lynch fumble on the Seahawks first drive of the game. On a play where it appeared to be an average run stop, Lynch was walking back to the huddle after a five-yard gain when officials signaled the Bears had recovered a fumble. Judging from his reaction, Lynch clearly thought the play was over.
On the replay, Lynch was on top of on a Bears player when the ball was ripped out. Lynch reached and looked like he may have recovered, but it didn’t look like he made much of an effort to pull it in after the whistle was blown. The turnover lead to a 7-0 Bears lead.
Later in the first half, special teamer Heath Farwell was yanked to the ground by his facemask on a Bears punt. It drew a flag. Not a flag on the Bears’ lineman, but a penalty on Farwell because the lineman proceeded to trip over him.
Instead of checking out with the feeling it just wouldn’t be their day, the Seahawks did the opposite. Down 0-7, the Seahawks finally got things going late in the second quarter when Golden Tate broke a tackle on his way to a 49-yard reception. Seattle finished the 94-yard drive on the next play with Lynch weaving between lineman and defenders for the touchdown.
With 96 seconds left on the clock, the Hawks got the ball back and quickly got in position for a score. Escaping pressure Wilson let the ball go as he was going to the ground. Braylon Edwards came up with the ball diving in the back of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown.
After the play went under review, the call was overturned despite questionable evidence that the ball hit the ground. Seattle settled for the field goal. Going into halftime, coach Pete Carroll stayed on the field to question the referees on what exactly they saw to be able to overturn the call on the field.
It was a fitting end to a half of calls that didn’t seem to go the Hawks way (I’m not going to bore you with the long list), but it felt good to have a 10-7 lead after the adversity Seattle faced.
To this point, there was no jumping or being heaped over on the floor. That was reserved for the final minutes of the game.
Down 14-10, the Bears pinned the Seahawks back on their 3-yard line with 3:40 left on the clock. When Wilson wasn’t throwing from outside the pocket, he was scrambling for chunks of yardage.
The Hawks drive hit a snag when a holding call on Breno Giacomini backed them up to 3rd-and-long around midfield, but Wilson hit Doug Baldwin and then Zach Miller on fourth down to keep the drive alive. After a 27-yard pass to Sidney Rice, Tate gave one of his best efforts since getting helicoptered in the end zone against the Vikings a few weeks back.
Tate made at least three defenders miss on his way to what looked like a game-winning touchdown. Seattle was up 17-14 with less than 30 seconds left in the game, and my floor was shaking as I celebrated.
Then the Bears went right to Brandon Marshall (like they had done all day long) connecting on a 56-yard pass play as Richard Sherman whiffed on an interception. Marshall trotted down the field and out of bounds after Earl Thomas missed a tackle and the Bears kicked a field goal to tie the game and send it into overtime.
Shock and disbelief. What the heck just happened and how did they not cover the one guy who’d be killing them all day long.
Bu with two touchdown drives of 94- and 97-yards already under his belt, Wilson was ready for a mere 80-yard drive. The Seahawks took more than seven minutes off the clock as they moved the ball methodically down the field.
After hitting Baldwin on a 12-yard pass to move the chains on 3rd-and-10, Wilson dumped the ball off to Rice. Rice bee-lined for the end zone, crossing the goal line before taking a huge hit that left him on the turf. The officials reviewed the touchdown, Rice was able to walk off the field, and the Seahawks picked up their second road win of the season.
Later, Rice tweeted that he would be back on the field against the Cardinals. It was great news that made the post-game celebration much easier. Also making the postgame celebration better—losses by playoff contenders Minnesota and Tampa Bay.
In the NFC West, the Cardinals lost 7-6 against the Jets to grow their losing streak to eight-straight games. The Seahawks will hope to make it nine with the Cardinals coming into Seattle on Sunday.
The 49ers and Rams nearly played to a tie again, but St. Louis managed to not miss a last-second field goal to pull off the 16-13 overtime win. With the controversy surrounding the San Francisco quarterback situation, things could be very interesting with the 49ers to try and close out the season.
So now that the Seahawks have beaten a playoff-caliber opponent on the road, it will be a huge game to build confidence from. Before this week, every time the Seahawks were mentioned in the media as having potential for the final playoff spot it was always with the caveat that they can’t win on the road, so they won’t get far.
One media outlet went with the headline that the Seahawks had just won their first game on the road (wrong). In a poll on NFL Network after the game, it asked which team you think will go to the Super Bowl. Despite Seattle having a solid hold on the sixth spot, they only gave five options: New York, Green Bay, San Francisco, Chicago, and Atlanta.
Really NFL Network? You’re going to snub another playoff team (Seahawks) to keep the team they just beat (Bears) on that list. I know after that win the Seahawks would have been able to do better than the 7-8% the Bears got.
Though I’ve already put the Seahawks in the playoffs, they still have to do the work. And with a 7-5 record after 12 games, they’ll have four more opportunities to improve on their win total from the last two seasons.
Three of their final four games are on their home field where they are 5-0 this year. All three opponents are NFC West rivals that they have already lost on the road to, but I think we all know things will go differently in December.
-Brandan Schulze, Military Sea Hawkers